Thicker than pea soup

by Nathan Hall

Andrew Broder, aka Fog, is as uncompromising as they come. If Broder just happens to be digging 1960s girl pop on a particular night, then he’s going to spin a crate of it and he honestly couldn’t care less if that isn’t considered cool. If Bruce Springsteen is stuck in his head on the way to the gig, don’t act surprised if he whips out a cover of “Glory Days” when you least expect it. Fog’s eccentric sophomore effort “Ether Teeth,” although lacking an easily distinguishable radio hit like “Pneumonia” off last year’s masterful self-titled debut, provides adequate ammo for the argument that Broder and Co. still reign supreme on the bedroom turntablist movement.

The live Fog gig nowadays consists of Broder on the wheels of steel, Jeremy Ylvisaker on guitar, Baer Erickson on bass and Martin Dosh on drums. Legend has it that the Minneapolis-raised Broder grew ill and dropped out of school, locked himself in the basement and became obsessed with learning how to master every musical instrument he could lay his grubby little paws on. Then, much like a legend concerning the origins of Eric Clapton’s success, he strode forth and dished out a handful of demos. These were so incredible that the uber-cool British dance label Ninja Tune signed him while he absentmindedly sipped on a brewski right down the street at the Dinkytowner.

“Ether Teeth” was recorded on cozy-sounding reel-to-reel by Tom Herbers, credited for Low’s rise to glory. The album finds our beloved avante garde gang smooshing together bird calls, war propaganda and unrequited love poems into a glorious freak-out session. The imprint of Kid Koala’s scratch style and taste in records is apparent, and this album won’t alienate anyone who’s enamored with recent Anticon and Definitive Jux releases. However, this name dropping, while useful for simplified points of reference, does a disservice to a powerful body of work. “Ether Teeth” truly needs no road map for proper appreciation, nor does it require these enticements.

The Fog’s manifesto of a stubborn, inflexible and rigid devotion to construct songs totally removed from all commercial constraints is most strongly reminiscent of the solo work of ex-Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn, another unapologetic radical in his own right. Although Fog is about as far removed from hardcore punk rock as humanly possible, both artists favor the notion of challenging their audience’s expectations daily rather than spoon-feeding them comfortably processed familiarity.