Fog
Fri Aug 23
Meow Meow

Though illness can be severely detrimental to any musician, it was a serious bout of pneumonia a few years ago that gave Broder the impetus to drop out of college, retreat to his bedroom, and cobble together a moving and imaginative self-titled debut album, which was released by the influential British label Ninja Tune earlier this year.

Rarely has music with turntables at its core exhibited so much world-weary, emotional splendor. But Fog is far beyond deft stylus maneuvers--acoustic guitars, austere synth melodies, feedback squalls, off-kilter beats and samples, and distorted vocals flow in and out of the strange arrangements, often creating something that sounds like an unholy alliance between DJ Shadow and Sebadoh's Lou Barlow.

"It's definitely 'get stoned and put on headphones' music," Broder laughs, adding that the effective collide-oscope of disparate sounds and moods was done on a modest four-track recorder. "I didn't use any computer editing, and I don't really know how to use a sampler. I'd like to think my attention span is better, but sitting down and going through a manual didn't sound like a lot of fun."

On "Pneumonia," Broder's fragile, alt-country-tinged voice ponders depression, bugs, and mold spores while a strummy, indie-folk guitar melody gives way to an unexpected and dexterous turntable solo. Elsewhere, tracks that figure to be avant-scratch exercises at the onset suddenly morph into beautifully warped pop songs.

Translating his expansive vision into the live environment has been a challenge for Broder, who's enlarged Fog into a four-piece touring outfit, but he's steadily converging the decks, guitars, organs, accordion, drums, and bells into one cohesive sound.

"For a while there, it was just a lot of noise going on at once because it was difficult for me to articulate what everyone should be doing," he says. "We hadn't played together enough to make sense out of it all, but now it's really gotten focused. And when you have a show where it all comes together and you lose yourself in the moment, it really feels good."