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Utility Fog


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Monday, 6th of January, 2014

Utility Fog’s ridiculously big best of 2013 list (8:09 pm)

OK, so I did this list for Cyclic Defrost, where I complained that I couldn’t possibly whittle down my best-of shortlist to anything resembling 5 selections.
That said, I also couldn’t fit everything I wanted into the 4 hours of my two best-of shows (previous to posts), so I’m presenting this here – without any links and with tiny little parenthetical summaries only. Enjoy!

ÄÄNIPÄÄ – Mirror Of Mirror Dreams
(collaboration between Stephen O’Malley and Mika Vainio is just what you’d hope for!)

Aidan Baker – Already Drowning
(amazing song cycle with a collection of brilliant women on the vocals)

Atom™ – HD
(his best in ages, trademark (pun intended) electronic manipulations & pranksterish covers)

AUN – Alpha Heaven
(dark techno without the beats, widescreen drone)

Autechre – Exai
(at 2CDs it’s overlong, but particularly the 2nd disc is crammed with goodies)

Banabila & Machinefabriek – Travelog
(glitchdroneworldbeat collaboration to die for)

Boduf Songs – Burnt Up On Re-Entry
(mysterious whispered indiefolk songs, now with electronic backbone – amazing)

Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
(just a wonderful return, everything you could’ve wanted)

C. Spencer Yeh / Okkyung Lee / Lasse Marhaug – Wake Up Awesome!
(collaboration of the year, beauty from noise)

Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light
(possibly his best yet, including a barking (mad) vocal from Justin Vernon)

Crooked Fiddle Band – Moving Pieces of the Sea
(Sydney band get Steve Albini to produce their epic folk/postrock hybrid with awesome results!)

Demdike Stare – Testpressing series
(reinvention of rave/d’n’b aesthetics with dark atmos, better than their ambient hauntology)

Ensemble Pearl – s/t
(drone noise/black metal supergroup with dubbed out production, spineshattering)

Faint Wild Light – s/t
(Emptyset’s James Ginzburg doing shoegazey indie folk? Should’ve been a mega-hit)

fire! orchestra – exit
(Swedish free jazz orchestra with driving bass & scintillating vocals – a masterpiece)

Foetus – Soak
JG Thirlwell – The Blue Eyes OST

(look, I haven’t even listened to these yet but how can they not rule?)

Four Tet – Beautiful Rewind
(a return to form after an unnecessary 4/4 house detour, with a couple of corkers for sure)

Fresh Snow – I
(postrock/krautrock/noise from Toronto, led by a Melburnian ex-pat)

Golden Blonde – Gwen
(best Aus album by a mile, freaked-out chopped-up math-rock by way of Grizzly Bear!?)

Grumbling Fur – Glynnaestra
(everyone’s favourite, not as great as their first two but still great warped pop music)

The Haxan Cloak – Excavation
(cellist and consummate sound sculptor, and dark as fuck)

Horseback – A Plague Of Knowing
(3CDs, black metal Americana thru hardcore punk to processed loop-based indie songs?)

Holden – The Inheritors
(the most organic electronic music ever – endlessly fascinating)

Ill Professor – Wire & Air
(Zelienople member’s cassette of drones & half-expressed guitar & piano thoughts)

James Plotkin & Paal Nilssen-Love – Death Rattle
(Plotkin’s array of guitar-processing in full attack mode & Nilssen-Love’s garage rock/free jazz drums)

Janelle Monáe – The Electric Lady
(a supremely talented artist; if not quite The Archandroid then at least as catchy)

Jenny Hval – Innocence Is Kinky
(and not quite as brilliant as Viscera, but equally slippery and engrossing)

Jesu – Everyday I Get Closer The Light From Which I Came
Pale Sketcher – Just Won’t Sing
JK Flesh / Prurient – Worship Is The Cleansing Of The Imagination

(Lord JK Broadrick in fine form: epic shoegaze metal, perfect poptronica, raging industrial beats)

Juana Molina – Wed 2
(the return of Argentina’s finest purveyor of deliciously weird electronic folksongs!)

Kaboom Karavan – Hokus Fokus
(dark yet playful, acoustic yet sample-based, very odd)

Leah Kardos – Machines
(stunning second album from London-based Aussie; piano & electronics & songs based on spam)

Littlebow – Pi Magpie
(second album offering further proof that the flute can lead krautrock or psych-folk songs)

Locrian – Return to Annihilation
(the most approachable album from these experimental metal/drone masters)

Locust – You’ll Be Safe Forever
(as good as anything Mark Van Hoen produced in the ’80s, blissful glitchy shoegaze-tronica)

Lonnie Holley – Keeping a Record of It
(unbridled folk unlike anything you’ve heard)

Lucrecia Dalt – Syzygy
(her third and most experimental album, a unique vision of guitar songs and sound art)

Machinedrum – Vapor City
(the album I came back to most this year – stunning cyberpunk vision rendered through juke & drum’n’bass)

Mammifer & Circle – Enharmonic Intervals (For Paschen Organ)
(two restlessly creative post-metal scenes meet and create something melding classical & noise influences)

Matmos – The Marriage of True Minds
(sweet & acerbic humour and sonic invention as always from this duo)

Matt Elliott – Only Myocardial Infarction Can Break Your Heart
(far removed from Third Eye Foundation, but epic and featuring his best songwriting yet)

Matthew Collings – Splintered Instruments
(another I had on repeat, production by Ben Frost, post-Talk Talk songwriting & arrangements, amazing)

M.I.A. – Matangi
(return to form? Compulsively danceable, glitchy production, in-your-face vocals, I loved it)

Miles – Faint Hearted / Unsecured
(Demdike Stare member with post-Autechre techno that blew me away)

Misty Conditions – D’Zzzz
(impeccable trap/dubstep/juke beats from breakcore mashup producer & cohort)

The Mistys – Stalking/Drawers / Redemption Forest / Recombinant Archaeology
(UK’s The Boats producer and a female vocalist make a weird distorted sideways tribute to ’80s electro-pop)

Moon Zero – Tombs / Tombs Remixed
(just some great analogue electronics with some equally great drone artists on the mixes)

My Bloody Valentine – m b v
(the return, everything we expected but ultimately even better)

The Necks – Open
(one of their finest in later years, ultra-restrained minimalism and great grooves)

Nils Frahm – Spaces
(piano & keyboards supplemented with delay pedals for some equisite live creations)

How To Destroy Angels – Welcome Oblivion
(while the new NIN seemed ultra-boring, Trent’s project with his wife was great, including pop gem Ice Age)

Oceania – Coil Up EP / Eyes Of Glass EP / Five Stones EP
(three post-dubstep EPs from a Moscow artist, delicate songwriting & contemporary production)

Okkyung Lee – Ghil
(terrifying cello mayhem – the most effective noise release of the year, produced entirely acoustically)

Oliver Mann – Slow Bark
(opera singer brother of Grand Salvo makes wonderful experimental folk album)

Om Unit – Sleepwalkers EP
(I thought the Threads album was OK, but this is drum’n’bass as it needs to be in 2013)

Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven
(I’m not as rapturous about this as some, but yeah, it’s almost spitefully brilliant)

Paul Jebanasam – Rites
(Aussie dubstep pioneer now based in Bristol making bass-heavy almost-classical works of great depth)

Piano Interrupted – Two By Four / The Unified Field
(jazzy piano & laptop works, just lovely & fun)

The Rational Academy – Winter Haunts
(unpigeonholeable indie-noise from Brisbane)

Roly Porter – Life Cycle of a Massive Star
(ex-Vex’d member brings dubstep bass pressure to his outer-space electronic epic)

Saltland – I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us
(A Silver Mt Zion/Esmerine cellist Becky Foon’s surprising solo album)

Sarah Neufeld – Hero Brother
(virtuoso solo debut from the violinist with The Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre)

Sole – No Wising Up No Settling Down / Crimes Against Totality
(2nd & 3rd in his series of anarchiest protest-rap albums)

Son Lux – Lanterns
(as masterful as ever, connecting indie with classical with electronica)

Spartak – Catch/Control / Conscience
(lone pair of singles from Canberra’s finest, reinvented as indietronica band)

Special Request – Soul Music
(house & techno DJ Paul Woolford’s tribute to early jungle)

Sunken Foal – Friday Syndrome Vol. 2
(more magnificent folktronica, idm, techno from the brilliant, underappreciated Dunk Murphy)

Svarte Greiner – Black Tie
(Deaf Center cellist & Miasmah label boss with two dark & minimalist masterpieces)

Swans – Not Here / Not Now
(possibly still the loudest band in the world, fundraising their next album, unmissable)

Talvihorros – Eaten Alive
(gorgeously-packaged album of drones, strums & noises from an artist to watch)

Teho Teardo – Music For Wilder Mann
Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld – Still Smiling

(veteran Italian composer & post-industrial electronic musician, on his own & in charming collaboration with Blixa)

Telafonica – Sister Zephyr
(late entry to 2013, they can do no wrong. The kids singing in the punkiest track is gold)

These Hidden Hands – s/t
(engrossing breakbeat techno, retro in a way that could only be made right now)

These New Puritans – Fields of Reeds
(post-Talk Talk quiet-pop, continuing their love of 20th century classical music, one for the ages)

Tim Hecker – Virgins
(his best album by a long shot, helped in no small measure by the presence of Ben Frost)

Various Artists (Flaming Pines) – Tiny Portraits
(no label has greater vision than Kate Carr’s right now)
Various Artists – yellow loveless -JAPAN-
(MBV covers, some over-faithful, some totally un-)
Various Artists (Fanu) – The Breakbeat Sound of Finland
(it seems Fanu’s the tip of the iceberg for exciting Finnish d’n’b)
Various Artists (New Weird Australia) – Sixes And Twelves
(just about the perfect selection of Australian experimental guitar music)
Various Artists (Second Language) – Music and Migration III
(perfect conclusion to this bird-themed indiefolk & post-classical series)
Various Artists (EXIT Records) – Mosaic Vol. 2
(the most exciting aspects of drum’n’bass today)
Various Artists – The Outer Church
(hauntology at its best)
Various Artists (Feral Media/Lofly) – Strain of Origin III
(exciting collection of forward-thinking Aussie artists remixing each other)
Various Artists (Feral Media) – Winter EP / Spring EP
(wonderfully diverse first two entries in the Ferals’ seasons series)

Violetshaped – The Remixes Part 2
(mysterious post-industrial techno duo enlist both Keith Fullerton Whitman and the aforementioned JK Flesh for remixes!)

The Stranger – Watching Dead Empires In Decay
(best work in ages from Mr V/VM)

witxes – a fabric of belief
(mixture of postrock, drone, electronics & even folk – just what I wanted)

Wouter Van Veldhoven – Faroe Islands
(ear-turningly exquisite sound manipulations, sparing strings, three short but utterly perfect tracks)

Young Echo – Nexus
(the post-dubstep sound of Bristol today)


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