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Utility Fog


Your weekly fix of postfolkrocktronica, dronenoise, power ambient, post-everything improv... and more?
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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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