Archive for March 2012

Hannah's Barber   4 comments

God I hate the thing whereby when you know that if you want to write about anything properly you know it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to do it justice, and the word count will pretty high too, but here it is, an unlikely-ish story. Ever since Nochexxx played me the Carlton “Killawatt” Valley record that made me splutter in pissed wonder for it’s entire duration I’ve wanted a copy, and initial research into its perceived market value put it just slightly beyond my financial reach, or made me think to bide my time, which I did. Therefore I was chuffed to randomly discover it on eBay, looking at the prices of Dulcitones in the first instance, I think, and win it by being the first and only bidder, with my sniping skills still in the box of Old Things. Must be pretty old things, because the record got sent to my lovely Ex’s cos that’s where the ‘Bay still thinks I live, and it should keep up really. Or I should, because when the record didn’t appear I’m afraid I started making assumptions about people not finding the time to post records that they would have expected to realise more from bidwise at auction, and I sent a bit of a terse enquiry asking whether I should be expecting it anytime soon. I should, said the seller, because he’d swiftly posted it after sale, had proof of postage, was a postman himself and knew the drill, and, ridiculously, had recognised my name as a that bloke out of The Wire, and had therefore included a copy of his own record in the package. I was, of course, comprehensively disarmed. So, after fetching the red card from Sam and having to explain to matey at the PO that Pete Um is not my government name, and once we’ve all sat around listening to Special Request & Truck Inna Garage etc, I put on this weird gift, more than 99% certain to be underwhelmed, but curious nonetheless.

Strangely enough, it’s great! It’s got that neither-one-thing-nor-t’other quality which those with a jones for new kicks ‘n’ weird thrills consider standard in a standardised “surprise me” jaded appetite. But it’s a subtle thing – it’s not knocking you over the head with some gimmicky claim to unusualness. It’s like, uh, well it’s like a lot of things and none, but it’s like a melancholic 4-track Mouse On Mars using some outboard gear, perhaps, and that’s just one thing it’s like, a bit. It’s definitely a strikingly successful mixture of the programmed and the played, although it’s hard to tell what’s being done to what, and in a good way. Actually I think the only thing I don’t like about this record is the font the text on the cover is written in, which brings back bad memories of trying to like trip-hop, and that’s a shamefully weak-ass First World 21st Century reason for being negative about anything. But the music, which might be the main thing after all, that’s pretty solid, all the way through. I’m more into it the less beats there are, I think, but then I didn’t get where I’m not today by being overly concerned with rhythm-programming. In fact the standout track for me is probably the pianoey sketchitude of Piano 4OK, if I’m typing that right Mr. Trip-Hop font. That seems to me a good example of what this lot do best, i.e a kind of judicious execution of textural progression perhaps, or the kind of sound-painting that chooses all the right colours and then puts them all in the right places. There’s a lot going on on this record, but it unfolds beautifully. In fact it kind of hides its light a bit, but then that’s sort of what’s good about it. Looks like Boomkat still got some too.

Oh, 99p at Norman!
Yeah, it’s “organic” man!

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The Internet   2 comments

My niece was round here the other day. They don’t have a TV at home so she just watches the internet. Not unsusual behaviour I suppose but it made me ponder growing up with the web like that.

Here are the four videos I watched yesterday on the nets, for no particular reason.

Posted March 16, 2012 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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The Chap   Leave a comment

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Was just reading this thing about The Chap, who play The Citadel Of Dreams tomorrow night, Cambridge night people, and I saw they have included some very old Um in their mix, bless them. I don’t know how serious they are about this blacklist thing but I always think The Chap are the sort of band that should be in the top ten in a better world somewhere, or even this one. I like how they carry on with it too. Like, I don’t have the option of splitting up, but bands who stick it out for its own rewards are righteous.

Dooze on down the road.   Leave a comment

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Local performance for yer Doozers and fleet-fingered fifth-Beatle type C Joynes of Histon, conjured up in order for a kicking off of a small-but-worryingly-sexy tour of North Europe! Say hoi to our pals at The Swedish Embassy etc. Here’s the official blarb:

Dearest Friends and Acquaintances,

You may have seen and heard right as THE DOOZER will be hitting a town, hopefully close to you, in the next couple of weeks. That’s right, we’re touring in support of KEEP IT TOGETHER, that record recently released by WOODSIST. Here’s our itinerary:

MARCH
19 – Romsey Labour Club, Cambridge (w/ C Joynes)
20 – The Drop, London
21 – Espace en Cours, Paris
22 – Hectoliter Galerie, Brussels
23 – OCCII, Amsterdam
24 – Maakhaven, Den Haag (w/ Man From Uranus)
26 – Fox & Newt, Leeds (w/ Herb Diamante & Mick Flower)
27 – The Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh
28 – Night & Day, Manchester

First outing as a three piece, or TRIOZER if you will, with CB Radio on drums and Ben K on bass as per earlier DUOZER adventures. Bringing the sound of the colloquial to the sophisticates of various urban dwellings.

Come to shows! And please, Cambridge folks, attend the HOMEGROWN affair at the ROMSEY LABOUR CLUB on 19 MARCH with that gent C JOYNES also appearing. It’s DIY style and will be a fine and friendly atmosphere in this most auspicious of venues. WATCH OUT, LUNAR’S ABOUT!

On the MERCH STALL we’ll have the usual, plus KEEP IT TOGETHER LPs & BRAND NEW T-SHIRTS. GOLD, you say?

Join the force and be at one with yourself.
DOOZER HQ
http://www.thedoozer.com

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Posted March 15, 2012 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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Home Link   2 comments

Just finished this bit of writing which was started some months ago:

The other day I arrived at work on the residential street where the blind lady lives and as I parked my bike the top window of one of the flats opposite flung open and, somewhat superimposed by loud dancehall reggae a subjectively mildly coarse female voice said urgently “excuse me…have you got the time please?” As I reached for my phone to check she adds “…’ang on.” and disappears to turn the music down so she can hear Pete Um The mildly irritated Speaking Clock can do his thing. Now, even this encounter does little to cure me of a weird sense of deprivation I get when I pull up every Wednesday and Friday and involuntarily find my gaze drawn towards these one-bedroom flats, the reason being because when Syd and I were sharing a bedroom for those almost-three long years places like these seemed like some sort of impossible dream. In the kingdom of the bureaucratically misplaced, the one-bedroom flat is palatial etc.
But yesterday see, I come in from work and it’s only when I’ve done some soul-shaming man-ballet manoevure that involves the fridge, beer, a glass, a packet of peanuts and a jar of chillies before sitting down to check my messages that I realise that I’ve momentarily involved myself in some kind of Hollywood Wanker World that seems to symbolise how far I’ve come from those shitty days of shit. Thus the point of this post is to emphasize a kind of humble but immense gratitude to the non-specific thing that means that I now live, with my son (half the time), in a two-bedroom flat. We have now been here six months, and I tell you what, I still feel hugely, hugely chuffed about the whole thing on a daily basis. In a weird way one of the reasons I feel so jammy is that what I’ve ended up with is fundamentally different and yet measurably better than what I dared to wish for in the first place. Having lived in the housing co-op since a very fucking long time ago I had no desire to aspire to blocks of flats and yearned vainly through the Home-Link miasma for single-floor accomodation on quiet streets. If I ever found myself on this kind of council turf I’d stare with hungry inadequately-housed eyes and then cycle on through the injustice of it all.
Therefore, when, cutting a long story short but thanks mainly to the Citizen’s Advice and the ombudsman Victoria (nicely fitting, I’ve only just noticed) , and perhaps in part to cultural capital plus pathological stubborness, everything suddenly changed. Eligibility was conferred with immediate magical effect. From desperately petitioning people who didn’t have faces or sometimes even names I found myself having a surreally courteous conversation with the woman who was the Head Of The Actual Thing, who was now telling me that I had leapfrogged to the top of the list and had more points (on their points system) than I would ever actually need. Well, she added, she couldn’t promise anything, but she implied she didn’t need to. Then she asked me if I wanted her to manually enter my name into the bidding system for the property in which I am now typing, and, rather carried along with the speed of events, I agreed and was offered the flat a few days later. Now, at this point, and especially after seeing the flat and its beyond-redemption carpets/wallpaper combo and original 60s kitchen with coal scuttle/weird coal/cold cupboards etc (bear in mind that all is grist to me and any kind of period madness or decorative feature can and should be subsumed into that which is Mine, not that I’ve decorated let alone moved anywhere much for the past 15-odd years, ha ha) I began to wonder whether I hadn’t slightly fluffed the last card in a game I had already definitely won. As I said above, years of co-op life had not led me to envisage a future in a block of flats cos I was peopled-out-to-fuck and whilst I stand by communalism, democracy and self-determinacy etc I really did want to find MY HOME (ours) at last, as I’ve never really had one, if you get me. Also this flat is very central, and although it was very important that we’d be based somewhere near my son’s school, his Mum, his mates and blah I didn’t imagine this could be quite so CB1 as to be in spitting distance of Parker’s Piece and all that. Other question marks over the location were concomitant to its urban centrality, shall we say. I didn’t know how gnarly this estate was, it’s right next to busy roads, law courts, kebab shops, pissed people on road etc.
So, given that I was in a very good position to pick and choose where to live, with no little historical irony, I hope you can see why I was wondering whether I should have stayed my hand a little longer, especially since I really, really, really didn’t want to be turning flats down after all that. But once Lewis the Laughing Nigerian Arsenal fan had shown me and the lad round the place I kind of felt the ground moving beneath my feet to some extent. You can’t really show a 10 year old who has been sleeping in his Dad’s room in a shared house for almost 3 years things like his own potential front door/bedroom/living-room/kitchen/blahblahblah and expect him to take the long-view. With some reservations, I said we would take the flat. Just get rid of those fucking carpets.
But, as I say, once we were in, it all fell into place, as it were. They did the kitchen up and it gained floorspace where once weird cupboards stood. Underneath the shitty carpets were clean pine floorboards unseen for forty years, and generally the place started to look like a reasonably large and very blank canvas. They built flats bigger in those days, and it really adds to your quality of life, even if you are drowning in vinyl etc. The fact that the flat is pretty much 15 minutes from everywhere in Cambridge has obvious advantages, especially if you’re on a bike, or ferrying someone small hither and thither, and possibly even giving them a backie on the same bike. And whilst it had not escaped me that Syd’s school was uber-conveniently close, I hadn’t given a moment’s thought that this would mean it was also smack-dab in the middle of it’s catchment area, duh, and so every kid around the parts is someone he knows. This could hardly be better illustrated than by the fact that when we first went to the place together after getting the key, on the day we moved in, he opted to run off and hang out with his mates in the park rather than actually, for instance, check out his bedroom or whatever. But, as a parent, that’s well good to see.
What else, I dunno. It’s quiet. I think the fact that my flat is just a crucial 100 or some meters from the road itself helps a lot too, certainly in terms of noise, but it’s quiet as fuck compared to the co-op. It’s not unusual for drunk teens to wander into the adjacent park just as I’m trying to get my head down but it it makes a hell of a difference knowing that they have homes to go to and almost invariably do so after about half an hour. Everybody else in the area seems to be under the impression that keeping oneself to oneself is obligatory, and in fact I can honestly say I didn’t even meet my next door neighbour, or even hear them or clap eyes on them until I had been here for several months. There’s no loud music, you rarely pass anyone on the stairs, people don’t seem to use the communal bits of greenery much and everything is very fucking quiet. I must be getting old, because I don’t mind.
As for the general living-in-the-city vibe, I’m surprisingly cool with that too. There is actually something kind of funkily urban about being right in the middle of things, and I would never have thought that I’d think of it like that. I’m loath to use a phrase like “handy for the shops”, although it is, but it’s something more than that. I’m reminded of how I always felt somewhat overwhelmed by London until I was happy to be there, and my perception changed. It’s only East Road though, of course.
So yeah, I just wanted to write this as a sort of payoff for anyone who’d forced themselves to read through the blog posts from a year or so ago where I was writing desperate and convoluted letters to officials in an attempt to prove something they were making unprovable (even that awkward sentence takes me right back there!). If I had known what it was going to involve when I started I would have thought twice, not that I was beset by options, but I’m glad I did hang in there, because it did turn out for the best in the end.

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Posted March 15, 2012 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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Norman is selling me.   Leave a comment

Can’t Get Started, the new narrowly acclaimed 10″ record on my own Grist label, is now for sale here also! Thanks to the guys at Norman. I buy quite a few records there so they probably figured fuckit, but like the people in the Dr Seuss book they have a useful Mike who writes reviews and they didn’t have to use their Mike for such a purpose so I appreciate it. Here’s what Mike says if you’re not going to visit Norman:

Weird little fella, this. It’s got 17 songs running to a total of 23 minutes 39 seconds. The music contained in those minutes and seconds is frankly bizarre. Our Brian’s saying that this guy has been going a while but this is the first time we’ve met. Basically this is a collection of weird little lo-fi electro acoustic songs with oddball lyrics and even odder backing. It’s so hard to find things to compare this to because it’s just so bizarre. I guess Dan Deacon’s early stuff is a fair reference point but this is much more focused than some of that, so if noises are being made that you don’t like then you don’t really need to worry because they’ll be over in a minute (literally). One of the songs has a weird digital Dan Higgs-esque droney plainsong feel to it too. The closest we’ve got to a pop song here is the surprisingly catchy minute and a half of minimal electro that is ‘My Life Is Hard’. This record is shambling and clattery and disjointed and yet the cumulative effect is far more charming than you’d initially assume from just hearing one song. There’s a beautiful little essay about the pains of modern life that’s well worth reading, too. He certainly has a way with words. This is a weird record, make no mistake, but if you’ve learned anything from us by now then you’ll know that we like weird. And we like this.

Thanks to Mike, Norman.

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Posted March 14, 2012 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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KY debrief   Leave a comment

Some reviewage of the Kettle’s Yard thing. I wasn’t ecstatic about how my thing came over and out, to be honest, but KY is a weird jelly to be stuck in, especially at midday on a Sunday morning. Then again, I’d had a nagging feeling that what I was going to say was going to jar in this context, but I think that would have been fine if the music had been transcendentally amazing rather than rough tapey sketches, and I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was obligated to take part in something that was going to be awkward and lacklustre that I was presenting as an example of my own skill and flair, ha ha. Doesn’t help when you’re nervous, of course. I’ve tried this sort of thing several times, most recently in Belgium fucking ages ago, but I think there’s a reason why I don’t do it very often. Mr Doozer said it was unusual to hear someone talk about their thang from an emotional rather than an intellectual point of view, but in a way I wished I’d had the time/balls to elaborate on the philosophical questions my half-assed enquiry was throwing up. But then it would be folly to ask how art gets into a thing in 15 minutes when you want to play four shit tunes on a minidisc player as well. I should have done a handout, as God knows I’ve made a twat of myself passing them round in the dark at “normal” gigs before, and God also knows that it is normal practice with Bad Timing/New Music at Kettle’s Yard, but I started to feel like I was over-egging the pudding or something. So it was a bit of a flat, dry vegan pudding that people had to be nice about.

Anyway, here’s the actual text of niceness, with Rich putting the best possible light on it. Thanks Rich!:

It’s absolutely thrashing it down with rain. Luckily for me, I’m not on my bicycle today but even as I successfully find a parking space at the side of the road just up the road from Kettle’s Yard, my walk down Castle Hill involves stepping on a paving slab that ejaculates a muddy wash over my feet and trousers. Not exactly what I had in mind for a Sunday lunchtime. However, these Sunday concerts, newly re-branded under the title of “Hidden Channels” are celebrating a birthday – 10 years of championing DIY, experimental and electronic music and sound in Cambridge and the surrounding area. I’ve only ever made it to one previously, but their line-up and approach is more than just moving an evening’s worth of entertainment to a more friendly Sunday afternoon. Today is a good example. Whilst Simon Scott was supposed to be airing a new sound piece focusing on the “subterranean sound environment of the waterways of Cambridge”, he’d taken ill and was replaced my Pete Um running a seminar on influence rather than performing.

Prior to that we were treated to an introduction by Local Radio – a haunting piece of strings, broadcast from a tiny FM radio at the back of the venue. The sound then drifted up and into the vacant gallery above, fighting to be heard over the angry deluge of rain. This flowed nicely into Ypsmael’s piece for today entitled ‘Akystret’. An Eno-esque sound collage of shimmering noise through which treated guitar and field recordings were delicately placed. It felt like a soundtrack to human evolution. Beginning with the sound of our primordial beginnings, crawling out from the ocean through washes of sound and breaking, delicate riffs that then morphed into swaying trees and the clipped clicks of feet and swaying vegetation, before ending in the final metallic calls of urban living, the music finally morphed into a growing urban structure, reflecting humankind’s never ending ambition.

Having seen Pete Um perform on numerous occasions recently, it was refreshing to see him take a more personal approach to today’s event. Taking a step back from his music and casting, not quite a critical eye, but appreciating the correlation between events of his life and their subconscious effect on his music. Sitting in front of a desk with just a mini-disc player for company, he proceeded to play four pieces of music. Two were from a period in his life when things weren’t at their best – a long-term relationship was coming to an end and, as he sat in a flat by himself, he watched as a pigeon made a nest, laid eggs and battled to survive against swirling gale force winds. The second two pieces were from a more promising period – a new relationship was in its honeymoon period and he’d moved to Chelsea docks, living on a barge and watching a working river go about its daily business. With this information to hand it became obvious to the listeners the differences between the pieces. The first set were much darker: jarring sounds and heavy, metallic tones combined in a claustrophobic and oppressive noise, whilst alien sounds floated around. Fast forward to the more positive period and the music became a purring drone. The music was still Pete’s usual blend of lo-fi electronics but the texture was much lighter, whilst the tones here were a flowing, more gentle ripple. These points are, perhaps, not surprising. But Pete was trying to convey just how unconscious these influences were – he hadn’t set out to make the “gnarly” noises – they’d just happened. The subconscious playing its part in creating his art. It’s rare to hear an artist discuss these points so candidly, and it made for a revelatory experience.

The final performance in this showcase was a performance of Gavin Bryars’ 1-2-3-4. This “scratch” band of local performers (a drummer, bassist and guitarist), each had a personal cassette player. On that player each performer had a piece of music – something chosen under the theme of a “classic piece of underground music” but was “hidden” from us, the audience. Each of the artists were then to play their corresponding instruments’s piece and play it to completion. Usually, the piece starts in sync then slowly unravels but today, the syncronisation continued almost to the end – the final few minutes might have bee a bit esoteric, but the general sludgy riffs wouldn’t have sounded out of place at other experimental evenings I’ve attended. Listening to this slowly meandering river of noise made me think just how simple music is and how every piece of music is related through its lexicon – four players, all picking their way through a piece of music without practice, but still able to make sense of it, to make music. The players, consciously or not, finding a common groove and pattern. An inspiring listen that ended in the sound of thunderous rain pounding the roof reminding us that we, too, were hidden – albeit just from the elements this Sunday afternoon.

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Also another review here by the nice lady from Wysing Arts who’s lost track of the number of times she’s seen me play. Actually that’s a relevant point, as Jo Bad Timing sorta post-verbalised at the show – “not many of you lot come down the Portland” etc, so it’s a lonely Venn section Donna and Rich are in, I’m sure we are grateful to them for writing about it, and I’m sorry I was crap 😉