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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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Sunday, 15th of March, 2015

Playlist 15.03.15 (8:08 pm)

Good evening! I’m back after a week in Radelaide, with lots to play you!

Listen again because you loved it the first time… Stream on demand, podcast here.

We start with a bit of an unusual special on Björk. I didn’t want to focus on album tracks from her history or anything – we all know that (brilliant) stuff. So I found a few oddities & rarities to play you tonight.
It seems to me that Vulnicura might be Björk’s best album yet – it’s soul-baring and very difficult listening, but it’s also beautifully produced and beautifully composed. The beats are still cutting edge (made with Arca), the mix intense in every way (thanks The Haxan Cloak!), and Björk’s string arrangements are incredible. The lyrics are jagged and painful, brutally honest and yet as poetic as she’s ever managed – and there are some sweet references to her other work, such as “Find our mutual coordinates” in “stonemilker”, sung to accentuate the connection to “mutual core”; for that matter, the first few string notes of the same song recall The Brodsky Quartet‘s celebrated version of “Hyperballad”.
I didn’t play any of The Brodsky Quartet collaborations tonight, but we had a few other interesting tidbits: People forget that even recently Björk has been happy to guest on other people’s work (e.g. Ólöf Arnalds second-last album), and she’d worked with The Black Dog since the beginning of her solo career; so it makes sense Plaid asked her to sing on a track on their debut album after leaving The Black Dog. They’ve also remixed her a number of times.
In 2008 Stereogum decided to put together a tribute to Post, Björk’s second album, and invited a selection of indie artists to cover all the tracks. It made a lot of sense to have Owen Pallett (appearing in Sydney this Saturday March 21st!) as Final Fantasy, and Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear to cover “Possibly Maybe”, with a scintillating string arrangement melding with electronics in its original form. They strip it down to mainly drum machine and Pallett’s own strings, and sing the lyric deadpan without swapping gender (nor should they).
Meanwhile, in the lead-up to the release of Vespertine (still probably my favourite), idm-heads were excited about the presence of Matmos in the production credits (along with other electronic heroes of the time like Opiate and The Notwist‘s Console). Prior to the album’s release, Matmos leaked a few very odd “remixes” of studio sessions, and “Hearts & Bones” is how I always thought of “Hidden Place” for quite some time…

Next up, a new generation of fearless female electronic performer. Holly Herndon is shortly to release her second album, this time through 4AD in conjunction with RVNG Intl.. Before we get there though, I discovered she put out a standalone single, running for 11½ minutes. It’s pretty abstract! Some of her processed vocals appear hear and there along with what sound like very processed field recordings and hints at beats or basslines. Herndon’s fractured music balances precariously between dancefloor accessibility and academic abstruseness. I’m very interested to hear what the album brings…

Firmly on the dancefloor, but no less abstract for that, is the new single from Sydney’s Cassius Select aka Lavurn Lee. Broken beats point at grime and uk garage as much as house. You can see him along with Marcus Whale and Jared Beeler in the incredible Black Vanilla this Friday the 20th of March at Civic Underground.

EVA (a reference to space walks and the like) is Brisbane’s Amelia Paxman. Her new EP is a lovely lo-fi affair with analogue electronics, drum machine, piano and vocals.

Gurun Gurun are a folktronic, slightly post-classical (yeah that makes sense) group from Czech Republic, although they sound like they should be Japanese. Their music is released by an English label based in Japan, Home Normal (soon to become a Japanese label based in England) and their forthcoming album does feature some well-loved Japanese vocalists such as Cokiyu and Cuushe. Before we get the album, Home Normal have released a single on their Bandcamp with some fine remixes and all proceeds go to a great charity.

Now to a little special on Snow Ghosts, who released their second album on the great Houndstooth last month. It continues the trip hop meets contemporary beats of Hannah Cartwright aka Augustus Ghost and Ross Tones aka Throwing Snow, but adds multi-instrumentalist Oliver Knowles into the mix. It feels bad to criticise when I actually love their music so much, but unfortunate to my string player ears many of the violin are hard to listen to – wavering pitch doesn’t sit nicely with electronic instruments. That aside, the sounds are stunning, as much based around filthy noise drones as cutting-edge chopped beats. We heard some of those beats that Throwing Snow has become known for after mosty abandoning his early gentler folktronic sound – Mosaic album was one last year’s album highlights, jumping between styles and dipping its toe into some drum’n’bass-like breakbeat juggling here and there. We also heard Kwesi Darko remixing a track which he contributed to on the album as Blue Daisy; here he unearths his dark rapper alter-ego Dahlia Black for a forbidding take on the same song.

I wanted to play more from Brisbane’s Benjamin Thompson aka Pale Earth, but I ran out of time – so more next week. I’ve been a fan since his first 3″ CD on a little label of John Chantler‘s, which mixed indiefolk songs with field recordings and electronics. He’s a member of indietronicnoisepunk band The Rational Academy, and I’m very impressed with the drones, cut-ups and beats he’s doing under this new name. He also contributed the latest soundtrack to FBi’s Ears Have Ears.

Björk – stonemilker [One Little Indian]
Plaid – lilith (ft. björk) [Warp]
Final Fantasy & Ed Droste – Possibly Maybe [Stereogum]
Björk – Isobel (The Carcass remix) [One Little Indian]
Björk & Matmos – Hearts & Bones [unreleased, download from Matmos back in 2001]
Björk – family [One Little Indian]
Holly Herndon – Recruit [RVNG Intl.]
Cassius Select – He Ain’t Worth [Unknown To The Unknown]
EVA – Lost In Spaces [EVA Bandcamp]
EVA – Deja Vu [EVA Bandcamp]
Gurun Gurun – Tsuki ni te feat. Cokiyu [Home Normal]
Gurun Gurun – Atarashii hi (Pawn / Hideki Umezawa remix) [Home Normal]
Snow Ghosts – Drought [Houndstooth]
Snow Ghosts – The Wreck [Houndstooth]
Throwing Snow – Pyre [Local Action]
Snow Ghosts – Murder Cries [Houndstooth]
Snow Ghosts feat. Dahlia Black – Covenant (Remix) [Houndstooth]
Throwing Snow – Maera feat. Adda Kaleh [Houndstooth]
Snow Ghosts – On Knifes [Houndstooth]
Pale Earth – Racey Leopard [Pale Earth Bandcamp]

Listen again — ~106MB


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