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electric string quartet

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, 13th of October, 2019

Playlist 13.10.19 (8:04 pm)

Your Utility Fog tonight takes in jazz, postpunk, industrial metal, industrial dub/hip-hop, industrial techno, with classical references and lots of strangeness.

LISTEN AGAIN to the best sounds around... Stream on demand from FBi or podcast here.

Tomeka Reid Quartet - RN [Cuneiform/Bandcamp]
Tomeka Reid - Jizz and Jazz (Ray Yoshida) [Pentimenti Produdctions]
Tomeka Reid Quartet - Glass Light [Thirsty Ear]
Makaya McCraven - Tall Tales (feat. Tomeka Reid) [International Anthem]
Tomeka Reid Quartet - Old New [Cuneiform/Bandcamp]
We start tonight with the brilliant cellist Tomeka Reid, whose second quartet album has just come out. Reid played with Jaimie Branch (featured next tonight) when both were in Chicago, but Reid doesn't appear on Branch's new album, now that they've both moved to New York and become much in demand. Reid's quartet is a remarkable collection of musicians, with the recent MacArthur Genius Mary Halvorson on guitar, Jason Roebke on double bass and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. Halvorson's guitar playing is incredibly expressive, and along with Roebke's warm bass melds and contrasts with Reid's versatile cello. I went back to 2014 and a solo album from Reid adapted from her soundtrack to a documentary about Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists - and actually the earlier quartet piece "Glass Light" is a version of a track composed for that soundtrack too. Reid appears on the "New York Side" of Makaya McCraven's wonderful Universal Beings album from last year, bringing free jazz into the beat tape world. Although there have been some cellists in the jazz world before (Erik Friedlander and Hank Roberts among others), Tomeka Reid is really pioneering the idea of cellist as jazz leader, and it's a delight to behold.

jaimie branch – theme 001 [International Anthem/Bandcamp]
Anteloper - Ohoneotree [International Anthem via The Wire/Bandcamp]
jaimie branch – prayer for amerikkka pt. 1 & 2 [International Anthem/Bandcamp]
I first discovered Tomeka Reid through her playing on the first album from Chicago (now New York) trumpeter Jaimie Branch, and we hear her inventive playing on the first track here, from 2017's Fly or Die. Branch shot to fame after this album, and deservedly as it's amazing, with infectious rhythms (possibly partly derived from her half-Colombian heritage), strange but brilliant arrangements (and experimental ambient interludes) and great playing. The experimentalism comes out further in her Anteloper duo with drummer Jason Nazary from last year, featuring dubbed out rhythms and electronic processing - all tracks are very long, but luckily there's a Wire Magazine edit! Branch's new album has all the virtues of her first, and also vocals on two tracks, including the stretched-out dirgey blues number here that (just about) starts the album, calling out "a bunch of wild-eyed racists" (and also paying homage to various other songs throughout) with singing that's as passionate and distinctive as her trumpet playing. As previously mentioned, Tomeka Reid's own burgeoning career means she had to step out of playing with Branch's ensemble, but she has been replaced by another amazing cellist, Lester St. Louis, an improv specialist whose contributions are absolutely central to this music too.

Carla dal Forno - Heart of Hearts [Carla dal Forno Bandcamp]
Carla dal Forno - Don't Follow Me [Carla dal Forno Bandcamp]
Melbourne-via-Berlin artist Carla dal Forno's second album proper is released by herself (as Blackest Ever Black seems to have pretty much shut down?) and follows the subdued-but-incisive tone of her earlier work. While dal Forno has a beautiful voice and writes catchy songs, she has little interest in pandering to pop or even indie expectations, imbuing her work with a melancholy-but-detached sensibility. There are some lovely instrumentals on there too, with some cello (or possibly pitched down viola?) to call back to the start of our show. There's a distinct postpunk feel as usual, with some fairly explicit references to The Cure among others. Recommended.

Kim Gordon - Earthquake [Matador]
Kim Gordon - Sketch Artist [Matador]
It's amazing that this is the first solo record from Kim Gordon, one of the most inventive and influential musicians of the last few decades. It comes a few years after the breakup of Sonic Youth, and after a number of other band projects from Gordon, but this album definitely screams "solo record". "Earthquake" here is pure Gordon - guitar either wobbling with whammy bar or varispeed tape, creating a lovely bed for her raw vocals; meanwhile Justin Raisen produces some intense almost industrial hip-hop beats for a few tracks, which is just chef's kiss brilliant.

the body - Hallow Hollow (remixed by Lingua Ignota) [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
the body - Off Script (remixed by Moor Mother) [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
US duo the body are nothing if not adventurous - ostensibly a black metal band, they work with samples and heavy electronics, but the aggression always hides a sensitivity (although Chip King's ultra-high-pitched screaming is never intelligible) and most albums also feature vocals from women - some regular collaborators, and some guests; Kristin Hayter featured on a recent album, and on their new Remixed album appears reworking a track as Lingua Ignota. Here the noise is mostly kept in check, replaced by plangent piano and Hayter's classically-trained vocals. The remix album also takes in the sound-art of Peter Rehberg (featured in last week's playlist), the intense techno of Container and more, including a superb take by Moor Mother of "Off Script" which is both very faithful to the original and completely different.

Zonal - Catalyst ft. Moor Mother [Relapse/Bandcamp]
Zonal - S.O.S. [Relapse/Bandcamp]
Moor Mother let us segue into the next segment, with her menacing and beautiful collaborations with Zonal, the reconstituted duo of Justin K Broadrick (JK Flesh, Godflesh, Jesu etc) and Kevin Martin (The Bug). The duo released a slew of groundbreaking music as Techno Animal throughout the '90s - not actually techno (although Broadrick's JK Flesh inhabits that space nowadays) but sludgy dub and hip-hop informed by their backgrounds in metal and sonic experimentation. Zonal's new incarnation started with a performance at Unsound Festival in Poland at which they were joined by Moor Mother, whose delivery is perfectly suited to these dark dubbed out industrial hip-hop beats. The Zonal material marries Broadrick's recent slo-mo industrial dub techno tendencies with Martin's grainy, heavy-as-fuck head-nodding beats and the mournful tendencies of both artists. It's the soundtrack for the world as it is now.

PYUR - Cheperer [Subtext Recordings/Bandcamp]
PYUR - Jumping Trails [Subtext Recordings/Bandcamp]
PYUR - Manta Ride [Subtext Recordings/Bandcamp]
The second album from German artist Sophie Schnell aka PYUR, after a debut on Hotflush Recordings, is a dazzling, ambitious work fitting for Subtext Recordings, combining idm, bass and industrial techno with classical composition, new age, and even pop among other elements. It's a kind of wordless storytelling (the vocals, when present, are still often wordless), as implied by calling it an "oratorio", invoking myths and legends of the past and possibly the future. Ever-changing beats swoop in and out of synthetic and live orchestrations (including cello from Teresa Alvarez and violin from Juan Zalba Fuentes), and vocals range from classical layering (with more than a little Enya to them) to almost-pop to textural. It's all hugely impressive.

Listen again — ~274MB

Sunday, 6th of October, 2019

Playlist 06.10.19 (8:20 pm)

Tonight we have expansive, dark electronic music for you in various forms, including a feature on the great postrock/electronic/glitch champions 65daysofstatic, and Editions Mego head honcho Pita.

LISTEN AGAIN for the unrepeatable wonders... podcast here, stream on demand @ FBi.

65daysofstatic - bad age [Superball Music]
65daysofstatic - I'm Dreaming Of A White Noise Christmas (excerpt) [unreleased - see the ridiculously fun video here]
65daysofstatic - play.nice.kids [Dustpunk Records/65daysofstatic Bandcamp]
65daysofstatic - default this: [Dustpunk Records] {from vol1: 65's.late.night.double-a-side.college.cut-up.trailers.for.the.looped.future}
65daysofstatic - await rescue [Monotreme Records]
65daysofstatic - taperec_1 [65daysofstatic Bandcamp]
65daysofstatic - Ptolyweird [65daysofstatic Bandcamp]
65daysofstatic - sister [Superball Music]
On the occasion of the release of their new studio album replicr, 2019, a long-overdue special on 65daysofstatic. They’ve been releasing an EP or mini-album a month since May this year, not just as a lead-up to this album but as a whole project in itself, and they’ve been fantastic – really re-energised my interest in this band. And this band has been a Utility Fog mainstay since the show started – literally, their first "real" EP stumble.stop.repeat came out in 2003. I saw it described by Norman Records (the great Leeds-based online record store) as something like postrock crossed with Squarepusher, and jumped on that shit of course. They recognized my support by thanking me in the liner notes of their second album – and when they finally toured Australia with sleepmakeswaves, I was told my Mike from Bird's Robe that it was my championing of these guys that made them aware of them. Good feeling!
They were putting together ridiculous and awesome glitchy drill'n'bass mashups before they even put out that first EP, and many of these (including legit remixes) came out on a series of CDRs called unreleased/unreleasable. Their EP series – which involves a Bandcamp subscription for which each EP is released a month ahead – is a continuation of this, with oddities, experiments and offcuts (not actually illegal admittedly). Before this, after a bunch of albums and international touring (including a support slot with The Cure), they created a live project based around generative programming, and then extended this further with their groundbreaking soundtrack to the computer game No Man's Sky, which was composed in such a way that it would be generated along with the generative planetary landscapes (and flora & fauna) the players encounter.
The new album is their response to the endtimes feeling of the current age – the slow collapse of the biosphere, the rise of fascism and the horrors of Brexit Britain. There’s an air of melancholy that comes along with the electronic rhythms, and there’s not much in the way of riffing. It's surprisingly touching, and still absolutely in tune with that I'm trying to do with Utility Fog. Cheers guys!

Heith & Weightausend - The Wheel [Haunter Records]
Ghost Lemurs of Madagascar - Fauno [Haunter Records]
Ausschuss - Loose Unit [Haunter Records]
Milan-based label Haunter Records are one of those outlets for what feels like the 2010s' version of "idm". Music that sits uncomfortably on the dancefloor, feels a bit industrial, is experimental but not actually power electronics or noise. Their new compilation has a plethora of exciting sounds, including some well-known artists like Helm, ZULI, Ossia, S S S S and ssaliva, various people known from the Haunter label, and more obscure types. There's hints at drum'n'bass from both the Heith & Weightausend collaboration and the Ausschuss track, and some kind of post-dubstep or bass techno, as well as some dark ambient and lighter elements (the William S Burroughs-referencing Ghost Lemurs of Madagascar being a somewhat twisted case in point), but mostly it’s dark as. Well worth your time.

Hanz - The Fly [Hanz Bandcamp]
Brandon Juhans' Hanz continues with his practice of slipping out a track here and there, after a couple of superb little releases on Tri-Angle Records last year. It's fidgety electronic music that won't stay in one place and can't really be pinned down to a specific genre or dance style - especially when the beats loop in a strangely uneven way. Cool.

haddocks' eyes - triton [haddocks' eyes Bandcamp]
Sydney's Benjow continues to be bemusingly unpredictable with his haddocks' eyes project, here with some kosmische ambient sounds that could be a transmission from another star (although it seems to be named after a type of Mitsubishi ute lol...)

Pita - AMFM [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
General Magic & Pita - Cool Fridge [Source Records/Editions Mego Bandcamp]
Pita - Untitled 3 [Mego/Editions Mego Bandcamp]
Pita - Two Top Five [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
Back in the mid-'90s, a number of artists in Europe started creating music that began to be described as "glitch" - music that gleefully took advantage of the sounds of malfunctioning machinery, or misused technology for aesthetic effect. A lot of such music, particularly from Austria, was gathered by the Mego label, originally run by the two guys from General Magic and a man called Peter Meininger, but he left quite early and Peter Rehberg joined in his place. Already by then he and General Magic had collaborated on the EP Fridge Trax (with Rehberg as Pita), and then a follow-up album, both based on samples of a very noisy fridge in their apartment. Mego disbanded some years later, but Rehberg now runs Editions Mego as a way of re-releasing Mego classics and releasing whole swathes of incredible new experimental music - including his own. The new Pita album Get On is more rhythmic than he's been for a while (although this is no club music), and is the latest in a series of "Get" albums that goes back 20 years to the classic Get Out (available on his Bandcamp), from which we heard a beloved piece of blissful/blistering shoegaze-noise.

Soft Thoughts - 5 [Arachnidiscs]
Soft Thoughts - Perils [Arachnidiscs]
From Toronto, Soft Thoughts is the trio of Australian ex-pat Tim Condon, best known for psych-postrock group Fresh Snow but also celebrated round these parts for his freeform Mirrored Silver Sea project some years back, along with modular synth techno manufacturer Matt Nish-Lapidus aka New Tendencies, and experimental cellist/composer Michael Peter Olsen. Together they have created a mysterious collection of fizzling electronics out of emerge strange melodies and rhythms, sometimes on recognizable instruments such as piano or Olsen's electric cello, often transformed beyond recognition. These soft thoughts are sometimes troubled thoughts, but thoroughly engrossing.

envelopemusic - VEIL [envelopemusic Bandcamp]
envelopemusic - HAMMER [envelopemusic Bandcamp]
envelopemusic - HOURS [envelopemusic Bandcamp]
Based in Perth, Western Australia, composer/producers Ned Beckley and Josh Hogan have a studio/business called Envelope Audio where they do sound design, audio post production and film composition. The music they've released on their first album together is extremely filmic, mixing classical with deep electronics and beats, evoking twinkly bliss and shuddering unease. It's excellent work, whether as a calling card for their soundtrack work or as a self-contained headphone listening album.

Listen again — ~201MB

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