Questions to Mr. Pete Um

Mr. Um, your lyrics are full of sardonic melancholy. Have you been an unhappy man in your adolescence?

Some people call you a poet, some a musician. How would you put it?
I'm not a poet, and I'm more of a non-musician than a musician. I think I work in a highly-specialized field which draws on a range of crafts.

When and how did you start making music?
I've had a very long love affair with tape-recorders, but I was too shy to tell even my girlfriend that I wanted to make music until I was 21. Then I became the terrible singer in a band. After that we split and I bought a computer in 1996 and I began in earnest then.

Why are your tracks so short?
They are not short. They are concise. Why shouldn't songs be short? I like short songs. If a song of mine seems too short, you can always listen to it twice. Or you can listen to my song "That's Too Close" which is about how a pretty girl told me my songs were too short. One day I will meet the Dalai Lama and I will wait for his words of wisdom and he will tell me my songs are too short.

Your "No Pressure" record [Gagarin Records, 2008] starts with the line "I have fear inside of me". Please elaborate.
I'm very neurotic and uptight. I'm a zulu worrier. Performance is a kind of valve mechanism for me.

To whom are your lyrics addressed to?
A lot of my music is made just for it's own sake, and I'm kind of talking to myself, but sometimes I'm bitching about a specific other person or how this world of ahistorical squares has done me wrong.

What is your connection to horses?
I have a special t-shirt with a horse on it to wear on particularly troublesome days. Also, I love the story that Nietzsche saw a man cruelly whipping a horse, and he was so overwhelmed with unSuperman-like compassion that he permanently lost his mind and threw his arms around the horse's neck.
An interview by Felix Kubin
Photo + image: R.R.

Published under the kind permission of Gagarin Records


“Forerunners – Swedish Electronic And Concrete Music 1955-65”

So I might have said that I don't like compilations, but there is always an exception or two, and compilations with historical material I always like. Sub Rosa's “Noise Anthology” series is a fine example of a great historical series.

I am not sure if “Forerunners – Swedish Electronic And Concrete Music 1955-65” will be a series also, but this is a very nice compilation, which includes extensive liner notes and photographs of serious looking men behind old tape machines. Of course included is the man who was the first to create concrete music in Sweden, Rune Lindblad, who started experimenting with film and sound in the fifties – and whose career has been well preserved on CD. Of the other names, I recognized only Sten Hanson and Lars-Gunnar Bodin, who had their work released on Fylkingen before (well, maybe the others too, but then I may forgot about it).

All of these pieces, eleven in total, sound very much like you would expect them to do: oscillators, sine waves, tape manipulations and sometimes crude editing techniques make up some wonderful rough electronic music. Leo Nilsson's “Skorpionen” sounds almost like an industrial piece of music, but it’s from 1964 (created with the help of Erkki Kurreniemi). Not always the compositions are that great, but the sheer experimentation makes up wonderfully well. Nice text pieces too by Hanson, Bengt Emil Johnson and Lars-Gunnar Bodin. Also includes work by Ralph Lundsten, Karl-Birger Blomdahl, Bengt Hambraeus, Arne Mellnas and Ake Karlung.

Very nice, and hopefully more to come. And an example for other countries too.

Frans de Waard / Vital Weekly
Image: Fylkingen


Festival Jazz.pt

Para comemorar o terceiro ano de edições da “Jazz.pt”, a única publicação periódica especializada em jazz editada em Portugal, o Jazz ao Centro Clube, associação cultural responsável pela sua edição, uniu-se ao Hot Club de Portugal (HCP) para organizar a realização do primeiro Festival Jazz.pt.

Agendado para os dois primeiros fins-de-semana de Setembro (dias 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 e 13), o evento terá lugar no espaço do HCP, na Praça da Alegria, em Lisboa.

Fiel à orientação editorial da revista, fortemente centrada na promoção e divulgação do jazz em Portugal, o Festival Jazz.pt reunirá proeminentes nomes nacionais e internacionais, num total de 13 concertos, sendo também palco para o lançamento de quatro registos discográficos. Paralelamente, decorrerão ainda exposições de fotografia e design gráfico.
Programa disponível aqui.


EDITORIAL: O segundo capítulo

Dois anos podem ser um pequeno período na história de um projecto, mas são uma imensidão para o GPInformation (GPI).

Por um lado, muito mudou no último ano. Contactos multiplicaram-se, entrevistas foram concretizadas (outras não), a interactividade aumentou, o universo expandiu-se. Neste momento, o trabalho desenvolvido no âmbito deste blogue está também disponível em meios como a Chain DLK ou a “Jazz.pt”, tão diferentes na sua forma como semelhantes na sua essência: a vontade de informar sem propósitos comerciais.

Por outro lado, nada mudou. O tempo disponível para desenvolver o projecto da forma desejável continua a ser pouco, e a vontade continua a ser limitada pela técnica.

Quanto a balanços, é preferível que sejam os leitores a fazê-los. Os comentários continuam a ser bem-vindos, assim como as colaborações.

O que reserva o ano que se segue? O tempo o dirá.

Por fim – e como é usual nestas ocasiões – resta agradecer a quem, a vários níveis, tem ajudado o GPI a ser o que é. Por não saber por onde começar, a opção é a ordem alfabética:

Afonso Macedo, Alexandre Gamela, a equipa Alg-a, Elliott Sharp, Eriek Van Havere @ EE Tapes, Felix Kubin, Fernando Ferreira @ ClubOtaku/MiMi Records, Frans de Waard @ Vital Weekly, Frederico Pulga, José Miguel Pereira @ Jazz ao Centro, Kawabata Makoto, Mark Fell & Mat Steel @ snd, Matt Elliott, Maurizio Pustianaz & Marc Urselli-Schärer @ Chain DLK, Nuno Catarino, Nuno Martins, Pedro Costa @ Clean Feed/Trem Azul, Richard van Dellen, Rui Eduardo Paes @ Jazz.pt, a equipa Sinsal, Terre Thaemlitz, V2, Vicky Bennet.

E, obviamente, a quem consulta o GPI e o tem divulgado pela Internet.

Nuno Loureiro

english version

EDITORIAL: The second chapter

Two years may be a small period in a project’s history, but they’re a huge amount of time for GPInformation (GPI).

On one hand, a lot has changed in the last year. Contacts have multiplied themselves, interviews have been done (others not), interactivity has grown, the universe has expanded. At this moment, the work developed at this blog is also available in media like Chain DLK or “Jazz.pt”, as different in their form as they are similar in their essence: the will to inform without commercial ends.

On the other hand, nothing has changed. The available time for the desirable development of the project is still not enough, and will is still limited by technique.

As for balances, it is preferable that they’re done by the readers. Comments are still welcomed, as well as collaborations.

What’s for the following year? Time will tell.

Finally – and as usual on these occasions –, the acknowledgments for those who, at several levels, have helped GPI to be what it is. For not knowing where to start, the option is alphabetical order:

Afonso Macedo, Alexandre Gamela, the Alg-a team, Elliott Sharp, Eriek Van Havere @ EE Tapes, Felix Kubin, Fernando Ferreira @ ClubOtaku/MiMi Records, Frans de Waard @ Vital Weekly, Frederico Pulga, José Miguel Pereira @ Jazz ao Centro, Kawabata Makoto, Mark Fell & Mat Steel @ snd, Matt Elliott, Maurizio Pustianaz & Marc Urselli-Schärer @ Chain DLK, Nuno Catarino, Nuno Martins, Pedro Costa @ Clean Feed/Trem Azul, Richard van Dellen, Rui Eduardo Paes @ Jazz.pt, the Sinsal team, Terre Thaemlitz, V2, Vicky Bennet.

And, obviously, for those who read GPI and reveal it throughout the Internet.


Gagarin Records 10th anniversary tour

Tod dem Attitüdenkarussel!
Es lebe die negative Geschwindigkeit!
Nieder mit übersättigtem Pomp und fanatischem Klanggetüftel!
Elektropunk und Disko Psychedelik statt tontechnischer Sahnehäubchen!
- Gagarin Records Manifest, 24.6.1998

On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, Gagarin Records plans a showcase tour with several of its recently adopted artists in Central Europe.

Live on stage, the psykotronic beauty of Ergo Phizmiz, Echokrank and Pete Um will unfold until label chief Felix Kubin spins records and heads into nightmarish hysteria.

«Let us undock from Planet Earth and become disembodied cosmonauts, like our Mechanical President whose telepathic phantasmagorias and corroded nightmares we transform into desolate electro-futuristic music!»

Tour dates:
10.09. de - Frankfurt /Mousonturm
11.09. de - Berlin /Festsaal Kreuzberg

12.09. de - Hamburg /Golden Pudel Club

13.09. nl - Nijmegen /Extrapool

14.09. be - Brussels /disco kids Atomium

15.09. de - Mannheim /Feuerwache

Image: Gagarin Records

Rita Braga em concerto

A Associação Portuguesa de Apoio à Vítima promove no próximo dia 21 um concerto com Rita Braga, um evento que surge no âmbito do projecto de dinamização do Espaço APAV & Cultura.
O espectáculo terá lugar no Espaço APAV & Cultura, na Sede da APAV (Rua José Estevão 135-A, ao Jardim Constantino, em Lisboa), a partir das 18h30.
Rita Braga é uma criativa intérprete de melodias alheias. Servindo-se do ukelele – instrumento havaiano semelhante ao cavaquinho –, dá nova vida a canções tradicionais dos mais diversos cantos do mundo, como EUA, Sérvia, México ou Polónia. Com imaginação e humor, Rita Braga vai buscar inspiração – nas palavras da própria – a «muitas constelações do presente, passado e futuro».
Embora gratuita, a entrada está sujeita a confirmação prévia (contactar nunocatarino@apav.pt).
Fotografias: D.R.


Portefólio: Jazz ao Centro 2008

E à quinta edição, o Jazz ao Centro (JAC) reinventou-se. Não se tratou de uma revolução, apenas de uma renovação. O espírito mantém-se, apenas os contornos organizativos mudaram, dotando o festival de uma maior dimensão, com eventos paralelos e maior interdisciplinaridade.
Este ano, o JAC também saiu à rua, mais concretamente às Escadas do Quebra-Costas, no coração de Coimbra, numa presença mais assumida perante a cidade, com os sons do jazz a espalharem-se pelas ruas e a reclamaram-nas como suas.
No entanto, o Salão Brazil continua – e continuará, decerto – a ser o “santuário” do JAC. Os fantásticos espectáculos do Michaël Attias Quintet: Twines of Colesion e de Alberto Pinton & Chant assim o asseguram.
Fica a reportagem fotográfica de um dos melhores festivais de jazz nacionais, pela lente de Nuno Martins.

© Nuno Martins 2008


New audio & video by People Like Us

There are new free audio items available for download at the People Like Us (PLU) universe. One of them is the work Vicky Bennett’s project developed based on the archives of electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram, having, under commission, reworked them into new compositions, to be presented as part of a day-long symposium at London's South Bank Centre.

Another fine commissioned work is the one PLU produced for the AV Festival "Now Hear This", entitled “Breaking Waves", which consisted in a series of short audio works to be broadcast via Bluetooth in Middlesbrough Town Centre. These brief musical compositions explore the humorous side to communication breakdowns in all their varied and surprising forms, in a series of misfiring musical arrangements, exploring the entertaining aspects of miscommunication, disharmony, bad connections and missed calls.

Finally, PLU have also issued two works that were originally mail-order only: “On The Rooftops Of London”, a session for the final edition of BBC Radio 3's "Mixing It" (broadcasted on February 9th 2007), and 2006’s “All Together Now”, that presents 27 minutes of new songs following visits to several music libraries, and appropriating favorites from the western world into a musical pantomime.
All this sound material can also be found at WFMU's Beware of the Blog.

On the video field, UbuWeb has made available PLU’s “Film Works (2002-2007)”, five full-length films and one incarnation of the project live set, which employ recycled materials from a variety of sources.
“We Edit Life” (2002) explores the theme of technology, using documentary, industrial and educational film footage from the Prelinger Archive and The Internet Archive. “The Remote Controller” (2003) uses found footage sourced from educational films to explore the way human body and machine interface in the 20th century. “Resemblage” (2004) was created using film from the LUX archive by artists Alan Berliner, Lawrence Jordan, PLU, Semiconductor and the Estate of Stan Vanderbeek. “Story Without End's” (2005) narrative is from a public domain film of the same name made in 1950 about the development of microwave radio transmission and the transistor. “Work, Rest & Play” (2007) is a video triptych exploring the themes of labour, leisure and industriousness. Finally, we have “Live at the WFMU Record Fair” (2003), a work that has been carefully constructed using industrial and documentary film footage from 1940-1975, By Corey Smith.
Photos: People Like Us


Punck: “Piallassa (Red Desert Chronicles)”

Of course I could investigate why a label wants to call itself Boring Machines, but surely it's nothing of a program anyway, so I didn't bother. They have bands like Satan Is My Brother, My Dear Killer, Be Invisible Now and Whispers For Wolves, which sound like awful band names (silly label names is ok, but a silly band name? get real).
You could add Punck to be a silly band name, and surely it is, but I happen to know Adriano Zanni as a serious man of serious music, so things are forgiven at the start.
In 1964 Michelangelo Antonioni made “Red Desert”, his ninth movie, in the industrial area of Ravenna and in 1964 Zanni was born in Ravenna. This album is a tribute to Antonioni and to Ravenna, a place I haven't visited, so all I can do is believe his words about the «huge, cold factories and the polluted river». But no doubt these are mentioned on the cover as to indicate the nature of the field recordings used on this album.
It’s a long work (71 minutes) of slow moving sounds perhaps like an Antonioni movie. Perhaps the strangest element thrown in is the acoustic guitar. Its a bit hard to see why its there, other than perhaps to provide us with a counterpoint with the field recordings. I guess that might be it, as the field recordings part of this is water running, metallic pipe rumbling and birds - field recordings of a rather “industrial” kind - present in your ears - unlike the microsound posse who would need lots of plug ins to hide this.

In Zanni's soundworld this is not necessary. The wind produces the drone, metallic sounds the far away factories and water adds a melody, or spoken word provide a narrative aspect. When this is done, the acoustic guitar comes back in, forward, backwards, slightly processed. It makes a rather odd combination, which my ears had to get used to. Somewhere half way through the album, the thing gets more and more minimal, with a lot less sounds and more spread out over the disc and no more acoustic guitar. It’s almost if it's a second piece of music, although it’s indicated as one really.
I have a bit of a problem with that. The first say 35 minutes things were nicely in tune, but the second half is like a different world. Why not make two distinct pieces then? Both are nice, but both are different. Otherwise I think this is a very fine work of field recordings and electronics, and oh, a bit of guitar.
Certainly something a bit different!

Frans de Waard / Vital Weekly
Photos: R.R.

Livro: “Uma identidade em (des)construção”

Já não é uma novidade no catálogo da MinervaCoimbra, mas vale sempre uma referência, pela sua peculiaridade.

Trata-se de “Uma identidade em (des)construção. A figura de Jasão no Romance Medea. Stimmen de Christa Wolf e no Drama Manhattan Medea de Dea Loher”, da autoria de Maria Ângela Moreira Limas, um estudo baseado na dissertação de mestrado em Estudos Germanísticos desta docente e investigadora do CIEG.

A figura mitológica de Jasão, líder dos Argonautas, é no imaginário colectivo associada a imagens de bravura e heroicidade e a uma masculinidade viril e dominadora. Tomando o texto canónico euripidiano como ponto de partida, este estudo propõe uma análise comparativa da forma como o protagonista masculino é apresentado no romance “Medea. Stimmen”, de Christa Wolf (1996), e no drama “Manhattan Medea”, de Dea Loher (1999), com particular incidência na problemática do gender e no modo como as obras em apreço concorrem para a consolidação ou para a desconstrução da imagem heróica tradicional.

Fotografia: D.R.


Interview: snd

2008 is a year of returning for Sheffield’s snd, with the release of “4, 5, 6” – the first edition in six years under this project – and a recent tour with Autechre. In a brief e-mail conversation with GPInformation, Mark Fell and Mat Steel talk on their newest creation, as well on the perspective they have on their own work.

What can you say on “4, 5, 6”?
About the last three 12 inches that were released recently, we conceived of these as three separate records that were intended to be released on different dates. For us, the 12" format is a good format to work on – for some reason we feel most comfortable with it. And then, as we got to the editing stage, we made a decision to release them all in one go as a three pack 12". We're happy with the project, as it shows our path over recent years.

And as for you other projects, like Blir, what's on preparation?
Right now we have no plans for any new Blir material, but this will probably change in the future, when we find some time to devote to this project again.
What are the main evolutions you would point in your last works, regarding aspects like composition or software innovation?
Looking back to our first project on Mille Plateaux, "makesnd cassette", it was a particular approach to how to deal with change in music – change in terms of how a piece develops over its duration, or how an album changes over it course.
For us, at that time we were unhappy about timeline based approaches to structuring music. We found it hard to make the changes feel right...
So we had non, or few. A track simply played and the sounds were changed slightly. "Tenderlove" (our third album) was a departure from this. Here, there were far more real time processes involved. We had spend two or maybe three years developing ways of changing music data in real time, so that we could transform patterns in a number of ways.
At this stage, we were very much working with processes that were dynamically engaging – where you could sense what you were doing but not quantify it or provide a theory of how it worked. I was reading lots of Heidegger at the time, and the two things seemed to complement one another. But once we had achieved a level of success with this method (both technically and musically), we grew tired of it.
Our current approach is different again. It employs a kind of non real time list based process to pattern generation. And we deliberately have very little real time control of this... There's quite a "distance" between us and our tools... intentionally.
You started making music in a time when electronic sound was still close to an avant-garde aesthetic, materialized in projects like Mille Plateaux…
…How do you see the current scenario? Is technological massification killing creativity?
That’s a bit like saying if more people speak a language then the more mundane the words become. I think the opposite is true. Once you give the tools to people, the activity starts to evolve and take on a life of its own. For me, it’s the people who were properly trained in how to use musical tools that killed creativity, Not the people who just pick it up and have a go. I never studied music or computing, so to extend your argument, am I one of the people killing creativity? No... But something is being changed… Namely the supposed superiority of proper music over any kind of music.

Nuno Loureiro
Photo: Joe Gilmore