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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, 27th of August, 2017

Playlist 27.08.17 (12:56 am)

Classical and classic indiepop tonight… howbowdah?

LISTEN AGAIN for the pure joy of it! You know you want to stream it on demand, it’s the FBi thing. Or podcast it here…

Dead Light – Sleeper (Andrea Belfi Remix) [Village Green]
Dead Light – Trills (Dead Light Remix) [Village Green]
A duo made up of pianist Anna Rose Carter (also of avant-garde ambient/classical duo Moon At The Dark) and producer/composer Ed HamiltonDead Light are inspired by the countryside where they moved after living in London for some time. On this just-released EP we get some quite varied remixes, including one by the brilliant Andrea Belfi.

Hauschka – No One [1631 Recordings]
Hauschka – 6 AM [1631 Recordings]
This EP by Volker Bertelmann, 5 Movements, crept out at the end of last year as part of a little duet of releases with Dustin O’Halloran’s 3 Movements, released by Swedish post-classical label 1631 Recordings. Although the first track here is quite pretty and upbeat, there’s some deliciously moody stuff on here, with breathy strings and lots of subtlety.

Sophie Hutchings – We Move [1631 Recordings]
Sophie Hutchings – Candela [1631 Recordings]
Sydney’s Sophie Hutchings also has a new EP out on 1631, following her album Yonder from earlier this year. It was recorded over some late nights at her home, including some overdubbed additional piano lines and some lovely quiet vocals. For what’s technically a bit of a filler EP, it’s quite special. Coming out later this week.

Nick Photinos – and the sky was still there (composed by David T Little) [New Amsterdam Records]
Nick Photinos – Petits Artéfacts 2. Information (composed by Florent Ghys) [New Amsterdam Records]
Nick Photinos – Petits Artéfacts 3. Cuisine (composed by Florent Ghys) [New Amsterdam Records]
Three tracks here from the debut solo album for cellist Nick Photinos, who’s a member of the Grammy Award-winning chamber ensemble Eighth Blackbird, and who’s worked with many indie heroes like Justin Vernon and Björk. For this album on the hip classical label New Amsterdam he’s selected some great contemporary compositions. The first we heard tonight accompanies an amazing spoken text from composer David T Little’s friend Amber Ferenz about being in the US Army during the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell years – rather apposite for recent awful behaviour from the 45th President (not to mention local idiotic politics). You can read the text here.
The other two tracks come from the title work of the album, a collection of short pieces by double bassist and composer Florent Ghys. There’s something composed around the cadences of a woman speaking, and something nicely glitchy and haunting.

Dina Maccabee – Even When the Stars Align [Dina Maccabee Bandcamp]
Dina Maccabee – Someone Fearless [Dina Maccabee Bandcamp]
Achingly beautiful songs from violist Dina Maccabee, who expertly feeds her viola through laptop, looping and processing the sounds in realtime while also singing. The songs speak of a kind of languid longing which suits the viola to a tee. Maccabee was in Australia last year touring with Julia Holter singing backing vocals and using her viola through this very setup – you can hear her on Holter’s live album from this year. It’s so great to have a solo album from her. Grab it!

Grizzly Bear – Wasted Acres [RCA Records]
Department of Eagles – Sailing By Night [Isota Records/Melodic Records]
Grizzly Bear – Deep Sea Diver [Kanine Records/Rumraket]
Grizzly Bear – Don’t Ask (Final Fantasy Version) [Kanine Records/Rumraket]
Grizzly Bear – Easier [Warp]
Daniel Rossen – Graceland [Grizzly Bear blog maybe?]
Department of Eagles – In Ear Park [4AD]
Grizzly Bear – Southern Point [Warp]
Grizzly Bear – Sleeping Ute (Nicolas Jaar Remix) [Warp]
Grizzly Bear – Cut-Out [RCA Records]
It’s hard to overstate how much Grizzly Bear and Daniel Rossen mean to Utility Fog. They’ve been there since the first full year, 2004, when some of the best folktronica was coming out, and both Grizzly Bear and Rossen’s first duo Department of Eagles in their ways represented a way for electronic, experimental music to be melodic and romantic – or perhaps for melodic indiepop to be experimental!
Grizzly Bears’ debut is like a glitchy home cassette recording that’s been buried in a soggy basement for years before being unearthed; Department of Eagles’ is a veritable hodgepodge of laptop experiments – but both have the glint of brilliant songwriting of Droste and Rossen respectively. For me, it was so exciting hearing the unchained chord changes and melodicism of Rossen paired with some manic breakbeats and crazy programming on that first album. But even though Grizzly Bear released an amazing remix album of inventive folktronic & electronic reworkings and then ended up signed to Warp for a few albums, they mostly abandoned the overtly electronic elements pretty soon, as did Department of Eagles on their long-delayed follow-up that was released by 4AD. I was obsessed for ages with two tracks which Dept of Eagles had up on their MySpace – “Deadly Disclosure” and “Balmy Night”, which shared a chord sequence and were indelibly paired in my mind. Musical genius… Sadly only one made it on to In Ear Park, and the other had to wait for an offshoots album closing the Dept of Eagles story a few years later.
Rossen’s talent for unusual cover versions is represented here by his low-key Paul Simon adaptation, although we could just as easily have heard his melodramatic/romantic take on JoJo’s bubblegum pop hit “Too Little Too Late” or Judee Sill’s “Waterfall“…
Veckatimest is probably the album that bought Grizzly Bear the widespread popularity they deserved, with some classics of expressive purity from Ed Droste and some complex postrockish stuff from Rossen like the incredible opener “Southern Point”.
Shields seemed somewhat tepid and perhaps too straightforward in its structures in comparison to what came before – despite having some great songs on it! Still, an absolute highlight was the dark, minimal and extra-soulful reworking of “Sleeping Ute” the following year by Nicolas Jaar.
So, 5 years after Shields’ original release, now signed to a major label, there’s a new album – and it’s actually a return to some more electronic production, and more quirky songwriting from both frontmen, even if there are also a few nods to more conventional songwriting and arrangements. Having come to this album not expecting a great deal, I was rewarded with something that emphatically reminds me of why I’ve loved these guys for so long.

Listen again — ~110MB


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Sunday, 20th of August, 2017

Playlist 20.08.17 (12:55 am)

A musical adventure today, from acoustic cello+songwriting through chugging doom’n’drone, shoegaze, electronica and glitchy folktronica…

LISTEN AGAIN for the drifty feels, via FBi’s listen on demand, or podcast here.

Mary Rapp – Passers By [Mary Rapp Bandcamp]
Mary Rapp is a highly accomplished double bass player, performing with various jazz ensembles (her own and others’) – but she’s also an accomplished cellist, playing both instruments in contemporary classical circles as well as jazz. This piece showcases another side of her talent, however, for incisive, unbridled songwriting. Live, she performs vocals and cello simultaneously, acoustically, but here there are two cello lines layered along with the vocals. Hopefully we hear more from this project soon!

Kryshe – Lullaby (Liminal Drifter Night Train Remix) [Hidden Shoal]
Liminal Drifter – A Love Song for Ghosts [Hidden Shoal]
Liminal Drifter – One Little Nudge Mash (p_Frisk remix) [Hidden Shoal]
Perth academic Simon Order released his first album as Liminal Drifter in 2015 on Hidden Shoal – a lovely release full of ’90s-style electronic beats & ambience. This new album is mainly remixes of the original album – the mysterious p_Frisk here mashes up the original track I played above with some other stuff – but also features the artist himself on the remix duties as we heard at the top.

FOREVR – Columbus [Tym Records/FOREVR Bandcamp]
FOREVR – Living With A Black Dog [Tym Records/FOREVR Bandcamp]
After featuring a few tracks from Brisbane shoegazers FOREVR last week, we’re back for a second helping this week. They released not one, but TWO albums last week, and we neglected Classics in favour of the slightly more experimental Death is a miracle, so tonight we start with a cut from the other album. They’ve really nailed the combination of electronics with shoegazey songwriting and guitars. Top quality.

thisquietarmy – Welcome To Mendacity [Midira Records]
thisquietarmy – Transhumanism [Midira Records]
Montréal artist Erci Quach has been quietly releasing reams and reams of drone & doom as thisquietarmy for over 10 years, including collaborations with the likes of Aidan Baker of Nadja et al. His new album Democracy of Dust originated with synth parts recorded during a residency in São Paulo, with guitar heaviness added back home.

Caudal – Murk (TQA Remix by thisquietarmy) [Midira Records]
Piiptsjilling – Kobbeswerk (Ninemiles Remix) [Midira Records]
Piiptsjilling – Smjunt [Peter Foolen Editions]
thisquietarmy also turns up on Midira Records‘ massive 4 cassette boxset of label remixes, which swaps tracks around artists like MachinefabriekAidan BakerAndrea BelfiZenjungle and many others.
Dutch quartet Piiptsjilling also appear, here remixed by Midira regular Ninemiles, taking their drone’n’spoken-word into pulsing, tribal patterns. Piiptsjilling also have a new album out themselves on Peter Foolen Editions. The band features brothers Jan & Romke Kleefstra on spoken word and guitar, artist Mariska Baars on vocals and Rutger Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek on sounds. They’ve released a number of albums now of moody, shifting textures underscoring Jan Kleefstra’s poems, which you & I are not alone in not understanding, as they’re delivered in Frisian, a language spoken only in a northern area of The Netherlands. I find it fascinating to listen to.

Shinya Sugimoto & Jeremy Young with Julia Kent – Fiction 3 [Phinery]
Shinya Sugimoto & Jeremy Young with Julia Kent – Nocturne [Phinery]
Incredible album here in which the piano of Shinya Sugimoto, organ of Jeremy Young and cello of Julia Kent enter into a kind of dialogue with Young’s field recordings and tape manipulations. It’s kind of what I’d like “post-classical” to be (although more of that next week…) – I can’t recommend this highly enough for your ambient reveries (if you don’t mind some strange dreams).

Minced Oath – Not Without My Spine [Countersunk]
Minced Oath – 38 Petaflops [Countersunk]
Dunk Murphy is best known probably for his melodic, funky, complex idm as Sunken Foal, and was heard most recently on this show with a few releases with singer/songwriter Carol Keogh as The Natural History Museum. His latest project as Minced Oath finds him going all Selected Ambient Works Vol II, with beautiful wafting melodies and pads, and occasional pulsations.

Mark Templeton – Cab Lights [Graphical Recordings]
Mark Templeton – I Cut Along Lines [Anticipate Recordings/Mark Templeton Bandcamp]
Mark Templeton – West of Fabric pt. 2 [Anticipate Recordings/Mark Templeton Bandcamp]
Mark Templeton – organ moods [Sweat Lodge Guru/Mark Templeton Bandcamp]
Mark Templeton – kingdom key [Under The Spire/Mark Templeton Bandcamp]
Mark Templeton – factory fire [Mark Templeton Bandcamp]
Mark Templeton – Gentle Story Part 1 [Graphical Recordings]
Canadian artist Mark Templeton has been putting out grainy, glitchy ambient & folktronica for over 10 years now. Acoustic instruments come in and out of focus, sometimes processed digitally, sometimes stuttering and rewinding. Mostly the sound sources are his own or field recordings, although there’s a cheeky sample of Kate Bush’s “The Man With The Cloud in His Eyes” on the 2007 track “I Cut Along Lines”. Much of his back catalogue was released on Ezekiel Honig‘s Anticipate Recordings, although he’s branched out into various indie labels in the ambient/experimental space, and his new album – the third in the “heart” trilogy – comes through his own Graphical Recordings. Templeton’s classic Utility Fog material, well worth exploring on his Bandcamp.

Listen again — ~194MB


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Sunday, 13th of August, 2017

Playlist 13.08.17 (12:54 am)

Well hey… at least we’ve got music.

LISTEN AGAIN to the music because it’s everything – stream on demand from FBi, or podcast here.

Nmesh – White Lodge Simulation [Orange Milk Records/Orange Milk Bandcamp]
Nmesh – White Lodge Simulation (Odd Nosdam Remix) [Orange Milk Records/Orange Milk Bandcamp]
Alex Koenig has made music much longer than the “vaporwave” wave has been around, but as Nmesh he’s come to both represent and transcend that genre. His new cassette on vaporwaver & visual artist Giant Claw‘s Orange Milk Records covers bewildering ground, including a lot of grainy YouTube samples layered into ambient fauxstalgia, and also this insane Deadelus-style sample-laden drum’n’bass track… This very track is also blessed with a lip-smackingly good remix from Anticon don Odd Nosdam, with massive head-nodding beat, perfect Twin Peaks references, and, of course, that flute breakdown.

FOREVR – On A Wire [Tym Records/FOREVR Bandcamp]
FOREVR – Petrichor [Tym Records/FOREVR Bandcamp]
FOREVR – Stellar [Tym Records/FOREVR Bandcamp]
Brisbane shoegazers FOREVR have this week released not one but TWO full albums, digitally and also on vinyl. The vinyl editions come via Brisbane label Tym Records, which is run out of a guitar shop interestingly enough – because these albums do feature whammy-bar-lovin’ shoegazer guitar, but they’re actually extremely heavy on both synths and studio cut-ups and production tricks, which is super great. Also super great are their lead singer’s vocals, and indeed the actual songwriting. It’s the full package, folks. And I’ve only played you tracks from one of the two albums! Check ’em both.

Scattered Order – SO Mufflings [Scattered Order Bandcamp]
Scattered Order – Before (the art of…) [Scattered Order Bandcamp]
Scattered Order – How I hated that man [Scattered Order Bandcamp]
It’s been a long journey for Scattered Order, stretching back to proto or postpunk noisemaking in 1979, through their work with various acts under the banner of their Surry Hills studio M-Squared, running perhaps in parallel to the ’80s industrial scene, and incorporating sampling from the mid-’80s probably. Now in their second incarnation since around 2010, they’re pumping out the music, with their new delightfully-titled album A suitcase full of snow globes coming out as a double CD and digital release on their now long-running *ahem* Rather Be Vinyl label. This is 100% electronic, sample-based beat-based music, but it’s still plenty freaky and charmingly chaotic at times.

Pan Daijing – Act of The Empress ???? [PAN]
Pan Daijing – Phenomenon ???? [PAN]
Berlin-based Chinese musician Pan Daijing‘s music is situated somewhere between noise and techno, classical and concrète, and all of this somehow surfaces in her new album Lack ??, released coincidentally enough on the PAN label. It’s her take on opera, whether Chinese or Western, and there are operatic soprano vocals in amongst clanging & scraping, avant-garde composition, insides of pianos and so on. Amazing stuff.

Sam Amidon – Ghosts [Nonesuch]
Nico Muhly – The Only Tune III (feat. Sam Amidon) [Bedroom Community]
Sam Amidon – How Come That Blood [Bedroom Community]
Sam Amidon – Warren [Nonesuch]
Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to see Sam Amidon appearing in a strange & lovely performance by the Australian Chamber Orchestra incorporating his folk song adaptations of “Murder and Redemption” alongside various classical works on a similar theme. It was strange for me to see Amidon featured but treated as really just part of the program, because for a decade or so now he’s been an ever-rising star. His renderings of American folk tunes are simultaneously exquisitely authentic, and utterly modernised, recontextualised and restructured through his adaptations along with Nico Muhly‘s orchestral arrangements, Shahzad Ismaily‘s multiple instruments and processing, etc. His albums for Nonesuch have at times brought him into more radio-friendly folk waters, but also see him bringing in aspects of free jazz, like on the 11-minute closing track to his new album (which I wish I’d had time to play tonight!)

Blood Language – Springshots [SoundCloud]
From an album still, I believe, looking for a home, this is a great new piece of postrocky indie music from a pair of Scottish artists, Euan Millar-McMeeken aka Glacis, and Ben Chatwin, maker of postrocky drone and psych stuff who used to be known as Talvihorros.

William Ryan Fritch & Matt Finney – All That Lives Will Sour [Lost Tribe Sound]
William Ryan Fritch – We Fear Change [Lost Tribe Sound]
Two new pieces from the still prolific William Ryan Fritch, from the latest batch of releases from Lost Tribe Sound. One album finds him working with spoken word artist Matt Finney, whose laconic mumblings I find about as hard to get through as Mark Kozelek’s it has to be said, so the track I chose only has some hummed melodic vocals. The other album is an extended re-release of the ravishing soundtrack The Old Believers. You know what you’re going to get with William Ryan Fritch – reverberant world-music-inspired quasi-orchestral stuff, and sometimes gentler folky numbers. This stuff is particularly pretty.

Enrico Coniglio & Matteo Uggeri – Open To The Sea feat. Francesca Amato / ComaneciLau Nau & Andrea Serrapiglio [Dronarivm]
Enrico Coniglio & Matteo Uggeri – Allarme feat. Francesca Stella Riva – trombone [Dronarivm]
Italian sound artists Enrico Coniglio & Matteo Uggeri pair up here on a stunning album for Dronarivm that takes unidentifiable field recordings, acoustic samples and many guest performances to create a kind of ambient, droney form of folktronica. It’s truly lovely stuff that’s seemingly formless yet well-constructed.

Crewdson – Waterflow [Slowfoot]
Crewdson – Saxbell [Slowfoot]
UK artist Crewdson mostly inhabits something of a more familiar variant on “folktronica” – influenced by the glitchy self-sampling of Matthew Herbert (with whom he’s worked extensively), as much as by the pioneering folk-meets-electronic-production of TunngMinotaur Shock et al. His second album Toys sees him working with homemade hybrid acoustic/electronic instruments as well as with detailed sampling and studio choppery. Check out some of his weird audio tech – wearable music controllers etc – at his website. There’s a lot of folk-influenced songwriting to back up the processed acoustic instrumentation, but then in the middle this rather beautiful ambient piece appears, with layered sax lines. It’s quite a hard album to pin down, and all the better for it.

Listen again — ~108MB


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Sunday, 6th of August, 2017

Playlist 06.08.17 (12:54 am)

Quite a lot of electronic sounds coming your way on this show…

LISTEN AGAIN get it in your face… stream on demand is a good way to do it, or podcasting could work.

phile – Deadzone [Deep Seeded Records]
phile – Found in Blood [Deep Seeded Records]
Starting with the Sydney duo of phile, producers Hannah Lockwood and Gareth Psaltis, who’ve just released their debut EP on their label Deep Seeded Records. Elsewhere on the release there are some hardcore punk vocals from High Tension‘s Karina Utomo, but on most tracks the energy and darkness comes through the industrial techno production and some bass guitar. It’s a scarily strong first release.

Somali Extract – Locked [Ascetic House]
Somali Extract – Cradle Song [Ascetic House]
Orgonon Pit – Mukoid Flex [Ascetic House]
Ascetic House have their entire aesthetic and marketing worked out perfectly. Their twitter is home to totally on-point politics – kudos for that – as well as words on music & art. Their new vinyl editions are housed in stunning artwork from the House’s own JS Aurelius, and are mastered by Telefon Tel Aviv/Second Woman‘s Joshua Eustis. Some of the music is more straight-ahead house stuff in terms of beats – although nothing they release is “straight-ahead” by any means – but there’s also gaseous ambient, grime/trap-influenced experimental bass, like Somali Extract tonight, and dense, complex percussive idm from Orgonon Pit.

Philippe Hallais – Angela (Square) [Modern Love]
Low Jack – Six In The Morning [Modern Love]
Philippe Hallais – Fantasy (4U) [Modern Love]
Parisian producer Philippe Hallais is perhaps best known as Low Jack, under which name he’s released various more club-oriented releases as well as some pretty experimental sounds on labels like Trilogy Tapes, and, last year, on Modern Love. In keeping with Modern Love’s aesthetic of recent times, that was bass-influenced grime/techno, highly saturated to the point of distortion. Now he’s released an album for the same label under his own name, and the change in moniker indicates something a lot further from the club. There are still slowed down samples in a choppped-and-screwed fashion, and some dizzying repetitive glitches, but it’s more vapory and nebulous.

Eazykill – transgression [UNM.1rtj] [Tandem Tapes]
Eazykill – gygeros.2316] [Tandem Tapes]
Ugliest Man – Sour Clocks [Tandem Tapes]
Indonesia-based cassette label Tandem Tapes, run by expat Aussie Morgan McKellar, continue on their roll of superb noise & experimental split releases with two ’90s idm/breakcore-influenced artists. Philadelphia, USA-based Eazykill is very clearly on an Aphex Twin tip here, from the bouncy melodic stuff through to the child’s voice-sampling drill’n’bass. German producer Ugliest Man also goes into all-out early ’00s-style breakcore or drill’n’bass on tonight’s selection. Reminds me of the early years of Utility Fog :)

Agency x Designer – transmogrify i [Agency Bandcamp]
Released on Friday in support of Bandcamp‘s highly laudable day of action, giving their entire revenue share of sales to the Transgender Law Centre, this little single sees Canberra punks Agency handing their sounds over to feted ex-Chicago producer/masterer Casey Rice in his rarely-seen Designer guise for some glitchy dub-techno reworkings.

Reuben Ingall – You Must Chill (Bonus Coffee) [Chemical Imbalance]
Reuben Ingall – money [Reuben Ingall Bandcamp]
Reuben Ingall – Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! [Eden Again Bandcamp]
Reuben Ingall – fog [Reuben Ingall Bandcamp]
Spartak – Catch/Control (Reuben Ingall remix) [hellosQuare Recordings]
Reuben Ingall – Eyelids [Feral Media]
Reuben Ingall & David Finnigan – Australia 2050 [Clan Analogue]
Reuben Ingall – Falconer St Daymare [Chemical Imbalance]
Reuben Ingall – Open The Windows [Chemical Imbalance]
We’re hearing a bunch of music tonight from Canberran producer/singer/songwriter/broadcaster Reuben Ingall tonight because I think he’s rad and needs more recognition. His new Fibre EP is out now from the great Sydney label Chemical Imbalance, and it sees Reuben taking on minimal techno and some kind of folktronica as well as his high-tech lo-fi songwriting. A lot of his past work found him casually slamming beautiful lo-fi songwriting into glitchy, random-seeming micro-sampling and field recordings. Random-seeming, but somehow everything is just so. It’s no surprise, then, that his remixes tend to be creative and sensitive too, as we heard in his dark, glitchy cabaret punk take on fellow Canberrans Spartak‘s indietronic gem “Catch/Control”. He’s also produced a fair bit of what you’d call conceptual work, whether his Eden Again project with Paul Heslin remixing a videotape of Christian evangelical rock, his performance pieces of drone music generated from microwaving a pie, or his mostly club-based soundtrack to David Finnigan‘s play Kill Climate Deniers, whose rather Orwellian finale we heard tonight…

9T Antiope – Seagulls Feast [9T Antiope Bandcamp]
Iranian duo 9T Antiope have featured a few times on this show, with Sara Bigdeli Shamloo’s beautiful melodic vocals juxtaposed against Nima Agiani’s violin and their often heavy and absrasive electronics. This single track was released on their Bandcamp on Friday and takes a somewhat more laid-back approach, with field recordings and some rasping violin.

Ekin Fil – Like a Child [Helen Scarsdale Agency]
Ekin Fil – With the Birds [Helen Scarsdale Agency]
Turkish dreamgaze artist Ekin Fil has releases on some of the best shoegaze/experimental labels around, and has now released her second album through the Helen Scarsdale Agency. Working predominantly with piano, keyboard and vocals, she covers her sounds with reverb and other effects, creating beautiful blurred, emotive sound art.

Listen again — ~1958MB


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