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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, 26th of March, 2017

Playlist 26.03.17 (8:09 pm)

Postrock to dub-metal(?) to techno to drum’n’bass to ambient tonight… bit of a journey.

LISTEN AGAIN, all the genres rolled up into two hours… podcast here, stream on demand from FBi.

Sydney postrockers Grün have a history in various indie bands around town before turning to instrumental riffage in 2004, first with an EP under the name Greenland, and then as Grün when they released their debut album in 2010. It’s been just as long between drinks now, but the belated album is very welcome round these parts. There are some pretty cutting guitar screetching around the edges of some tracks, but on the whole it’s fulsome riffing and rock grooves with melodic leads adding up to something pretty euphoric.

Despite classifying themselves (cheekily) as the New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal since the mid-’90s, Circle have skirted round many other genres, frequently sounding very krautrock, sometimes ambient, and recently horrifyingly MOR-rock. But with their new 7″ they give us two cavernous songs that verge on operatic at some points and satisfyingly plodding at others. Riffage and all, it’s pretty metal; it’s all definitely odd, definitely Circle. Bring on the next album!

I must admit when Kevin Martin/The Bug first teamed up with Dylan Carson/Earth in 2014, I wasn’t that enthused. The two tracks were so spaced out and droney that I couldn’t find much purchase on them. But with this new album, the dubstep & grime-infused productions of The Bug and the pioneering sludge metal of Carson add up to something immense, grotesque and beautiful. I’m wholly won over. On two digital bonus tracks (also part of a bonus 12″ EP with the vinyl version), they’re joined by Justin K Broadrick on vocals, in fine growling form under the JK Flesh moniker. It’s entirely appropriate given not just his long history with Kevin Martin, but also his interest in mapping the bleak urban wastelands which this album (Concrete Desert) is focused on (after all, one of Broadrick’s other side projects is called Council Estate Electronics). Listening to JKB sing I had to go back to some much-loved Godflesh, and “Cold World” is appropriately bleak – and indeed its brilliant bassline and drum machine beat pre-echo the Bug’s production pretty heftily.

Last year Sydney’s Hence Therefore put out one of my favourite local electronic releases, a cassette on 3BS Records called Machine For Destroying Value. Along with his chosen label, he combines leftist/revolutionary politics with dark electronics, in this case an intricate, bass-heavy techno. Although I listen digitally, the previous release seemed to suit the lo-fi, saturated nature of cassettes, and his new EP Bad Hope/Bad Despair fits well on the vinyl medium. Top-notch beats.

Back to Finland with a very different scene from Circle’s. Janne Hatula aka Fanu is a jungle/drum’n’bass loyalist from way back, and an expert producer of juggled breakbeats and low-slung basslines. His Breaks & Beats Podcast covers a lot of awesome drum’n’bass and related sounds regularly, and he also posts on production & mastering techniques. But it’s great to have an addition to his extensive back catalogue with some dancefloor-ready tunes.

US duo Teengirl Fantasy give us something like drum’n’bass on tonight’s first selection from their Planet µ debut. It could be jungle or it could be referencing footwork, but it’s a nice connection anyway. Their album is partly shiny vaporwave and partly connects them with bass, hip-hop and techno. It’s very accomplished stuff.

With the mono no aware compilation, Bill Kouligas takes his PAN label into (almost entirely) beatless, ambient territory. The label has released as much noise as beats, and Kouligas enlists artists from across the spectrum, known for glitchy grime, techno, noise and more, resulting in a really fascinating and compelling listen. We’re hearing tonight from expert glitchy beatsmith M.E.S.H., Mexican producer Mya Gomez (fresh from a debut EP on NON) and brilliant noise/sound-art producer Jeff Wiltscher (perhaps best known as Rene Hell).

Ex-Brisbane producer Tom Hall, now based in Los Angeles, has released a few great ambient albums over the last few years, as well as some more “power ambient”/noise/techno/electro material as AXXONN. His new release is a 2-track single called Fervor on French label Elli Records, and it’s big, saturated ambient once again. Lovely.

Grün – Knifed By Punks [Birds Robe Collective/Grün Bandcamp]
Grün – secret rat and the bag of happiness [self-released]
Grün – common seabirds [Laughing Outlaw/Grün Bandcamp]
Grün – 2046 [Birds Robe Collective/Grün Bandcamp]
Circle – Hån on [Ektro Records/Circle Bandcamp]
The Bug vs Earth – Gasoline [Ninja Tune]
The Bug vs Earth – Dog (feat. JK Flesh) Ninja Tune]
Godflesh – Cold World [Earache]
Hence Therefore – Who’s Hoping [3BS Records]
Hence Therefore – Against Whom [3BS Records]
Fanu – Five Ounces [Fanu Bandcamp]
Fanu – Everything Is One [Fanu Bandcamp]
Teengirl Fantasy – En Route [Planet µ]
Teengirl Fantasy – It was already light out [Planet µ]
M.E.S.H. – Exasthrus (Pane) [PAN]
Mya Gomez – justforu [PAN]
Jeff Wiltscher – ok, American Medium [PAN]
Tom Hall – Only the hunted know [Elli Records]

Listen again — ~200MB


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Sunday, 19th of March, 2017

Playlist 19.03.17 (8:05 pm)

Eclectic mix of tunes for you tonight…

LISTEN AGAIN… and again… stream on demand, podcast below, whatever floats your boat.

Sydney producer HC Clifford starts us off with a lovely piece of electronic indiepop, one of his first, I believe, with his own vocals. And very sweet-sounding they are too. He’s got a great mix of influences and looks to be making some great pop songs.

Melbourne producer, radio star, Gotye collaborator etc Tim Shiel continues his soundtracking of computer/mobile games with a score to a new puzzler called Induction. It’s a tasty confection of quasi-classical influences and idm-style beats. Just what you want in a game soundtrack, and very well done as ever.

Next three tracks are selected from a line-up that I’d like everybody to come along to this coming Thursday night (23rd of March) because it features my own band Tangents (I do not own them, we’re all very egalitarian) in our last Sydney/Aus show until late July. Here’s a Facebook event – it’s at the Imperial Hotel in Erskineville and features three excellent electronic acts selected by TEEF including the Sydney duo Iljus Wifmo, and conversely also features the oud-led instrumental doom of Hashshashin. Tangents will, as always, play a fully improvised set ranging across postrock, folktronica, jazz(?) and ???.

Tangents’ laptopist/producer chap Ollie Bown is one half of the (originally London-based) celebrated post-drum’n’bass duo Icarus, and his other half, Sam Britton, is a member of a bunch of other bands too, including the very rhythm-based Fiium Shaarrk, who feature as well as Britton the percussionist Maurizio Ravalico and drummer Rudi Fischerlehner. As with Icarus, the rhythms tend to wrong-foot the listener, with odd movement of the downbeat, but there’s lots of busy movement and rhythmic interaction, along with mysterious almost-melodies and textures. It draws as much from grindcore as jazz or Italian horror movie soundtracks, and is always enjoyably bewildering.

Kailin‘s presumably debut album on the label Mistry (run by Beneath) combines beautiful ambient electronics with grime, house and footwork influences over its eight tracks. I can find no info about the artist, but it’s certainly a great advertisement for Beneath’s label – post-dubstep electronics for dancefloor and bedroom.

Iranian-born, Austin, TX-based producer VVV aka Shawhin Izaddoost has a host of releases on various labels and has been floating around on the internet since at least 2010 when I recall his remix of Caribou’s “Sun” racking up bigtime streams and downloads on SoundCloud. He surfs the hantological samplewaves but of late there’s a skittery footwork influence along with the 2step, house, industrial and of course idm. Back in 2014 Seattle label Hush Hush Records released a very chill EP which was great – but still, I feel he’s really come into his own on this new mixtape for his local label Holodeck Records.

René Pawlowitz has been making music as Shed for over a decade now, and is something of techno royalty at this point. People on forums ask how to make the “Shed” kick drum sound… It’s somehow appropriate that his latest albums find him on Modeselektor’s Monkeytown Records – melodic, gregarious electronic music with a techno/house grounding. But Shed’s credentials go deep – his earliest albums were on legendary Berlin club Berghain’s Ostgut Ton label. But his take on techno is steeped in breakbeats, and he’s always had a sound that to me harkens back to classic ’90s idm, when the Detroit techno influence mashed up with b-boy hip-hop, electro and nascent jungle (and indeed there’s a drum’n’bass track at the end of his second album, Traveller). It’s a heady mix and never less than a joyful listen.

HC Clifford – Luck [unreleased, stream at SoundCloud]
Tim Shiel – Undone 1 [Tim Shiel Bandcamp]
Tim Shiel – Undone 2 [Tim Shiel Bandcamp]
Iljus Wifmo – Scatter [TEEF Bandcamp]
Hashshashin – Disintegration [Art As Catharsis]
Tangents – N-Mission [Temporary Residence]
Fiium Shaarrk – Krypton Tunning [Not Applicable]
Fiium Shaarrk – Fear Of Mapping [Not Applicable]
Fiium Shaarrk – 12 Bells on Dope [From ringtone collection Fiiumtones vol. 1, available from their website]
Fiium Shaarrk – The Last Common Sense [Not Applicable]
Kailin – Voyeur [Mistry]
Kailin – Wake In Grey [Mistry]
Kailin – Fracture [Mistry]
VVV – No Left Hand Turn [Holodeck Records]
VVV – another way down [Hush Hush Records]
VVV – Talking in the Dark [Holodeck Records]
VVV – Lens & Filter Repair Station [Holodeck Records]
Shed – Flaf2 [Monkeytown Records]
Shed – Estrange [Ostgut Ton]
Shed – Leave Things [Ostgut Ton]
Shed – Silent Witness (excerpt) [50 Weapons]
Shed – Up the Hills [The Final Experiment]
Shed – Outgoing Society [Monkeytown Records]

Listen again — ~193MB


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Sunday, 12th of March, 2017

Playlist 12.03.17 (8:00 pm)

Mostly dark, ambient, weird sounds for you tonight…

LISTEN AGAIN for that unique flavour, by podcasting here or streaming on demand at FBi.

Members of Brisbane’s madcap improv collective Feet Teeth and Brisbane postrockers Ghost Notes make up the, er, “grit hop” / weirdpop band Spirit Bunny. Using circuit-bent old synths and samples, they’re creating some pretty oddball and fun songwriting!

Morgan McKellar, originally of Canberra, was part of Sydney postrock band Underlapper for many years, and made excellent experimental music as Morning Stalker and Gatherer. Now based in Jakarta, he runs the label Tandem Tapes which we’ve heard a lot on this show, and I’m pleased to find that he’s making music again – glitchy laptop music as Bright Sea.

Late of the mysterious instrumental duo Barn Owl, whose records became more focused around their kosmische synth constructions in later years, Evan Caminiti has been making droney ambient sounds for a while, but with his latest couple of albums he’s accumulated a gritty sense of dread (and, it should be said, warmth) that makes for extremely compelling listening. The new album declares itself the opposite of any pastoral connotations from his barn owl past, reflecting its title Toxic City Music with a set owing as much to Burial’s muted dancefloor references as it does to industrial ambient or krautrock signifiers. Much of this was evident already in 2015’s Meridian. Both are highly recommended.

Brian Pyle’s solo project Ensemble Economique has been plugging away at moody, sardonic psych noise and electronics for almost a decade now. Previously he was known for freewheeling noise & psychedelic stuff with the Starving Weirdos. Of late his sounds have become somewhat more focused, and the latest album brings a collection of moody electronic poems with big sub-bass pulses…

Equally moody is the recently re-released Bad White Corpuscle album from industrial mainstay Danny Hyde as Electric Sewer Age. Hyde worked closely with Coil, especially on their many Nine Inch Nails remixes and collaborations. This stuff is dark and only slightly menacing, and very reminiscent of the late Coil.

Simon Fisher Turner‘s a guy with a long history of weirdness in various disciplines, as an actor, songwriter, composer and producer. His latest album, Giraffe, is a major work incorporating sound art, spoken word, field recordings, electronic processing, occasional skittering beats, piano and string quartet. The sounds are sumptuously recorded and incredibly varied across short and long tracks, and serve as an impressive document of Turner’s talents. A few guests feature, including the wonderful Elysian Quartet (RIP) on the rapturous “colour fullness”, and the quartet’s Emma Smith contributes elliptical spoken vocals to “slight smile”.

Rutger Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek‘s latest album on Zoharum is a collection of recent music, most of which even rabid fans like me don’t have. There’s beautiful prepared piano processing on the first track I played, there are short drone works, electronics mashed with field recordings, grumbling sub-bass, chopped vocals and more – and it ranges from contemplative to raging, spectral quiet to saturated noise. It’s an excellent introduction to a consistently excellent artist.

Machinefabriek’s compatriot and frequent collaborator Michel Banabila has just put out a self-collection himself, in this case two continuous mixes of recent music on the Sound Years 12″ vinyl LP. There’s a new track in there too though, with warped string samples and a weathered vocal beautifully exemplifying Banabila’s sensitive, experimental approach to electronic world music.

Computer music academic and electronic/folktronic trickster Erik Schoster aka He Can Jog recently moved from Bandcamp to Archive.org, presumably because it’s easier to release music for free that way. His latest release is entitled Computer Music With Voices: He Can Jog Plays the Music of Eric & Magill and sees him sampling and rearranging and processing the sounds of that indiefolk band from their album All Those I Know into two beautiful epic sides, enlisting various guests along the way. It’s a dreamy exercise in pop abstraction and some of his best work in a while.

Spirit Bunny – Amen Skew [Spirit Bunny Bandcamp]
Bright Sea – Floating Purple Head [Illuminated Paths Bandcamp]
Evan Caminiti – Possession [Thrill Jockey]
Evan Caminiti – Signal [Thrill Jockey]
Evan Caminiti – NYC Ego [Thrill Jockey]
Evan Caminiti – Toxic Tape (Love Canal) [Thrill Jockey]
Ensemble Economique – Gonna Get Right With God, Right After This Next Cigarette [Denovali]
Ensemble Economique – I Can See The Light, The Edge Of Forever [Denovali]
Electric Sewer Age – Bad White Corpuscle [Old Europa Cafe/Hallow Ground]
Electric Sewer Age – Black Corpuscle [Old Europa Cafe/Hallow Ground]
Simon Fisher Turner – clean page [Editions Mego]
Simon Fisher Turner – trail mix [Editions Mego]
Simon Fisher Turner – sten jars [Editions Mego]
Simon Fisher Turner – slight smile [Editions Mego]
Simon Fisher Turner – colour fullness [Editions Mego]
Machinefabriek – Ivory Ghosts [Zoharum]
Machinefabriek – Meltdown [Zoharum]
Machinefabriek – News Variations [Zoharum]
Michel Banabila – Close To The Moon [Banabila Bandcamp]
He Can Jog & Eric & Magill – Computer Music With Voices Side B [Archive.org free download]

Listen again — ~189MB


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Sunday, 5th of March, 2017

Playlist 05.03.17 (8:08 pm)

This Wednesday is International Women’s Day, so we have a focus on female artists tonight.

LISTEN AGAIN and imagine a better world… podcast here, stream on demand there.

Starting with 9T Antiope, an Iranian duo based in Paris. Made up of Nima Aghiani and Sara Bigdeli Shamloo, they use many electronic noisemakers and plenty of sound processing alongside jazz-inflected vocals, violin and other acoustic instruments. They frequently produce slow-burning dronelike pieces, into which Sara Shamloo places crystal clear song structures. The juxtaposition of her strong melodies with the sometimes abstract noisescapes, and the way these pieces slowly gel can be quite extraordinary.

Kristina Esfandiari’s King Woman first came to the world’s attention with their incredible EP Doubt in 2015, released on The Flenser. For all the progress we think we’ve made, female-fronted metal acts still face a depressing amount of bigotry and out-and-out misogyny in the metal world, something which Esfandiari has not been backward in calling out. Having previously played in other people’s bands (including somewhat controversial shoegazers Whirr), Esfandiari pairs the heaviness of doom metal and Jesu-style shoegaze metal with an ethereal, Mazzy Star-like indie-country twang (which she explores further in her solo project Miserable), resulting in something truly moving.

Salt Lake City’s SubRosa are unusual not just for being a female-fronted sludge/doom band, but because they feature two electric violins as their lead melodic instruments. The three women in the band play guitar and the two electric violins, next to the male rhythm section. Occasional distorted hardcore vocals stand beside full-throated clean vocals, but a parallel love of folk and folk rock results in softer passages, and while folk is hardly an unusual juxtaposition in any metal styles, the harmonised folk singing in SubRosa is always a delight next to the righteous riffage.

Noveller is the one-woman act of Sarah Lipstate, who’s explored the guitar in all its potential for some years, finding herself flitting in and out of the noise and drone worlds, but settling into some sort of pure instrumental music, somewhat ambient and utterly pretty. Although she’s collaborated with many top-notch musicians and briefly played in a number of bands, her own albums are resolutely solo affairs based around Lipstate’s talent for producing incredibly varied, layered sounds from her guitars.

Following with another instrumental artist closely associated with her instrument of choice: Sydney’s Sophie Hutchings. Her new album was commissioned by Dutch post-classical label 1631 Recordings, who were very keen to bring her into the fold with the current European love of all things ethereal and piano-based. To me Sophie’s music is not quite in the same genre, but it’s still a distinct pleasure to see it finding an international resonance. The second track I played actually features me on cello – and Jeremy Kong on violin – improvised live in Jim Moginie’s studio as part of the sessions for Sophie’s last album. It was late a night and I hardly remember playing these notes at all, so it’s quite nice hearing them back now!

Norwegian ensemble Nakama work around jazz and classical structures with an acoustic line-up of violin, piano, double bass and drums (there is a vocalist but she doesn’t appear on this album). We started with a solo improvisation from their pianist Ayumi Tanaka (who is of course the connection with our all-women lineup tonight, as well as connecting us to the previous artist)… but actually it’s interesting to hear the concept behind this album: composer and bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen (whose beautiful warm tones can be heard on the last track I played) asked the members of the band to compose a “Dedication” to one of the other members. That member did not play on the dedication, but performed an improvised solo piece (entitled “Gratitude”) following their dedication. It’s quite a lovely idea, and explains where Tanaka’s solo piece came from. The group’s instrumental makeup and blurred line between composition and improvisation leads to a unique and beautiful sound.

9T Antiope – Telophase [Eilean Records]
9T Antiope – Abiding Eventide [Unperceived Records]
9T Antiope – Venator [Flaming Pines]
9T Antiope – Edax [9T Antiope Bandcamp]
9T Antiope – Metaphase [Eilean Records]
King Woman – Deny [Relapse Records]
King Woman – Wrong [The Flenser]
King Woman – Hem [Relapse Records]
SubRosa – Il Cappio [Profound Lore Records]
SubRosa – Wound of the Warden [Profound Lore Records]
Noveller – A Pink Sunset For No One [Fire Records]
Noveller – Rituals [Fire Records]
Sophie Hutchings – Sway [1631 Recordings/Hobbledehoy Records]
Sophie Hutchings – Pipe Dream [1631 Recordings/Hobbledehoy Records]
Nakama – Gratitude III [Nakama Records]
Nakama – Intimate [Nakama Records]
Nakama – Dedication I [Nakama Records]

Listen again — ~188MB


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