A few years back, I was twiddling the dial on my tuner one Saturday afternoon, a dead time of day for decent radio programmes unless the football commentary floats your boat. The tuner seemed to think it had found a station, yet all I could hear was white noise. I left it right there for a few minutes, intrigued by the sound in my kitchen making the glasses on the shelf move around.
Another eminently listenable, if left-field, track followed on. The hushed tones of a DJ (‘Whispering’ Bob Harris has nothing on these guys) then said a few words before firing up another four minutes of aurally challenging music.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Resonance FM. The radio station was founded by members of the London Musicians Collective in 2002, I discovered. That information immediately took me back to several evenings in the 80’s spent in their Camden base listening to free jazz of the very free variety. Drums, bass and brass would fly off at different tangents, occasionally coming together for something approaching a groove, before splitting again, each musician doing their own thing. And not always on traditional instruments: rubber hose, copper tubing and funnels all played a part in the LMC’s jams.
The results were variable but rarely dull. At some point in the evening’s proceedings, something would grab you; something you would never hear in the traditional music pubs in Camden; a loose affiliation of sounds that shook your ‘pop’-trained listening abilities and challenged rather than pacifying.
Resonance is built from the same stuff. Some of it is dull. Some of it is brilliant. But rarely does it occupy the tedious middle ground of most radio station’s output. It now shares equal billing with the four or five other points on the dial I can trust to deliver good radio throughout the day. There is even a show called Clear Spot, the name of my all-time favourite album. Perfect.
And not only does Resonance play weird and wonderful music but it is home to The Bike Show, a weekly half hour of cycling stuff from Jack Thurston that is consistently good value. It’s not glossy, it’s not hi-tech, but it is interesting. There is no narrow remit for Thurston to follow. He takes a subject that interests him and runs with it, invariably with good results.
So tune in (and drop out) to Resonance 104.4FM at 18.30 on Mondays for The Bike Show, or get one of those marvellous podcast thingies for your iPod, or listen online.
And take the time to listen to some of the station’s other shows. Expect to hear some music you have never heard before, a lot you never want to hear again, and, every so often, an absolute gem that makes you believe music can still be innovative and exciting.