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Utility Fog

Your weekly fix of postfolkrocktronica, dronenoise, power ambient, post-everything improv... and more?
Sunday nights from 9 to 11pm on FBi Radio, 94.5 FM in Sydney, Australia.
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Playlists are listed with artist name first, then track title and (remixer), then [record label]. Enjoy the links.

Sunday, 4th of October, 2015

Playlist 04.10.15 (8:09 pm)

Here we are… October… time for revolution. Well, maybe later this month, heck.
Quite a range of sounds tonight, from hip-hop to jungle to house esoteric electronics and electro-acoustics, gorgeous drones and shoegazey indiefolk.

LISTEN AGAIN on your public holiday if you're in NSW or your first day of work elsewhere! Podcast here, stream on demand there.

Starting with Sydney underground music stalwart Tom Smith aka Thomas William, who's been twisting hip-hop into new forms since his early recordings as Cleptoclectics in 2007. It's always great to have something new from him – leaning less on the ethnic samples and glitches this time round.

There's no drum'n'bass producer I've been more excited by in the last few years than Sam Binga, one of those involved in bringing jungle back into currency, combining it with grime and Chicago footwork alongside the "slow-fast" movement. Bouncy stop/start beats, basslines front and centre, and MCs all over the place, with a dub/dancehall feel never far away. Great stuff. His new album is almost 100% collaborations, with only one track credited just to him – although the various digital bonuses include a few instrumental versions, along with some deep drum'n'bass remixes and some more grimey ones.

Chicagoan sound engineer Casey Rice has worked extensively with the likes of Tortoise while living in that city, but has been based in Melbourne for some time, with Australians benefiting from his mixing and mastering expertise. His productions as Designer have always been few and far between, but it's cool to discover that the latest release will be a collaborative 12" with Four Tet on his TEXT label. Tonight's selection is the b-side, direct from Mr Rice himself.

Sydney artist Corin Ileto put out her debut solo EP Deluge last year to some acclaim. On that release, acoustic piano appeared alongside ambient electronics, but her new album Wave Systems sees her concentrating more on strange sound structures from analogue keyboards. There's not much to compare it, even though there are the occasional beats you can nod your head to. Recommended listening.

We accidentally heard the first Kyle Bruckmann track ahead of Corin due to outrageous playlist mismanagement, but now for the rest… Based in Oakland, California (we'd think of it as a suburb of San Francisco really but it's part of the Bay Area hey), he plays oboe and other reeds, often in that area of composed jazz meeting free jazz, but the releases I know him for, on the Entr'acte label, see him bringing his reeds into the world of strange, malfunctioning electronics. Not really malfunctioning but certainly deliberately warped, given the title of the first of these releases was Technological Music Vol. 1 – or, Regarding the Misuse of Tools and the Rigorous Application of Capriciously Derived Organizational Principles… The new one takes itself just as seriously/tongue-in-cheek, as Technological Music Vol. 2 – or, Regarding, in Addition to Concerns Previously Explicated, Matters of Process, Artifice, and Verisimilitude, and they are also available as a double album from the label.

Jason Corder's been making music as offthesky for a good 10 years now out of somewhere in the middle of the USA… He came to my attention via a group called Color Cassette who put out a release on the beloved Moteer label, making a lovely kind of folktronica, while offthesky has generally been a more ambient affair, sometimes with clicky beats, and Juxta Phona has been his outlet for the somewhat more idm-influenced beats. He has two major releases this year, the stunning solo album the serpent phase on UK label Hibernate, and an equally commanding album with Polish ambient/post-classical artist and serial collaborator Bartosz Dziadosz aka Pleq.

Post-classical piano buddies Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm have made a couple of previous EPs & singles together, and with this latest one comes an announcement that the material will be collected on a double album along with some new stuff. It's nice stuff, the Juno synth beloved of Nils, occasional dub techno thud and occasional clicky non-beats.

And finally, some tracks I've been meaning to play for a while, from a split 12" on Rural Colours which sold out almost instantaneously and is now available from the two artists' Bandcamps. Isnaj Dui is English flautist Katie English, who's played with many drone, folk, postrock (of sorts) and electronic artists – but on this release she's focusing on her other instrument, the cello. The track I've chosen is a burbling stew of layered electric cello and never fails to thrill my ears.
On the flipside is the lovely Richard Adams of The Declining Winter. Since Hood broke up for reals (*sob*), he's been holding the fort with a regular schedule of indie music, and his album of earlier this year was the best rendering of his sound yet. On this EP he goes for an acoustic shoegazey sound reminiscent of Benoît Pioulard, perhaps, although Richard's songwriting is very distinctive.
Check out both sides digitally!

Thomas William – Tuition (feat. Kid Kairo & Chun Yin) [Plastic World]
Sam Binga – Wasted Days (feat. Warrior Queen) [Critical Music]
Addison Groove & Sam Binga – Thr3id [50 Weapons]
Sam Binga – Freezy [Modulations]
Sam Binga – Steppin ft. Redders (Foreign Concept mix) [Critical Music]
Sam Binga & Om Unit – Reclaim [Critical Music]
Four Tet + Designer – Dark [TEXT]
Kyle Bruckmann – Music for Dancing [Entr'acte]
Corin – Empress [Speaker Footage]
Corin – Morning [Corin Bandcamp]
Corin – Images II (Moon Holiday Remix) [Corin Bandcamp]
Corin – Hydrate [Speaker Footage]
Kyle Bruckmann – Four Investigations Of A Dubious Premise I [Entr'acte]
Kyle Bruckmann – Four Investigations Of A Dubious Premise III [Entr'acte]
Kyle Bruckmann – Irreproducible Result A2 [Entr'acte]
offthesky – well worn sting [Hibernate]
offthesky & pleq – wands upon a thousand fields [Infraction]
Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm – Wide Open [Erased Tapes]
Isnaj Dui – Radial Field [Rural Colours/Isnaj Dui Bandcamp]
The Declining Winter – Lost In Huge Light [Rural Colours/The Declining Winter Bandcamp]

Listen again — ~105MB

Sunday, 27th of September, 2015

Playlist 27.09.15 (9:11 pm)

It's FBi's supporter drive! That time of the year when we ask the people who love what we do to help us – financially – to pay our bills, and so on!

LISTEN AGAIN while you subscribe – stream on demand at FBi's website, or podcast it here.

Melbourne postpunk trio F ingers start things off with a release on the ultra-hip Blackest Ever Black (shit, I said "hip", how old am I?) Pretty great to have Oz representing on this label which is home to a great array of UK & US noise, techno, industrial, punkish, and experimental electronic stuffs. Featuring Carla dal Forno plus Bum Creek's Sam Karmel and Tarquin Manek (also ex-Pikelet).

Moscow's Alexey Devyanin releases music under a number of pseudonyms, but for a long time I only knew him as Gultskra Artikler, under which he made a number of albums of collagey acoustic doom of sorts – quite dark, woozy folk stuff along the lines of Miasmah labelmates Kaboom Karavan or Kreng. But then I discovered that Devyanin is also Pixelord – in which (to my ears) he explores kitsch of a different variety, with the computer gamey vaporwave the YouTube generation makes of late. It feels to me like his latest project as Gultskra, appropriate released as a cassette by Umor Rex, brings the experimental electronic tendencies of Gultskra Artikler and the more pop dance side of Pixelord a little closer – sampling, mulching up and spitting out the sounds he's been listening to of late. It's incredible stuff.

Strangely Gultskra's acoustic collage (and less strangely the electronic sounds) remind me a lot of the pre-eminent ambient techno collage artists The Future Sound of London, who have just released their 8th archive album, this time not "From The Archives" but Archived 8 – perhaps to denote the fact that there's a lot of rather new material to be found here.

Persian-American artist Aria Rostami has been releasing experimental electronic music from San Francisco for a few years (I was introduced to him because Ollie Bown contributed a remix to a release in 2011). Inhabiting that comfortable/uncomfortable zone between conceptual, glitchy experimental music and idm/house beatmaking, he does a fine job in covering both. For his latest release, he explores the idea of orientalism – of the "othering" of the East – through field recordings sent to him from Tehran, Kerman and even Taipei. And as well as electronics and processed field recordings, there's an array of middle eastern and western live instrumentation in there, from violin and piano to the Turkish tar.

So this new Julia Holter album has been getting crazy accolades from all round. And well deserved… we're talking about a highly accomplished artist still at a young age. This album feels like a fairly straightforwardly pop thing, albeit more of a Kate Bush style pop than Katie Perry (lol). While in the past, her albums have lyrically been based around Greek myth, French literature and American film, here there's no high-concept theme as such, although still much poetry to be found. Musically it's a lovely continuation from her past arrangements, fleshed out a little more with a larger ensemble of strings, woodwind (including some quite '80s sax), and jazzy drums along with her piano and breathy vocals. Is it the 5 stars, 10/10 album some critics are hailing it with? Well, it's as good as the older albums and that makes it superlative already. That's enough – you know you need it.

F ingers – Tantrum Time [Blackest Ever Black]
F ingers – Mum's Caress After Trip [Blackest Ever Black]
Gultskra Artikler – D [Umor Rex]
Gultskra Artikler – Fizik Dyadya Kolya [Lampse]
Gultskra Artikler – Berezka [Miasmah]
Gultskra Artikler – kartoshka [Miasmah]
Gultskra Artikler – e [Cluster]
Pixelord – I Don't Need This [Infinite Machine]
Gultskra Artikler – Destroy [Umor Rex]
The Future Sound of London – Blue Green [FSOL Digital]
The Future Sound of London – Troxós [FSOL Digital]
Aria Rostami – Delta [Aria Rostami Bandcamp]
Aria Rostami – Midori [Audiobulb]
Aria Rostami – Denizens [Crash Symbols]
Aria Rostami – Vietnamoses [Aria Rostami Bandcamp]
Julia Holter – Vasquez [Domino]
Julia Holter – Tragedy Finale [Leaving Records/Domino]
Julia Holter – Marienbad [RVNG Intl./Domino]
Julia Holter – World [Domino]
Julia Holter – How Long? [Domino]

Listen again — ~106MB

Sunday, 20th of September, 2015

Playlist 20.09.15 (9:12 pm)

Two specials take up the whole show tonight – Justin K Broadrick's JK Flesh and the wonderful Low.

LISTEN AGAIN because you owe it to yourself. Stream on demand anytime, podcast anytime.

Justin K Broadrick is one of my musical heroes. From his early days in as a very young man in Napalm Death, he's gone on to influence many metal and noise bands with his seminal industrial metal band Godflesh, followed by his shoegaze metal(?) band Jesu, as well as free jazz/metal hybrids God, electronic/hip-hop/dub monster Techno Animal with Kevin Martin of The Bug (etc), and more recently a completely electronic shoegaze act that sprung out of the more electronic aspects of Jesu, Pale Sketcher (not to mention the pitch-perfect drum'n'bass of Tech Level 2, and countless collaborations with metal, noise and electronic musicians). He's been called "JK Flesh" by Kevin Martin for a long time, and before Godflesh reformed, he'd been wanting to explore the heavier sounds again with a more electronic bent – so JK Flesh became a real thing.
Rather than attempt to somehow cover all of JK Broadrick's musical history, I'm taking the opportunity of his new album Nothing Is Free (release, er, for free on Bandcamp) to recap the JK Flesh repertoire – focusing on some Japanese CD exclusive versions (now available digitally like many of the countless versions JK likes to produce). The distorted dub/hip-hop and junglist influences of this project are close to my heart.

Another band very close to my heart is Duluth, Minnesota's slowcore monarchs Low. What can you even say about Low? One of the most important & beloved indie bands of the last 2 decades, with their roots in the "slowcore" sound that they pretty much founded – a melancholy, stripped-down indie music – they introduced distorted guitars, electronic sounds and textural noise elements into their music quite early on. This musical adventurousness often underscored quite emotionally unsettling themes, although there's usually enough peaceful beauty in there to counteract the intensity. Admittedly I'm tending to focus on the unsettling tonight! In keeping with Utility Fog's interest in genre-crossing and experimental sounds, we have some remix/collaboration work as well – although I wasn't able to fit Alan Sparhawk's Retribution Gospel Choir side project, a more straight rock band whose third release is made of two 20-minute psych rock jam monsters.

JK Flesh – Peace in Pieces [JK Flesh Bandcamp]
JK Flesh – Knuckledragger Version [3by3/Daymare]
JK Flesh – JK Flesh Merges Prurient 1 [Hydra Head/Daymare]
Violetshaped – cX310 (JK Flesh Reshape) [Violet Poison]
JK Flesh – They Own You [JK Flesh Bandcamp]
Low – Gentle [Sub Pop]
Low – Landslide [Sub Pop]
Low – Fear [Vernon Yard]
Low – Do You Know How To Waltz? [Vernon Yard]
Low – down (porter ricks remix) (excerpt) [Vernon Yard]
Low & Spring Hell Jack – Way Behind [Tugboat Records]
Low – Shots & Ladders [Kranky]
Low – Pissing [Sub Pop]
Low – Belarus [Sub Pop]
Low – I Started A Joke [Touch & Go Records] {wow, it's a Bee Gees cover!}
Low – Just Make It Stop [Sub Pop]
Low – No Comprende [Sub Pop]

Listen again — ~58MB

Sunday, 13th of September, 2015

Playlist 13.09.15 (9:09 pm)

100% electronic goods tonight – from Melbourne to Sydney to NoCal, to Winnipeg to Berlin (via Belgium & Italy).

LISTEN AGAIN over here or over there, but do listen!

Starting with something forthcoming from Melbourne pianist/electronic artist Asdasfr Bawd aka Alex Clayton, who has a new EP coming out on Solitaire Recordings soon. As is expected at the moment, it's very footwork-influenced, but his music also draws from UK garage. Well done stuff, looking forward to the EP!

Eugene Ward is a talented young electronic musician (among other talents) who broke onto the world scene almost as soon as he put out his first EP in 2011 as Dro Carey. Drawing from footwork/juke, hip-hop, dubstep, trap and more, he managed to make dancefloor-friendly music that was nevertheless pretty demented. As Tuff Sherm he tends to pare it down to a more club-oriented take on house/techno for the most on-point contemporary labels like Opal Tapes, but Dro Carey tends to be restlessly innovative, anything from Andy Stott-style underwater house to drum'n'bass/hip-hop hybrids and more.
But earlier this year Ward put out his first album under his own name, for another cutting-edge boutique label, Where To Now? It's still beat-oriented electronic music, but not precisely dancefloor-oriented despite being "dance" music, as it was composed for a series of choreographed modern dance pieces performed in a gallery in Chippendale (an inner-city suburb of Sydney, for the non-locals). Sampled gasps and breaths make up the beats on one track, shuffling papers elsewhere – but there are still lots of electronics, industrial beats and bass in there. It's brilliant work from a ridiculously talented artist.

North Californian producer Lee Bannon first came to notice as a hip-hop producer, but once signed to Ninja Tune quickly began releasing a weird confection of jungle/drum'n'bass, acid and experimental electronics. He's since changed his name to ¬b, and now his latest release is an EP under another new moniker, DedekindCut (clearly a pure mathematics buff!) – perhaps ¬b or "Lee Bannon" (also an alias) will be the home for the more ambient work, as this new EP is decidedly in the jungle/experimental camp!

Keeping it jungle/experimental, and linking back to last week's Planet µ special, we have new sounds from Venetian Snares. As mentioned last week, last week he suddenly found himself in financial hot water, and put out a plea on social media for fans to help him out by purchasing some of his music from his own Bandcamp, which included a number of hard-to-find old 7" singles and EPs (Moonglow, Badminton and Infolepsy are particularly recommended). This last week, he's uploaded some of his old Hymen Records albums as well, and in thanks for the huge outpouring of support from his fanbase, a whole new album has appeared. It's got some vintage Snares stuff on there, and is worth dropping a few bucks on!

Berlin-based Belgian/Italian duo Lumisokea have been on my radar for a couple of years. Their electro-acoustic music doesn't fit easily into current trends in electronic music, but with its industrial feel and impeccable sound design it sits comfortably next to people like The Haxan Cloak, Dalhous, KETEV/Yair Elazar Glotman and others. The Belgian half, Koenraad Ecker, is a cellist as well as sound designer, and has released a couple of amazing solo albums on Digital Industries and 12k as well as playing in another dark post-industrial electronic duo Stray Dogs. Italian Andrea Taeggi has released minimal dub/techno as Gondwana on Opal Tapes, and simultaneously with the new Lumisokea album, his first release under his own name has come out on the Type label, exploring rhythmic minimalism on the Serge and Buchla modular synthesisers.

Asdasfr Bawd – Alsp [Solitaire Recordings]
Eugene Ward – Printed Matter (Duet 1) [Where To Now?]
Dro Carey – Wack Reeboks!!? [self-released?]
Dro Carey – Foes, Gallons n Fathoms [Dro Carey Bandcamp]
Tuff Sherm – Hydlide [The Trilogy Tapes]
Dro Carey – Bingo Wings [Dro Carey Bandcamp]
Dro Carey – Grill Mage [Dro Carey Bandcamp]
Eugene Ward – Somnium (Group) [Where To Now?]
Eugene Ward – Paper (Duet) [Where To Now?]
DedekindCut – Thot eNhancer [Lee Bannon Bandcamp]
DedekindCut – Necq [Lee Bannon Bandcamp]
Venetian Snares – Red Orange 2 [Planet µ]
Venetian Snares – Sweet And Fruitful [Venetian Snares Bandcamp]
Lumisokea – Prowl [Alter]
Lumisokea – Second [Eat Concrete/Lumisokea Bandcamp]
Lumisokea – Veltro [Eat Concrete/Lumisokea Bandcamp]
Stray Dogs – Minimal [Stray Dogs Bandcamp]
Koenraad Ecker – One-Eye [Digital Industries]
Gondwana – Bootstrapping [Opal Tapes]
Andrea Taeggi – Hiraeth [Type]

Listen again — ~58MB

Sunday, 6th of September, 2015

Playlist 06.09.15 (9:06 pm)

Ambient electronics, glitchy indietronica, folky indie and more… just your usual Utility Fog hey!

LISTEN AGAIN for the bespoke UFog experience, podcastable right here and streamable on demandable via FBi.

Starting with the lovely ambient electronica of Liminal Drifter, with whom we finished the show last week. A veteran of Perth's music scene, he's released his new album on Hidden Shoal inspired by '90s ambient and it's a dreamy, relaxing but occasionally disquieting listen.

Rand and Holland, mostly the vision of Brett Thompson, held a legendary position in Sydney's music scene for a few years, drawing from local experimental musicians but presenting a selection of catchy country/indiefolk songs. The new album, however, is a posthumous document of the band's end – it's unrelentingly dark, sometimes quite intensely harsh, although at other times contemplative. Production-wise it's got some country ballads but also distorted drums, psych-rockouts, and on the B-side an incredibly-extended repetitive coda to the last track. It's pretty amazing, truth be told, whether you hear it on the cassette Room40 put out, or a digital format (as I did) (but the cassette's a lovely object, maybe grab it anyway?)

Next up, a bit of a feature on a digustingly talented fellow from Canberra called Reuben Ingall. Reuben manages to combine very esoteric electronic processing – Max/MSP patches doing crazy things to his instruments and voice – with passionate indie songwriting. Unsurprisingly it's right up my alley… He actually does this live – decaying guitar loops, stuttering chords, live-sampled microwaves (wait, what?) and tapes alongside dinky keyboard controllers, and self-effacing but affecting vocals. And then on the other side, there's his Dead DJ Joke persona that spurts out ridiculous mashups at regular intervals. We also heard one of his destructive but totally sensitive remixes, and a couple of gorgeous covers… the second of which leads handily into our next feature…

We're talking Peter Broderick, and we follow Reuben's cover with one by Peter's sister Heather Woods Broderick, who is the feature of our next special tonight. Her brother may be better-known and more prolific, but Heather is a marvellous songwriter & singer as well as cellist and multi-instrumentalist too. Her debut album came out on Sydney's own Preservation Records, and it's been six long years between albums, with only a few compilation tracks here & there (while she toured along with Peter in Efterklang among other things). Her music is perhaps similar in outlook & approach to Peter's – folky songs, lush but low-key arrangements with acoustic instruments & strings along with subtle electronics – although there are occasional shoegazey rock bits in there too.

We cap off tonight with a couple of tracks from a new collaboration between Peter Broderick and another Utility Fog feature artist from this year, French musician Félicia Atkinson. Recording as La Nuit for Portland, OR record store & label Beacon Sound (closely associated with Peter), it's lovely to hear the clear influences of both artists in the sound – the restraint of both, the mystery of Atkinson's concoctions and the violins and dub moments of Broderick. Atkinson sings and whispers in French & English, Broderick hums in PeterBroderickian. It's beautiful and available now on vinyl and digital (CD fans snubbed again!)

Liminal Drifter – Verterons Ambo Flow Cut [Hidden Shoal]
Rand and Holland – Walking The Plank [Room40]
Reuben Ingall – Wetlands [Feral Media]
Reuben Ingall – mountains [Reuben Ingall Bandcamp] {originally by Cathy Petöcz}
Dead DJ Joke – foXXXy holidaze [Reuben Ingall Bandcamp]
Reuben Ingall – to lose [Reuben Ingall Bandcamp]
Spartak – Catch/Control (Reuben Ingall remix) [hellosQuare]
Reuben Ingall – Microwave Drone Ritual (Side A) [Moontown Records]
Reuben Ingall – Road [Feral Media]
Reuben Ingall – Eyelids [Feral Media]
Reuben Ingall – sideline [Reuben Ingall Bandcamp] {originally by Peter Broderick}
Heather Woods Broderick – Outside In Here [Peter Broderick website] {originally by Peter Broderick}
Heather Woods Broderick – A Call For Distance [Western Vinyl]
Heather Woods Broderick – Something Other Than [Preservation Records]
Heather Woods Broderick – From the Ground [Preservation Records]
Heather Woods Broderick – Old Son [Preservation Records]
Heather Woods Broderick – Suture [Second Language Music]
Heather Woods Broderick – Up In The Pine [Western Vinyl]
Heather Woods Broderick – Wyoming [Western Vinyl]
La Nuit (Félicia Atkinson & Peter Broderick) – Road Snakes [Beacon Sound]
La Nuit (Félicia Atkinson & Peter Broderick) – The Sun Is Folded In Eight [Beacon Sound]

Listen again — ~101MB

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