Isolation Soundtracks – Introducing Fog Cast

Hello You. It’s been just over a month since I last updated this site and you won’t be needing me to tell you that in that short time just about everything has changed. Half the world is in lockdown, all venues are closed, all gigs, performances, releases, music and good times in general postponed for the foreseeable future. The vast majority of the populace are stuck in isolation, friends and families are estranged and concern continues to grow for vulnerable loved ones. It’s a sad and strange time and looks set to continue for a little while yet. But there is always hope. I deliberately used the word ‘postponed’ above, because, thanks to a curious strain of optimism I wasn’t previously aware of, I remain firmly convinced that happy days will come again. In the meantime we’ve all just got to sit tight and look out for each other.

While there are of course much bigger things to concern ourselves with in the current climate, I cannot overstate how much music has helped me get through the past few weeks and an awful lot of people I’ve been speaking to have said the same. If there is one small glow of positivity in amongst all this (other than the freshly-baked loaf of my Dad’s homemade soda bread that unexpectedly turned up in the post last Tuesday), I finally have the time to do an awful lot of listening. It never ceases to amaze me just how much astonishing music, old and new, continues to come my way, even now in this blighted year of 2020, so I decided that the best thing to do while stuck at home for months on end would be to start putting the thousands of recordings lining the walls here at Fog Towers to good use. To that end I’m launching FogCast, a new series of ambient, deep listening soundtracks for our current age of isolation, which will hopefully act as a kind of aural balm for friends and comrades stuck at home in troubled times. Designed for solitary listening on headphones, each episode will be broadcast 11pm Wednesdays on Resonance 104.4FM, then available online via the station’s Mixcloud page – and obviously I’ll be sharing them here too, along with a full tracklist. Here’s episode 1, which sets the scene  rather nicely by mixing recent works with older classics:

BJ Nilsen – Beam Finder [from Focus Intensity Power, Moving Furniture, 2018]
Merkaba Macabre – Iridescent [Forthcoming on Psyché Tropes, 2020]
Carl Matthews – Approach [Call For World Saviours, Mirage, 1984]
François Bayle – Toupie Dans Le Ciel [rec 1979, from Tremblements, GRM, 2018]
A’Bear – Involution [Unreleased, 2020]
Morgan Fisher – On the Brink [rec 1997, from Water Music, Tiger Bay, 2019]

I’m really hoping this will become a platform for like-minded artists and musicians currently without an outlet (or indeed an income), so recommendations and new works that fit the ambient, deep listening, drifting (but not necessarily soothing!) soundscape remit are warmly encouraged. If you have a piece that you’d like to be considered for inclusion in a future episode, do please get in touch, either on social media or by emailing robinthefog at gmail dot com. Thanks to everyone who has already made submissions and suggestions – and for the kind words this opening episode has received! It goes without saying that if you are enjoying this show or any future episodes, you might want to consider making a donation, either to Resonance FM or to the artists responsible. They’ll need our help more than ever in the weeks and months to come – and we’ll need them!

In other news, I’m very grateful to Laima Lisauskienė for including Howlround’s 2019 track ‘Heavy Works’ in this rather killer new mix. Produced last year for Musicity Global x Culture Mile’s collaborative project commissioning geo-located soundworks that reimagined the various spaces of the Barbican complex, its appearance here is most timely – unless you live in the immediate area or  possess a cassette of the resulting compilation album (which I still don’t, come to think of it), this is pretty much the only way you can listen to it until the London barricades are lifted! Chuffed to be in such auspicious company such as Tom Richards, Felix Kubin and Stockhausen as well!

On a sad note, I was very sorry to hear that fellow Barbican artist Many Wilson aka Kassia Flux passed away this week. A lovely and gifted composer whose two recent albums on Linear Obsessional are well worth a listen. I’ll be featuring extracts from her most recent work Ergot In The Wine in a forthcoming edition of Fog Cast and it seems a third posthumous release may surface some point in the future. RIP.

Naturally there’s not a huge amount of other business at the moment, but I’m sitting tight and working on a couple of secret projects that I’m very excited about and hope to be sharing with you once we all emerge blinking into the sunlight after the madness is over. As a trusted advisor said to me recently ‘imagine all the art that’s going to get made!’ and thinking along those lines over the last few weeks (plus the occasional loaf of fresh bread arriving in the post) has really kept me going. But to finish this post on an upbeat note, it suddenly occurred to me that I never shared these photos taken by the great Beth Arzy of my collaborative performance with Zachary Paul for Touch Presents… event at Cafe Oto back in February.

An absolutely fantastic night surrounded by great music and many friends, not least fellow performers Unica Zürn and Bill Thompson. Zach and I had fabulous fun pitting his violin against my tape machines and I honestly think this was one of my favourite live shows of the past year. I really hope we’ll get to share the recording of it that’s currently sat on my harddrive with you all in the not too distant future.

It all makes for a very happy, not-too-distant memory that’s helping keep me going Surely it won’t be too long before we get to do all these things again? Maybe we’ll have to wait until summer or even a little later – but there is so much great music and great art out there, not to mention great fellowship, that I can’t believe it could ever completely disappear, even in the teeth of a global pandemic! Until then, just sit tight and make sure you have plenty of access to good friends and a decent soundtrack.

Take care of yourselves, my friends. We shall overcome!