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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, 9th of December, 2018

Playlist 09.12.18 (8:09 pm)

New music, two weeks into December, because that's the way of the world now...

LISTEN AGAIN if you want to keep up. Stream on demand on FBi's website, podcast here.

World News - A Bit More Mellow Back Then (Lake Versions remix) [direct from Tim Condon of Lake Versions]
I'm afraid for now I can tell you nothing about World News except that they're a band from Toronto. Tim Condon is a musician from Melbourne who I've been enthusiastically supporting for at least 10 years, since his very first loose noise/experimental release as Mirrored Silver Sea, and he's had a fantastic kraut/post/psych rock band in Toronto for some time now called Fresh Snow. Lake Versions is a new band featuring two Toronto-resident women, Jesse Crowe and Franziska Beeler, and if this epic remix is a sign of anything, they're going to be superb.

CUTS - Maboroshi [Village Green]
CUTS - Carbon [Village Green]
Arthur Tombling Jr is described these days as a filmmaker, but in fact his history as a musician goes back to making beats in the '90s as Transambient Communications. The three EPs and one album released by Village Green this year as CUTS represent a mature and beautifully poised musical sensibility, and there's certainly a "widescreen" "filmic" quality to this stuff. I loved "Carbon" from the EP A Slow Decay that came out a few months ago, and the follow-up album with almost the same title, A Gradual Decline continues the grainy, analogue, crunchy feel, definitely harkening back to early '90s ambient techno but through a contemporary ambient/post-classical lens.

Michel Banabila - A Sense of Place [Tapu Records]
Michel Banabila - Imprints [Tapu Records]
Quite a blessing to have a gorgeous, arcane album from Michel Banabila drop just near the end of the year. The Dutch electronic artist has been making music for decades, but was hit with some medical issues this year that put everything on hold - so it's an extra pleasure to have this lovely thing available now. Manipulated voices appear, indecipherably, and somewhere in there is the viola playing of frequent collaborator Oene van Geel. Alongside the ambient, evocative textures, is a keen sense of rhythm and some nice scratchy and glitchy treatments on the samples as well.

Machinefabriek - Morning [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Machinefabriek - Haul [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Machinefabriek - Sirocco [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Three cuts from a mixtape that Machinefabriek has put out of cues he's created for a multi-part documentary on the Sahara region currently being broadcast on Dutch TV station VPRO. There's some pretty rhythmic stuff, basslines and all, likely unexpectedly for the casual Machinefabriek listener. And the African influence is pretty nice too.

Yoshitaka Hikawa - CORE [SEAGRAVE]
ISSHU - Chemdawg 91 [SEAGRAVE]
Half Nelson - Brother Sand [SEAGRAVE]
The second compilation put together by The Fissure Family for the SEAGRAVE starts with a strong drum'n'bass/jungle/drill'n'bass influence, but moves into techno and other dancefloor forms, as well as glitchy experimental stuff. It's a good sampling of the sort of stuff that SEAGRAVE likes to feature on its cassette releases - a really interesting and noteworthy label. Many of these artists are relatively new to me - I've heard Yoshitaka Hikawa on a smattering of net compilations recently, and love the bass/breakbeat/glitch approach on this track; ISSHU's done a fair amount of techno/idm stuff and this bit of proto-d'n'b/early-'90s acid hardcore is a really nice start to the compilation. Meanwhile, Memotone's four-to-the-floor hardware techno project Half Nelson appears with some head-noddin' beats and distorted layers of clarinets. Yes yes.

Gudrun Gut - Baby I Can Drive My Car [Monika Enterprise]
Gudrun Gut - Biste schon weg [Monika Enterprise]
Longtime key member of the German music scene, Gudrun Gut puts out her first solo album proper in a while with Moment, released on her influential, important Monika Enterprise, which has brought to light a lot of great music by female electronic artists over the last couple of decades. This is dark techno-pop in the vein of Gudrun Gut's earlier work, expertly done. You can even hear callouts to the postpunk and proto-industrial that she was involved with in the '80s in there.

Jessica Sligter - The Endless End [Butler & Butler]
Jessica Sligter - Surrounds, Surrounds Me [Hubro]
Jessica Sligter & Wilbert Bulsink - C [Unsounds]
Jessica Sligter - The Finest Hour [Butler & Butler]
Her new album Polycrisis:yes! takes Dutch-born composer/producer/singer Jessica Sligter's music into the most abstract territory yet: slow-moving soundscapes with noirish, dramatic vocals commenting on the state of Europe today - including some long quotes and samples from EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. It's a concept album, but often as much in presentation as in content - deep pulsing drones, bare drums, near-silent gaps... The obscure nature of some of this album notwithstanding, Sligter is an extraordinary songwriter & composer. You can feel the long shadow of Scott Walker over her art, and she carries this off effortlessly - of course there's much more to what she's doing (I'd suggest Jenny Hval as a contemporary of Sligter's), but Walker is a pretty good guide to what you're likely to get from the last few albums. I can't get enough of her 2016 album A Sense Of Growth, which perfectly combines complex, beautiful songwriting with electronics, full band arrangements, avant-garde strings... But her works from this year are advanced, rich and challenging. Alongside Polycrisis:yes! Sligter has released a work that melds avant-garde composition with her vocal & electronic work, in collaboration with Dutch composer Wilbert Bulsink. Untitled #2 (The Mute) is part of a new series from the amazing Unsounds label entitled Sounds of the Young Avant-Garde, and concerns itself with the idea of voicelessness, as we hear in the excerpt tonight. In a way this is a companion, on a more personal level, to Sligter's examination of the state of the European Union.

Kate Carr - I came to see the damage that was done [Glistening Examples]
Finally for tonight, some beautiful sculpted field recording work from Kate Carr, released on Jason Lescalleet's Glistening Examples on immaculate CD and digital. This work is based around field recordings "gathered underwater and along many shorelines", and creates musical soundscapes from these sources. Carr is a past master by now at this stuff, and you need to find the stillness for 40 minutes or so to listen to this stuff.

Listen again — ~206MB

Sunday, 2nd of December, 2018

Playlist 02.12.18 (8:18 pm)

Experimental songwriting, post-classical-jazz-folk, and eventually some bass-infused jungle... all in a Sunday's work.

LISTEN AGAIN and journey with us from yonder valley to the stars... Stream on demand with our FBi Radio hosts, podcast here.

Lena Hessels - First [Terp Records]
Lena Hessels - Sunflowerbby [Terp Records]
Two tracks from the incredibly assured debut from Lena Hessels. Scattershot indie/DIY stuff, with strange arrangements, off-kilter samples, and yet really catchy songs. She recorded this as she finished school, and is still only 18 years old. It's released on her parents' label, and oh yes - her dad is Terrie Hessels of legendary Dutch anarcho-punks The Ex, and her Mum is a violinist as well as co-running Terp Records. Good pedigree, but even greater talent.

Paula Rae Gibson & Kit Downes - Love On Time [Slowfoot]
Paula Rae Gibson & Kit Downes - Black Hole [Slowfoot]
An album of beautifully controlled understatement from English singer-songwriter and photographer Paula Rae Gibson, collaborating for the first time with composer & pianist Kit Downes, who plays various instruments across this album including, on the first track, cello. Gibson's delivery reminds me a little of the emotional yet controlled work of Carla Bozulich (high praise!) or PJ Harvey (whose early work I hear a bit of in Lena Hessels too). Downes' playing and arrangements are the perfect foil for Gibson - dark, cavernous, entirely without melodrama.

Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore - Damaged Sunset [Three Lobed Recordings]
I've been following Meg Baird since her folk-rock group Espers was only one album in, although to be honest I became more of a fan with the simple beauty of her solo work. She's also a consummate collaborator, and it's lovely hearing her working with experimental harpist Mary Lattimore. On this track, with the vocals and acoustic guitar up front, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's basically a (wonderful) solo Meg Baird track, but listen on headphones and immerse yourself, and you'll hear lots of bubbly tones stretching out through the background like aural lens flare...

Kim Myhr, Quatuor Bozzini, Caroline Bergvall, Ingar Zach - days [Hubro]
Kim Myhr, Quatuor Bozzini, Caroline Bergvall, Ingar Zach - thngs dispr [Hubro]
Norwegian guitarist & composer Kim Myhr can do no wrong, and this album is probably his best work since the 2016 collaboration with Jenny Hval & Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. Myhr's 12-string guitar work is exquisite, often focusing on repeated broken chords in unusual chromatic voicings. Similarly his string arrangements, beautifully played here by Montréal string quartet Quatuor Bozzini, favour the perfectly placed dissonance of minor or major 2nds, and gentle hairpins. The great Ingar Zach contributes a myriad of unusual percussion, and the record centres around French-Norwegian (and London resident!) poet Caroline Bergvall, whose declarative style of speak-singing perfectly matches the minimalist/maximalist music. I could listen to this over and over.

Adam Basanta - Casual Optimist [Kasuga Records]
Adam Basanta - 1000 Tunnels [Kasuga Records]
On Intricate Connections Formed Without Touch Montréal-based musician Adam Basanta takes a recording of a single acoustic guitar improvisation and re-contextualises it by chopping it up and rebuilding it - at times we hear tiny snippets glitched into Ryoji Ikeda-like rhythmic buzzing, while at other times the sample length increases and we hear the jangly qualities of the acoustic guitar, granulated into lovely filigree constructions. The press releases don't mention it, but there are definitely fragments of wordless vocals overlaid in there at times, giving an additional human touch to the pieces as they open up here and there. The granular processing is very intricately arranged into evolving, through-composed works. What could be a fairly academic exercise is gorgeously immersive and rewards multiple listens.

Erik Griswold - Yokohama flowers [Room40]
Erik Griswold - Guaguanco [Erik Griswold Bandcamp]
Erik Griswold - Pleasure principle [Room40]
Erik Griswold - Day dream [Room40]
The prepared piano work of Erik Griswold is pure delight. On one level it's boundary-pushing New Music, sure, with complex cross-rhythmic patterns that you sometimes can't believe are being played by one pianist. But on the other hand, so much of it is so joyful and full of life, it just brings a smile to the face. On "Guaguanco", from 2002, the patterns switch direction at various points in breathtaking ways. "Yokohama flowers" (title track of his new album) and "Pleasure Principle" (from 2015's Pain Avoidance Machine) are just lovely melodic works, while "Day dream" is a little more ambient, but interjects little double-time riffs into the proceedings now and then. Head music for the feet, dance music for the brain.

Kiln and Mute Forest - Bones ov Chorus [Lost Tribe Sound]
Manyfingers & William Ryan Fritch - A Threadbare Web [Lost Tribe Sound]
Two great and unexpected collaborations, for the new compilation on Lost Tribe Sound, We Stayed The Path That Fell To Shadow. As usual if you get the physical version (either on its own or part of various subscription packages on their Bandcamp), it's luxuriously appointed. There's much more to find inside, but tonight we heard the Michigan ambient trio Kiln working with Colorado producer Kael Smith aka Mute Forest, infusing indiefolktronica with field recordings, while Manyfingers' distinctive queasy varispeed strings (recalling his long work with Third Eye Foundation/Matt Elliott) fit in perfectly with the similarly soundtracky arrangements of William Ryan Fritch. This compilation shows perfectly what the Lost Tribe Sound label is up to today, with a whole lot of exclusive stuff. Highly recommended...

Chris Adams & Oliver Doerell - Ni Maitre Ni Dieu (reprise) [THESIS 14]
Another unexpected collaboration, here courtesy of the excellent US label THESIS, famous for just these kinds of pairings. Chris Adams was once frontman of the greatest band ever, Hood, and makes music as Bracken and Downpour. Oliver Doerell is a member of German jazz/postrock/electronic trio Dictaphone and ambient/electronic duo Swod. These tracks are floaty worldtronica, with occasional vocals and beats. Absolutely lovely.

Rognvald - Tranquilizer [Love Love Records]
Rognvald - Selecta Scene [Love Love Records]
UK producer Richard Wilson releases music under various aliases, including the rather dubious Beatwife, for which he's known for acid techno. He was also one half of Misty Conditions doing heavily distorted bass music of all stripes on one awesome album for Planet Mu in 2013. Over this year he's put out three 12"s for Love Love Records as Rognvald, exploring jungle and breakcore with heaps of heavy bass. On these two tracks we see the sounds abstracted from their dance music purposes, with stretched out ambient washes, bass drops and MCs calling, although eventually the snare rushes and amen breaks are allowed to skitter and punch their way in.

Sully - Qualia [Astrophonica]
Moresounds - Shut Up [Astrophonica]
Finally, Fracture's mighty Astrophonica have released their second Gradients compilation (the first dropped early in 2017) showcasing the label's love of all things jungle & drum'n'bass, with slow-fast jungle/bass/footwork hybrids as well as more direct d'n'b productions. Nobody's doing jungle productions with as much fluidity as Sully at the moment, and his contribution is one of his best in a while. There's plenty more to love in here (including Luke Vibert combining his love of acid with his love of drum'n'bass!), but Parisian prodigy Moresounds jumping between dubsteppy bass and junglisms really hits the spot.

Listen again — ~199MB

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