Review & Short Story : Ummagma – Antigravity

I really don’t like the smell of Drakkar Noir, or any perfume at all, but Mom insisted I wore some for this party that the nuns organised at school. “It will do you good to go out of the house and see your friends”, Mom said.

Friends? She obviously doesn’t know me. It has to be due to those coffee sessions with her friends every Thursday at Sanborns or those late Friday evenings with her other friends (gin, tonic, vodka) that blur her perception of me. Honestly, I think both she and Dad prefer my sister Nadia to me.

Ah, but who cares? I’m 13. I can take over the world. Everyone is wearing their best bright neon colors and dancing to Vanilla Ice and Technotronix. Me? I can’t wait for London Beat or Depeche Mode. Specially the latter one, I love their song about cops, you know the one, right? The one that says “reach our suspect!” It says that, right?

My natural nervousness means that the minute I set my foot inside the school, I high tail it to the stereo area. I do look like a tit, because the dancefloor is half empty (only the bullies and their steady girls are dancing) and the rest are on opposing benches, being too shy (or guilty) to even look at someone from the opposite sex, so I reckon dancing is even more verboten. Oh, well.

No one at the stereo, a bunch of tapes floating around in several cardboard boxes. I grab the one with the name Ummagma spray painted on the side. Something called ‘Lama’ is right there, in cassingle form, and I have no idea what it is. The party looks boring. The guys are dying to dance with the girls and the girls are getting their first lesson on why you can’t depend on guys. Let’s put the element of chaos and put this unknown track. Uh, nice, steady beat. Can I dance to this? I am, while I take sips of Sidral Mundet. I don’t care if they say it’s poison, I love apple soft drinks, me. ‘Lama’ features nice female vocals and swelling, dreamy sounds. I wonder who she is? What does she dream of? What is she singing of?

Some of the less shy guys start gathering courage, and although both boys and girls blush like cherry tomatoes being boiled, they dance like happy drunks having a street party in ‘Kiev’. I continue moving around the tapes and I hear a voice I haven’t heard in a long time. I turn around and see no one. Figures. I do notice a girl with two ponytails, looking at the window. I put a tape that was labelled  ‘Autumnmania’ and I use the rather catchy notes to inspire me to go and talk to her. She looks sad, so sad. I wish I had some sticky tape and paper so I could put a name on her back that said “Fiona the Forlorney”, but I don’t have it. Oh, well.

We talk while the track continues to sway and swirl. It’s an instrumental one and it’s playful. She has a nice smile (I don’t mind braces) and after a couple of sips of Zubba and Sidral, she’s told me her life story. I ask her if she’s waiting for anyone and she says “just a friend from you neck of the woods”. I hope the dude is not planning on standing her up. 13 and with a broken heart? Poor girl.

For a moment I think about being The Replacement Date but a) that’s low and b) I can’t dance to what’s playing right now. It sounds like something Balkanic and mysterious, like an Italian spy film, so if I could name it, it would be ‘Balkanofillini’. It would be my soundtrack for solving crimes! I could so totally wear a fedora and trenchcoat and…

“Beto?”

“Yes” I answer, remembering that I gave her my name but I don’t know hers.

“I knew her. She was my best friend.”

“Who?”

She doesn’t say anything and turns around and sighs. My eyes guide me towards the black ribbon on the front gate of the school and I remember the reason this dance was organised and why the nuns broke that rule that boys and girls from the school shouldn’t be in the same party at the same time.

The black ribbon then starts to move. It’s just the wind, it really is. We’ve been having a few crazy gusts of wind, which turn this strange city into a ‘Micro-Macro’ environment, where minimal changes carry major consequences. The ribbon falls to the floor and only she and me notice this. She gasps and when she turns around, I’m halfway on a race to put it back on top of the arch of the front gate. The wind whistles and carries a strange tune, with unnerving sounds that make my mind quiver like that time when I wrote ‘1+1=3’ in a final Math exam.

I pick the ribbon and I climb the gate, helping myself with the wall. I start to hear this unnerving noises in the distance, like an electric guitar being plucked randomly, well-guarded by heavy reverberated swells emanating from synths and a piano. Never mind, it’s only the wind playing with my acrophobia. I affix the ribbon and I notice something is written in one of the flaps. My heart skips a few beats and I climb back rapidly. When I go back to the dancing room, the mystery girl is dancing with one of the school’s bullies. Oh, well.

I grab a bottle of mango nectar and a pineapple danish and walk upstairs. I guess I shouldn’t have had any expectations. I never win, really. I walk around the empty corridors. I go into my classroom and I eat the pineapple danish, while turning up a small radio we have for English class. A song called ‘Back to you’ is on the radio and, wouldn’t you know it? It sounds like the wind playing musical instruments with utmost passion. There’s a dual attack of male and female vocals, just gorgeous little sounds that go down well with the last two sips of mango nectar. I start drawing some graffiti on the blackboard with chalk and I hear that voice again. A voice that shouldn’t exist any more. It takes me 3 seconds to just say ‘Live and let die’ and hightail it downstairs.

This school creeps me out. So many strange things happening late in the day. When I reach the bottom floor, I notice puberty has been activated in a couple of classmates. Oh, well. It’s a ‘beautiful moment’ and if I were a ‘Photographer’, I could preserve the moment as it happened, not sweeten it up as time passed, letting lie after lie pile on top of each other to create an event that never happened, just like Antigravity.

Oh, well. I guess I should go back home and read some Jules Verne. My gramps gave me a copy of Master of the World last June and I love it so much; the vintage paper, the ‘Color (ink)’, the wood engravings. Yes, Jules Verne and his steampunk will help me forget this afternoon. I take a quick look around, taking detail on everyone’s shoes and the colors and shapes. It’s a weird ritual of mine, but I guess that’s why they call me “the shoegazer”…

Words: Sam J. Valdés López

You can download this album for free. More info at Ummagma‘s Facebook page. 

Ummagma Bandcamp. Facebook. Twitter. Soundcloud. Reverbnation.

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