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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 January, 2015

Playlist 25.01.15 (8:09 pm)

It’s January and there’s already a tonne of new music!

You better LISTEN AGAIN if you want to keep up! Over there you’ve got your stereo stream, over here the podcast.

It was a particularly cruel and thoughtless person who leaked Björk‘s album this past week. Not only was it a long way off the release date, the rip was a terrible sub-cassette-quality 128k thing that was a travesty to the wonderful music. Her label One Little Indian felt boxed in by this, and ended up rushing the release out, first as an exclusive to iTunes (ugh!) and then through a few other services as well. It’s sad that it came out this way (I still eagerly await the CD in March), but we’re lucky to experience this incredible, franky, beautiful work now.
Co-production comes from Arca, and if you’ve heard his album or FKA Twigs‘ from last year that’ll be very obvious in places – but it should be made utterly clear that as always the bulk of the programming as well as songwriting is by Björk herself. Also featured are her very fine string arrangements. It sounds like the work with Arca was very much an in-person collaboration, but at some point Björk and Arca also invited none other than consummate producer/cellist/sub-bass explorer The Haxan Cloak to bring his mixing skills to the songs. It seems clear to me that the track “family” is the one to also have some co-production from him, with bubbles of bass and crunchy beats cutting in and out, and then some somewhat avant-garde cello in there.
It’s a wonderful and album from start fo finish, not to mention heartbreaking.

Sydney artist CORIN released an EP of piano and synth sounds & tasteful beats last year, which I wish I’d known about at the time – but fortunately now that she’s put out a remix EP I get to hear the originals as well. Nice to have representation from fellow female Sydney electronic artist Moon Holiday here, also adding her own vocals to the mix, and meanwhile I know nothing about Tennis Boys…

We don’t hear nearly enough from Perth piano-and-electronics duo Cycle~ 440, perhaps partly now because pianist Kevin Penkin has moved overseas. It feels like the track we excerpted here is the most fully-formed thing I’ve heard from them, or maybe it’s just the one I’ve enjoyed the most. It’s from one of the releases that sadly mark the end of an era: the end of Stu Buchanan’s Wood & Wire label and the movement that spawned it – first as an FBi radio show, then also a compilation series, label and more, New Weird Australia has promoted a lot of wonderful Australian music in its years of operation. It’s fitting that Brooke Olsen & Scarlett Di Maio’s Ears Have Ears contribute to the last release, with four of the original “soundtracks” they host from experimental artists around the world.

And recently announced, now released is the new Aphex Twin, defined in that strange Warp fashion (Aphex and Autechre at least both do this) as an “EP” despite having 13 tracks. Well, some of them are quite short anyway! It’s Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments, involving those robots he discussed in some interviews around Syro last year, and it’s actually great. It’s exactly what it says on the tin – acoustic instruments playing Aphex’s supple, drum’n’bass & acid-inflected rhythms, some kind of presumably computer-controlled piano, maybe some bass and stuff that’s synthesized (this time we don’t have a complete list of instruments used!) I enjoyed it a lot more than Syro to be honest.

Afrikan Sciences is producer Eric Porter, affiliated with Deepblak Recordings but appearing here via the experimental-meets-dancefloor label PAN. On this album his beats sound like a cross between idm-tinged electro and some kind of Sun Ra jam. People have mentioned Flying Lotus and there’s something to that, but it’s pretty individual stuff, definitely worth a listen.

Dunk Murphy’s music a longtime favourite of UFog, prior even to Sunken Foal with his duo Ambulance. At the end of 2012 and 2013 he released two great albums of extremely varied style entitled Friday Syndrome Vol. 1 & 2, mixing up his folktronica and idm among other styles. Apparently there’s a Vol. 3 coming, and prior to that we have a new single with vocals from fellow Irish singer/songwriter Si Schroeder plus a couple of instrumental b-sides. Always worth grabbing.

The Seaport & The Airport, from Sydney, has the unlikeliest name in electronica, but somehow makes some pretty interesting sounds, a bit drum’n’bass, a bit r’n’b-sampling. Interested in what the rest of this album will sound like!

Speaking of drum’n’bass, Sam Binga is doing some of the most interesting stuff in jungle crossover at the moment – slow/fast, footwork crossover etc. He works a bit with grime MC Redders, and their new single is another classic in the making. He also makes the supremely uninteresting CHVRCHES sound great on an unreleased remix, and a b-side from the new single is more straight-up d’n’b.

Finally, Amit is a newish drum’n’bass producer who also works in dub and dubstep. Many of his releases feature Irish vocalist Rani and it’s a great update on the trip-hop sound. These tracks are both on dBridge’s forward-thinking drum’n’bass label Exit Records, but he also has a lot available from his own Bandcamp. Last track is a Machinedrum remix circa his amazing Vapor City album, doing the dub/hip-hop to jungle thing in fine style.

Björk – atom dance (feat. Antony) [One Little Indian]
Björk – It’s Not Up To You [One Little Indian]
Björk – family [One Little Indian]
CORIN – Images II (Moon Holiday remix) [CORIN Bandcamp]
CORIN – Glue [CORIN Bandcamp]
CORIN – Riverboat (Tennis Boys Remix) [CORIN Bandcamp]
Cycle~ 440 – Lingering Echoes of the Tempest (excerpt) [Wood & Wire/Ears Have Ears]
Aphex Twin – diskhat ALL prepared1mixed 13 [Warp]
Aphex Twin – hatb 2b 2012b [Warp]
Aphex Twin – piano un10 it happened [Warp]
Afrikan Sciences – Tell Me Who Like That (Bedside Manner) [PAN]
Afrikan Sciences – Circuitous [PAN]
Sunken Foal – Never Knew (feat. Si Schroeder) [Countersunk]
Sunken Foal – Gravy Ladle [Countersunk]
The Seaport & The Airport – Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave [SoundCloud]
Sam Binga – Tek Nuh Chat ft. Redders [Critical Music]
CHVRCHES – Recover (Sam Binga remix) [Sam Binga SoundCloud (still unreleased?)]
Sam Binga – Chasic [Critical Music]
Amit – You Look Better Dead (ft. Rani) [Exit Records]
Amit – Human Warfare (Machinedrum Remix) [Exit Records]

Listen again — ~107MB


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Sunday, 18th of January, 2015

Playlist 18.01.15 (8:07 pm)

Back after an extra week’s gap when I went off to see Ben Frost & Tim Hecker!

LISTEN AGAIN for the highs and the lows (there are no lows though)! Stereo stream, mono podcast over here!

It’s been a surprisingly long while between drinks for Telafonica . Their last album seemed like a single factory, full of wonderful indietronic marvels, and the new one’s off to a great start with this rapturous single.

Last year I played some great experimental indie rock from Brisbane’s Naked Maja, and tonight we hear from the first single from member Cedie Janson – a purely electronic affair full of bright synth pads.

It’s no secret that Demdike Stare, who made their name as purveyors of murky hauntological ambience and occasional dub excursions, are big fans of rave, drum’n’bass & techno. Miles Whittaker, is also the Millie half of Millie & Andrea with Andy Stott, who years ago released some brilliant darkside jungle & UK garage 12″s, and an equally brilliant album last year. In 2013, Demdike released a mind-boggling slab of melted-down jungle on their first Testpressing 12″, nothing like what they’d previously released, and the series has continued with various post-rave genres. Apparently #007, just released this weekend, spells the end of the series, and it’s a great pair of tracks to end with. Hopefully they’ll be collected on CD (well, stranger things have happened), but whatever they do next is keenly anticipated in Utility Fog Towers…

I first discovered world’s end girlfriend on a Japanese electronica compilation in 2002 and it was love at first sight (aural sight obvs peeps). At the time Japanese releases were rather hard to come by outside of Japan, so it took some time to collect everything, but I did my best because this was my music to a tee – chopped-up acoustic guitars or strings colliding with complex breakneck drill’n’bass beats, eventually augmented with rock riffs, free jazz, awesome string quartet arrangements… all the best genres all at once! It’s “clever” music but also emotive, and also lotsa silly. And hella heavy.
No time for a bit special tonight just because of a new EP, but what a great EP it is, with all his signature styles as usual. Certified genius.

Jon Mueller is something of a musical chameleon, working with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon in Volcano Choir, releasing pure percussion compositions under his own name, and also exploring in various media his thoughts about life’s termination in his Death Blues project. I only recently twigged to the fact that Aaron Turner’s magnificent SIGE Records (the one small mercy coming out of the sort-of death of Hydra Head a couple of years ago) released a 12″ with two more-than-15-minute tracks from Death Blues. This incarnation sees Mueller joined by Ken Palme and Jim Warchol on “hammered acoustic guitar”, and along with Mueller’s chants and tribal percussion they make a dirge-like music a lot like an acoustic version of doom metal. The solo Jon Mueller album Death Blues from 2013 features similar work in shorter lengths, and meanwhile another Death Blues album, Ensemble, was release last year with sizeable input from UFog stalwart William Ryan Fritch – and kind of doomier, dirgier (but only slightly) adaptation of Fritch’s own ecstatic world-meets-classical concoctions.

Teho Teardo has appeared a fair bit on this show courtesy of his splendid string arrangements and glitchy beats on various soundtracks and collaborations – including most recently an album and EP with Blixa Bargeld. The industrial connection goes right back to Teho’s first releases with his Meathead duo, albeit a good generation later than Blixa. In 1997 he released an album with industrial dub/hip-hop pioneer Mick Harris of Scorn et al, but I first came across him in collaboration with one of my favourite cellists, Erik Friedlander. More recently he’s worked with the Balanescu Quartet and Julia Kent among other string players and other musicians. Whoever he works with, there will be masterful arrangements, warm production, tasteful crunchy beats and processing… The Blixa collaborations in particular show just how a melding of minds should work.

Telafonica – What Remains (Single Edit) [4-4-2 Music]
Cedie Janson – Light Curve [Lost Race]
Demdike Stare – Rathe [Modern Love]
Demdike Stare – Collision [Modern Love]
Demdike Stare – Primitive Equations [Modern Love]
world’s end girlfriend – Unable [Virgin Babylon Records]
world’s end girlfriend – Girls [Virgin Babylon Records]
Death Blues – Participant [Rhythmplex]
Jon Mueller – Acceptance [Hometapes/Taiga]
Death Blues – Do [SIGE Records]
Teho Teardo – The outside force [Spècula]
matera – constant thing [Invisible]
Erik Friedlander & Teho Teardo – to the red flag [BiP_HOp]
Teho Teardo – Nemmeno Io [Spècula]
Teho Teardo / Balanescu Quartet – I’ll Meet You On That Other Shore / Never The Same [Radiofandango]
Teho Teardo – wilder mann feat. Balanescu Quartet [Spècula]
Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld – What If…? [Spècula]
Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld – The Empty Boat [Spècula]
Teho Teardo – Poisonous his envy [Spècula]

Listen again — ~105MB


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Sunday, 4th of January, 2015

Playlist 04.02.15 incorporating Best of the Rest, 2014 (8:07 pm)

OHSHIT It’s a new year… New last digit in the playlist date. Crazy. Time stops for no man.
We’ve got a whole lot more best of 2014, plus a few previews of great 2015 music!

LISTEN AGAIN yada yada… you get your stereo stream on over there, your podcast over here.

The Sticks is the latest project for drummer Alon Ilsar of the much-lamented Gauche, Trigger Happy and various other stage projects and artists. In many ways it’s the culmination of stuff he’s been working on for a very long time – a gestural interface that lets him play “air drums” while controlling a bewildering range of factors. He’s playing beats live, but also processing those sounds, live-sampling the musicians around him, and playing & processing those sounds.
It’s not that easy to hear all that in the recorded tracks, but what you get is really great electronica. You can see The Sticks at The Dock at 182 Redfern St, Redfern, every Tuesday night January.

Sydney artist Shisd aka Felix Idle released an EP of lovely indietronica a couple of years ago on Wood and Wire. He’s now based in Tokyo, and his new EP comes out soon on Mexican label Memory N° 36. Vaporwave? Indietronica? Chillwave? Dream-pop? Call it what you will, it’s lovely stuff.

Erik K Skodvin is a lot of things – boss of the amazing Miasmah label, one half of Deaf Center, drone/doom artist Svarte Greiner, and collaborator with many others. In 2014 he released the third in a trilogy of albums under his own name for the essential Sonic Pieces label, featuring more acoustic doom made by his cello, percussion, and other instruments.
Also on Sonic Pieces, his partner in Deaf Center Otto A Totland released a lovely album of soft-pedal piano and not much else (some subtle delays here and there).

Dutch artist Wouter van Veldhoven uses tape effects and instruments (some home-made) to produce an idiosyncratic sound all his own, which despite being rooted in the analogue fits right in with the digital drone-meisters. It’s truly beautiful music and I wish more people would hear it.

In 2014, the venerable Warp released not only a long-awaited new Aphex Twin album, but also albums by idm heroes Plaid and 2nd-gen electronic genius Clark (once himself considered a boy wonder, now a bit of an old master himself). Both were filled with their signature sounds. I chose a track where Plaid’s lovely melodies are tinged darker, and from Clark a sequence of tracks traversing ravey techno breakbeats, chill-out piano and more.

While Sufjan Stevens didn’t have an album proper out last year, he did release a collaboration with Son Lux and Serengeti, previously S/S/S/, now as Sisyphus. It’s sort of an extension of Sufjan’s electronic forays from The Age of Adz, although it fits nicely into the catalogues of the other two artists too.

Speaking of collaborations, 2012 Utility Fog fave Memotone returned this year, but in a duo with fellow producer Soosh. Their album Memoosh was another hidden masterpiece, contemporary beatsmithing rubbing up against acoustic instrumentation and sound recording – oh, and one bit of pretty nice jungle in there too.

Norwegian producer TCF has appeared in the last year or two with long hexadecimal titles and music which is perhaps less unintelligible, but equally machine-like. I discovered him via a compilation accompanying Wire Magazine to promote the Unsound Festival, which also featured the experimental techno of Poland’s Aleksandra Grunholz aka We Will Fail.

Matthew Collings released one of the albums of the year in 2013, albeit quietly on a very small boutique label. The album, Splintered Instruments, has now been re-released by Denovali along with a new album in 2014, Silence Is A Rhythm Too, which continues the theme of clarinets and acoustic instruments, live drums and electronics. It’s a wonderful mix of composition, postrock and glitchy electronica.

Post-2014 special, we hear from a couple of early 2015 releases. I featured a preview track from Irish band Second Moon of Winter last year. The album is out soon, also on Denovali, and it’s a heady mix of operatic vocals, delicate electronics, and murky metal guitar drones. Quite gorgeous.

And finally, a surprising collaboration between two French electronic mavericks. Igorrr has for some years been combining his loves of heavy electronica & breakcore, opera and metal into one mutant form, while Ruby My Dear sticks more on the breakcore & acid techno end of things (his debut album knocked me for six a few years ago). On this EP we discover that Igorrr’s opera-core tendencies and Ruby My Dear’s precise, detailed beats make a perfect match. It’s a little toned down from Igorrr’s usual madness, strangely accessible but no less bizarre.

The Sticks – Shug [unreleased]
Shisd – Colour Bars feat. P A R K S [Memory N° 36]
Shisd – Without You, Walking [Wood and Wire]
Shisd – In June [Memory N° 36]
—MORE BEST OF 2014—
Erik K Skodvin – Moving Mistake [Sonic Pieces]
Otto A Totland – solêr [Sonic Pieces]
Wouter van Veldhoven – Sketch / First Failure AE 10-2008 [Umor Rex]
Plaid – Ropen [Warp]
Clark – Strength Through Fragility [Warp]
Clark – Banjo [Warp]
Clark – Snowbird [Warp]
Sisyphus – Hardly Hanging On [Asthmatic Kitty/Joyful Noise]
Sisyphus – Alcohol [Asthmatic Kitty/Joyful Noise]
Memotone & Soosh – First Avenue [Project Mooncircle]
Memotone & Soosh – Aponi [Project Mooncircle]
TCF – D7 08 2A 8D 2A 37 FA FE 17 0E 62 39 06 81 C8 A1 49 30 6F ED 56 AD 5E 04 [Liberation Technologies]
TCF – 8B 2E E5 32 7B 5A 0B 33 73 B7 00 A9 F5 C2 A5 E4 0F D9 E5 17 DC 5F 3D BC 54 98 20 2C 55 F0 E6 87 6B 06 0C 5A 0E 3B EA 9B C1 4F 7C 50 45 E1 31 4D 8F B0 36 F9 89 AD A8 62 D1 96 D9 63 4C C8 40 05 [The Wire/Unsound]
We Will Fail – 061 [Unsound via Wire Mag]
We Will Fail – V.02 [Monotype]
Matthew Collings – Toms [Denovali]
—END OF 2014—
Second Moon of Winter – Two Magpies [Denovali]
Igorrr & Ruby My Dear – Alain [Ad Noiseam]

Listen again — ~108MB


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