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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, 16th of August, 2015

Playlist 16.08.15 (8:55 pm)

Hey you! Electronics meet indie pop, grebo, and the weird outer reaches of metal tonight!

LISTEN AGAIN because your ears need the treatment… podcast here, stream on demand over there.

Only last week, we had a sneak preview of the excellent cross-continental collaboration that starts the show. As I said last week: Brisbane artists Subsea & Pale Earth have worked together a bit in the past. Subsea is the ambient electronic alias of Jim Grundy (also of Ektoise), and Pale Earth is Benjamin Thompson of indie/tronic legends The Rational Academy. They’re joined by London electronic producer & vocalist Kini, with an album of indietronica, crunchy electronic beats, glitchy textures, and altogether superb production all round.

Sydney’s Fabels have just put out a new single, which they will be launching soon around the east coast. Hiske Weijers is a visual artist and has played in psych rock bands, while Ben Aylward was lead singer in legendary Sydney shoegaze band Swirl. Together their music shares these influences but also has a hefty amount of ’80s post-punk, which we hear in this beautifully morose piece, with oh-so-European delivery.

The revival a few years ago of Pop Will Eat Itself as basically a new band fronted by Graham Crabb was a cause for as much consternation as joy for a lot fans (including myself). Clint Mansell has meanwhile made a name for himself as a well-regarded and in-demand soundtrack writer with many brilliant works under his belt, so it’s not surprise that he’s not that interested in being involved in a punky indie/hip-hop/electronic band – but the first “nu-Poppies” album didn’t really bode well for anything other than a fun-loving piece of slightly embarrassing retro.
So it’s interesting that between that first revival album and this new one, something’s triggered a whole lot of creative energy and anger – that something being the pretty dire political situation in the UK, I daresay. The Poppies were always forward-looking, combining their “grebo” riffage with samples galore, club/rave music, and of course their English take on hip-hop. The new album doesn’t exactly push in any iconoclastic musical directions, but almost 2 decades on from their last real album, it manages not to just feel like it’s looking back to the ’90s. Their snotty-nosed beginnings notwithstandings, anti-fascist politics were an important part of the old-school Poppies (“88 Seconds” below is a reference to a famous PBS broadcast about the horrific Greensboro massacre in 1979 by the KKK & US Nazis), and Graham Crabb’s EP1 Je Suis Crabbi takes this to its logical conclusion with a collection of ranty ditties set to mostly drum’n’bass beats. It’s fun, and the instrumental and (hilarious) spoken-word versions are a welcome addition to the EP.
Lyrically these releases are miles away from the slightly winceworthy previous nu-Poppies effort, and it’s entertaining hearing sardonic, pronoun-shifted references to old PWEI songs (“lift the lid on the things we did”, “it’s war that they got”) in there too.

What can you say about Pyramids? Classed as black metal despite not featuring much in the way of eldritch screaming, opting instead (mostly) for angelic vocals buried in a miasmah of double-kick rumbling drums and layers of guitar noise… It’s melodic, like a beautiful aria emerging from an active volcano in hell…? That’s about right. Their first album was released on the glorious Hydra Head in 2008 along with an incredible set of remixes that only fucked up the sound even further. Between that and their new “solo” album they’ve collaborated with various people including the equally transcendence-seeking doom band Nadja – from which album we hear an extract from a piece of spine-chilling noise-meets-acoustic song. “Bake me a funeral cake / Molly here she comes…”

Locrian could also be vaguely connected with black metal, along with doom, but have a long background in dark drone and experimental before being joined by Steven Hess on drums & electronics in 2009. Their last couple of albums on Relapse have seen them adopt shorter song structures with more “traditional” drums and riffage, and there’s a certain amount of the expected screaming in there, albeit often obscured by massive reverb and massive guitars & drums. Their back catalogue features a number of collaborations, including a stunning one with the wonderful Mamiffer (all tracks way too long to play tonight) and a revelatory album (for both bands) with the very exploratory black metal (among other things) Horseback.
Although I didn’t have time to explore that connection tonight, Steven Hess also plays in the very un-metal Pan•American and last year’s wonderful related Anjou project, among other things.

Subsea, Pale Earth and Kini – Recital [Pale Earth Bandcamp]
Subsea, Pale Earth and Kini – Choir [Pale Earth Bandcamp]
Subsea – Iris [Subsea Bandcamp]
Pale Earth – Queen Bee & Counterattack [Room40]
Pale Earth – Racey Leopard [Pale Earth Bandcamp]
Subsea, Pale Earth and Kini – Kick [Pale Earth Bandcamp]
Fabels – Liège/Montréal [Fabels Bandcamp]
Pop Will Eat Itself – 21st Century English Civil War [only available from Shop Will Eat Itself]
Pop Will Eat Itself – The Fuses Have Been Lit [RCA/Cherry Red]
Pop Will Eat Itself – 88 Seconds… & Still Counting [RCA/Cherry Red]
Je Suis Crabbi – Bend Over Boris [only available from Shop Will Eat Itself]
Je Suis Crabbi – Pouring Perfume on a Pig Instrumental [only available from Shop Will Eat Itself]
Pop Will Eat Itself – Set Sail for Death [only available from Shop Will Eat Itself]
Pyramids – In Perfect Stillness, I’ve Only Found Sorrow [Profound Lore]
Pyramids – The House Is Like Any Other World [Hydra Head]
Pyramids – The Echo of Something Lovely (James Plotkin remix) [Hydra Head]
Pyramids with Nadja – Another War (10 minute excerpt)_ [Hydra Head]
Pyramids – I Have Four Sons, All Named For Men We Lost To War [Profound Lore]
Locrian – An Index of Air [Relapse]
Locrian – Obsolet Elegy in Effluvia and Dross [At War With False Noise/Small Doses]
Locrian – Coprolite [Relapse]
Locrian – Eternal Return [Relapse]
Locrian – KXL III [Relapse]
Locrian – Dark Shales [Relapse]

Listen again — ~58.2MB


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