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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, 27th of August, 2017

Playlist 27.08.17 (9:07 pm)

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 Hamilton, Dead 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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