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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, 19th of September, 2021

Playlist 19.09.21 (10:52 pm)

Back after one week's break with a selection of everything - hip-hop, electronic folk, slowcore, indie, glitch, drum'n'bass, drone, and even post-classical of a sort.

LISTEN AGAIN and better yourself. The FBi website has the stream on demand, podcast is here.

Moor Mother - Mangrove (feat. elucid & Antonia Gabriela) [ANTI-/Bandcamp]
Moor Mother - Obsidian (feat. Pink Siifu) [ANTI-/Bandcamp]
Camae Ayewa has been busy these last couple of years with multitudinous projects, from free jazz ensemble Irreversible Entanglements (who have another album coming soon) to the punkish Moor Jewelry to her side with JK Broadrick & Kevin Martin's Zonal, and the phenomenal BRASS with billy woods a year ago. But 2019 was the last solo album proper from Moor Mother. Powered by beats from Olof Melander, the Swiss producer with whom Ayewa released the album Anthologia 01 last year, Black Encyclopedia of the Air is consequently somewhat lighter than much of that other work (with only a couple of days to start ingesting it) - but no less powerful. Guests include elucid (billy woods' bandmate in Armand Hammer), Pink Siifu, and many others.

Stick In The Wheel - The Cuckoo [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]
Stick In The Wheel - Wierds Broke It [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]
London's Stick In The Wheel are a collective with a close interest in English folk, and have released albums of revived, traditional song from across centuries. But as I've said as I've played them over the last few years, they also have a close connection to English club music, through Ian Carter aka EAN, who was a key member of dubstep pioneers Various Production. Stick In The Wheel is now primarily Carter and Nicola Kearey, who I believe was involved in Various at times too. In between their main albums, the band have traditionally (ha!) put out "mixtape" albums, the latest of which is Tonebeds for Poetry. These still sound like English folk songs (except for some interstitial instrumentals), but with sequenced synths (at one point closely echoing the Stranger Things theme) and oft-vocoded vocals - except on the last track, which suddenly squalls into distorted rock guitars. Preserved in this sound is the deep strangeness of English folk - weird/wierd indeed!

Low - White Horses [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
Low - I Can Wait [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
Low - down (porter ricks remix) [Vernon Yard/Caroline Records]
Low - Belarus [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
Low - No Comprende [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
Low - Always Trying To Work It Out [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
Low - The Price You Pay (It Must be Wearing Off) [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
It was almost worrying imagining how Low could follow up their almost-perfect 2018 album Double Negative, which took the already intense excursions into digital production techniques from 2015's Ones and Sixes and turned up the distortion, sidechaining and general glitchiness to 11 for a mournful ode to America under Trump. But HEY WHAT, like the last two produced by BJ Burton, manages to draw yet more inspiration and emotion from these techniques - see for example the segue from opener "White Horses" into "I Can Wait", in which the repeating delay ending the first track gradually changes tempo and diffuses into the backing for the second, with the crunching, shattering sounds of both accompanying angelic harmonised melodies. The digital production aside, wrong-footing juxtapositions like these have long been the modus operandi of husband & wife Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, often joined by a bass player but now just the two with Burton on the sound deck. In the days of grunge, their untreated guitars and incredibly strung-out tempos led to the coining of "slowcore" as their genre. This patient songwriting could be combined with slow-growing drone distortions (e.g. "Pissing") or country/folk/rock as with their Dirty Three collaboration - but was also mutated into new shapes on 1998's owL Remix album, notably on the 13-minute remix by minimal dub techno greats Porter Ricks. And in 2007, drum machines and unusual production techniques made Drums and Guns a strange highlight and pre-echo of their current era. There's nothing quite like them, and much though I adore the sonic experimentation, in the end it comes back to the songs, and the gorgeous vocal harmonies.

Fabels - DotDotDot [Qusp/Fabels Bandcamp/Vinyl available here]
Fabels - Minds [Qusp/Fabels Bandcamp/Vinyl available here]
Delayed repeatedly by Covid-19, the new album Minds from Sydney duo Fabels is finally out, despite their inability to launch it live. The album continues their blend of European experimental songwriting and psych/shoegaze noise, drawing on the influences of Hiske Weijers and Ben Aylward. If I'd had time I would've played the 9 minutes of "ShereKhan", with a hypnotic groove and squalls of noise, but the title track also does the job, especially paired with "DotDotDot", which reshapes elements of that track into a billowing soundscape.

Cienfuegos, Isabella, Joachim Nordwall, Tot Onyx - Cults Explain Falling Jelly Jar [NO Recording]
NO Recording is an experimental compilation series put together by Group A, aka Berlin-based Japanese artists Tommi Tokyo and Sayaka Botanic. Their latest release is an "Exquisite Corpse" in musical form - the surrealist art game in which a work is created in series by multiple artists without knowledge of the previous artist' contributions. So all the source material comes from the individual artists prior to this project - but it's anything but chaos. I particularly love the glitched vocals and beats on tonight's track, featuring New York's Cienfuegos, Rhode Island-based Isabella, Swedish noise legend Joachim Nordwall and Tot Onyx aka Group A's Tommi Tokyo.

Domingæ - Dæmon [Sacred Bones/Bandcamp]
Chilean musician Domingæ, now based in Mexico, is best known for her psychedelic project Föllakzoid. Her new solo project, released like the band by Sacred Bones, takes the hypnotic grooves of Föllakzoid into a dark, electronic context, with thumping beats and glitchy vocal textures.

VILIFY - What's Next [Ohm Resistance/Bandcamp]
VILIFY - Illusion of Self [Ohm Resistance/Bandcamp]
Jenny Carmichael aka VILIFY is a Canadian DJ, now based in Berlin, with deep roots in the drum'n'bass scene. Her previous releases have been wide-ranging, but her excellent debut on Ohm Resistance, Illusion of Self, keeps the focus a little more on jungle/drum'n'bass, downtempo and IDM. Dark and bass-oriented, with light-footed, skittery programming just how we like it.

Teresa Winter - Echo Disappears [The Death of Rave/Boomkat]
Teresa Winter - Emptiness Is Also An Excess [The Death of Rave/Boomkat]
Drum'n'bass is also an element in the Motto of the Wheel, the latest strangely unplaceable missive from Yorkshire musician Teresa Winter. Influenced as much by various forms of philosophy and spirtuality as by glitch, IDM and rave forms, the album refuses to give in to easy descriptions - take the first track here, which starts with clattering amen breaks but dissipates into textural ambient and then ends with an interview with somebody about the practice of "tombstoning" - jumping into water without checking what's below, a concept that runs through this odd and fascinating release. Scattered through are a number of beautiful pieces made of layers of Winter's own vocals, contributing to the questioning tone of the release. Given the philosophical undercurrents, I assume that "Echo Disappears" is as much a reference to the cursed nymph who wastes away after the death of her unrequited love, the self-obsessed Narcissus, as it is of the sonic effect named after her.

Megan Alice Clune - The Swirl of the Void [Room40/Bandcamp]
Megan Alice Clune - The Chance of a Thunderstorm [Room40/Bandcamp]
Megan Alice Clune - Gentle Smile [Room40/Bandcamp]
The new album from Sydney's Megan Alice Clune, leader of the non-Alaskan non-orchestra Alaska Orchestra is a masterpiece of understatement. Borne from a dream about writing an opera, it's built instead from the minutiae of stay-at-home existence imposed by lockdowns, captive to quixotic technologies and alienated from social or musical interaction. A vocal drone runs through it, overlaid with different approaches to layering and mutating sound - here, swooping synthesizers recall Alice Coltrane's spiritualist solo works; there, different vocal layers cut in & out with subtle swells of clarinet; and over here, the vocals end up cut into small pieces, pulsing in & out like a faltering radio. One for repeated listens in quiet spaces.

Nasturtium - I Remember Everything, Almost Constantly [Room40/Bandcamp]
Something about the name of this project and the album cover made me keep thinking it would be black metal or blackened doom, but Nasturtium is something else entirely. The collaboration between Geneva Skeen and Erin Dawson pairs GS's dark droney sound-art with Dawson's lo-fi indie soundscaping to birth something not quite like either. There's much loving attention to sonic detail, with many sounds produced by guitars both distorted and clean. Some tracks drone through a haze of effects, while elsewhere they're glitched into pieces. There are frequent passages of gorgeousness, especially on the 9-minute closer "Earth Priority", in which multiple fizzling strummed guitars go through various harmonic progressions, temporarily joined by makeshift percussion and slowly stretched out to a gentle end. Don't miss it!

Midori Hirano - Binary Star [dauw]
Midori Hirano - Strain [Sonic Pieces/Bandcamp]
Midori Hirano - Phantom Train [dauw]
The last album from Midori Hirano, last year's Invisible Island on Sonic Pieces, was a career highlight, and I'm pleased to say that Soniscope, just released on Dutch sound-art label dauw, follows in its footsteps with piano and electronics that refuse to keep to the sweet & pleasant post-classical formula. Hirano knows how to write pleasing, melodic piano, but happily buries it in wobbling effects. Soniscope developed from making the soundtrack for Mizuko, a short animated film about a Buddhist ritual for aborted children, and her contemplation of the Jizo statues made for unborn children was a catalyst for this music, which seems to draw more from Japanese musical styles than her other recent works.

Listen again — ~208MB


Sunday, 5th of September, 2021

Playlist 05.09.21 (11:07 pm)

Tonight we're skirting the interfaces between contemporary classical, jazz, hip-hop, dub, drone, drum'n'bass and I've probably missed a few...

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

Luton - Letter Of Resignation [Drrreamocrazy Rec/Bandcamp]
Luton - Elk Talk [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
Luton - No One Gets Hurt [Drrreamocrazy Rec/Bandcamp]
Luton - Leaving Society [Drrreamocrazy Rec/Bandcamp]
The work of pan-European musicians Attilio Novellino & Roberto P. Siguera, Luton captivated me on their debut album Black Box Animals, released by Lost Tribe Sound in 2018 - a concoction of strings, woodwind and brass with electronics following late Talk Talk's template of quiet focus and moments of abrasion. Their new album Eden, out in a couple of weeks, follows a similar line over 2CDs' worth of material, recorded in a week of self-imposed isolation and focus. It grapples with big existential questions and has the cinematic scope to prove it, with close-mic'd piano, strings and found sounds in amongst pulsating synths and surging industrial electronics.

Daniel Carter, Tobias Wilner, Djibril Toure, Federico Ughi - Sunrise at Brower Park [577 Records/Bandcamp]
Daniel Carter, Tobias Wilner, Djibril Toure, Federico Ughi - Canal Street [577 Records/Bandcamp]
Daniel Carter, Tobias Wilner, Djibril Toure, Federico Ughi - The Grind [577 Records/Bandcamp]
New York is the proverbial melting pot, and musically it's known for any number of genres - from classical at Carnegie Hall to the early popular music of Tin Pan Alley, and of course jazz at the Blue Note and in New York's Downtown, as well as hip-hop and that specifically American mélange of dub, hip-hop & drum'n'bass called illbient. There's a bit of illbient in the sound of "New York United", the quartet initiated in 2019 via 577 Records, involving seasoned jazz musicians Daniel Carter on winds and brass and Federico Ughi on drums, with electronic musician & soundtrack composer Tobias Wilner and Wu Tang Clan-associated bassist Djibril Toure. Ughi flutters and around the cymbals free-jazz style but also comfortably holds down dub-infused grooves with Toure, while Carter swaps between flute, saxophones and trumpet and Wilner drops in electronic textures, samples and at times seemingly turntable manipulation. Despite Wilner being Dutch and Ughi being Italian, you can see why they name themselves after this melting pot city, and it is a distinctly New York sound. Even those of us less embedded in jazz sensibilities will find a lot to be inspired by here.

Directions - Echoes (Deadly Dragons Remix by Bundy K Brown, Casey Rice, Daniel Marcellus Givens and John Herndon) [Temporary Residence/Bandcamp]
Temporary Residence have just released the "Anniversary Edition" of a legendary 12" from Directions, the project of legendary Chicago postrock musician Bundy K Brown along with Doug Scharin (of June of 44, Mice Parade et al) and James Warden. It's jazzy postrock with hip-hop collage influences, and you can see why it was a prompt for Kieran Hebden to start Four Tet. For me the real pull for this reissue is the remix by a bunch of early Tortoise alumni include Ken Brown himself, the now Melbourne-based mixing/mastering engineer Casey Rice, Daniel Givens and the one & only John Herndon. Lovely swirly faux-spiritual(?) jazz(?).

F.S. Blumm & Nils Frahm - Puddle Drop [Leiter]
Frank Schültge, better known as F.S. Blumm, has made 4 albums now with his mate Nils Frahm, and each has a rather different sensibility - some with more of F.S. Blumm's anarchic wit, some leaning more towards Frahm's delicate piano work, albeit somewhat more on the avant-garde side. But none of that quite prepares you for their new album 2X1=4. Those of us familiar with Nils Frahm's live shows will know of his abiding love of dub, and here it blossoms into a whole album of simple basslines, drum machine beats and heaps of off-beat delays. The musicians' talent for melody means that as the beats and basslines progress, gentle chords swell out at times. But it's played surprisingly straight - a selection of 7 dub grooves to nod your head to. Perfect driving music really.

Jeremy Segal - Assemble [Jeremy Segal Bandcamp]
Jeremy Segal - Emerge [Jeremy Segal Bandcamp]
Perth sound-artist Jeremy Segal follows up last year's excellent environmenta sound-art work Four Footprints with a selection of tranformative process pieces melding ambient and techno. There's a lot of detail to these works, with carefully assembled micro-sounds evoking little ecosystems, or a patient crescendo of distortion overwhelming a beautiful choral loop.

Au Revoir Hands - Submerge [Au Revoir Hands Bandcamp]
Recorded between Melbourne and the Blue Mountains just outside of Sydney, the debut album from Au Revoir Hands showcases collaborations between Emily Williams on cello and Anthony Lyons on the Buchla easel modular synth and other electronics. Hemispheres will be released in November, and the lovely first single "Submerge" gives us a hint of what to expect, with multiple layers of cello and flittering electronics.

Marcus Whale - Portal [DERO Arcade/Bandcamp]
There aren't many people who've been consistently appearing on Utility Fog playlists for as long as Marcus Whale, especially as a ratio of his life. I think he was 16 when I first played some weird noise shit he'd sent in. Apart from his work with BV (RIP) and Collarbones, Marcus is a talented composer, and his broad knowledge all pours into his solo work. After a couple of albums heavy on history, politics and queer theory, The Hunger re-positions these interests within the mythology of the vampire. Queer love & desire is of course at the centre of these songs, songs which seem to mix '80s pop with more recent electronic influences - and everything else Whale, of course.

Ocoeur - The Deep End [N5MD/Bandcamp]
Ocoeur - Breaking the Circle [N5MD/Bandcamp]
French producer Franck Zaragoza has been making a mix of IDM & ambient electronica as Ocoeur for over a decade now. Going through lockdowns like we all were, Zaragoza wanted to use music to remember and celebrate personal connections - hence the album title Connections. Rather than wallowing, though, these tunes are surprisingly upbeat, both in emotion and beats. If you want a bit of uncomplicated pleasure, stick it on.

Ikävä Pii - death by haha reaction [early reflex]
The debut EP from London-based Italian producer Ikävä Pii is three tracks of stomping, syncopated, chopped beats and little melodies. To be honest, I wanted to play all three tracks - and not just because the others are called "the end of the end of History" and "reddit Against Wall Street". If anything they get more manic and closer to jungle as they go along, but really you can't go past "death by haha reaction". Great stuff.

Fanu - Mental Aerobics [Straight Up Breakbeat/Bandcamp]
While our previous artist's name sounds Finnish for some reason, Fanu is the real deal, Finland's premier jungle, drum'n'bass and breaks maestro. There's quite an active drum'n'bass scene in Finland, often heard on Fanu's excellent Breaks 'N' Beats podcast (along with drum'n'bass from around the world). He has a huge back catalogue of joyfully programmed beats in all jungle & drum'n'bass subgenres, and it's always a pleasure to hear something new from him.

ASC - Voiceprint [Samurai Music]
Roho - Ikuti [Samurai Music]
A particular stream of dark drum'n'bass comes out of Berlin's Samurai Music. Frequently we're talking minimalist, martial, hammering beats, but there's also the complexity of reworked, streamlined junglist tendencies. ASC's return to jungle last year was facilitated by Samurai Music, and here we have a typical piece of fierce intensity from the man; elsewhere there are many tracks of the sort exemplified by Russia's Roho - repetitive and suspenseful, with jagged breaks erupting at times.

Mindy Meng Wang - Night Storm 雷雨夜眠迟 with Paul Grabowsky [Heavy Machinery Records/Music In Exile/Bandcamp]
Based in Australia now for some years, Mindy Meng Wang was born & trained in China as a master of the guzheng, and also studied Western musicology in the UK. The Chinese zither or harp has been a traditional instrument for millennia, and Wang has been pushing it in new directions in Australia, working with Western classical musicians, jazz musicians, and electronic musicians like Tim Shiel, with whom she released an excellent EP last year. "Night Storm" is the first single from her new album Phoenix Rising, to be released at the end of this month, and it's remarkable how beautifully the guzheng fits together with Paul Grabowsky's sensitive piano. The other collaborations on the album have a lot to live up to, and I can't wait to hear them.

part timer - elsewhere [part timer Bandcamp]
As you may have noted, when John McCaffrey is going, he just won't stop. So every few months (if not more frequently) there's something new again from part timer - not quite up with the weekly CD-Rs I used to get from him in Ye Olden Dayes but still. falter is another 4 tracks of post-classical loveliness, released in a week and a bit, and the piano and sampled strings are joined by some shuffling drums on this piece.

Listen again — ~208MB


Monday, 30th of August, 2021

Playlist 29.08.21 (12:38 am)

Heavy bass music of various sorts, and then "post-classical" music of various sorts. Also a number of premieres tonight!

LISTEN AGAIN, what are you waiting for? Stream on demand at FBi. Podcast here. Options.

The Bug - War (feat. Nazamba) [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
The Bug ft. Flowdan - Jah War (Loefah Remix) [Ninja Tune]
The Bug - Black Wasp feat. Liz Harris of Grouper [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
The Bug Ft Dis Fig - Destroy Me [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
Moor Mother x Zonal - On The Range [Adult Swim Singles 2018-2019]
The Bug - Vexed (feat. Moor Mother) [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
The Bug - The Missing (feat. Roger Robinson) [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
It's weird really to think that it's been so long since the last "album proper" from The Bug. Kevin Martin has been plenty busy, whether the re-formed duo with Justin K Broadrick (previously Techno Animal, now Zonal), various singles, lysergic barely-there ambient under his own name, or the stunning "narco-dancehall" album In Blue last year with Dis Fig. And yet, the last album just as The Bug was 2014's Angels & Devils - probably one of my favourite albums of all time. Big call, especially because 2008's London Zoo is so crammed with masterpieces of dubstep-meets-grime, including "Skeng" with Roll Deep's Flowdan and Killa P, and "Jah War" with Flowdan - and if the dubstep connection wasn't clear in the music, Loefah's remix here is a masterpiece of the genre (in 2007, just as things were getting big). The new Bug album Fire is described as the third in a trilogy of albums, following these two - all released by Ninja Tune, and all featuring low-end pressure and powerful vocalists. While I didn't venture back past London Zoo to the 2003 album Pressure, released on Tigerbeat6 and Rephlex, the abrasive dancehall found therein is certainly a precursor to this trilogy, as was so much of Martin's work through the '90s (seek out the two massive Macro Dub Infection compilations he curated for Virgin Records). The "Angels" side of Angels & Devils allowed for some vocal contributions aside from MCs, and two gorgeous tracks were created with Liz Harris from Grouper - "Black Wasp" appearing on the Exit EP later the same year. But mostly Fire is about hard-hitting MCs, including many of Martin's longtime collaborators. Jamaican poet Nazamba delivers one of the scariest contributions with "War", while Moor Mother is in gutteral form on "Vexed" (after a side-long collaboration with Martin & Broadrick on the Zonal album in 2019). But the album ends with a stunning poem by Martin's King Midas Sound compadre Roger Robinson, giving the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster a heartbreaking send-off.

My Disco - StVO [Heavy Machinery Records]
Like many of Heavy Machinery's releases for the latter part of this year, My Disco are part of the Flash Forward festival taking part in the laneways of Melbourne - as well as online. The Melbourne band have made a number of sharp left turns in their career, after some years making angularly rhythmic post-punk/math rock and then shifting gears into bleak industrial ambient & percussion for 2019's Environment. That's the context for StVO, the first single - premiered tonight - from Alter Schwede, their new album to be released in late November. Recorded at andereBaustelle by studio owner (and Einstürzende Neubauten member) Boris Wilsdorf, the track was to be instrumental, but ended up featuring Wilsdorf reading from the Berlin Straßenverkehrsordnung (Road Traffic Regulations) because I guess it sounds cool? And let's be clear, it sounds menacing in amongst the clattering sounds of metal on metal and rumbling bass. But it's clearly also humourous, as is titling their album Alter Schwede, an expression of surprise in German, which literally means "old Swede"! Can't wait to hear more...

Mitchell Elliott - Kurosawa Daydream [Mitchell Elliott/Bandcamp]
Next up, some sound-painting from Newcastle's Mitchell Elliott, inspired by the Dream movies of Akira Kurosawa. Elliott comes from a proud tradition of noise music from Newcastle, feeding threads of melody (including vocals from Sydney's Maira Kei) and field recordings along with the harsh static. The two other tracks are longer but equally evocative.

Minder - Space [Sneaker Social Club]
The enigmatic Minder has very little info about them online, but they've just dropped a massive cache of sounds on Sneaker Social Club - a double cassette reaching to over 100 minutes. In keeping with SSC's love of UK hardcore, Telepathy is jungle techno, but it's just not just an early '90s breakbeat throwback. There are ragga, hip-hop and diva samples all over this, and breaks a-plenty, but also strange rhythmic treatments and structures befitting a mixtape, and elevating this into an intriguing modernisation of the sound. Worth diving into.

Andy Odysee - Ruthless (In Purpose):Insidious (In Design) [Odysee Recordings/Bandcamp]
Andy Odysee - Like Jazz [Odysee Recordings/Bandcamp]
Andy Baddaley joined Tilla Kemal aka Mirage as partner in drum'n'bass label Odysee Recordings in 1999, and made some records as Cloaking Device. He went to school with Jim Baker of Source Direct and it's that Photek/Source Direct sound that permeates his music as Andy Odysee - complex, fine-tooled beats after jungle but before tech step's simplistic aggression. The new Ruthless:Insidious EP is third in a trilogy of EPs Baddaley has released in the last couple of years on Odysee Recordings. They're excellent, and one I often return to is "Like Jazz" from the first of these, 2019's Cause Damage EP. Delicious.

Arrom - Can't Ask This [Provenance Records]
Another premiere tonight comes from Arrom, aka Melbourne's Melissa Vallence. Vallence has spent time singing in choirs, but her classically-trained voice increasingly takes the back seat - heavily processed here - to techno beats. New single "Can't Ask This" isn't exactly a party banger, with sub-bass drones and churning distorted beats accompanying chopped up, electronically harmonised vocal lines, but it's still got an infectious rhythm and uncanny beauty to it.

Gudrun Gut + Mabe Fratti - El Cielo Responde [Umor Rex/Bandcamp]
Berlin producer Gudrun Gut began her career in the 1980s in the same scene as Einstürzende Neubauten, but is known well-known as an electronic music pioneer herself and through her Monika Enterprise - especially supporting female musicians. Young Mexico-based Guatemalan musician Mabe Fratti grew up learning cello, and incorporates it into her music along with synths and vocals - I've played her a lot on this show too. It's lovely hearing these two very different musicians together. Let's Talk About the Weather would be how they began their online conversations, with Gut in a cold German town and Fratti in the Mexican heat. Mexican label Umor Rex also straddles the globe, with its physical distribution and promo coming via Morr Music in Germany, so they are the perfect home for this uncompromising music. At times it's rhythmic, at other times slipperily ambient, with field recordings, spoken word and Fratti's singing all combining to evoke a changing world.

Yann Tiersen - Ar Maner Kozh [Mute Records/Bandcamp]
Yann Tiersen - Poull Bojer [Mute Records/Bandcamp]
It's unfair that to a lot of the world, Yann Tiersen is synonymous with the twinkly prettiness of his soundtrack to the sweet French film Amelie. He's known and loved in France (and Europe and to those who know the world over) also for indie rock, chanson and postrock, but he does do that post-classical piano thing really well, as evidenced by new album Kerber, part of a more ambient turn of late. It's a very intimate album, and the glitchy electronics that envelop the piano and other instruments at times are welcome. There are jazzy drums in "Poull Bojer", but mostly the album focuses on piano, hints of strings, and these electronic effects. It's often quite lovely but simple quasi-classical fare, but at times the French sentimental melancholy surfaces, as with "Ar Maner Kozh". Inspired by living on the remote island of Ushant, off the north-west tip of France (hence the strangely-spelled track titles), the album soundtracks a film that you can watch online now.

Rakhi Singh - Dhura [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
Vessel - Red Sex (Re-Strung, feat. Rakhi Singh) [qu junctions Bandcamp]
Welsh/Indian violinist Rakhi Singh straddles not only the heritage of her background, but also the English cities of London and Manchester. She is Music Director of contemporary ensemble Manchester Collective, who record for Bedroom Community, but her name jumped out at me immediately due to a collaboration last year with Bristol's Seb Gainsborough aka Vessel, reworking his bendy, twisted "Red Sex" with virtuoso violin and keeping the rattling rhythms. But even this excellent pedigree didn't prepare me for the brilliance of the three-track Quarry EP released by Bedroom Community. Singh's violin is indeed virtuosic, but she is happy to take multi-tracked trills and short phrases and chop them into industrial rhythms, or take time with strung-out violin and vocal drones, with exquisite avant-garde harmonisation. Don't let this one slip you by.

Gaspar Claus - 2359 [InFiné/Les Disques du Festival Permanent/Bandcamp]
Gaspar Claus - Un Rivage [InFiné/Les Disques du Festival Permanent/Bandcamp]
French cellist Gaspar Claus has featured on these playlists quite a lot, in collaboration with people like Aidan Baker, Third Eye Foundation, Efterklang's Casper Clausen and many excellent releases on his label Les Disques du Festival Permanent. So it's surprising that InFiné Music refer to new album Tancade (released on September 10th) as his debut solo album. Technically I would say that's 2013's Jo Ha Kyū, but the Japanese-inspired contemporary composition therein is ensemble music, and Tancade is very much Claus solo. Claus' cello is used in every way possible, multi-tracked for its expressive qualities, but also plucking basslines and played percussively. Often the music sounds like a live ensemble of cellists, but "2359" (one minute to midnight) is constructed from painstaking edits into impossible-to-perform arpeggios, a skittery IDM of acoustic cello. "Un Rivage" takes us to the shoreline, perhaps spying the naked men on the beach who adorn the album's cover, with strummed chords and fluttery multi-tracked melody. It's surprising to hear music so nakedly sentimental from Claus, but it's no less avant-garde for that. Brilliant work.

Laura Cannell, Kate Ellis, Rhodri Davies & Stewart Lee - Spend The Day With Me [Brawl Records]
English violinist Laura Cannell and cellist Kate Ellis continue their monthly releases for 2021 with AUGUST SOUNDS, joined this time by two guests: Rhodri Davies on the Welsh bray harp, which sounds strangely sitar-like - and Stewart Lee, who reads the moving poem "Spend The Day With Me". This is contemporary acoustic music with deep roots in the strangeness of English folk.

Lucy Railton & Kit Downes - Lazuli [SN Variations/Bandcamp]
And one more cellist to finish the show off - Lucy Railton is comfortable performing contemporary composition, but also created an incredible electro-acoustic work at Ina GRM in 2019 called Forma, which featured Kit Downes on organ. Downes and Railton have been collaborating for some 13 years now, so it's no wonder their improvisations on Subaerial are bewitchingly, instinctively organic. At times it's like naturally-occurring contemporary composition - not-quite tonal melodies in counterpoint with each other. Elsewhere it's imperceptibly mutating, discordant drone, aching sighs and yowls from the deep. It's unlikely you'll hear anything else quite like this this year.

Listen again — ~201MB


Monday, 23rd of August, 2021

Playlist 22.08.21 (1:05 am)

Tonight we alternate between complex beats, sweeping soundscapes and dizzying tape manipulations.

LISTEN AGAIN for heck's sake! Stream on demand via FBi, podcast here.

Sandpit Alias - Gawl Mountain [Empirical Intrigue]
Sandpit Alias - New Venice [Empirical Intrigue]
Aidan Psaltis, originally from Sydney but now based in Melbourne, releases his first album of his own productions on Sydney's Empirical Intrigue, mystery-laden electronic music as of the label's general aesthetic. Psaltis DJs as Sandpit Alias, and that anagrammatic artist name is what he's used for his anagrammatic album Spinal Data, with warm synthesiser productions and beats reminiscent of the best '90s bedroom productions. Well worth your time.

Lara Sarkissian - BTWN Earth n Sky (aya Grounded dub) [All Centre]
Jennifer Walton ft. BFTT - Flash On (Breaks Mix) [All Centre]
London label All Centre celebrate their 3rd anniversary with a compilation of collaborations showcasing their gregarious left-of-centre club tendencies. San Francisco-based Armenian producer Lara Sarkissian appears here remixed by Manchester's aya (herself recently signed to Hyperdub!) with dubby 4/4 with intricate beats spinning off it, while Jennifer Walton reprises her single with Manchester's BFTT, accelerating into jungle bliss.

Max Cooper - Penrose Tiling (Max Cooper Remix) [Mesh]
Max Cooper - Penrose Tiling 3D [Mesh]
Max Cooper - Movement Maps ft. Samad Khan [Mesh]
Max Cooper ft. Alison Moyet - Scalar (HAAi Remix) [Mesh]
Keeping it skittery, we join London's Max Cooper in the IDM/drill'n'bassy side of his productions, with a self-remix from his new Yearning for the Infinite Remixed collection. Cooper is known for visually lush multimedia works exploring the connections between science & art, with Penrose Tiling referring to the never-repeating but surface-covering mathematical marvel discovered by Roger Penrose - so the intricate beats are a nice reference. It was a favourite of mine from the original Yearning for the Infinite, and I also loved the immersive binaural rework from the 3D Reworks EP Cooper released last year. When listening through these new remixes I realised I never played anything from Cooper's Maps EP from earlier this year either - a collection of tracks adapted from a soundtrack to a movie of a dance work, featuring vocals from Indian classical singer Samad Khan. It's beautiful work (as is the original video!)
The new remixes mostly veer more to the club side, and notably feature a reworking of another album favourite by London-based Australian DJ HAAi, aka Teneil Throssell, originally from Karaatha in WA.

Maarja Nuut - on vaja_in need (feat. Nicolas Stocker) [Maarja Nuut Bandcamp]
Maarja Nuut - subota [Maarja Nuut Bandcamp]
Maarja Nuut - jojobell (feat. Nicolas Stocker) [Maarja Nuut Bandcamp]
My first encounter with Estonian musician Maarja Nuut was a performance for Sydney Festival of Estonian folk music and storytelling performed with violin and voice. Not long afterwards, she released an incredible album with fellow Estonian Ruum on Fat Cat's 130701 offshoot that embedded traditional Estonian music in contemporary beats & electronics. A second Maarja Nuut & Ruum album followed, along with an experimental album of duets with Sun Araw, and now we get to hear Maarja on her own, but very far from the acoustic folk storyteller... Hinged is a play on words, meaning in Estonian "departed spirits and soul", and this album sees Nuut moving to her grandmother's old farm and finding herself among generations of life possessions and creations, while musically she almost discards the violin entirely, and even leaves the vocals behind on many tracks, creating instead layered pieces from her Eurorack modular setup - joined on a few tracks by the renowned Swiss jazz drummer Nicolas Stocker. Stocker inserts himself effortlessly into the tracks her appears on, but is supporting a rhythmic bass that's already present in Nuut's idiosyncratic constructions, as we can hear on the purely solo tracks. There are hints of techniques from electronic dance music, but Nuut's grounding in her native Estonian tradition gifts the music with a syncopating lope, quite unconcerned with the concept of bar lines. There are still gorgeous passages of Eastern European vocal harmonies and melodies on an album that's challenging but immensely rewarding.

Timothy Fairless - Half Life [Timothy Fairless Bandcamp]
Timothy Fairless - Common Electric Glare [Timothy Fairless Bandcamp]
Meanjin/Brisbane based composer Timothy Fairless has composed soundtracks and installations, and released a number of EPs before this new album, Common Electric Glare, which is released this coming Friday. A document of our times, it began as a response to the thinning of our world through our dependence on technology, and became a personal reflection of the composer's own experiences - as with all great music. It's instrumental music that draws much from drone and dark ambient, but it's also very expressive, and anything but static. There are beautiful passages where electronics give way to prepared piano, plucked and bowed violin and other physical sound sources, there are shimmering pulsating passages just this side of techno, and seemingly there are anguished vocals just on the edge of perception. I'm reminded of Ben Frost's early albums for Bedroom Community, and that's high praise.

Jeremy Young - Frequenza Bianca (T. Gowdy remix) [Jeremy Young Bandcamp]
Jeremy Young - Suprabhatan Heterodyne [Silken Tofu/MEG/Jeremy Young Bandcamp]
Jeremy Young - Iroquois Lullaby [Silken Tofu/MEG/Jeremy Young Bandcamp]
Jeremy Young - Trafic (with Tomonari Nishikawa) [Thirsty Leaves Music/Jeremy Young Bandcamp]
Jeremy Young - Trafic (Machinefabriek remix) [Jeremy Young Bandcamp]
I've come across Montréal sound-artist Jeremy Young on a number of collaborations, but had failed to investigate his solo work until recently, to my shame! He has just released a remix EP, Amaro Extensions, in which tracks from this year's earlier album Amaro are reworked by some wonderful musicians from Montréal and beyond, including Constellation artist T. Gowdy and a familiar face 'round here, Machinefabriek. The earlier album is also a set of collaborations, in which Young uses a custom-made set of three hand-tuned oscillators plus found objects and surfaces as rhythmic foundations, tapes and signal processing, while his guests sometimes contribute voices or traditional instruments, and sometimes what you might call "featured found sounds". Meanwhile, back in 2017 Young created a spell-binding album entitled The Poetics of Time-Space out of the audio archive of Musée d'ethnographie in Geneva. The hiss and crackle of the old media from these recordings is treated equally with the sounds therein, but it's far from academic - there's humour here, and sensitive settings of ethnographic recordings (for all the dodgy colonial baggage that comes with such things). Also recommended is the 14-minute "Elegy in C Minor for the Victims of Police Brutality", produced in the wake of George Floyd's murder, with all proceeds to the Bail Project.

Panoptique Electrical - A Lost Love (Othello, 2014) [Panoptique Electrical Bandcamp]
Panoptique Electrical - Darkness Falls (topia, 2018) [Panoptique Electrical Bandcamp]
Adelaide's Jason Sweeney has over 2 decades of experience making a wide variety of music, including some of the best Australian IDM of the late '90s with Pretty Boy Crossover, indie as Simpático, varieties of indietronica and post-classical and drone. For many years much of his solo work has appeared as Panoptique Electrical, and it's under that name that he's now releasing a major 2LP set of archival work for theatre, documentaries, installations and the like called Decades (2001-2021). Over 31 tracks there are field recordings hazing into drone and noise, piano and slow strings, and sparsely strung-out billowing tones... It's not so much a summation of a career so far as an addition, but it's certainly a rich new addition.

Loose-y Crunché - It s Got a Groove (Industrial Murk) [Oxtail Recordings]
Talbert Anthony - Kotokymomaster 20210428 [Oxtail Recordings]
Here's something I should have played a week or two ago, but neglected because I have a raven track on it - oops! Mike Nigro has run cassette label Oxtail Recordings since before he arrived in Australia a couple of years ago, but now that he's been here for a while he decided to compile a compilation of local experimental & ambient artists. This cassette/digital release Undercurrents is an impressive document of part of the local scene, with electronic drones, layered vocals, murky industrial techno (see Lucy Cliché as Loose-y Crunché), live processing (e.g. my own cello piece), and more - I particularly loved the processed guitar of Talbert Anthony, who was probably responsible for introducing me & Mike in the first place. With all proceeds going to Change The Record, it's a no-brainer.

Listen again — ~204MB


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Monday, 16th of August, 2021

Playlist 15.08.21 (12:41 am)

A ride through the borderlands tonight, with much music fitting the Utility Fog Charter of music that blurs genre - from indietronica to glitched, mashed soundtrack cues to African electronica, futuristic footwork and more...

LISTEN AGAIN, live life on the edge! Podcast here, stream on demand there.

Dntel - Moonlight [Morr Music/Bandcamp/les albums claus/Bandcamp]
James Figurine - Apologies [Monika Enterprise]
Dntel - Anywhere Anyone feat. Mia Doi Todd [Plug Research/Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
Dntel - Fall In Love [Morr Music/Bandcamp/les albums claus/Bandcamp]
Dntel - I made something [Morr Music/Bandcamp/les albums claus/Bandcamp]
The music of Jimmy Tamborello, particularly as Dntel, is without doubt one of the instigators of what I wanted Utility Fog to be when it started. Electronic at its core, influenced by IDM as well as electronic pop, Dntel became a vehicle for something transcendent on the 2001 album Life Is Full Of Possibilities, when Tamborello brought in singers & other musicians from the indie music scene, creating hazy, granulated floating soundscapes and deconstructed songs among the glitched beats. Tamborello's an inveterate fan himself - presenting Dying Songs on LA's dublab - and that comes out in his approach to music, I think. This year he's released two Dntel albums, and they're both wonderful. The second, Away, is just released by Belgian label/gallery les ateliers claus, and out in a couple of weeks from Morr Music. It's his paean to pop, while March's The Seas Trees See showcased his more introspective, experimental & quiet side. Both albums, though, feature vocals, always highly processed (see tonight's gorgeous "Fall In Love" from that earlier one) - and on Away it's notable that although the soft-voiced vocals sound female, they are all sung by Tamborello, using auto-tune and other techniques to create a cyborg idoru version of himself. It's wonderful of course. We also heard a piece of more straightforward pop from 2006's Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake, released under the name James Figurine, and from that 2001 album Life Is Full Of Possibilities we heard the exquisite "Anywhere Anyone" introducing the brilliant LA singer/songwriter Mia Doi Todd.

Wolfgang Mitterer - temp [col legno]
Wolfgang Mitterer - temptation [col legno]
Wolfgang Mitterer - tempo [col legno]
Wolfgang Mitterer - tempt [col legno]
Austrian composer & musicians Wolfgang Mitterer writes music for orchestras, operas, and the stage, but is also a composer for the screen. His new album temp tracks is a postmodernist take on the standard practice in filmmaking of using "temp tracks" while editing the work, standing in for the final music. Across 37 tracks, some short cues and some longer, he deconstructs the idea of film music (and presumably some of his own work), into granulated, degraded, glitched samples - and surprisingly often with IDMish flittery beats. There are the hissing ghosts of orchestras, flickers of vocals operatic and international, and even scattered hints of hip-hop on "tempt". The closest thing I can think of are the glitched easy listening miniatures of Curd Duca. It's really highly enjoyable & touching, and surprisingly cohesive despite the number of tracks. Highly recommended.

STILL - Nkwaata (feat. Blaq Bandana) [PAN/Bandcamp]
STILL - Rough Rider [PAN/Bandcamp]
STILL feat. Omutaba - Rollacosta (feat. Swordman Kitala) [PAN/Bandcamp]
STILL - Ahlam Wa Ish السماء هي الحد (feat. Winnie Lado) [PAN/Bandcamp]
Milan artist Simone Trabucchi, as well as running the Hundebiss label, started the project STILL in 2017 with an album on PAN featuring a variety of African-Italian vocalists and exploring the connections between Italy, Jamaica and Africa with high-tech dancehall productions. Unfortunately at the time the vocalists weren't credited, although you can find the credits on Bandcamp now. Far better this time, the new STILL album KIKKOMANDO is in fact credited as a "V/A" release, treated as a mixtape, and all tracks are collaborations. The music isn't far from the template of labels like Hakuna Kulala, who are co-releasing this album: created in a temporary studio in Kampala, Trabucchi invited many Ugandan musicians and others based in Kampala to work on tracks with him. Among others there's rap storytelling from Kampala's Blaq Bandana, there's the celebrated, lively Swordman Kitala, and two appearances from southern Sudanese singer Winnie Lado, rapping once in English and delivering beautiful spoken word in Arabic. Trabucchi's varied productions support these vocalists very well, a highly worth release.

Jana Rush - Drivin Me Insane (feat. Nancy Fortune) [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
Jana Rush - Frenetic Snare [Objects Limited]
Jana Rush - Mynd Fuc [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
In 2017, Lara Rix-Martin's Objects Limited released an album from Chicago footwork producer Jana Rush, brilliant productions full of bass energy and the typical skittering drum machines and chopped vocal samples of the genre (even incorporating junglist amen breaks on the last track, "Frenetic Snare"). Rush was involved with the Tek Life crew back in the '90s, but left music for some time and is widely skilled - paramedic, firefighter, chemical engineer, CT scan technologist! Even more than her previous work, Painful Enlightenment (now released on Rix-Martin's partner's Planet µ label) expresses her experiences as a queer woman, and stretches footwork to its very limits. A genre that's always been aimed at more fleet-footed dancers, footwork here is pushed into all sorts of strange shapes, so that the drums on "Mynd Fuc" are almost more a sonic effect than a beat, clattering around a mournful slow piano fragment; elsewhere the vowels from a sample of a woman saying "Drivin Me Insane" are stretched and repeated over a slower beat in a collaboration with French producer Nancy Fortune. Coming straight from the core of the scene, this should be a landmark for the genre.

MF DOOM - Gazzillion Ear (Thom Yorke Man on Fire Remix) [Lex Records/Bandcamp]
Back in 2010, Lex Records released the Dilla-produced "Gazzillion Ear" as a single from MF DOOM's 2009 album Born Like This, with a number of remixes including one from Thom Yorke. Lex are currently celebrating their 20th anniversary, and as part of that they're unearthing a number of unheard gems from their history (a second Boards of Canada Nextmen remix appeared recently too). So it turns out Thom Yorke submitted two remixes, and the one we heard 11 years ago was the "Monkey Hustle Remix". Now we get to hear the "Man on Fire" remix, quite radically different from the other, with chaotic noise and a buried groove, very comfortably accompanying the late DOOM's lyrical flow.

ØNNΔ - ACID CROSSING (Reesepushkin Remix) [Deep Scan]
A few months ago, Sydney's Deep Scan released a split EP from AIR GOD and the mysterious ØNNΔ, both contributing dirty 4/4 grooves. This coming Friday a remix EP will appear, steering those tracks into broken-beat territory. Vancouver/Sydney artist Reesepushkin here keeps the bass pressure from ØNNΔ's original "ACID CROSSING", but chops the groove and pads, and inserts vocal gasps throughout.

Match Fixer - Rubble 4 [Match Fixer Bandcamp]
Match Fixer - Smile [Match Fixer Bandcamp]
Melbourne's Andrew Cowie produced a number releases as Angel Eyes some years ago, for labels like Bedroom Suck and Not Not Fun. More recently he's been Match Fixer, with an EP on Nice Music and a few subsequent releases on his own Bandcamp. 2018's Rubble explored IDM & drill'n'bass, but new 2-track single Smile floats in an ambient dub space, with a slow pulse and breathy textures over disquieting drones.

Kristen Gallerneaux - Dressing A Skin [Shadow World]
I discovered Detroi-based artist Kristen Gallerneaux on The Leaf Library's Object Ten compilation for their Objects Forever label earlier this year. A folklorist, film-maker, writer and musician, Gallerneaux has just released her album Strung Figures through Shadow World - the title refers to a work by Caroline Furness Jayne about Cat's Cradles and the like - looping string games played on the hands - but also references that strung out feeling of lockdown & pandemic exhaustion. The craft focus also connects to Gallerneaux's Native family-members, Navajo Nation people who were particularly badly affected by COVID - something which hits home at the moment, as we're learning of the seemingly inevitable, awful & dangerous lag in providing vaccinations to the Indigenous population of western NSW and the rest of the country. Gallerneaux's music inhabits a fuzzy, dub-inflected techno world with arcane industrial influences, handmade found-sound samples, disembodied voices and flittering drum machines. An immersive listen.

Dasdreieck - Tearing Paper [Dasdreieck Bandcamp]
Dasdreieck - Timing [Dasdreieck Bandcamp]
Sydney's Josh O'Connell made generative music as Die Erzeugung and now produces electronica as Dasdreieck. His latest album, Yaspir draws on '90s IDM. Melodic drum'n'bass track "Tearing Paper" features an unidentified English voice speaking eloquently about depression; it's a well-chosen speech. And on "Timing" a bass-driven deep house accompanies arpeggiating patterns that wear their Plaid influence on their sleeve. It's skillfully produced stuff that should appeal to all all fans of this kind of electronica.

JK FLESH vs ECHOLOGIST - Fleshology 0202 B [JK Flesh Bandcamp]
Second volume of murky dub techno by Justin K Broadrick working under his JK Flesh alias with Brendon Moeller aka Echologist. Two tracks are harsher, faster acid techno as of much of the recent JK Flesh stuff, and the other two are much more spaced out dubby numbers like this one.

Eek - Echo Siren, La Return [Anterograde/Bandcamp]
Eek - We're Fucked [Anterograde/Bandcamp]
The Melbourne-based Hong Kong artist Eek provides much of the incredible artwork for Melbourne's Anterograde label. Their hallucinatory, lush computer artwork can be seen at their Instagram. For the album Worms Can Talk, the artist sourced huge amounts of audio from YouTube videos, most of which are credited in a massive list on the Bandcamp page. The result, incredibly enough produced & mixed in iMovie, sounds like the outer limits of contemporary industrial techno, albeit mostly without beats - collaged drones and fragmented samples, shuddering surges of bass and all. It's astonishing and at times overwhelming, an album for the times.

Klara Lewis & Peder Mannerfelt - My Clementine Is Making Paella Tonight [Trilogy Tapes]
Klara Lewis & Peder Mannerfelt - Styrofoam Tone [Trilogy Tapes]
Ahead of a number of stunning releases for Editions Mego, Swedish composer & producer Klara Lewis released an EP in 2014 on Peder Mannerfelt Produktion. Mannerfelt, a mainstay of the Swedish pop and club scenes (and one half of Roll The Dice), was using his personal label to promote the music of a number of female Swedish producers, and Lewis' musical vision is particularly creative (something she shares with her Dad, Graham Lewis of Wire, who we heard very recently on this show). Now for Trilogy Tapes Lewis & Mannerfelt have teamed up together for a release which is somewhat more abstract than Mannerfelt's usual fare, and perhaps inserts more humour and chaos into Lewis' usual work. Warped soundtrack samples, field recordings and drones fizzle and crackle through these 5 tracks - think Fenn O'Berg (RIP Pita!) and you'll be on the right track. Genius stuff.

Listen again — ~208MB


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