Short Cuts (And Even Shorter Notice)

‘Short Cuts’ is a rather exciting new series starting today at 15.00 GMT on BBC Radio 4.

Presented by Nina Garthwaite, the founder of the radiophonic treasure-trove that is ‘In The Dark’ and produced by Eleanor McDowall for Falling Tree Productions,  Short Cuts is a selection of brief encounters, true stories and found sound, ‘a showcase of delightful and adventurous short documentaries’.

In the first edition  she delves into tales of misadventure – starting with ‘a chance encounter on a train where a couple’s absorption in the crossword disguises a possible hidden romance. [and] encompassing the writer Joe Dunthorne’s reminiscences of his misspent gap year selling door to door in Australia’.  ‘Misadventure’ could pretty much describe my entire career to date, which is just as well, as I’m very pleased to add that my own short work ‘A Corner Seat In a Smoker Facing The Engine’ (aka Traintracker) has been included in this first programme.

Here it is again, just in case you’re not one of the 65 people who, at the time of writing, have officially heard it:

If you haven’t heard it, hope that you enjoy it, it’s the first part of a larger project that I’m going to be working on in the coming year. Though I won’t be expecting this much exposure!

Speaking of which, I realise that posting all this a mere few hours before the programme goes to air is something of a publicity shot in the foot, but such is the wonder of technology that I’m sure the BBC will have worked out some sort of  ‘listen again’ feature should you require it. Plus there are three subsequent episodes exploring such knotty themes as ‘Divided We Stand’ (January 17th), ‘The Comfort of Strangers’ (24th) and ‘Lost For Words’ (31st). Given the reputation of both Falling Tree and In The Dark for high standards, I heartily recommend catching them all.

I also, and no-less heartily, recommend becoming a friend of ‘In The Dark’. It costs a mere £20 per annum and allows you access to lots of exclusive goodies; as well as the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from helping out a voluntary organisation that is genuinely putting nice things into the world.  Great job!

Post-Script:

Thanks very much to everybody who sent such nice feedback, especially Marcella, the ‘falling off her chair laughing’ lady and Mr. Ed Lehan who sent what must be the best text message I’ve ever received!

Young Pines (Or How To Discover The Actual Meaning of ‘NSFW’ The Hard Way)

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The Young Pines organisation has just finished curating an exhibition of words and images at the Liverpool School of Art and Design. The work was taken from their self-published book ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife’, a collection of sexually explicit prose, poetry and illustration which uses mythology and fairy tales as a starting point. As part of the exhibition, visitors were invited to listen to audio versions of these stories and poems in a beautifully decorated ‘fantasy room’ lit by UV. And here’s one of them: ‘When Lucy Met Tumnus’ by writer, poet and storytelling genius Emma Hammond, with a sound design by Robin The Fog. But WAIT! Before you click on it I should point out that tt contains rather strong language and reasonably graphic sexual content. NOT suitable for the easily-offended, faint-hearted or readers of the Daily Mail! These people should probably click here instead, where they’ll find a nice comfortable link to a gentle, non-threatening repeat of ‘Bargain Hunt’.

Has that got rid of them? Splendid. Whack it on:

Emma says: “We chose this theme [for the event] as we were interested in subverting well known stories and themes. Some of the work is grotesque and uncomfortable yet in places it is quite beautiful.  We wanted to make the stories even more fantastical and in some ways absurd. We have had submissions from some of the most exciting young artists and writers from all over the country and the standard of contributions has far surpassed what we were hoping for.” 

You should almost certainly check out the Young Pines website and of course Emma’s own site . And there’s an interesting blog post about the project from her that you can read here. I note that the tags for this post are ‘bestiality’, ‘cocks’ and ‘prog-rock’, which means it should appeal to a worryingly-large number of my social circle.

Here’s hoping for more collaborations in the new year. Until then, Happy Christmas, everyone!

Monocle: A Very Kinky Sting And A Cosy Little Piece

A few weeks ago I was approached by Monocle Radio in my capacity as a ‘record obsessive’ and asked to file a report on recent news that, against all possible odds, sales of vinyl have actually increased in 2011. I was certainly happy to fufil this obligation, as the mini-resurgence is the one piece of good news I have been clinging to, limpet-like, for the past few months. Weddings of dearest friends? Pah. Recent additions to the family courtesy of beloved cousins? Meh. But tell me that a new record store has opened somewhere and you’ll find me down on my knees leading the Hallelujah Chorus. This is probably why I have yet to marry.

Kristina Records, Dalston. Thankfully some distance from a cashpoint.

Yes, for once my addiction is actually bringing some money in rather than the usual spending it in droves- that’s against all possible odds too. Where are you now, nay-sayers? Having said that, quite a lot of my fee went on obtaining records for purposes of research. I was also asked to work under the pseudonym ‘Robin Fog’ as apparently the producers didn’t think ‘the’ had enough zing to it. But let’s not split hairs. Here it is, ripped from Monocle Radio’s ROT, for your infotainment:

I must extend my heartfelt thanks to all the people who agreed to be interviewed for the piece including the good people of Kristina Records in Dalston, Raphael Mann of the excellent Frizz Records,  Mr. Shiver and Simon Kurrage of Size Doesn’t Matter; and most of all, the exceptionally affable Travis Elborough, who’s vinyl history ‘The Long-Player Goodbye’ is not only a fascinating read but saved me countless hours of fruitless Wikipedia scrummaging. As a bonus, I’ve included a rather jolly interview he did with The Quietus from a couple of years back.

PS As a further afterthought, and because I actually bought the LP from a record store only this week, I was going to include one of my favourite songs about the joys of record-collecting, ’43 Labels I Like’ by the mighty LA-rap duo People Under The Stairs. But unfortunately I was unable to find it anywhere online, so thought rather than just sling it up myself, I should just advise you to track down a copy of the album ‘Question In The Form Of An Answer’ for yourself. After all, the hunt for buried treasure is surely the most exciting part of digging…

Or you could go for the new LP ‘Highlighter’ released this year. They’re a fully independent group, which rather chimes in with today’s topic, as well as being refreshingly free of the usual bling-and-bitches rap tropes. You can save vinyl and the soul of hip-hop all in one day. Job well done!

Let Them Eat Chips

Many of you will already be familiar with these gorgeous faces:

CFTP: Highly Arousing.

It’s the mighty Chips For The Poor, who combine sartorial elegance with ‘seductive, danceable sonic concoctions that are tastier than chips and funner than poverty’; and ‘at times recall the austerity of Wire crossed with the primitive devil-may-care chaos of the Fall’. The more observant amongst you will have already noted that I merely slammed together two quotes from recent reviews (including Time Out Chicago) in that last sentence, rather than come up with anything original; but frankly what do my opinions matter when compared to such journalistic might? They’ve supported Bobby Conn, appeared on Chicago kids rock TV show Chic-a-Go-Go; and are generally far cooler than you or I have any right to expect. And now they have a new album that they would like to bring to your attention. And it’s on cassette. Here it is:

 

2011 Slow Motion Records (SMT001) cassette album
Limited edition of 53 coloured cassettes
Digital download
Buy either or both from Bandcamp

Track list:
A1/ Live from downtown transmissions (30’00”)
B1/ Mountain Vision (with Robin the Fog) (5’00”)
B2/ Surf’s Up (with Design-a-Wave) (5’00”)
B3/ Radio Rapture (with Robin the Fog) (5’15”)
B4/ Wet Lands (live with James III) (9’00”)

Information:
Mix of audio from our Resonance FM radio show, a travelogue of our US tour and beyond. Side A is six shows played simultaneously, side B is us playing with special guest remixers. Track B4 previously unbroadcast. Comes in six different colours, yellow is the rarest, puce is the most unpleasant.

I really wish I was in this band. And for a couple of brief, shining moments I sort-of almost was. Because as you can see, the B-Side of this cassette features radiophonic collaborations with myself, Design-a-Wave and the ever-manic James III). More by luck than by design I happened to be the engineer supervising these live recordings and so got to tinker and monkey a little with their aforementioned sonic concoction, which was an honour and a privilege. And also quite steamy in places.

In summary: Go here. Get this.

Should you require any more convincing, you can have a listen to the shows in their original wonky glory at the Resonance FM podcast page. And furthermore, here is the video to their previous single, the 22-minute, one-note wonder that is ‘I Am A Warrior’. This is the radio edit that was released on clear 7″ vinyl. Might be an idea to pick up a copy of that too, if there’s any left:

I wish I could be a warrior too. Someday…

Factual Uncertainties: Don’t Panic, Peacock!

“100% of all lottery-winners gain weight”

For those of you unfamiliar with writer, illustrator, broadcaster and fortune-cookie-making philosophiser Leila Peacock, here is a picture of her voicebox:

voice box 6

“Cats cannot see the colour blue”

If by any chance that voicebox does look familiar, it could well be that you’ve heard it before, as we worked on a couple of pieces together for Radiophonic Creation Day 2011, which can be found on the Radio page of this site. But right now I want to draw your attention to her latest work, entitled ‘Factual Uncertainties’, currently being featured on the German arm of the Don’t Panic! website.

don't panic logo“Clicking on this logo doesn’t achieve much”

The actual page can be viewed here in all it’s attractively-designed glory. I must say the good folk of Don’t Panic really do know how to make an nice-looking webpage. And their pictures don’t have silly grey borders that I can’t remove around them. Anyway, I’ve included the audio here, for your convenience. It’s about 18 minutes long and contains some very peculiar nuggets indeed, so grab your ear-goggles and pop the kettle on:

A development of a piece performed at the Voidhaus, Berlin in July 2011 entitled ‘Digressions in Diagrammar’. A voice reads from a list of reliably unreliable ‘facts’. It’s a poetry of lists, (mis)information as entertainment, instruction-manual hypnosis. In this era of the over-informed, you learn something useless everyday.

With sound design by Robin Warren (Resonance FM)

I may or may not be loosely affiliated with Mr. Warren. All I will say is that I don’t mind some of his work…

“The World-Record for not blinking is 11 minutes”

i only have eyes for you...

“29% of people like to make car-noises when they drive”

Baby-Grands And Bagels For Eyes: The Return Of The Art Party

Question:  One of these men is in fancy dress. Which one?

If there’s one thing that a photograph featuring a be-horned person with bagels for eyes must surely signify, it’s that another event curated by The Art Party is in effect. And so it is.

Once again the good folk of The Art Party are taking over Mol’s Place for another celebration of all that is good and right in the modern art world (there’s also a bar and canapés, but that’s purely a fringe-benefit). And this time it’s rather poignant occasion, as they are bidding goodbye to this most splendid of arts spaces, owned by collector and patron of the arts Jan Mol, who will shortly be giving up the gallery’s Covent Garden location and moving onto to pastures anew. Determined to see the venue off in fine style, the night included a mixture of painting, installation, sculpture and performance, including a live set by accapella and cassette-recorder trio Goodbye Leopold and myself as the DJ-ing glue that held it all together. Or perhaps the buttercream filling between the performance layers. Whichever analogy you prefer.

Goodbye Leopold – Hello Leotard

The point I’m trying rather clumsily to make is that I was DJing at this splendid soiree, filling in the gaps between the performances and trying to avoid this one woman who kept demanding I play some Sting.  For those of you not lucky enough to have been added to the exclusive guest-list, I’ve included some of the music played on the night here for your enjoyment. As you’ll hear, the artist formerly known as Gordon Sumner is mercifully absent:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

It was a four-hour set in total, though unfortunately time and other, more physical constraints prevent me from including everything here. Still, who really has time to do anything for four hours without stopping these days? And besides, I think these two little extracts contain the gist of the proceedings.  It was a sad moment leaving the gallery for the last time (although when I finally left after packing all my gear away, someone was blasting out The Black-Eyed Peas at skull-crushing volume, which rather burst my poignant farewell bubble).  A good time was had by all, with the possible exception of the chap who had to lug that Baby Grand Piano up the stairs.  I wonder where The Art Party will turn up next?  Wherever it is, I do hope I get the chance to play for them again, and that the whole Sting-debacle hasn’t irretrievably blotted my copybook.

Let The Fog See The Koala – Panel Borders 02/10/11 on Resonance FM

A very special edition of Panel Borders, the UK’s only radio show on comics, illustration and other graphic delights featuring an exclusive interview with Canadian turntablist and graphic novelist Kid Koala!

Otherwise known by his alter-ego of mild-mannered Eric San, Kid Koala is a world-renown DJ, music producer and cartoonist hailing from Montreal. Best known for a series of delightfully odd-ball albums released on the Ninja Tune label (often including a free comic book), 2011 has seen the publication of his second graphic novel ‘Space Cadet’, which comes with its own bespoke soundtrack. On vinyl, no less!

The Kid has also been travelling around of late presenting a series of ‘Music To Draw To’ events, where pens and paper are mandatory accessories and the audience sit around drawing to an ‘inspirational’ DJ set. This most recent event, which doubled as a sort of unofficial launch for the book; took place within the very pleasant confines of the Material / Red Gallery in London’s fashionable Shoreditch area.  Sketchbook in hand, I attended the recent London leg of his tour to talk robots, etch-boards and the Canadian work-ethic.  It was broadcast by Resonance 104.4FM on Ocotber 2nd 2011, and is now available as a podcast right here:

Or you could also download it by visiting it’s page on the Resonance FM website here

Interviewing such an instantly-likeable, softly spoken chap (except when he laughs – which is often!) made for some curious recording levels and a few clashes with the air-conditioning, but none-the-less, I hope this programme will entertain and inspire. ‘Music To Draw To’ was certainly an inspirational enough with a room literally bursting at the seams with talent, all sitting around nibbling cake and beavering away.

Stolen from http://www.materialmaterial.com. Blurry, but functional...

In fact, for added visual stimuli, why not listen while staring at the pictures below? This first one was created by graphic artist and blogger Andy Paterson in real time as the Kid ripped into some classic Hepburn:

Kid Koala at 'Music to Draw To' by Andy Paterson.

Andy proved most unpopular on our side of the table by effortlessly making all of our creations look like crap in comparison. To prove it, here’s a slightly dodgy one of mine, that certainly hasn’t benefitted from the amount of time I put into photographing it:

And lastly, let us turn to this affable chap called Ollie, whose contact details I have since lost and therefore cannot be properly credited (unless we can track him down). Which is a shame, as I think this drawing wraps up the spirit of the evening rather neatly:

Oh, and one more thing, because you’re lovely: Here’s a ‘wildtrack’ recording of Kid Koala ripping up the aforementioned Hepburn. I include it here because it’s rather obscured on the finished programme, and frankly, it’s too ace to just sit there and be a backdrop:

If you have any pictures of Space Cadets, Kid Koala, Kids, Koalas, Cadets or Space, do send them to robinthefog@gmail.com and I promise I’ll look at and perhaps act on them. In the meantime, remember: pens are your friends!

Making Sexy Happen

Hello. This week I have been helping to make sexy happen.

But why make a fuss about it, you might ask? Those of you who know me will of course assume that I make sexy happen all the time, that sexy happenings are a daily distraction in the fantastic world of The Fog. But real sexiness is something that has to be worked at, fought for, dare I even say sweated over. And right now that’s where I’m at, rolling back my sleeves and fighting for sexy. Remember the ‘Mucky Mixxxtape‘ I posted last month?

There were a lot of 'fake' French Tickler Novelties in circulation at the time.

Don’t play the innocent with me, you remember! Well, it’s since gone on to become one of the most successful and popular endeavours I’ve ever laid my hand upon, receiving more hits than all of my other Mixcloud sets put together. To jog your memory a little further, here’s yet more breathless hyperbole from the back cover of the modestly-titled ‘Fornicating Female Freaks’:

Real MEN and WOMEN actually SPEAKING to EACH OTHER. Now THAT is SEXY!

How do I account for this extraordinary spurt? Well, normally I would head straight for the lowest common denominator and confidently assume that all of my friends, associates and visitors to this site are a bunch of desperately seedy perverts, casting all my painstakingly crafted sound designs and video projects aside in favour of something a bit more trouser-rousing. But then I discovered that, completely without my knowledge, it had appeared on this most intriguing website, specialising in erotica for the visually impaired:

visit sonicerotica.com

And jolly fine it is too. Now I don’t claim to be an expert (in spite of all this recent activity), but I’ll wager that one advantage the Sonic Erotica site has over the 1970s ‘unusual stag action recordings’ brigade is that all the material here is made by actual people. For all Audio Stag’s talk of using ‘real MEN and WOMEN’, they’re still reading from a script when all is said and done (and it is a script, written by the wonderfully-named ‘Peter RAMAGE’). Pausing once again to remind you of my lack of expertise in the field, I would however like to speculate that surely its’s infinitely more stimulating listening to a bunch of genuine people having actual, genuine fun than mere actors pretending? And if that is true, why did they bother using actors at all? How hard could it be to find two people willing to get it on in front of a microphone? I once had a flatmate who never worried in the slightest about who might be listening…

So, why not visit http://sonicerotica.com next time your parents are out of the room? But no time for that kind of thing right now, we must brushing ourselves hastily off and move on to my next abundantly sexy piece of news – I’ve made a new video:

A tenuous link? Hardly! What could be a loftier pinnacle of sexy than a blonde woman waving foreign currency under your nose? Furthermore, parts of the soundtrack (the noisy ones) were made using a tape loop created by two very sexy people (myself and Mr. Chris Weaver of Resonance FM), and of course there is NOTHING sexier than a tape machine! Like all very sexy things, they’re rather fiddly to mess around with at first, but immensely satisfying once you’ve got them unspooling. That’s about as close as I seem to be able to get to a double-entendre on a Tuesday. Here’s a photo to add depth and colour:

Insert witty line about 'doing it at fifteen inches per second' here...

So as you can see, it’s sexy happenings aplenty here at Fog Towers. And they’ll be much more to follow. But I think you’ve had enough for the moment. Right now the only crumpet I’m hankering for comes from Sainsburys and has to be removed from the toaster with a kitchen-devil. See you all again soon, my hard-to-please stag collecting friends…

RAMAGE!

Frank-Scorching Language, Deep-Thrusting Throbbing Activity!

This Is Penis.

What’s that? A DJ set by Robin The Fog composed entirely of dirty, sleazy smut? Why, you might ask, has such a respectable pillar of the community undertaken such an endeavour? A cynical attempt to get a bit more traffic on this site? An attempt at causing controversy? Career suicide? Or is it simply that there’s something about these records that he can’t help but find oddly fascinating?

The answer is all of the above. Somebody, somewhere, sometime around 1988 must have been struck by the rather dubious epiphany that what the world needed more than anything else right then and there was a rap record called ‘Penis Delight’ by The Tittyhole Gang. And a reasonable number of people must’ve concurred with this idea and voted with their wallets. And then one person in particular must’ve decided that it would make a good donation to Oxfam, which is how I first came across it.

I’ve tried to keep things light-hearted, removing a couple of references to ‘next Tuesday’ and all traces of Rudi Ray Moore. But despite such efforts, I must warn you there is still some at times quite unpleasant stuff on display here, and that it’s not for the faint-hearted. Send the kids to bed and put the cat out.

Now, let’s slap it on:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Your hosts on this journey are Rana, said to possess ‘the infamous claim to fame of being an expert SEX PERVERT!’ (their caps, not mine); and a rather dull women who appears to trade under the moniker ‘Honeypot’, though I think that may be a pet name. Who knows what kind of exciting way-out adventures await this lovely pair? The decidedly maximalist cover of their 1971 LP teases us with a couple of subtle clues…

Which bit are you supposed to read first, I wonder?

Clearly not a quiet weekend at home with a glass of crème de menthe and a jigsaw.

Anyway, I thought it might add some extra stimulation to your listening experience to single out a couple of the more obscure tracks and offer up what little information I can, thus giving a little anthropological weight to the proceedings. So, who’s up first? And what the hell is she wearing?

Probably quite chilly - Faye Richmonde

You might be forgiven for thinking a quick glance at the cover of this LP would show you everything you needed to know about Faye Richmonde. Biographical details about the chanteuse behind such gems such as’My Pussy Belongs To Daddy’ (a song concerning the ownership of a cat, naturally enough) are even scantier than that shower curtain she’s wearing. But I’ve included three of her tracks on this mix and would’ve happily included more if I didn’t have a lot more perverts to shoe-horn in. Despite the pedestrian title and the absence of a single dirty word, ‘My Movie-Operator Man’ which closes our proceedings here could well be the filthiest song ever recorded. I mention it now because I’m not sure all of you will make it to the end.

Blowers - Definitely not a production of the Children's Television Workshop

The poor sap who sold this 7″ to me on ebay listed it as children’s record, though he perhaps meant only children over the age of 18. It wasn’t until it arrived in the mail that I discovered its dirty little secret, although in hindsight the knob-coloured vinyl should’ve given it away. As you will hear it consists of a funk groove (actually rather killer) with a group of snickering men (and women) shouting an alphabetical list of dirty words over the top. Very little effort appears to have been put into compiling this dirty alphabet, inspiration runs out long before they get to ‘Zombie P***y’ and I can’t even begin to imagine what ‘Quick Nuts’ are, a breakfast cereal perhaps? I can tell you practically nothing else about it, except that another copy (on standard black vinyl) recently sold in the US for seventy-seven dollars, thus making the paltry seven I paid for my purple one seem like a wise investment. My purple one. Tee-hee…

This is what passed for graphic design in the late 80s

The phrase ‘jaw-dropping’ is bandied about a lot these days, but I really think the brains behind Sexual Society and their track ‘F**king* deserve to claim it for their own. Seriously, I’ve tried putting into words how profoundly, disgracefully odd this track is and I just don’t have the vocabulary. As with the aforementioned Tittyhole Gang (on the flipside as it happens) somebody, somewhere thought that the world needed to hear it enough to press it up and ship it to the UK. And as you can see I put as much effort into photographing the sleeve as the label did in shopping around for a graphic designer. Those apples look good enough to eat!

Highly Treasonous - Chloe Poems

Acquired this at a very fine evening of electronica a decade ago upstairs at The Bridge Hotel in Newcastle, in exchange for buying the promoter a pint of Guinness. Rather like the Blowers record, I had no idea what lay in store for me until I arrived home, placed the needle in the groove and got about a minute into the record. Then it hit me like a plateful of highly scandalous trifle.

Just who is Chloe Poems? Well, in a 2004 interview she described herself as ‘a gay, socialist transvestite poet, [a] lover of life and a great big camp girlie-goo girls blouse who loves joy, whoosh and nothing better than having a good time’. Fair, enough, we all enjoy a bit of whoosh now and again. But really, Chloe, this is a bit much! Is treason still a hanging offence in this country, I wonder? If so, it would certainly explain her completely dropping off the radar in recent years, her web domain disappearing and her Myspace being long-abandoned (like the rest of Myspace). Nonetheless, here she is in all her glory, and it’s worth noting this is the one track here which concerns anything other than instant, cheap gratification. We salute you, Ms Poems. What a pity you never scaled the heights of your label-mates The Ting Tings…

Head-Nose-Tongue? Stick it in your ear, you screwy sex weirdo!

Well, I’ve shot my bolt for now. Big thank-yous to the Kent Coast’s premier selector Lucky Cat Zoe for help with a couple of entries on the playlist, to Alasdair Dickson for unwittingly kick-starting this dirty little voyage, and to you for listening. Who knows, one day there might be a sequel. But for now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to roll over and go to sleep. And I’ll expect eggs in the morning…

We never did find out what Frank-Scorching was, did we?

I am Wonder-Dick.