This Peel session dates back to 2002 at a point where Mum still radiated warmth in most critics’ eyes and had just completed their second album Finally We Are No One. Since then Mum have gone on to traverse a line of sound closer to rounded indie pop rather than the stuttering lo-fi electronica of their debut Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today Is Ok. The four tracks on this Peel session abide more closely to the shuffling ambience of their debut and though it is difficult to ascertain the energy you would imagine from a ‘live’ session, does retain something of its uncertainty. First track “Scratched Bicycle/Smell Memory”, begins with some programmed bleeps and beats which are squashed against some bare live instrumentation — probably a glockenspiel. The uncertainty comes from a lack of a distinct over-arching melody or rhythm as different timbres and rhythms fall out and against each other. The use of different percussion is interesting and at one point the sound of a stick running against bicycles spokes is replicated and the smell of childhood ennui brought to the fore. “Awake On A Train” has a lo-fi drum machine simulate the chug of the train whilst a circular chime of synth notes play out. The track manages to tread a nice mix between the pastoral and the electronic and like “Scratched Bicycle” the track gently provokes the mind to wander. However, the nagging feeling with the track is that too often there is not enough in the overall composition to really transcend anything other than the fleeting moments interest. This is the general feeling for most of this record. Whilst at times its electronica offers enticing alley ways into mixed rhythms, these are never really built upon and too often are put aside for the trickle of live instrumentation — accordion, strings etc — that fail to pick up the bones of the original rhythms.
Whilst at times its electronica offers enticing alley ways into mixed rhythms, these are never really built upon.
Mum don’t drop any real clangers with this set but when at times you feel that they could be approaching the warm and delicates hues of say Tortoise’s TNT the mood alters and their tails drop. Last track on the EP “Ballad Of The Broken String” is particularly guilty, borrowing the accordion sound of the previous track and its gallic airs, the track sounds like an afterthought incorporated though the soft token xylophones against the dirge like melody of the accordion. Mum will need to punch harder then this if their forthcoming album is to bring something worthwhile to the table.