Hello you. It’s Fog Cast 13 this week, but Resonance FM’s premier late night isolation soundscape show is feeling very lucky indeed to be hosting another stellar line up, much of which is freshly arrived on the block, proving that while this cursed year or 2020 does inherently suck, there is still a huge amount of remarkable sounds out there, just waiting to be discovered. It’s an observation I tend to make most weeks, but what can I tell you? I’m constantly being surprised anew with the depth and quality on display out there! And of course the search continues – I’m always looking for new material to include in subsequent programmes, so if you have something to consider, do get in touch either by email or Twitter.
In fact, the presence of art, culture and music on this increasingly right-wing little rock in a time of austerity and pandemic has been one of the few things that has kept me sane over the last few months and years, so if you feel the same I would ask you – as ever – to bung some cash towards the artists responsible for the fine musical selections in this week’s episode. Furthermore, I would ask you to consider signing THIS ONLINE PETITION calling upon the government to consider emergency funding for the arts. ‘The government should look to the aftermath of the second world war when the UK along with many other countries invested large sums in the arts as part of their plans to rebuild society’, its authors claim, entirely commendably. This is also a moment to review arts funding as a whole and to turn away from the discredited austerity, privatisation and private funding model that has dominated Culture and public services more widely.’ I have no dog in this particular fight, other than having a lot of artist friends who are really struggling to make ends meet right now. I’ve signed and I hope you’ll consider doing so as well. And once you’ve done so, reward yourself by strapping on your ear goggles, fixing yourself a stiff one and sliding head-first into another inviting sonic stew…
Mark Vernon – Succulent Gros / Overflown Ellipsis / The Larum Of The Living / The Consensus Is To Delete / Nossos Ossos / Revolving Rivers [from An Annotated Phonography Of Chance, Misanthropic Agenda, 2019]
Marina Rosenfeld & Ben Vida – VERTICE (Extract) [from the forthcoming album VERTICE, Phantom Limb, 2020]
Lo Five – Raising Awareness / Amor Fati [from The Art Of Living, Lo Five, 2020]
Simon Klee – Gamma Escape Sequence / Temporal Transmutation / Darkening Skies [from The Reciprocal Second, SubExotic, 2020]
Correlations – Xibalba [from Mayan Gods, Castles In Space, 2020]
Lo Five – Caught Between Lives / Ataraxia [from The Art Of Living, Lo Five, 2020]
Michael O’Shea – Voices / Anfa Dásachtach [rec. 1981, from Michael O’Shea, Allchival, 2019]
Hello you. We’re travelling to some very remote locations on Resonance FM’s Fog Cast this week, starting with the sounds of space captured by the British Antarctic Survey, then moving on to the remote Finnish ireland of Örö; before returning home to a silenced lockdown London, which in its own way feels like a distant world now that so many people appear to have completely forgotten we’re in the middle of a pandemic! Not to worry, though, it’s a sublime listen for those of you still stuck in isolation – though be warned it’s not always an easy one! Here’s the tracklist:
Sounds of Space Project – Sonic Rain 4.45 AM / In the Heart of the Storm 8.00 PM [from Aurora Musicalis, Sounds of Space Project, 2020]
Amy Cutler – a childish attempt to read the immense ineffable riddle of the world [from Örö Tape- Fieldtrips of the Damned, Fractal Meat Cuts, 2020]
Stubbleman – 6am – Chorus / 8 am – Soliloquy [from The Blackbird Tapes EP, Crammed, 2020]
Amy Cutler – vigil for örö (one month of fieldtrip sounds – radar, bird calls, bunker bell system, ice, rust, swamp) / ghost antler lichen [from Örö Tape- Fieldtrips of the Damned, Fractal Meat Cuts, 2020]
Stubbleman – 4 am – Conversation – Soliloquy [from The Blackbird Tapes EP, Crammed, 2020]
Amy Cutler – moth examination station [from Örö Tape- Fieldtrips of the Damned, Fractal Meat Cuts, 2020]
Sounds of Space Project – Aurora Musicalis Compilation Sounds only [from Aurora Musicalis, Sounds of Space Project, 2020]
Our proceedings kick off this week with The Sounds of Space Project, a trio consisting of the British Antarctic Survey’s Nigel Meredith who supplied the space sounds, composer and pianist Kim Cunio, and Diana Scarborough who produced this very fine accompanying video. Their debut album Aurora Musicalis is available for free online and very splendid it is too, combining ambient piano with recordings captured by a Very Low Frequency (VLF) receiver at Halley Research Station in Antarctica to striking effect. The accompanying notes to this release claim it to be ‘partly an imagining of what it would be like to stay at the Halley station with a grand piano’, though to my ears the glacial celestial ambience on display is in no way redolent of the kind of logistical nightmare such a task might entail (for one thing the temperatures would surely play havoc with the tuning?)! A fascinating listen, anyway. I’ve featured two tracks here plus the bonus recording of unadulterated space sounds which closes both their album and today’s show, and would heartily recommend further immersion.
Someone else who is sensibly not travelling with a grand piano (unless I’ve missed something) is sound artist, writer and cultural geographer Dr. Amy Cutler, who spent an isolated month at the end of 2019 on the remote uninhabited Finnish island of Örö and has just released a new album of field recordings, spoken word and cut-up concréte poetry culled from her experiences on Graham Dunning’s Fractal Meat Cuts label (at the time of writing there are only TWO copies left, so go man GO!). Örö Tape: Fieldtrips of the Damned has been described by the artist as ‘audio for a final fieldtrip, or vigil, in a world becoming haunted […] a tape cassette of pathetic fallacy / emotional spectrums of atmosphere / the walk-through or play-through of a “last man” winter outpost / your heart turning to ice as extinction sets in’ and to my ears it’s as beautiful and austere as the wintery island that inspired it. Dive in and feel that Baltic chill!
Also featured on the show this week is The Blackbird Tapes, a brand new digital EP of London lockdown ambience by veteran producer and sound engineer Pascal Gabriel, trading here as Stubbleman but with an artistic CV as long as your arm. A sequel to last 2019’s Mountains And Plains LP, it’s a trio of new works that Pascal claims have been ‘inspired by the increase in birdsong floating in through the top floor window of my London home’ and it’s recordings like these that are pretty much the reason I launched Fog Cast in the first place. ‘Each of the three tracks is based on a field recording of blackbirds and their friends singing at different times of day over three weeks during the London lockdown in April 2020’, Pascal continues, ‘I’ve taken the melodies and atmospheres evoked by the recordings and used a minimalist arrangement, simply overlaid with upright piano and analogue synth, to create these meditative compositions’. In some ways it’s a shame to think that this quiet stillness has disappeared almost as quickly as it arrived, but hopefully Stubbleman has some more of this wondrous works up his sleeve. In the meantime this EP is out now on Crammed Discs.
Really quite a trip this week, wasn’t it? I do hope you’re enjoying Fog Cast as a series so far. If so, please consider making a donation to the ever redoubtable Resonance FM who have remained on air throughout the entire lockdown to ease isolation. All programme makers and engineers happily donate their time and resources for free and the station depends almost entirely on the generosity of its listeners, so why not visit https://www.resonancefm.com/donate and do what feels natural? They’ll thank you for it and so will I!
Zyklus – Colophon, 1998 / Wasteland, 1983 / A Thought is a Wave, 1989 / Another Flood, 1987 [from Gumbo Gulag, Buried Treasure, 2020]
Jude Cowan Montague – Moog – Church African – Red Gold [unreleased, 2020]
Plone – Circler / Red Kite [from Puzzlewood), Ghost Box, 2020]
Long Meadow – Just Wait Until Spring [unreleased, 2020]
Not Quite So – This Nice Man [from 37 Minutes, Not Quite So, 2020]
Kemper Norton – Treliske [from The Isolation Tapes (Cassette Edition), Castles In Space, 2020]
Ffion – This Limbo [from The Isolation Tapes (Compact Disc Edition), Castles In Space, 2020]
The New Obsolescents – Glass Sphere [from The Isolation Tapes (Compact Disc Edition), Castles In Space, 2020]
Polypores – Abstract Gardening [from The Isolation Tapes (Compact Disc Edition), Castles In Space, 2020]
Hawksmoor – La Peste [from The Isolation Tapes (Cassette Edition), Castles In Space, 2020]
Jonathan Sharp – The World Without Us [from The Isolation Tapes (Compact Disc Edition), Castles In Space, 2020]
Warrington Runcorn New Town Development Plan – Public Health and Wellbeing – Prog. 314 Meditation for Insomniacs [from The Isolation Tapes (Compact Disc Edition), Castles In Space, 2020]
Field Lines Cartographer – Time Crystals [from bonus ‘Side 3’ of The Isolation Tapes (Cassette Edition), Castles In Space, 2020]
Drunk Keith! – Keep This Frequency Clear! [from the forthcoming album The Death Of Drunk Keith!, Drunk Keith!, 2020]
Hello you. Rather later than usual this week, please enjoy the latest edition of Fog Cast for Resonance FM, much of which is given over to celebrating the release of volumes one and two of The Isolation Tapes on Castles In Space, boasting a whopping 66 tracks from the cream of weird electronics and psychedelic pastoralism; and also Gumbo Gulag, a retrospective of library and production music from Zyklus on Buried Treasure Recordings that’s full of the kind of grainy lo-fi synth goodness I get very excited about. Listen to 1983’s ‘Wasteland’ (second track on the show) and you could almost be watching the title sequence of some badly-interlaced, tenth generation video nasty on VHS. This is a very high compliment of course – and not just because I’ve been watching an awful lot of trashy B-movies lately. Although I can’t deny that has helped…
Anyway, both releases deal with specific time-spans, but at rather opposite ends of the spectrum – everything that appears on the two volumes of The Isolation Tapes was created in a single month under lockdown, whereas Gumbo Gulag runs from 1982 to 2004. All are highly deserving of your attention and selling fast, so I’d jump and secure yourself copies right away. Plus all proceeds from The Isolation Tapes are going towards The Cavell Nurses’ Trust, so it’s a thoroughly worthy cause too.
As we’re now halfway through the year, I thought it might also be nice to look both backwards and forwards at some of 2020’s other offerings. The show is rounded off with exclusive new and unreleased material from Resonance’s own Jude Cowan Montague, the ever-affable Long Meadow, those charming chaps from Not Quite So and also the tipsy splendour of Drunk Keith!, a new project from the artist formerly known as The Protagonist! (exclamation marks his own – I’m not shouting). Plus I couldn’t have a mid-year show without including something from my very favourite LP of 2020 so far, the life-affirmingly joyous Puzzlewood by Plone. It’s been a rotten year for so many, but all this amazing music – and finally having a little more spare time to actually listen to it – has been one small reason for good cheer. The lathe cuts of Howlround’s new EP with Merkaba Macabre selling out in under half an hour has been another, rumours of forthcoming releases by The Twelve Hour Foundation and Concretism another still. We might just all survive the year with our sanities intact after-all…
**UPDATE: The physical stock sold out in under half an hour! Wow! But the EP is still available digitally and 100% of all proceeds are still going towards helping out Iklectik in these unprecedented times, so dig deep and let’s help our friends out!**
Hello you. Very excited to announce that Howlround and Merkaba Macabre are dropping Cantor Dust And Monster Curve, a brand new fundraising release for #BandcampFriday, launching tomorrow on 5th June with 100% of proceeds going to help support imperilled south London arts venue Iklectik. It’s a four-track EP of ‘Tape Loop Techno Meets Modular Madness’, containing some of the music we’ve been creating in collaboration over the past year, which started of course with our debut performance at The Delaware Road back in summer 2019.
Working with Ben Soundhog’s newly-minted Plastidisk outfit, we’ve created an edition of twenty lathe-cut 7″ singles, hand-made and hand-numbered with full colour labels and original artwork. Each side of the disc contains one heavyweight banger, expertly cut by Ben to get the loudest, most dynamic sound possible, and the release is rounded off by two more digital tracks of pounding beats and pulsing electronics. Plus of course every copy comes with a full digital download for the entire EP. There are only 20 physical copies available for the world and that’s all – no repress, no second editions, first come, first served! The release is now live. Don’t sleep on this!
100% of all proceeds raised will be going straight to help South London’s finest venue. And I do mean 100% as we’re donating the manufacturing costs as well, so any and all monies raised are going directly to help Iklectik during these unprecedented times. It’s been a hugely valuable platform, meeting place and social haven for so many artists and musicians over the last few years, and now’s the time to pull together and give something back: we’re hoping this highly desirable item will be just the thing. Plus you can always make a standalone donation anytime by visiting https://iklectikartlab.com/support-us/ or indeed just clicking on the image above.
Secret Songs Of Birds – Siberian Rubythroat (at 50% speed) [from Secret Songs Of Birds, British Library, 2010]
Jim Fassett – A Revelation In Birdsong Patterns [from Symphony Of The Birds, Ficker Records, 1960]
Secret Songs Of Birds – Grasshopper Warbler (at 35% speed) / Pacific Winter Wren (at 30%) / Eurasian Reed Warbler (at 50%) [from Secret Songs Of Birds), British Library, 2010]
Ljuben Dimkaroski – Zvočni Pogovori [from Zvočni Pogovori / Sound Dialgoues, Ljuben Dimkaroski, 2009]
Jim Fassett – Symphony Of The Birds (Three Movements) [from Symphony Of The Birds, Ficker Records, 1960]
In other news, this week’s episode of Fog Cast takes to the sky with an avian theme, opening and closing with Jim Fassett’s truly remarkable slice of early tape manipulation Symphony Of The Birds and featuring several extracts of specially treated birdsong from the British Library’s collection. There’s also an extended piece by the Macedonian composer Ljuben Dimkaroski where he plays along with the dawn chorus (it sounds like it, anyway, the sleeve notes are unclear – and in Slovenian) using a Tidldibab, a recreation of a 60,000 year old Neanderthal flute found in Slovenia. It’s a curious truth that while birdsong is generally considered to be relaxing by the kind of people that peddle CDs of running water and rainforest noises in your local garden centre, this tenth episode of Resonance FM’s soundtrack to our current era of Isolation is perhaps the harshest listen yet. The slowed-down tracks have a strangely abrasive, alien feel to them, particularly on Fassett’s sixty year old recordings which occasionally show their age – not that they’re any less sublime for all that, mind you, we basically live in the world he and so many other pioneers created! Dimkaroski’s work is an intriguing affair as well, taken from a CD I picked up in Ljubljana while visiting a fascinating exhibition of prehistoric instruments, though despite his being a respected veteran composer I’m afraid I can’t find much more information or a link to the CD online! Perhaps a trip to Slovenia is in order, once lockdown is lifted? It’s a beautiful city and the food is magnificent. I’m now dreaming of these things as only a person who hasn’t left Penge in three months can…