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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, 26th of May, 2013

Playlist 26.05.13 (10:05 pm)

A great range of sounds tonight, from raw Americana to dark almost-dancefloor ‘tronica, and shimmering strings.
So you’d better give it a LISTEN (again?) via the link at the bottom, or stream it in stereo via FBi On Demand!

Tonight we start with some new Americana from Sam Amidon, whose art exudes pure, raw, authentic folk, yet extends this with inventive arrangements and production that makes it at once an evocation of earlier times and a modern commentary on them. After two albums on Bedroom Community he now finds himself on renowned label Nonesuch Records, and accordingly seems to have moved the experimental touches mainly away from the foreground, but he’s still working with some great people including Shahzad Ismaily. With clear banjo fingerpicking and his unfettered vocals, it’s beautiful stuff, and the occasional outbursts of electric guitar freakouts or jazz-inflected drums are the icing on the cake.

Our choice from Sam’s second album is strangely electronic-feeling despite being anything but, but it leads nicely into the fauxstalgia of Boards of Canada, whose more “recent” output (their last album & EP being 2005 & 2006 respectively) took on a tinge of faux-folk in addition to the sun-stretched cassette-mastered electronic vibe. I’ve been a fan since the first vinyl releases and I’m happy to follow them – and if the song seems a little too light-weight and ambient, just listen while being gently hypnotised by the video.

Once again Futuresequence have released a huuuuuge compilation, their SEQUENCE6, 40 tracks of ambient, drone, post-classical and the like. It’s lovely stuff as always, with known and unknown artists, so I thought I’d play someone I’d never heard of. Some nice repetitive beats and textures from Moon Zero, will definitely follow them up!

Next up, it’s full on electronica time, with the latest two tracks from Various Production, now on their Version label (or perhaps it’s just how they’re labelling this series of single-track releases). It’s not a million miles from the electonic/dubstep side of their early releases, although mostly the folk stuff they mixed in has been abandoned. But these are among the best tracks I’ve heard from them in some time. Dark, beautifully-produced, some mad beats. Yes.

And then there’s the contemporary connection, no really. The Balanescu Quartet‘s Possessed album came out in 1992, and along with a David Byrne cover and some originals, it featured half an album’s worth of incredibly unusual Kraftwerk covers. All for string quartet. And as Kraftwerk have been playing at Vivid this week, I felt like pulling this out and giving Autobahn a spin, with its pastoral melodies and even a detuned cello string for revving motorcar engine…

Alexander Balanescu and his rotating string quartet have been working quite closely with Italian composer/electronic musician Teho Teardo for a few years now, and he/they appear on all three recent releases by Teardo (four if we go back to 2011). Tonight we heard music inspired by the photographs of Charles Freéger, music from the soundtrack to Diaz, an Italian film about the protests around the 2001 G8 Summit, and a pretty essential collaboration with none other than Blixa Bargeld, here in his most cabaret mode, apologising for his bad Italian, singing in Italian, German and English, sometimes in the same sentence, and just melding beautifully with Teardo’s glitchy beats and strings.
And we also heard from Teardo where I first discovered him, in collaboration with the amazing cellist Erik Friedlander from 2006.

Strings take us into the post-classical/folk world of French artist Colleen aka Cécile Schott. On a number of releases for the Leaf label, she explored sampled acoustic sounds and her own multiple instruments, culminating in a stunning album of viola da gamba (a relative of the cello), acoustic guitar, harpsichord and clarinet. These instruments and more appear on her new album, her first for the wondrous Second Language Music, but it’s a surprise to hear another ingredient in the mix: her voice. And it’s a lovely voice too. Lyrically she’s poetically obscure, which is fine by me, and her vocals are an unexpected added texture. As with Les Ondes Silencieuses, the electronics are confined to mainly looping and some other subtle effects, and tracks often take a number of sharp turns in the middle. Excellent album listening.

We finish with a new track from Jenny Hval, whose previous album was among my top picks for 2011, and still gets plenty of listens round here. Still present are her arch vocals, equally obsessed with sex and bodily functions as with theory and history. There are references to her home town of Oslo as well as her studies in Melbourne. While this new one was produced by none other than PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, his touch is surprisingly light. Many of the musicians are the same as the previous, Deathprod-produced Viscera, and the arrangements and song structures are still unusual and experimental, only occasionally straying into shorter, more rock-oriented tracks. It’s taking me longer to get into this one, but it’s quite unlike anything else you’ll hear, and if you can get past her vocal stylings and strangeness, it’s amazing listening.

Sam Amidon – As I Roved Out [Nonesuch Records]
Sam Amidon – He’s Taken My Feet [Nonesuch Records]
Sam Amidon – Fall On My Knees [Bedroom Community]
Sam Amidon – How Come That Blood [Bedroom Community]
Boards of Canada – Reach For The Dead [Warp]
Moon Zero – Process [Futuresequence]
Various Production – Opus [Version]
Various Production – Shed [Version]
The Balanescu Quartet – Autobahn [Mute] {Kraftwerk cover}
Teho Teardo – wilder mann feat. The Balanescu Quartet [Specula]
Teho Teardo & The Balanescu Quartet – Stare A Guardare [Radiofandango]
Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld – Mi Scusi [Specula]
Erik Friedlander & Teho Teardo – to the red flag [Bip-Hop]
Teho Teardo – Nemmeno Io [Specula]
Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld – What If…? [Specula]
Colleen – Push the Boat onto the Sand [Second Language]
Colleen – blue sands [Leaf]
Colleen – Breaking up the Earth [Second Language]
jenny hval – rennée falconetti of orléans [Rune Grammofon]

Listen again — ~ 105MB


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Sunday, 19th of May, 2013

Playlist 19.05.13 (10:05 pm)

On this #SBSEurovision finals night, come in from the Euro collapse, the insane costumes and unlistenable music, and join me for the usual. Post-dubstep/ambient techno, glitchy piano electronica, pysch/kraut-rock from Toronto with a Melbourne connection… JOIN ME.

Beginning with two highly recommended albums.
I first heard of Piano Interrupted through UFog fave Inch-time, the Adelaide producer who’s now based in London, who released a remix from them at the start of the year. A duo of piano and laptop, they have been joined on stage by various musicians, and have now settled on a cellist and percussionist, who feature on some of this album. The always lovely sound of acoustic instruments sent through the glitchy digital shredder is enhanced by some first class musicianship, with stylistic influences from north Africa and the middle east as well as jazz, classical and electronica – and the cello arrangements bring some extra warmth as well. It’s a beautiful album that sits nicely with the 10th anniversary now being celebrated for Four Tet‘s beloved album Rounds (See my retrospective here. I ought to get around to playing something from that too…)

Harkening back to ’90s ambient techno are Dalhous, on the Blackest Ever Black, who have been responsible for some great releases from ex-industrial and noise artists lately, including some epic techno beats from Prurient. Dalhous released a couple of albums of strange psychedelic post-industrial sounds as Young Hunting, but their beats are not nearly as dark and twisted as you’d expect. It’s deep and enveloping, recalling FSOL and The Orb as much as contemporary beats and drones.

Moscow-based ambient label Dronarivm put out a lovely drone album from Machinefabriek & Minus Pilots earlier in the year, and now we hear a couple of tracks from the ambient compilation Aquarius. First up is a bonus track, available only online (click the Aquarius link above), from Canada’s Segue, and it’s one of the highlights – windswept guitar and subtle beats. Also with subtle beats and Arctic textures is Norway’s excellent Pjusk.

I raved about ensemble pearl last week on the show, so check out that playlist for the low-down on this amazing doom/drone supergroup. Tonight’s track is a glorious mono demo with massively explosive reverbed drums and bass, and everything just layered into a great head-nodding 13-minute sludge. The album version is just as epic and awesome, but just a little bit less intense.

Back in 2008, Mirrored Silver Sea‘s album Continual Ascension was one of my top albums of the year (see the huge best-of post. Haven’t done one of those for a while…) Mirrored Silver Sea was Melbourne native Tim Condon, who has now been based in Toronto for a few years and has formed kraut/psych/instrumental rock band Fresh Snow. Their debut I album is out any minute and is released on both cassette and vinyl, in different versions – the vinyl edition is mastered by the legendary James Plotkin of countless bands including Khanate (with Stephen O’Malley of ensemble pearl above, and it’s a far more dynamic version, often so radically different it sounds like a different mix. Pretty excellent in either version anyway!

Nonsemble is a classical/postrock group from Brisbane led by composer Chris Perren, best known for his post/math-rock band Mr Maps. Strings and piano are joined by clattering percussion, crossing two different musical worlds. Lovely stuff.

Andrew Tuttle has discarded his Anonymeye identity, but he’s keeping up the folktronic sound, with banjo and fingerpicking acoustic guitar along with synthesisers meeting intense digital processing. We heard two tracks from his first EP under his own name, which you can get for free right now from his Bandcamp.

And finally, you can be lulled to sleep by the waves and gentle drones of Tim Bass, from his album Pastures, out soon from Sydney’s Flaming Pines, who presents a meticulously-created imaginary landscape from his home of Melbourne.

Piano Interrupted – Hédi [Denovali]
Piano Interrupted – Occasional Blues [Denovali]
Inch-time – The Sun Myth (Piano Interrupted mix) [Mystery Plays Records]
Piano Interrupted – Son of Foug [Denovali]
Dalhous – Dalhous [Blackest Ever Black]
Dalhous – Success is Her Sensuality [Blackest Ever Black]
Dalhous – He Was Human And Belonged With Humans [Blackest Ever Black]
Segue – Far Away [Dronarivm]
Pjusk – Skarlagen [Dronarivm]
ensemble pearl – island epiphany (rough demo) [Drag City/Daymare]
Fresh Snow – BMX Based Tactics (LP version mastered by James Plotkin) [Fresh Snow Bandcamp] {available soon}
Mirrored Silver Sea – Ghost Blossom [Sound & Fury]
Fresh Snow – Your Thirst For Magic Has Been Quenched By Death! (cassette version) [Fresh Snow Bandcamp] {available soon}
Nonsemble – Movement I – The Great Awakening [Nonsemble Bandcamp]
Andrew Tuttle – Brisbane [Andrew Tuttle Bandcamp]
Andrew Tuttle – Fallen Powerlines [Andrew Tuttle Bandcamp]
Tim Bass – Onward From Nowhere [Flaming Pines]

Listen again — ~ 104MB


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Sunday, 12th of May, 2013

Playlist 12.05.13 (10:07 pm)

A very doomy show tonight, just as we love it! Acoustic doom, explosive reverb-drenched doom rock, post-dubstep liturgical doom drone, and maybe I’ll stop inventing the genres now. Plus glitched-up ukulele and musically-twisted field recordings…

LISTEN (again?) via the link at the bottom, the podcast or stream on demand in stereo at FBi! (Try out the excellent mobile streaming!)

First artist tonight I’ve been obsessed with for a couple of weeks, and I was very glad to get the Japanese 2CD edition of Ensemble Pearl‘s self-titled album in the mail this week. A collective formed from Stephen O’Malley of Sunn o))), Atsuo and Michio Kurihara from Boris and William Herzog of Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter, also featuring the extreme violin talents of Eyvind Kang and Secret Chiefs 3’s Timb(a) Harris… So, just a little low-key project then. And as this in-depth Quietus review states, it’s not going to get the recognition it deserves, so please check it out. American-influenced doom rock and drone, with massive dub reverb on the drums, and heaps of detail. Awesome.

Next up, not just a Sydney connection, but an FBi Radio connection. Paul Jebanasam is perhaps better known round here not just as dubstep producer Moving Ninja but as Farj from FBi’s dubstep show Garage Pressure. He relocated to Bristol a few years ago, having already been released on DJ Pinch‘s Tectonic label, but he’s ended up forming his own highly regarded Subtext Recordings, releasing bass-heavy post-dubstep from Emptyset, Roly Porter of Vex’d, and now himself.
Check out this excellent Quietus interview for some background on how he came to make the sounds on Rites – influenced by liturgical music, classical composition, and of course bass pressure… There’s no dubstep head-nodding here, but there is percussion along with string arrangements and growling drones. It’s interesting to hear his Moving Ninja productions in the context of this music.

We continue the strings and dark drones in our next selection, and incredible 20 minute track from Norwegian cellist & producer Svarte Greiner, head of the Miasmah and one half of Deaf Center. His works as Svarte Greiner and under his own name, Erik K Skodvin, can be classed as acoustic doom (which I love), although he uses electronics and electric instruments as well. But I particularly love the carefully-recorded acoustic sounds on the first Svarte Greiner album Knive and the Erik K Skodvin Flare album – and Black Tie delivers, based for the large part around plucked and scraped cello, with some intense distortion in the middle giving way to the original ostinati. Engrossing.

The Haxan Cloak is another cellist working in dark sound-art, albeit with lots more electronics. I tried to select a track from his new album featuring cello, and it’s in there, if processed to not sound a lot like a cello!

Noise stalwarts Wolf Eyes have a new album out with electronics at the forefront – along with Nate Young’s unique vocal stylings. More from this next week I hope!

Three huge forces in music meet once a year in Japan for a live concert which they then release on record. Keiji Haino, Jim O’Rourke & Oren Ambarchi‘s first release was true beauty, with Haino’s angelic vocals, piano, drones and percussion; the second was ferocious psych rock noise. The new one combines these elements to some extent, moving even into some krautrock-ish grooves at points.

umin‘s ukulele folktronica came to my attention via Abandom Building Records a year or two ago. He’s now got a new EP out on Bad Panda, although they’ve neglected to collect the tracks into a set. But you can still grab them all for free, including a remix from Italy’s k-conjog, another Abandon Building artist. There’s more structure to these new tracks, including clattering beats on one or two tracks. It’s excellent glitchy acoustic music you should get.

Glitchy acoustics of a different nature appear on Michel Banabila‘s new release, Gardening, available now in an extended editiong with remixes (or new works) from Machinefabriek and others. Field recordings of gardening tools combine with subtle instrumentation and lots of processing/editing, and it’s surprisingly coherent and musical. Should be no surprise from an artist of the calibre of Banabila, and his collaborators.

And finally, out any minute is the new record on Editions Mego from Gordon Sharp (now Cindy/Cinder)’s cindytalk, who’s been making music since the early ’80s and can be found on one of the legendary This Mortal Coil records. Abandoning vocals, his Mego releases focus on the quite esoteric climes of processed glitchscapes. The new album continues on this path, although in amongst the noise and fog are some industrial beats here and there.

ensemble pearl – painting on a corpse [Drag City/Daymare]
ensemble pearl – wray [Drag City/Daymare]
Paul Jebanasam – Rites II [Subtext Recordings]
Moving Ninja – Blackout [Tectonic]
Pinch & Moving Ninja – False Flag [Tectonic]
Paul Jebanasam – Rites V [Subtext Recordings]
Svarte Greiner – Black Tie [Miasmah]
The Haxan Cloak – Dieu [Tri-Angle]
Wolf Eyes – Choking Flies [De Stijl]
keiji haino / jim o’rourke / oren ambarchi – only the winding “why” expresses anything clearly [Black Truffle]
umin – tesil [Bad Panda]
umin – hmn [Abandom Building Records]
umin – concentr (k-conjog remix) [Bad Panda]
Michel Banabila – Changing Weather [Tapu Records]
Machinefabriek – Tuiner Met Plezier [Tapu Records]
cindytalk – as if we had once been [Editions Mego]

Listen again — ~ 104MB


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Sunday, 5th of May, 2013

Playlist 05.05.13 (10:03 pm)

Tonight we range through ’90s electronic shoegaze and distorted beats, contemporary lo-fi folk, cello-driven postrock and post-drum’n’bass ehhhhhh what am I even, just listen, it’s great music OK? Righto.

LISTEN (again?) via the link at the bottom, the podcast or stream on demand in stereo at FBi! (Now optimised for mobile!)

Starting with another wonderful track from Aidan Baker‘s Already Drowning, one of my albums of the year. Featuring Liz Hysen of Picastro on vocals, musically it’s all about tension and catharsis. The whole album’s stunning, get it.

Mark Van Hoen’s Locust has been going since the early ’90s, and evolved into a fairly ambient affair, but last year with his solo album for Editions Mego he revived some of his earlier sounds, revisiting the cut-up female vocals and crunchy beats of mid-’90s Locust, and we continue with that on the new Locust album. From back in 1994, the stellar Truth Is Born of Arguments gives us “Saturated Love”. Truly an artist should know about…

Adelaide’s Inch-time, now based in London, runs the Mystery Plays Records label and introduced us to fellow Australian Tristan Coleman‘s music via a couple of remixes a while ago. He’s now remixed a Coleman track from his debut EP on Mystery Plays, and the remix is available for free from their SoundCloud.

Based in Brisbane, Feet Teeth come to us via celebrated Canberran label hellosQuare Recordings – free jazz on trumpet, tuned percussion and drums, but all fed through the digital blender. Very interested to see how they work it live!

And via Sydney label Flaming Pines we discover the wonderful work of Greek musician Nektarios Manaras, who plays an assortment of instruments including flugelhorn, guitars, percussion and traditional Greek instruments, along with a few guests, and beautifully evokes the aquatic environment of his home on the Greek island of Chalkis. Flaming Pines is quickly becoming the spiritual home for location-specific music, whether based around field recordings or creatively evocative music.

Ill Professor is Zelienople member Brian Harding, bringing their lo-fi sensibility to his solo work. It seems appropriate that it’s released on cassette, but you can also get it digitally from the Constellation Tatsu Bandcamp. And you really should – it’s pretty stunning in its low-key way, with mysteriously muted sounds from guitar, piano, percussion, and probably other unidentifiable sources, making for something rather beguiling.

More tonight from Jason Sweeney’s beautiful Panoptique Electrical EP from late last year…

And then we’re on to a fantastic forthcoming release on Constellation from AThee Silver Mt. Zion and Set Fire To Flames cellist Becky Foon, branching out solo as Saltland. It’s just awesome how every cellist’s solo project is different, and while Foon’s cello is often holding melodies and prominent in the mix, there’s plenty of percussion, electronics and other stuff going on here. Beautiful stuff.

Meanwhile, Oliver Barrett of Petrels and Bleeding Heart Narrative has made a very limited cassette release available on his Bandcamp, featuring untreated solo cello played in various environments. This is pretty uncompromising cello noise, coaxing moans and scratches and squeaks out of the instrument.

Another overflow from last week, we heard Jakob Bro‘s jazz composition and Thomas Knak aka Opiate’s remix of the same, from the highly recommended BRO/KNAK 2CD/triple-vinyl release.

Moving into beats, Demdike Stare bring us the second of their incredible Testpressing 12″s, with more noise meets slowed-down junglisms, and we reprised one of the highlights from Demidike’s Miles Whittaker’s recent album.

And we finished with an incredibly atmospheric piece of trad dubstep from SP:MC, which I heard excerpted from a mix on YouTube a while back and have been waiting impatiently for ever since.

Aidan Baker – Ice (feat. Liz Hysen) [Gizeh Records]
Locust – Fall for Me [Editions Mego]
Locust – Saturated Love [R&S]
Mark Van Hoen – Unknown Host [Editions Mego]
Locust – Do Not Fear [Editions Mego]
Tristan Coleman – Good Money (Inch-time remix) [Mystery Plays Records] {download from SoundCloud}
Feet Teeth – Hsinchu [hellosQuare Recordings]
Nektarios Manaras – Floating In Anything [Flaming Pines]
Ill Professor – Wire & air [Constellation Tatsu]
Ill Professor – The five tones deafen [Constellation Tatsu]
Panoptique Electrical – Mount Schank Part Two [Panoptique Electrical Bandcamp]
Saltland – Golden Alley [Constellation]
Saltland – Colour The Night Sky [Constellation]
Oliver Barrett – Bathyscaphe [Petrels Bandcamp]
Jakob Bro – Izu [Loveland]
Thomas Knak – Izu Rebuild (remix of Jakob Bro) [Loveland]
Demdike Stare – Primitive Equations [Modern Love]
Miles – Lebensform [Modern Love]
SP:MC – Air Lock [Tempa]

Listen again — ~ 105MB


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