The Null Device

International Pop Underground

My favourite radio programme these days is International Pop Underground. This is a weekly 2-hour show on Melbourne's community radio station 3RRR, presented by music journalist Anthony Carew, and playing a broad selection of interesting music from all over the world, ranging from indiepop to post-rock to antifolk to bedroom electronica; it's quite variable, though typically falls somewhere in the pop-music tradition whilst having that slightly rough-hewn, handcrafted eccentricity absent from the assembly-line ad-jingle/ringtone music most people know as "pop".

I started listening to this back in Melbourne some years ago, tuning into 3RRR using a radio. I stopped doing so when moving to London, mostly because, while you can stream it from the radio station's web page, it falls inconveniently on Wednesday morning local time. A year and a bit ago, I cobbled together a script for capturing and storing the stream for future listening, and started tuning in, sporadically, again. In recent months, I have started regularly listening to this show (usually on the following Saturday morning, whilst still in bed; at(1) is my friend). Whilst doing so, I have discovered numerous gems; for example, last week's show included:

This show has also recently been playing a fair amount of Swedish pop (Jens Lekman and I'm from Barcelona have both graced recent playlists, and there was an interview with Jenny Wilson (who shares with José Gonzáles the accolade of Most Improbably Named Swedish Musician), and also has been regularly spinning tracks from Beirut and CSS before they turned, respectively, into the Arcade Fire of 2006 and providers of bundled tie-ins to Microsoft's latest piece of DRM-crippled crapware. Come to think of it, I believe Carew was playing The Arcade Fire before they became ubiquitous as well.

This is not the only programme on RRR I listen to; I also sometimes tune into Local And/Or General, the new-Australian-indie show. I don't listen to it as often as IPU because it's not as consistently rewarding. Whilst it does play a few gems, there is rather a lot of standard garage/pub/grunge rock to sort through to get to it.

There are 10 comments on "International Pop Underground":

Posted by: alecm Wed Oct 4 22:46:19 2006

You know "The Knife" are playing London soon? As in the original music for the Bravia ad which Gonzales covered?

Posted by: acb Wed Oct 4 23:48:24 2006

Yes, I heard about that. A friend of mine may be going. Not sure if I can go; I'll be spending that day unpacking my flat and wandering around Ikea.

Posted by: gjw Thu Oct 5 04:09:57 2006

Well living in Darwin, I'm not spoilt for choice with the local stations, so I get my "decent radio" fix with a script that, every night, rips RRR and PBS in alternating hourly blocks, from 1am to 6am. I find that graveyard shift delivers the most eclectic mix, with the least DJ prattling. There's a great psychadelic rock show on PBS I discovered this way - In Tune With The Infinite, midnight to 2am Sundays.

Posted by: Greg Fri Oct 6 09:54:03 2006

I like IPU too, though as a regular (radio waves) listener I perceive a definite genre in the show, whatever the genre is that has Architecture in Helsinki, the Postal Service, Antony and the Johnsons and the current Swedish thing near its core. But there is unexpected stuff too and it's usually an interesting and high quality show.

Wednesday night is my "RRR night". After Incoming (new local releases, 2/3 missed due to being at work) there's the highlight of my week, Byte Into It (consumer electronics, games, open source), then IPU and finally Symbiosis (ambient sound art). Sums me up really. Another great RRR night is Sunday from 8pm.

Posted by: acb Fri Oct 6 11:21:40 2006

You're right about the genre, though as far as pop music goes, it's not a bad one. I'm not too keen on the neo-folk thing (I still associate folk with tone-deaf people with acoustic guitars, two chords in ther repertoire and a fondness for third-person pronouns in their lyrics), but throw in some glitchy GameBoy beats, a choppy Casio and judicious use of glockenspiels and it becomes somewhat more interesting.

I haven't listened to Byte Into It, except for the last few minutes which my script picks up. As far as that sort of thing goes, I've caught the BBC's Click Online TV show a few times. It's not bad; not the most detailed, but gives a balanced view of controversies such as DRM.

Posted by: datakid Sun Oct 18 04:07:08 2009

I came trawling through google to find this post. I am about to do the same, and wanted to see what tips you had given. OOI, can I ask why you used at(1) instead of a cron job?

Posted by: datakid Sun Oct 18 04:18:30 2009

heh. Is it to get the script to stop after 2 hours? I've only just got to the "thinking the problem right through" stage :)

Posted by: acb Sun Oct 18 10:15:42 2009

@datakid: If you want to change timezones, use a cron job which, some hours before, does something like "TZ=Australia/Melbourne at 20:00 my_recording_script".

As for the recording script, mplayer doesn't have a timed option, so it should run it in the background, sleep for 2 hours and then kill(1) it.

Posted by: datakid Sun Oct 18 21:54:45 2009

Oh mplayer! I was just going to use:

#!/bin/sh DATE=`date +%F` `wget -O ${DATE}-IPU.mp3`

Posted by: acb Sun Oct 18 23:14:04 2009

If it works for you, go ahead.

I find that the line to use is something like mplayer -really-quiet -noframedrop -dumpfile <outputfile> -dumpstream <URL> >/dev/null &