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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, 25th of August, 2013

Playlist 25.08.13 (10:05 pm)

Tonight’s the first of my 10th birthday celebration shows! So, all 2003 music tonight! OMGZ

LISTEN AGAIN if you missed out! Link below, and on-demand stream in stereo (as the downloads/podcast come from mono source) at FBi!

I don’t exactly want to do a full-on write-up this week. It’s all old music.
It’s also all stone-cold classics. Obviously. This is as good a collection as I could fit into 2 hours of music that excited the hell out of me in 2003 – except for the very last track, which is something that excites the hell out of me right now, and which I would have had no idea about in 2003. I have discovered the wonders of Neurosis only recently; they are one of the most important acts in the last couple of decades of what came to be known as post-metal, and their alter-ego Tribes of Neurot are experimental/drone done most excellently. Of course, Jarboe is well-known from her long stint in the Swans, and she’s gone on to collaborate with lots of interesting people, but the 2003 collaboration between these two acts is absolutely terrifyingly incredible.

So, we start with the folktronica, for want of a better word. Two incredibly important albums came out in 2003: Four Tet‘s Rounds was already out when the station started, but The Books‘ equally important the lemon of pink had only been announced. I had their first album and knew Nick Zammuto from “the internet”, so I wrote to Tom Steinle of Tomlab to ask if I could get a promo for my fledgling show on a fledgling station in Sydney. And about a month into this new show, it arrived, and lo, it was wondrous!
Pedro‘s self-titled album on Melodic hasn’t had as lasting an impact, and nor have the earlier Melodic releases from Minotaur Shock, but they’re still pretty important entries into this micro-genre. On the other hand King Seven only put out one 12″ as far as I can tell, but this particular track, with its sweet strings and hip-hop beat, got a great reaction whenever I played it, so – memory lane!

We’ve heard from Opiate aka Thomas Knak only this year, but he did put out a legendary EP at least on the legendary Morr Music, and this takes us into the next favoured micro-genre for UFog, indietronica. Dntel‘s remix of his wonderful collaborator Mia Doi Todd was an old favourite (only ever released on 7″ from what I recall), and of course his much-celebrated collaboration with Ben Gibbard as The Postal Service came out in 2003 as well. Back with Morr Music, Styrofoam released a stunning album which has long gone by the wayside, but please enjoy this track and let it segue into electronica’s own king of shoegaze, Mr Ulrich Schnauss, with his 2nd album.

Hard to genre-pigeonhole, but of a piece with all this digital trickery and melding of authenticity and artifice is the amazing Mr Matthew Herbert‘s Big Band. This album will never cease to be a wonder.

But from there we get to the alt.hip-hop strains of anticon./Mush/Big Dada affiliates, many connected also with the indietronica artists we’ve been looking into. cLOUDDEAD were just disbanding as the show started, but the “Dead Dogs Two” single (I guess) allowed me to play one of Boards of Canada‘s rare but transcendent remixes. But both Hymie’s Basement and Themselves share members with cLOUDDEAD. Hymie’s is perhaps the start of the really catchy indiepop phase of WHY?, and here Themselves give me the opportunity to play one of the heroes of breakcore, the one and only Hrvatski: still recording as Keith Fullerton Whitman but having long discarded the painstaking beat programming.

Mr. Mezzy aka 0=0 released hardly anything (he was slated for an album on Planet µ but it was never forthcoming), but every track he did release was incredible, including this hilarious Super Mario Brothers re-jig. And there’s no way I could miss out on Venetian Snares. Meanwhile herv is one of those relatively obscure artists from across the world that I discovered and supported because he seemed to fit the weird mold of Utility Fog (this track kind of epitomises the joke genre “orchestral breakcore” that I slipped into the show description). While Plug would be my favourite drum’n’bass incarnation of Luke Vibert, he did release the Amen Andrews 12″ series in 2003, and this Bulgarian choir-and-Captian Beefheart-sampling song is pretty ace!

Oh, and look! 65daysofstatic! Here they are with their very first EP, which came out in 2003, and that’s precisely when I started playing them, and playing them. They were played first on Australian radio right here, and it’s likely that this airplay is what ended up getting them connected with the magnificent chaps at Bird’s Robe, getting all their music released here and getting them touring here, as well as own own sleepmakeswaves touring with them overseas.

Speaking, still, of drill’n’bass, what better than an Aphex Twin cover by the incomparable Bad Plus, who I’ve always been happy to play originals of as well (in fact their originals tend to be my favourites). A jazz piano trio in a class of their own – perhaps more of a typical jazz piano trio than Sydney’s towering Necks, but still… something else!

Finally, it’s also wonderful to find one of my favourite musicians, violinist/singer/everythingist Carla Kihlstedt, releasing her first solo album in 2003. Again, she’s not really electronic or liminal in the Utiltiy Fog sense, but she’s fabulously gregarious and inhumanly talented, and I’ve never shied away from introducing my listeners to her art.

So it goes. Tune in next week for more glorious sounds from the last decade…

The Books – the lemon of pink [Tomlab]
The Books – tokyo [Tomlab]
Four Tet – And They All Look Broken Hearted [Domino]
Pedro – Fear & Resilience [Melodic]
King Seven – Hidden [Camshot Records]
Opiate – stp! [Morr Music]
Mia Doi Todd – Growing Pains (Dntel remix) [dublab]
The Postal Service – natural anthem [Sub Pop]
Styrofoam – if i believed you / back in focus [Morr Music]
Ulrich Schnauss – On My Own [City Centre Offices]
Matthew Herbert Big Band – misprints (feat. Shingai Shoniwa) [Accidental]
cLOUDDEAD – Dead Dogs Two (Boards of Canada) [Mush/Big Dada]
Hymie’s Basement – 21st Century Pop Song [Lex]
themselves – good people check (remixed by hrvatski) [anticon.]
Mr. Mezzy – s.m.b.#1, w-1, l-1 [Dross:tik]
Venetian Snares – Epidermis [Planet µ]
herv – corrective action [Compactrisc]
Amen Andrews – Fast & Bulbous [Rephlex]
65daysofstatic – play.nice.kids [Dustpunk Records]
The Bad Plus – Flim [Columbia Records]
Carla Kihlstedt – World of Made [Tzadik]
Carla Kihlstedt – Peel [Tzadik]
Neurosis & Jarboe – Within [Neurot Recordings]

Listen again — ~105MB


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Sunday, 18th of August, 2013

Playlist 18.08.13 (10:04 pm)

Tonight, we have a Wire Magazine compilation, new compilation series from Feral Media, and a new release by a quintet I’m a member of tonight, among other things…

LISTEN AGAIN for the first or next time, with linky at bottom or of course stream on demand in stereo at the FBi site.

A number of tracks tonight come courtesy of Wire Magazine‘s subscriber-only download compilation series Below the Radar, specifically volume 14 which just came out with the September issue.
First track to come off it is an amazingly intense piece of psych-drone-come-krautrock from Nottingham trio Kogumaza, whose album on Low Point I’ll have to get hold of stat. And you can too, please do.

Next is a new track (an alternative version of a track from their Manhunter release) from Melbourne duo James Rushford & Joe Talia, who really need to get more released digitally, as their cassette & vinyl thing is all very cute & all but really c’mon. In any case, it becomes rather gloriously beautiful halfway through. You’ll know Joe Talia from his work with Ned Collette and Oren Ambarchi. You better.

Third track from The Wire is a strangely minimalist piece from Lucrecia Dalt. It’s beautiful, with persistent sub-bass booms, but I say “strangely” because I came across her as an indiefolk/indietronic artist, introduced to me via a remix (still unreleased & exclusive to this show I believe) by Melbourne’s Part Timer – and then not long after, she contributed beautiful vocals to a Spartak track, under her real name, Lucrecia Pérez. New album is coming soon and I for one can’t wait.

And so it’s time for a little retrospective of Melbourne’s Evelyn Morris aka Pikelet. In the early days she would perform with percussion, guitar and perhaps keyboards, plus vocals, all fed through her looping pedal as a bed for her sweet indie pop songs. Along the way she’s gained a band (also called Pikelet) and her songs have become more band-oriented. But it’s still beautiful stuff (if you like that kind of thing, which obviously I do). Before her second album came out, I saw her perform “Toby Light” live a number of times, memorably the first time with just a little omnichord/Casio keyboard and a looping pedal. It’s still one of my favourites.

Composer Brian Harnetty has made a career of creating reverent yet radical works by exploring archival recordings – previously from the Berea College Appalachian sound archives, which we had a bit of a listen to tonight, but most recently from the enormous Sun Ra/El Saturn collection. I unfortunately have only a little knowledge of Sun Ra’s music (where to even start?) but Harnetty approaches this with full acknowledgement of not being a jazz musician, and not trying to recreate Sun Ra’s music. Instead it’s a reconfiguring of fragments of Sun Ra & his musicians’ playing, in-studio conversations, and Harnetty’s own composition; it’s illuminating, mysterious and still reverent to this 20th century master.

Back to the Wire compilation, we have a piece of heavy, noisy future techno from the mysterious Violetshaped, who gave us a pretty amazing remix 12″ last year featuring Roly Porter, Vatican Shadow AND Kangding Ray. And their own stuff lives up to that pedigree handily.

And keeping it epic and 4/4, the brilliant Andy Stott remixes young Bristolian Kowton, one of a number of the new generation of Brisol musicians profiled in this very month’s Wire magazine.

Second last, we have UFog stalwart Scissor Lock‘s contribution to the first of a series of “seasons” EPs that Feral Media is putting out. Suitably enough, the first is Winter, and you can pay what you want for it, right now.

And finally, my own music to finish the show. I don’t promote my own music a lot on the radio, but when it’s a collaboration with others, and especially here a quintet, well here you go. Tangents features me on cello & loops along with Ollie Bown of Icarus on laptop, Shoeb Ahmad on guitar/laptop/effects & Evan Dorrian on drums (both of Spartak, Evan also of indie/mathrock/collagists Golden Blonde & Pollen Trio) and Adrian Lim-Klumpes of 3ofmillions, Triosk etc on piano & effects. Is it a “supergroup”? We don’t know, but it certainly pools all our interests, most particularly improvisation, and covers as much ground as we can while still sounding cohesive. Well, I hope you like it!

Kogumaza – Bells [Low Point courtesy Wire Mag]
James Rushford & Joe Talia – Red Weather [courtesy Wire Mag]
Lucrecia Dalt – Levedad [Human Ear Music courtesy Wire Mag]
The Sound of Lucrecia – Ceniza (Part Timer‘s Bless You Remix) [unreleased?]
The Sound of Lucrecia – Ara [Pruna Recordings]
Pikelet – Peephole [Chapter Music]
Pikelet – Miss Her [Chapter Music]
Pikelet – Toby Light [Chapter Music]
Pikelet – Red Pleather [Chapter Music]
Pikelet – Pressure Cooker [Chapter Music]
Brian Harnetty – 1971: Close Your Eyes / Marshall [Atavistic Records]
Brian Harnetty – i’ll cross the briny ocean, i’ll cross the deep blue sea [Atavistic Records]
Brian Harnetty & Bonnie “Prince” Billy – The Night Is, And The Lights Are [Atavistic Records]
Brian Harnetty – “Trying to get fancy” [Atavistic Records]
Violetshaped – Out Of Any Symmetry [Violet Poison courtesy Wire Mag]
Kowton – Shuffle Good (Andy Stott remix) [Boomkat Editions]
Scissor Lock – Vision [Feral Media]
Tangents – Youth/Slide/Fire [hellosQuare/Not Applicable]

Listen again — ~104MB


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Sunday, 11th of August, 2013

Playlist 11.08.13 (10:07 pm)

Some substantial specials on some interesting artists working in the interstitial areas between genres & branches of the arts tonight.
LISTEN AGAIN, you know you want to! Link below, stereo streaming on demand at FBi website.

I was pretty surprised to find Julia Holter‘s album in my promo box this week. I guess I haven’t been paying attention – I knew it was coming, but here it is, out at the end of next week! It’s pretty great, as with her previous albums, and has a similar mix between the more esoteric classical-influenced sounds, and the more electronic pop bits. Unlike the ancient Greek references of the previous albums, this one’s modeled on a more recent literary work – Collette’s novel Gigi, but it’s easy to enjoy the music (and lyrics!) without delving too deeply into these connections. Holter is a unique and very strong voice in songwriting; we’re lucky to have her.

Some pretty adventurous music follows, a duo of very interesting musicians whose previous releases as Grumbling Fur I hugely admired. I love a lot of the solo & collaborative work of both Alexander Tucker and Daniel O’Sullivan, but admittedly was quite disappointed by the ’80s electro-pop influence on the second Mothlite album, after such a stellar debut. So for some reason, knowing these influences would also be present on this album, I approached it with some trepidation. I shouldn’t have – barring one or two tracks, it’s pretty magnificent, with psychedelic folk and occasional reminders of their metal & drone roots jutting in, as well as electronics. The first album had much more of a psych folk rock feel, and I love how they split it up into pretty short tracks, even though when you listen through the run-ons mean there are two pretty epic tracks with only a few shorter ones. Clearly guys who value thematic structure, despite the very appealing looseness of their sound.

New on the New Weird Australia-affiliated Wood & Wire is an EP from The Scrapes‘ violinist Adam Cadell. In the press release, Adam presents us with a manifesto: “Radical Underground Violinists of the world, stand up, take your instruments and your intellects and help build a culture in opposition to the powers that are degrading our disadvantaged fellow humans and making our planet uninhabitable!” Sounds good to me.

Keeping to the quasi-classical thread through Julia Holter & Adam Cadell, we reach Melbourne artist Oliver Mann, whose fascinating pedigree sees him coming to experimental folk & indie from a background as a professional opera singer; but then he is also the older brother of Paddy Mann aka Grand Salvo. This leads to songs featuring the full-bodied vibrato of classical singing technique, something I have some difficulty with (see also Scott Walker, who it took my years to fully appreciate, and even now his voice can begin to grate), but in a setting with delicate folk guitar, unhinged blues harmonica, and then a couple of remixes thrown in. That the songs are gorgeous can only help.

I took the opportunity to play another track from the pretty incredible new EP/mini-album from Marina Rosenfeld, featuring Warrior Queen and (on this one, possibly) Okkyung Lee. See a couple of playlists back for my write-up on this release, and also the previous album from which I took another shimmering minimalist piece.

A brief cue next from Hence Therefore‘s soundtrack to an intriguing Shakespeare adaptation as Lady Hamlet by the Hell Shakespeare Co. Sydney musician Simon Unwin has created a glitchy electronic score, which I’ll feature again in the next week or so.

And finally, Oneohtrix Point Never will shortly drop his first album for Warp, and it’s going to be an apt fit. If you listen on his site you can experience the extremely trippy HTML5 video transformations at the same time. An odd mix of analogue synth nostalgia & contemporary digital crispness. I’m looking forward to this album!

Julia Holter – Maxim’s 1 [Domino]
Julia Holter – Tragedy Finale [Leaving Records/Nightschool Records]
Julia Holter – Marienbad [RVNG]
Julia Holter – In The Green Wild [Domino]
Grumbling Fur – Protogenesis [Thrill Jockey]
Grumbling Fur – Curing Hides / Green Garden Fur / Sommaren Är Här / Orb of the Woods [Aurora Borealis]
Grumbling Fur – Eyoreseye [Thrill Jockey]
Grumbling Fur – Nomadic Mirage / Siberian Pries / Furfather’s Lament [Aurora Borealis]
Grumbling Fur – Huthering Whites [Latitudes]
Grumbling Fur – His Moody Face [Thrill Jockey]
Adam Cadell – Red, Like the Dirt Beneath My Feet [Wood & Wire]
Oliver Mann – Tin Power Pt.II (then + now) [Fuse Group Australia/Bandcamp]
Oliver Mann – Tin Power Pt.II (then + now) (Lower Spectrum remix) [Fuse Group Australia/Bandcamp]
Oliver Mann – Puff Puff Pt.I [Fuse Group Australia/Bandcamp]
Marina Rosenfeld feat. Warrior Queen & Okkyung Lee – I launch an attack… [Room40]
Marina Rosenfeld – Sweetest Sensation [Room40]
Hence Therefore – flights of angels sing thee to thy rest [Hence Therefore Bandcamp]
Oneohtrix Point Never – Problem Areas [Warp]

Listen again — ~124MB


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Sunday, 4th of August, 2013

Playlist 04.08.13 (10:07 pm)

Sounds of beauty from all around the world tonight!
LISTEN AGAIN because you know you want to. Link at bottom, podcast for all the links, or genuine stereo streaming on demand via FBi.

French artist Witxes (aka Maxime Vavasseur and guests) has just released his second album for the mighty Denovali, and like his previous, it’s caused quite a stir. Listening to both, it’s not hard to understand why – this is masterful, poised music without borders, taking the aesthetics of modern-day drone, postrock, cut through with folky acoustic guitar (and sometimes vocals), hefty bass tones, and even the occasional understated beat. And it’s even better than you’d expect!

One of the new things that popped into my mail this week was a 12″ vinyl record from Michel Banabila, his first in many years. It compiles a number of tracks from the last few years plus a few new ones, two of which we heard tonight. And even better, one is an unreleased collaboration with Machinefabriek. As per usual, it’s expansive, world-oriented ambient, sometimes with beats, always lovely.

34423 is female Japanese electronic artist Fumi Miyoshi, whose name approximately sounds like those five digits. I like the way she’s turned herself into a digital version of herself right there, much like the cut-up image of her face on the artwork; and the title Tough and Tender ably expresses the music, with beats she claims are influenced by Aphex Twin and Nine Inch Nails… As usual Japan can be relied upon to keep the flame for my kind of electronic music – nice :)

Polish artist (now resident in New England) Derek Piotr does lovely glitchy things with voice and electronics. I was introduced to his sounds by Melbourne/Canberran Paul Heslin, who we heard tonight remixing him along with one of my heroes, C. Spencer Yeh aka Burning Star Core. That’s from last year, but there’s a newie Raj, with more of Piotr’s organised digital detritus.

Moon Ate the Dark‘s first album came out on legendary post-classical (etc) label Sonic Pieces last year, featuring the piano of Anna Rose Carter (whose solo albums I sadly haven’t yet heard) along with processing and noises from Christopher Bailey. It’s so minimalist it could easily slip under your radar, but listen closely and the interplay between the occasionally ugly (in a good way) noises and the patient piano patterns is compelling. Their new release is a brief two-track EP on 7″ vinyl and 3″ CD from the boutique label Brian Records.

And finally, from Toronto by way of Melbourne, Fresh Snow. By way of Melbourne because my connection is Tim Condon, who released an amazing album as Mirrored Silver Sea back in 2008 that made my best-of lists for that year. Released by the tragically defunct Sound & Fury label, that would be pretty much impossible to find anymore. But his new Toronto band Fresh Snow have a new album out (soon? I believe) on both cassette and vinyl (and digital, phew), with the LP version mastered by none other than James Plotkin (Condon himself taking on the duties for the cassette). It’s rollicking kratrock/postrock/noise, sometimes reminding me of City City City, but often pretty much sui generis. So tonight I took the opportunity to slip in a 12-minute track, this time in the very dynamic Plotkin-mastered incarnation. Excellent.

Witxes – Through Abraxas I [Denovali]
Witxes – The Strands [Denovali]
Witxes – Thirteen Emeralds [Denovali]
Witxes – The Reason [Denovali]
Witxes – The Visited [Denovali]
Banabila & Machinefabriek – Ill Rave [Tapu]
Banabila – Drops [Tapu]
Michel Banabila – 47 Voice Loops (Radbound & Bilaa Mix) [Tapu]
34423 – MASK [Kaico/Nature Bliss]
34423 – Equivalent [Kaico/Nature Bliss]
34423 – Quest [Kaico/Nature Bliss]
Derek Piotr – Spine [self-released/Bandcamp]
Derek Piotr – nineweek [bitsquare]
Derek Piotr – deliver (c. spencer yeh remix) [bitsquare]
Derek Piotr – deliver (paul heslin remix) [bitsquare]
Derek Piotr – Sand Defacing All Surfaces [self-released/Bandcamp]
Derek Piotr – Flow Through Light [self-released/Bandcamp]
Moon Ate the Dark – Verse Porous Verse [Brian Records]
Moon Ate the Dark – Capsule 11 [Sonic Pieces]
Moon Ate the Dark – Sand that Remembers the Rock it Once Was [Brian Records]
Fresh Snow – Saturation Complete [Fresh Snow]

Listen again — ~123MB


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