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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, 28th of October, 2018

Playlist 28.10.18 (8:07 pm)

A mix-up of delicacies for you tonight! I'm heading off overseas in a couple of days and will be away for the next two shows, so here's everything I could fit in before the break!

LISTEN AGAIN and it'll tide you over... Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here...

Demdike Stare - At It Again [Modern Love]
Demdike Stare - Pile Up [Modern Love]
Well, Demdike Stare are indeed "At It Again"! Some of us got to see them at Dark Mofo earlier this year, and they played a lot of this stuff there along with the very trippy visuals from Michael England, stills from which feature on the album cover of this new album Passion. It's very much a continuation of what they were doing on their Testpressing series and the following Wonderland album - retooling rave tropes, from jungle to hardcore & industrial techno to grime and dubstep - into crunchy, overdriven, slightly abstracted forms, mixed with lashings of noise-drone and hauntological weirdness. It works well on the dancefloor but it's not exactly of the dancefloor. I'm so glad they've returned for more of this stuff anyway.

epic45 - Remember The Future [Wayside and Woodland]
epic45 - Cornfields and Classrooms [Wayside and Woodland]
epic45 - England Fallen Over [Make Mine Music/Thomason Sounds]
epic45 - Through Broken Summer [Wayside and Woodland]
It's an absolute delight to have epic45 back after 4 years (and that's since their last EP - it's been 7 years since they've made a full album). They've been with us since basically the entire length of Utility Fog's existence, doing their take on indietronica, postrock, shoegaze - guitar-driven songs with glitchy processing and edits, electronic beats, and whatever else they want to pile in. Like fellow travellers Hood, they have a rather pastoral outlook, albeit from the Midlands rather than further north in England, and the seasons and rural settings feature strongly in their music - as does a pervasive sense of melancholy. That's all very present in their new album, I'm pleased to say, and it's a lovely listen altogether.
From back in 2005 we heard an old favourite, "England Fallen Over".

Penelope Trappes - Carry Me [Houndstooth]
Penelope Trappes - Low [Optimo]
Penelope Trappes - Connector [Houndstooth]
Originally hailing from the Northern Rivers in NSW, Penelope Trappes moved to New York about 10 years ago and formed the duo The Golden Filter with Stephen Hindman. I've never heard them although I'll be checking them out soon. A little while ago the two moved to London, Trappes released her first solo album Penelope One through the influential Optimo Music. Like the follow-up, it features songs that reference the work of Scott Walker, This Mortal Coil and torch songs, but built up as much from soundscapes, soundtrack work, field recordings as it is from abstracted beats and piano (and vocals of course). There's heaps of reverb, and heaps of space. It's delicately poised, and quite moving even though it tends to hold you at a distance. Highly recommended, both albums.

Julia Holter – Voce Simul [Domino]
Julia Holter – Chaitius [Domino]
Following on from last year's live album, Julia Holter returns with double album Aviary, a stunning 90-minute collection as usual drawing from literature and the classics as well as pop & classical music history. Her band nowadays is incredibly strong, featuring brilliant viola player/singer Dina Macacbee, and bass player Devin Hoff among others, and they bring a cohesive feel to the music - both accomplished, impeccably arranged, and at the same time free and ornate. Here's a wonderful song that I decided not to play, in favour of a couple of the more leftfield numbers:

Thom Yorke - The Universe is Indifferent [XL Recordings]
Thom Yorke - Volk [XL Recordings]
Thom Yorke - Has Ended [XL Recordings]
I'm never entirely sure why people need to do remakes of classic movies, although in the sense of cover versions, remakes can be creative as much as they can be stale & pointless. Suspiria is a legendary supernatural horror film by Dario Argento from 1977, Italian director Luca Guadagnino has remade it for 2018 as an "homage" more than a direct remake. The original movie also has a legendary soundtrack by Italian prog band Goblin, so young upstart Thom Yorke has some work cut out for him... Of course Thom paves his own way, inserting plenty of his distinctive emotional songs into the proceedings, but also creating a lot of very beautifully spooky music, befitting the witchy theme, with classic discordant string orchestrations and queasy electronics, as well as some very nice loping drums from his son Noah.
It's even better than I'd expected.

Eartaker - Dojo-ji Temple [Bedouin Recordings]
Eartaker - A Lady Who Experienced Necromancy [Bedouin Recordings]
The latest project from Japanese dustep/noise/drone producer Goth-Trad sees him joined by the doom metal growls of Die Suck and the experimental noise-making of sound-artist Masayuki Imanishi. The latter is a sometime member of Japanese metal/post-classical tricksters Vampillia, with whom Goth-Trad has toured. The imperious vocals are going to be focused on here, but the bass heavy sounds and sometime beats are important too - it's one of the best crossovers of these sounds yet, not surprising coming from Japan. Even if you don't necessarily dig metal, you might find this the catharsis you need...

Jasmine Guffond - Sound and Stone Part 1 [Composer Built]
Paul Jebanasam - Sound and Stone Part 2 [Composer Built]
Monty Adkins - Sound and Stone Part 8 [Composer Built]
Finishing up tonight we have a compilation from the new UK label Composer Built which explores, well, "composer built" instruments. In this case the instrument is the "Klangsteine" developed by German composer/sound-artist Klaus Fessmann along with his son Hannes. For this project the artists were given use of a virtual version of the instrument, and have created a suite of drone & sound-art works based on these spooky sounds. Excellent Sydney producer Jasmine Guffond, frequent visitor to these playlists, opens the album with a piece that builds slowly from sparse beginnings into something lush and evocative; Paul Jebanasam (once a Sydneysider too) contributes an undulating drone work, and English sound artist & composer extraordinaire Monty Adkins summons some kind of subterranean spirits in his piece.

Listen again — ~197MB


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Sunday, 21st of October, 2018

Playlist 21.10.18 (8:07 pm)

Experimental pop, industrial noise, power ambient, sound art, almost-inhuman percussion and more tonight.

LISTEN AGAIN to this transport of delight... stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Neneh Cherry - Deep Vein Thrombosis [Smalltown Supersound]
Neneh Cherry - Kong [Smalltown Supersound]
Neneh Cherry - Slow Release [Smalltown Supersound]
After her stunning comeback in 2012 with Scandinavian power jazz trio The Thing, Neneh Cherry dropped a solo album in 2014 with minimalist music from Rocketnumbernine and production from Four Tet. Four years on, her new album Broken Politics is again produced by Four Tet, and this time his signature sounds - particularly that folktronic hip-hop-influenced vibe of a decade and a half ago - are very much to the fore. It's typically tasteful work though, highlighting the mature, incisive songwriting of Cherry and her longtime partner Cameron "Booga Bear" McVey. I was worried that it couldn't top the fantastic lead single "Kong", with the distinctive co-writing/production of Massive Attack's 3D aka Robert Del Naja, but there are plenty of equals to that song on here - it's that strong an album.

Reuben Ingall - Another Space Song [Feral Media]
Sydney label Feral Media recently released the first of their covers EPs - only on streaming services at the moment - and here we have Canberra's Reuben Ingall doing one of his distinctive and touching covers, this time of '90s alt-rockers Failure.

Borja Flames - Quién es Quién w/ Marion Cousin [Les Disques du Festival Permanent]
Borja Flames - Aventuras [Les Disques du Festival Permanent]
Spanish musician Borja Flames has been based in France for over a decade now. In Spain he played in an experimental group called Belmonde, and in France he formed the duo June et Jim with Marion Cousin, who we've heard on this show with Gaspar Claus, on whose label Les Disques du Festival Permanent this very quirky album is released. Experimental and strange electronic arrangements, yet with catchy songs that draw from the Spanish songwriting tradition. Very cool.

Puce Mary - The Size Of Our Desires [PAN]
Puce Mary - Slouching Uphill [PAN]
Danish industrial noise artist Puce Mary has a bunch of releases by now on her native Copenhagen's Posh Isolation, but this is her first to appear on the influential PAN. It's a masterwork of dynamics, of tortured howls and sinister spoken word, low synth drones, sampled orchestras, simple percussion and power electronics. One I think I'll be revisiting a bit in coming months.

Uboa - Thigh High Cat Tights [Art As Catharsis]
Uboa - I Can't Love Anymore [Art As Catharsis]
Uboa - The Sky May Be (Entropy) [Art As Catharsis]
Melbourne musician Xandra Metcalfe has released a remarkable album as Uboa on Sydney label Art As Catharsis this month. Drawing from Metcalfe's experiences as a trans person in a cisnormative society, and dealing with issues around mental illness, it teeters and sways between harsh, glitched noise and dreamy layered ambience. It's all the more powerful for this dual nature. The first two tracks represent the two sides: "Thigh High Cat Tights" is power electronics and extreme metal glitched in a way that recalls Jim Plotkin's early 2000s Atomsmasher/Phantomsmasher releases, while "I Can't Love Anymore" has fragile, layered vocal drones and spoken word. Meanwhile the second half is a suite bearing the album's title, and "Entropy" takes us down the spiral into a very dark place.

Attilio Novellino - Neurofeedback Radiations [Midira Records]
Attilio Novellino - Satan Is Always Happy [Midira Records]
Attilio Novellino - Perceptual Experience Of The Body [Midira Records]
Attilio Novellino - You Falling [Midira Records]
Attilio Novellino - Amygdala Poetry [Midira Records]
Italian avant-garde producer Attilio Novellino creates dense soundscapes and sound-art, with on this album a slew of collaborators. In a continuous set of tracks we move from glitchy, sparse sound-art to various forms of drone and power ambient, heavy drone-rock passages, and later some ambient glitchy piano. If you loved early Tim Hecker you need to hear this (and if you didn't, shame on you).

Giulio Aldinucci - Aphasic Semiotics [Karlrecords]
Giulio Aldinucci - Mute Serenade [Karlrecords]
Giulio Aldinucci - The Burning Alphabet [Karlrecords]
For a few albums' worth now, Italian experimental musician Giulio Aldinucci has been exploring full-spectrum drone works built from looped choral phrases. Last year's Borders And Ruins was a revelation, and somehow his new album Disappearing In A Mirror transcends even those heights. Aldinucci's control over the small loops he samples, and the variation and urgency he pulls from the layering & processing of those source sounds is incredible. He knows what he's doing, that's for sure!

Eli Keszler - Measurement Doesn't Change The System At All [Shelter Press]
Eli Keszler - Simple Act Of Inverting The Episode [Shelter Press]
Eli Keszler - Fifty Four To Madrid [Shelter Press]
New York percussionist Eli Keszler has made a name across the avant-garde world for his ear-bending, mutating percussion work. On Stadium, his new album for Shelter Press, his kit blurs into a nearly non-stop cloud of motion, like a live version of the technology-aided drill'n'bass of Animals on Wheels, but all performed live. Across this album there are little electronic melodies, slow-moving tuned percussion basslines, and astonishing filigree drum work, which mostly stays at a middling level of controlled energy rather than bursting into showy riffs and breaks.

Penelope Trappes - Kismet [Houndstooth, preview courtesy of The Wire]
Originally from the Northern Rivers of NSW (so a little bit too far to be within FBi's local zone), Penelope Trappes moved to New York a while ago, and is now based in London. Her first solo album Penelope One came out through Optimo Music last year, and Penelope Two drops on Houndstooth at the end of the month. Her work is a curious amalgam of field recordings, surging ambient work and vocals. This preview track comes from the latest cover CD The Wire Tapper 48 out with legendary experimental music magazine The Wire (now apparently Adventures In Underground Music).

Listen again — ~200MB


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Sunday, 14th of October, 2018

Playlist 14.10.18 (8:14 pm)

Music from all around the world tonight, amazing & adventurous stuff...

LISTEN AGAIN and be transported... Stream on demand from FBi, podcast over here.

Maarja Nuut & Ruum - Haned kadunud [130701]
Maarja Nuut & Ruum - Käed-mäed [130701]
Maarja Nuut & Ruum - Muutuja [130701]
The remarkable Estonian singer & violinist Maarja Nuut actually visited Sydney at the beginning of this year as part of Sydney Festival. I was lucky to - almost accidentally - get to see her playing at the Harry Seidler house in Milson's Point, and she played a wonderful set of Estonian folk music and her own folk-inspired music with her beautiful and eerie storytelling.
This album with fellow Estonian musician Hendrik Kaljujärv aka Ruum, aided & abetted by the electronic processing of Evar Anvelt and production guidance from Howie B takes them deep into the wilds of the Utility Fog homeland - electronic folk, folktronica, call it what you will... In any case, it's an intoxicating concoction where Nuut's violin & vocals are sometimes looped (as with her solo sets), sometimes accompanied by a wide range of keyboards & percussion and other instruments, and often processed and edited in the studio. A really exciting discovery which I hope doesn't slip under the radar!

Jerusalem In My Heart - Wa Ta'atalat Loughat Al Kalam, Pt. II (excerpt), Pt. III & Pt. IV [Constellation]
Jerusalem In My Heart - Yudaghdegh El-ra3ey Walal-Ghanam (He Titilates the Shepherd, but not the Sheep...) [Constellation]
Suuns and Jerusalem In My Heart - In Touch [Secretly Canadian]
Jerusalem In My Heart - A Granular Buzuk [Constellation]
Jerusalem In My Heart - Thahab, Mish Roujou', Thahab [Constellation]
The new album from Monréal/Beirut musician Radwan Ghazi Moumneh as Jerusalem In My Heart (in fact an audio-visual duo with 16mm film from Charles-André Coderre when performing live) continues his exploration, deconstruction and augmentation of Arabic/Middle-Eastern music. This time the first half (side A of the vinyl) is taken up by an interpretation of the popular Egyptian song "Ya Garat Al Wadi" by Mohammed Abdel Wahab, performed by a 15-piece orchestra in Beirut and arranged & directed by the legendary Montréal/Cairo musician Sam Shalabi, along with Moumneh's distinctive vocals and his glitchy production taking over by part III. The second side is more standard JIMH fare - a percussive track, a solo vocal track in which the vocals are pitch-shifted against themselves, and glitched up in the gaps between the phrases... I thought this singular artist needed a bit of a celebration tonight, so we heard highlights from his first two albums as well as a piece from the 2015 collaboration with Canadian kraut/psych rock band Suuns.

Sam Slater - Wrong Airport Ghost [Bedroom Community]
Sam Slater - Subway Lion [Bedroom Community]
Berlin-based English composer/producer Sam Slater started work on this album exploring a single-stringed instrument in Rajasthan, working with the musician Krishna Bhopa on unravelling the sonic possibilities of the instrument. Although the album was recorded in Bedroom Community's studio in Iceland, and it has a certain something from the windswept ambient/post-classical/post-rock music that emanates from there, the music certainly also bears the marks of its Central Asian origins. It's an interesting piece mixing electro-acoustic sound-art and a kind of washed-out Icelandic take on Berlin's industrial ambient/techno of the moment.

CUTS - Carbon [Village Green Recordings]
CUTS - Drowning [Village Green Recordings]
Anthony Tombling Jr's ambient/electronic project CUTS has released two EPs on Village Green Recordings, and his new EP A Slow Decay precedes and pre-empts the album A Gradual Decline coming in November. He claims the album's influence is the copying-and-degrading process of William Basinski's Disintegration Loops, and that's audible here, although the occasional crunchy beats and even more occasional female spoken words bring more of a '90s electronic/shoegaze influence of a sort. It's nice stuff and I'm looking forward to the album.

Lowtide - Southern Mind (Ulrich Schnauss Remix) [Rice Is Nice Records]
Nice to see Melbourne shoegazers Lowtide enlisting Ulrich Schnauss to remix the title track from their recent album on Rice Is Nice. With a classic shoegaze feel, it doesn't take much to bring the Ulrich sound - drum processing, cavernous reverb, and then the characteristic delightful synths drop...

Madeleine Cocolas - Kolářová, Letters from Portugal [bigo & twigetti]
Madeleine Cocolas - Pollock, Autumn Rhythm No. 30 [bigo & twigetti]
Ex-pat Aussie Madeleine Cocolas has been based in Northern America for some time now - for a while in Vancouver, and now comfortably ensconced in New York City. Her latest album Metropolitan is an ambitious and beautiful project to render some of her favourite artworks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She worked with programmer Gregory Long on software that converts images to sound (source code here) based on pre-determined parameters, which produced data that could be used to generate melodies, or instructions about dynamnics, distortion etc. I'd love to have played more, but we heard the interpretation of Běla Kolářová's photograph of her hair in "Letters from Portugal", in which the software produces melodic lines from the shape of the strands of hair, with noise and other textural detail added by Cocolas; and her take on Jackson Pollock's "Autumn Rhythm No. 30", using a software-generated marimba line to represent the chaotic elements of the art, and a beautiful piano composition overlaid on top as her emotive reaction to the harmony and balance of the artwork. The rest of the album follows this approach - process-based abstraction of the artwork tempered with a musical and emotional artistic response to the works. It's out this Friday and I recommend you buy the digital version and take in the descriptions and reproductions of the artwork in the digital booklet along with the music.

K-Mak - Play With Me [K-Mak Bandcamp]
Kathryn McKee is a Brisbane cellist who has moved her work into the electronic pop realm over the last few years. Her new material sees her adopting the name K-Mak, and this new single comes with an evocative video with dancers. It's a lovely piece of electronic pop with rhythmic sampled vocals and breakbeats along with operatic vocals, and if you listen for it you'll hear her cello playing a substantial role. Looking forward to more to come.

Listen again — ~202MB


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Sunday, 7th of October, 2018

Playlist 07.10.18 (8:09 pm)

Lots of great beats tonight, plus a chat with Melbourne musician Zoltan Fecso...

LISTEN AGAIN for an excellent interview and sounds from experimental to dancefloor (of a sort). Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

JK Flesh - Earlier Form of Life (excerpt) [Electric Deluxe]
JK Flesh - Different Species [Electric Deluxe]
The mighty Justin K Broadrick, of countless acts across the spectrum of metal/grindcore, industrial, techno, dub, drum'n'bass and more, has his latest JK Flesh album out through Speedy J's Electric Deluxe. It's noisy, but precision-tooled techno, with the dub delays never far away. Awesome.

Temp-Illusion - Macabre [Zabte Sote]
NUM - Tinted With Sore [Zabte Sote]
Ixuol - InTec_06 [Zabte Sote]
Since 2002, Ata Ebtekar aka Sote has made incredible forward-thinking music. Based for a while in the US, he moved back to Tehran sometime ago, and has now started up his Zabte Sote label to showcase the incredibly fruitful experimental electronic music scene that Iran has been producing in recent years. The massive 4 cassette, nearly 4-hour long compilation Girih: Iranian Sound Artists Volumes I-IV showcases many artists I've come across in the last few years, and many I'm very excited to be introduced to. So Temp-Illusion are an experimental electronic duo from Tehran, with a great piece of crunchy techno which follows on nicely from the JK Flesh. NUM remind me here of the wonderful 9T Antiope (present on the compilation in duo form and each member solo too) - they are Milad Bagheri and Maryam Sirvan, originally from the mountains of northern Iran, and now based in Tbilisi, Georgia, where they are able to find more of an audience for their electro-acoustic, experimental songs. And Ixuol is a semi-mysterious artist based in the USA, also known as Arastoo, whose track here is granular and beautiful and takes us nicely into Zoltan Fecso's music...
I cannot recommend this compilation highly enough. Get into it!

Zoltan Fecso - Pont [Hush Hush Records]
...interview with Zoltan Fecso...
Zoltan Fecso - A Study of Distance (under interview) [Hush Hush Records]
Zoltan Fecso - Shimmer Raga [Hush Hush Records]
Really great to talk to Melbourne musician Zoltan Fecso on the show tonight. He's up to launch his EP Shimmer Raga, released on Seattle Label Hush Hush Records recently - come to 107 Redfern this Wednesday the 10th of October, where you can also see Sydney-based, originally Dutch artist Julien Mier with foley artist Miki Takahashi, and the excellent Sydney sound-artist Alexandra Spence. Listen to the stream/podcast to hear Zoltan talking about the hybrid guitar/Novation Launchpad that he's created, and his process of creating hypnotic, calming music from sampled guitar notes floating out of phase with each other to produce slow melodies and harmonies.

Roel Funcken - Cober Blue (Julien Mier Rmx) [Touched Music]
As mentioned, Julien Mier is also playing on Wednesday night. This track comes from Dear of the Yog a collection of remixes of Roel Funcken (from Funckarma), released this year through UK idm charity fundraiser label Touched Music. It sounds nothing like what Julien will be doing on Wednesday night, but segues nicely into the drum'n'bass part of the show...

Collocutor - "Here" (Maurizio Ravalico remix: A Fanfare for the End of the XX Century) [Maurizio Ravalico Bandcamp]
Maurizio Ravalico is a UK-based percussionist who plays with Icarus' Sam Britton in the bewilderingly-named, bewildering-sounding Fiium Shaarrk, a kind of jazz/electro-acoustic/electronic group. In keeping with the Icarus connection, Ravalico is a longtime drum'n'bass fan, and enlists Italian junglist Enjoy to remix one of his tracks on his new EP entitled A Momentary Convergence of Differently Paced Trajectories - but he also reworks tracks by both Fiium Shaarrk and also here the "modal jazz" ensemble he also plays with, Collocutor. He leaves the craziest break-juggling to the last minute or two!

Last Life - The Worst Awakening [Samurai Music]
Handmade Weapons - Subcept (RIP) [Samura Music]
Es.tereo - LV 426 [Samurai Music]
Samurai Music, in their various side-label guises and as the newly re-merged entity, are one of the most groundbreaking labels in the 170bpm, jungle/drum'n'bass/techno space from the last decade. They celebrated their 10th birthday with Phase 1 of the Samurai Music Decade late last year, and have now released Phase 2, another excellent set of music ranging from half-time/jungle hybrid jittery tracks like the one from Sardinian producer Last Life to storming bass/jungle stuff like Leipzig's Es.tereo and more.
Meanwhile, one of the most exciting producers to emerge from the Samurai Music stable is Seattle's Handmade Weapons, whose latest EP Subcept just dropped too - four tracks of lethal breaks and bass, including the "RIP" title track.

Blackfilm - Deep Roots [Denovali]
Also in the dubby drum'n'bass vein is Hungarian producer Blackfilm. His collaboration with legendary Italian dub (and sometimes d'n'b) producer Eraldo Bernocchi has just been re-released by Denovali on vinyl, along with new album Zero One Seven. It's dark but not unrelentingly so, and there's some more jazzy drum'n'bass vibes in some tracks too - all very nice!

Cassius Select - Slang [Plastic World]
He's left us for his hometown of Toronto, but we'll always feel like Lavurn Lee has some Sydney in him. The new Slang EP continues the Cassius Select sound - bass, grime, uk garage-influenced techno with shards of vocal samples and start-stop beats.

Listen again — ~196MB


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