Pete Um, The Nature Centre, Fourth Page

Friday 29th November Iklectic Arts Waterloo London SE1

starts 8pm cost £10/7.5

Pete Um

Sectionable Cambridge pop-surrealist Pete Um is a world unto himself but also a standard-bearer for the kind of heroic DIY befuddlement and unflinching self-analysis that Deep Freeze Mice, Mick Hobbs, Robert Storey and the Homosexuals minted. Um’s sprawling catalogue is a beast that can’t be tamed or reasoned with, but it’s endlessly rewarding: time and time again he nails that going-mad-in-the-potting-shed-ness that is the historic, and perhaps eternal, English condition – what it is, indeed, to be a little bit ‘Fucked In The Head’ (as the title of one of the songs here has it). Where so much contemporary stuff in this vein sounds hopelessly mannered and contrived and untouched by actual real-world experience of being on the outside of ANYTHING, As You Were sounds fully free and unforced, hopelessly alienated from the thing we call society and GLAD of it, and even at its most demented and disorderly your man sounds like he’s wrenching everything he possibly can out of his primitive keyboard-and-mic set-up cos it’s all he’s bloody well got, not cos he’s self-consciously imposing limitations on himself. While the influence of 80s UK squat-whimsy looms large, we’re reminded too of the synth-fuelled early-noughts art-spazz of the The Soft Pink Truth and Safety Scissors, and, more than anything or one, R. Stevie Moore – unexpectedly powerful and unforgettable songs emerging unexpectedly out of awkward, enervating loops and the more obviously pranky vignettes. ‘The Director’ is my song of the year so far, NO WORD OF A LIE: a warped, wistful sequel to Patrick Selinger’s ‘Businessman’. And ‘Ed Sheeran’ is a casual takedown of the wee guitar-slinging eunuch, sure, but it’s also a long hard truthful stare at the plight of a more marginal musician: “When I was a kiddie / I wanted to be a star / I play in local venues / I guess I didn’t get that far / I don’t want no fame / It ain’t strictly pleasure / but I still gotta do it…”

“I am in danger of becoming a self-styled ‘Um Evangelist’, telling anyone who will listen about Cambridge’s Don Van Vliet, the East Anglian Brian Wilson.” Connor Brown, Nervous Conditions.

The Nature Centre

Birmingham-based The Nature Centre creates three-minute pop songs, stuffed with ideas like a suitcase packed too late. The band plays like nobody is watching, quoting freely from flowery psych, faded art rock cassettes, scratchy punk and arena weirdos. Expect banjos, bleeps and skronky rhythms, woven through tunes that bring to mind The Slits, Family Fodder and the best bits of Brum.

” …wonderfully discordant, complex and slightly absurd.” Nordic Music review

“…The kind of fololoppy pop that Syd Barrett might make if he headed up a harmony girl group under the influence.” Unorthodox Paradox

Breakfast Time

Nordic Music Review

Fourth Page

are Charlie Beresford – guitar and voice, Carolyn Hume – piano/keyboards, Peter Marsh – bass, and Paul May – drums. Formed in 2010 almost by accident, their stretched, atmospheric and entirely improvised songs have drawn comparisons to Schubert, David Sylvian, Talk Talk, Patty Waters and John Martyn. After a break of some four years to work on other projects, the band are back together, this time with a more plugged in format. A fourth Fourth Page album is planned for 2017.

‘Fourth Page takes improvised music to exciting places it hasn’t really been before’ – All About Jazz

“I thought it was perhaps the sort of song cycle Schubert might have written if he’d been around today. The anguish of Winterreise with its chinks of light…” – Fiona Talkington, Late Junction, BBC Radio 3