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experimental electronica
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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, 29th of April, 2012

Playlist 29.04.12 (11:11 pm)

Big night of artist specials and genre-exploration.
LISTEN AGAIN to all this wonderful sound! Subscribe to the podcast, download direct from the link below, or stream on demand for that stereo pleasure.

I went to the big Steve Reich extravaganza at the Opera House tonight! I had to leave before the end of Music For 18 Musicians, so I thought it apposite to start with the Coldcut remix (from...13 years ago argh) and then a fair chunk of his amazing Sextet from a few decades back!

We had a slew of tunes from the new album and first album from Bersarin Quartett, aka Thomas Bücker, whose beautiful classical samples a la Jacaszek rub shoulders with crunchy idm beats and the occasional droney crescendo to distortion. It's absolutely beguiling stuff - both albums are compulsory listening.

Great to have some more prime Sydney tunes for you. Via Telafonica's 4-4-2 Music, St Jambience gives us guitar loops and riffs, crackly noises and a surprising pop sensibility. Check him out along with Telafonica and my new trio Haunts with two of the Underlapper boys at Dirty Shirlow's this Saturday!
Speaking of whom, we had a couple of ace Telafonica remixes, one from Underlapper they-selves.

And then into another all-consuming special, this time on the Oxford band Jonquil, whose earlier efforts were a fascinatingly hard-to-pin-down take on freak folk. They've smartened themselves up for the latest album, a rather more easily digested form of indiepop — I don't begrudge them this, but it has lost some of its mystery. While the earlier stuff may be more my cup of tea, there's certainly some top songs on the new album.

From there we dive right into AU. Hailing from Portland OR, they have their own take on freak folk and indiepop, and their new album (first on Leaf) may be taking them further in terms of popularity, it's still pretty uncompromising and uncategorizable. I love the "epic" Colin Stetson-driven b-side "Under/Epic", which takes Stetson's muscular sax ostinati from the new album's opening track and stretches them out to longer than the original track, with nothing but some other horns overdubbed on top. From their back catalogue we took a few very catchy, oddly-structured tracks, with banjo, piano, percussion, multitudes of effects and vocals all contributing.

To lead us to the finish line, two remixes from everybody's favourite indietronicists epic45, who have been floating into ever gentler climes of late. Pastoral. The Gentleman Losers drop some beats and glitches into the mix, while beloved veterans of this sort of thing The Remote Viewer show us what indietronica's meant to be. Very fine.

It's hard for me to express just how excited I am about the forthcoming album from our favourite Canberran, Shoeb Ahmad, coming soon on Inch-time's Mystery Plays Records. It's perfect indietronica a la Hood, with orchestral samples, drum machines, guitars and glitches — and you'll be hearing much more of it here. Available in mid-June.

Valance Drakes aka MusSck has been making complex glitch-hop for a few years, and features frequently on this show. He let me know recently that he's bunkered down, working on stretching his sound into new places, with longer tracks and perhaps a broader, deeper sonic focus. On this unreleased track we hear warm bass, that post-dubstep slow pulse, and heaps of processing. Bodes well!

Steve Reich - Music For 18 Musicians (Coldcut remix) [Nonesuch]
Steve Reich - Sextet [Nonesuch]
Bersarin Quartett - Niemals zurück [Denovali]
Bersarin Quartett - Oktober [Lidar]
Bersarin Quartett - Alles ist ein Wunder [Denovali]
Bersarin Quartett - St. Petersburg [Lidar]
Bersarin Quartett - Perlen, Honig oder Untergang [Denovali]
st jambience - spacechimp parts i & ii [4-4-2 Music]
Telafonica - There's Something About Your Face (Genlevel version) [4-4-2 Music]
Telafonica - To Me (Underlapper version) [4-4-2 Music]
st jambience - spokes [4-4-2 Music]
Jonquil - Point Of Go (Parts 1 & 2) [Blessing Force]
Jonquil - Sudden Sun [Try Harder]
Jonquil - Square Rigger [Try Harder]
Jonquil - Subtle Strains [Try Harder]
Jonquil - This Innocent [Blessing Force]
AU - Under/Epic (feat. Colin Stetson) [Leaf]
AU - Epic [Leaf]
AU - sum [Aagoo]
AU - Ida Walked Away [Aagoo]
AU - rr vs. d [Aagoo]
AU - Today/Tonight [Leaf]
AU - boute [Aagoo]
AU - The Veil [Leaf]
epic45 - Washed Up (reworked by The Gentleman Losers) [Wayside & Woodland]
epic45 - The Village is Asleep (reworked by The Remote Viewer) [Wayside & Woodland]
Shoeb Ahmad - Falling Fast [Mystery Plays Records]
Valance Drakes - unreleased new choon [unreleased]

Listen again — ~ 155MB

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Sunday, 22nd of April, 2012

Playlist 22.04.12 (11:10 pm)

Tonight, folktronica, drone, postpunk, dubstep and breakcore all rub shoulders... so, just a normal show then.
LISTEN AGAIN via FBi on demand, podcast or direct download at the bottom of this post.

Our first track was inspired by seeing the clip for "Freedom '90" on Rage's 25th birthday special on Saturday night. I'm not (too) embarrassed to say I love the song, but I love Robert Lippok & Caroline Thorpe's cover even more so, from the amazing Recovery compilation, released a few years ago on a boxset of ten 7" records...

Last week's highlight, the new psych-folk album by Mike Wexler, featured again tonight. We also heard again the folktronic sounds of Italy's K-Conjog and France's Chapelier Fou.

The first new release this week is a corker from Sydney's Karoshi, streaming on Bandcamp at the moment. They've been doing lovely folktronic stuff for a few years now, and have perfected their sound for this latest release - punchy drums, glitchy effects and lovely melodies.

I'm sometimes a bit cynical about 14tracks, the weekly digital mixtape of tracks from Boomkat, which is after all an exercise in selling us something. But then, that's what the music business is aobut, and they do have pretty good taste, as we hear in this week's selection of footwork-influenced electronica. Russian-American Slava Balsanov's track samples what sounds like a kora, and then dives into blissful textures and shuffling beats — a great find for the Software label. And Throwing Snow takes things in a more ravey direction in that not-really-jungle way of juke.
Meanwhile in a more UK-style Bass way is the excellent new EP from Commodo on the ever-reliable Deep Medi. This track in particular recalls the melodic, jazzy sounds of labelmate Silkie.

Sydney kids MAKING have all the signs of being the next big thing in instrumental dance-rock, and their new single (free from Bandcamp) rocks that signature guitar sound. The two remixes are nicely contrasting, and local sax/computer experimentalist Ben Carey pulls their track apart, to make a glitching, building crescendo of drone.

Just in this week is the 2nd Hidden Landscapes compilation from the (mostly) netlabel Audio Gourmet. Featuring a well-selected bunch of drone/post-classical/thingy artists, as often is the case, the highlights come from artists who are unknown to me. Norway's Pjusk have a new album coming out soon on 12k, and here contribute a delicate ambient piece along the lines of the classic em:t releases of the '90s. Rudi Arapahoe is more in a post-classical vein, with wispy female vocals in the mix.

Fabio Orsi gives us one of his amazing long drones with pounding drums in the amusingly-titled "the new year is over (nope)" (there's a matching "the new year is over (yep)" track on the album).

Also from last week, we have another track from laptop power trio Fenn O'Berg's stunning latest album, and the wondrous 12-minute finale to Machinefabriek's brilliant Colour Tones, plus both sides of his Ontrafelde tonen 7" — choral samples (creating a similar effect to the voices in Jurgen Knieper's "Cathedral of Books" on the Wings of Desire soundtrack, for the trainspotters!) and then more abstract sounds on the b-side: scary creaking, submerged vocals, scraping... And also another track from his very fine collaboration with Steve Roden.

To almost finish, we jump to two new releases on the Ad Noiseam label. The fourth album from Larvae sees him moving further away from the heavy dubby beats, using guitar and electronics for a not-quite-shoegazey sound. But there are still some pretty great glitchy beats and occasional dubstep influence surfacing. It's really great stuff.
New band Underhill features Tim Eliot of Current Value, Ivan Shopov aka Cooh/Balkansky, and various others, into a fusion of dubstep, drum'n'bass/breakcore, and trip-hop. It's the heavier end of those beats, and so the nice songwriting elements may be lost on people who can't handle the massive bass and sometimes nasty beats, but for those of us who enjoy that stuff it's very good indeed. Current Value's recent (current) Björk remixes should point people in the right direction too!

And finally, keeping the beats in the drum'n'bass direction, we have something from the new Squarepusher. To be honest I'm finding it hard to get really enthused about this. Sure, he's come back to the electronic side of things, and the beats are a slightly nastier (dubstep-influenced) side of drill'n'bass, but it lacks much of the melodic and fun aspect of his earlier stuff. Maybe he's trying too hard to be darker here. The jury's still out on this (although compared to the crazy prog-jazz-kitchen-sink of the last few albums, it's a welcome return...)

Robert Lippok & Caroline Thorpe - Freedom! [Fractured Recordings] {Yup, George Michael cover!}
Mike Wexler - The Trace [Mexican Summer]
Mike Wexler - Liminal [Mexican Summer]
Karoshi - ELK [stream on Bandcamp] {hint: Like them on Facebook and request a free download of the EP!}
Karoshi - Blood In The Rain [stream on Bandcamp]
K-Conjog - Qwerty [Abandon Building Records]
Chapelier Fou - Shunde's Bronx [Ici D'Ailleurs]
Slava - The Swan [Software]
Commodo - So Clear [Deep Medi]
Throwing Snow - Too Polite (feat. Louis Vines) [Local Action]
MAKING - Barcelona [free from their Bandcamp]
MAKING - Barcelona (Ben Carey remix) [free from their Bandcamp]
Pjusk - Vannspeil [Audio Gourmet]
Rudi Arapahoe - Double Bind [Audio Gourmet]
Fabio Orsi - the new year is over (nope) [Silentes]
Fresh Snow - BMX Based Tactics [Sonic Boom] {download from their Soundcloud}
Fenn O'Berg - Concrete Onions (24 Nov 2010, Kyoto, Club Metro) [Editions Mego]
Machinefabriek - Mosaic [Fang Bomb]
Machinefabriek - Ontrafelde tonen 2 [Vintermusik]
Steve Roden & Machinefabriek - ice bow [Eat, Sleep, Repeat]
Machinefabriek - Ontrafelde tonen 3 [Vintermusik]
Larvae - Locked From The Inside [Ad Noiseam]
Underhill - Blind [Ad Noiseam]
Larvae - Vows & Promises [Ad Noiseam]
Larvae - N-1 [Ad Noiseam]
Underhill - Solace [Ad Noiseam]
Squarepusher - Drax 2 [Warp]

Listen again — ~ 158MB

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Sunday, 15th of April, 2012

Playlist 15.04.12 (11:14 pm)

Psych-folk! Folktronica! An interview with Brett from Margins! Go see them this Saturday (21st) at Hellen Rose Lab, 17 Waterloo St Surry Hills — a cool gallery space. Should be a mighty fine gig.
LISTEN AGAIN as per usual - see below, podcast, or stream on demand.

I'm new to Mike Wexler, and his new album has left me gobsmacked all week. It's understated psych folk, songs in odd scales, harmonies changing direction halfway through melodies, unusual time signatures — but none of it screaming out at you. It features members of the free improv scene like Nate Wooley, but isn't really challenging listening. Just great.

Also on the folky, or more country, end of the spectrum is Sydney's The Singing Skies aka Kell from Moonmilk. He enlists Seaworthy here to do a remix, and it's truly spellbinding, with scratchy violin over guitar and vocals...

And from last week, Tasmania's Spheres bring a doomier, heavier track.

And then it's into an interview with Brett from Melbourne instrumental rock band Margins. They're touring to release their new album Divide — see top of post. The track from their first album has some wicked guitar tapping.

After some more from Mr Wexler, it's into the somewhat folktronic sounds of Dictaphone. Clarinet and violin drive the sound, with tuned percussion in the mix along with, I'm guessing, subtle electronics and beats — and a wonderful vocal on the last track. This is amazing stuff, beautifully packaged on Sonic Pieces.

Another amazing find this week is Sweden's Esbjörn Svensson Trio (e.s.t). Recalling The Bad Plus a tiny bit (they're a melodic jazz piano trio), and folks like 3ofmillions and Triosk (not to mention Alister Spence) in their combining of piano jazz with electronics, they make some beautiful sounds. I'll have to play more next week.

Also popping up from last week is Perth's Kynan Tan, whose album rætina is highly recommended. The minimalist glitch beats and processed Fender Rhodes are joined on one track here by vocals as well.

Next we travel to France, with an artist who only recently graced our shores (and I missed him, more's the pity) — Chapelier Fou is released on the awesome French label Ici D'Ailleurs and mixes looped and/or fully arranged violin with crunchy beats. I'd love to see how he does it live. As well as some added cello (at least) on some tracks, the album features labelmate Matt Elliott aka Mr Third Eye Foundation on the last track, sounding particularly mellifluous.

Italy's K-Conjog also mixes violin in with his folktronic beats and cut-ups. This is folktronica just how I enjoy it, and you should check it out too, on Abandon Building Records, who released the latest Origamibiro in the US, among some other great releases (see what else I've played of theirs).

It's been a great year for Machinefabriek, who's concentrating on perfectly-formed sound art/installation pieces more than longform drones. His disc with another installation artist, Steve Roden, rewards close listening, with what I think of as "foley" recordings (perhaps field recordings, perhaps meticulously-prepared sound pieces) rubbing up against musical passages on various instruments. Similarly with the new solo Machinefabriek , one of his best works I feel.

On the same label that brought us the Steve Roden collaboration come Minus Pilots. It's electric bass through various delay pedals and four-track tape recorder, and they aptly describe it thus: "all our recordings are designed for listening through headphones while gazing at the stars..." Indeed.

And finally, the mighty laptop improv trio Fenn O'Berg are back with a new live album on Editions Mego, In Hell. It feels like their best yet, or at least since the first batch, and reminds me bizarrely of a slightly more experimental Future Sound of London. Anything goes, with orchestral loops, crackly synths and even some live (I think) electric guitar. Highly, highly recommended.

Mike Wexler - Pariah [Mexican Summer]
The Singing Skies - A Message From The Cliffs (Seaworthy remix) [Preservation] {free download from SoundCloud}
Spheres - Salvation for the Wretched [Sonoptik]
Margins - Men Vs Nature [Casadeldisco Records]
...interview with Brett from Margins...
Margins - Closes In [Low Transit Industries]
Margins - Rabbit Head [Casadeldisco Records]
Mike Wexler - Lens [Mexican Summer]
Mike Wexler - Spectrum [Mexican Summer]
Dictaphone - The Conversation [Sonic Pieces]
Dictaphone - Rattle [Sonic Pieces]
Esbjörn Svensson Trio (e.s.t) - Inner City, City Lights [ACT]
Kynan Tan - skeletal (frame+axis) [Listen/Hear Collective]
Kynan Tan - woken / under streams [Listen/Hear Collective]
Chapelier Fou - L'eau qui dort [Ici D'Ailleurs] {see the lovely video here}
Chapelier Fou - Protest [Ici D'Ailleurs]
K-Conjog - Nobody Knows [Abandon Building Records]
Chapelier Fou - Moth, Flame (feat. Matt Elliott) [Ici D'Ailleurs] {see the lovely video here}
K-Conjog - Jabberwock [Abandon Building Records]
Steve Roden & Machinefabriek - Leaves [Eat, Sleep, Repeat]
Machinefabriek - Brown [Fang Bomb]
Steve Roden & Machinefabriek - Some Things Within [Eat, Sleep, Repeat]
Machinefabriek - Grey [Fang Bomb]
Minus Pilots - Into The Void [Eat, Sleep, Repeat]
Minus Pilots - Heaven Spots [Eat, Sleep, Repeat]
Fenn O'Berg - Christian Rocks (20 Nov 2010, Oita, Oitaweb.tv Beppu Tower Hall) [Editions Mego]

Listen again — ~ 156MB

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Sunday, 8th of April, 2012

Playlist 08.04.12 (11:06 pm)

Big show tonight, big feature on Nick Zammuto and The Books, plus a featurelet on the epic new Christopher Willits remix album...
LISTEN AGAIN to all the goodness via the usual podcasty linky nonsense, or stream on demand like you demanded.

Tonight we start with a fairly long and self-indulgent tribute to the amazing Nick Zammuto and his amazing duo with Paul de Jong, The Books. I first came across Nick on the idm-list, an email list for discussion of electronic and experimental music in the '90s (when such things still existed and made sense)... I strangely even had the honour of having one of my tracks remixed by him (see below) as part of a remix chain organised by members of the list — a track Nick probably wishes was left forgotten, but I think it's quite fun!
While Nick was occasionally dabbling in overdriven beat-mangling, he had also already started forays into "his" sound — found samples from his ever-growing sound library, studio accidents, highly edit-heavy construction of tracks often from sources not usually used for this sort of music. In 1999 he put together a 3CDR set called Solutiore of Stareau, featuring the sounds of his guitar chopped and edited into minimalist, rhythmic pieces on disc 1, vinyl crackles and pops treated the same way on disc 2, and a combination of the two with some more melodic and longform elements on the 3rd disc. I remember Keith-Hrvatski raving about it at the time, and later I managed to get a copy direct from Nick.

In 2002 (ten years ago!) when the first Books album came out, I remember another artist, Keith's frequent collaborator Greg Davis I believe, spruiking their record, and at first I didn't connect them with Nick. Keith had been talking about how Nick had gone off for many months walking the Appalachian trail (I hope I have this right), a mind-changing experience, and no doubt the music the Books started making was influenced by the folk sounds of the area. The combination of computer editing with ultra down-home folk playing and de Jong's cello arrangements was intoxicating, even if I didn't quite understand the use of strange, intrusive home recordings, conversations and kooky spoken word (I now think they're wonderful).
So in 2003, as FBi began the countdown for launching along with this very show, I wrote to Tom Steinle at Tomlab asking if I could have a promo of the new Books album, as it would be perfect for this show I was going, and he kindly sent me the lemon of pink shortly before it came out. It stands to this day as one of the great musical achievements of this century. Beautiful, mind-bending, thought-provoking, technically impeccable, managing to sound both ramshackle and utterly precise.
Nick's been singing on and off since the beginning, and on 2005's lost and safe a few more song-shaped tracks start to form. Up until his new solo album I would've said that the Lewis Carroll-inspired "vogt dig for kloppervok" was his greatest song, with its pulsating, processed vocal line intoning words from Jabberwocky. But on Zammuto we have his editing and arranging talents being put even more towards real songs, and I'm willing to go out on a limb and declare that we're not going to get a greater song this year than Harlequin. You'll see I played the "working" version from his SoundCloud last year and already was in raptures. The rest of the album is great, but it'd be golden simply for this one song.

Next up, we have two remixes courtesy of Melbourne's Part Timer, an artist whose past works have been heavily influenced by The Books. Not so much here, though. First up, a remix of a track from the wonderful forthcoming Cock and Swan album on Lost Tribe Sound, placing the vocal in a minimalist sound-world with drums phasing in and eventually getting nice and distorty. One of Mr McCaffrey's best efforts of late. Also lovely is the pulsing drone of this y0t0 remix. Hopefully this means something new from Queanbeyan's Charles Sage this year too!

Speaking of drone, from further south in Tasmania comes Spheres. We didn't progress into his sludgy metal riffs tonight — leave that for next week — but hopefully his dark intonings pressed the right buttons.

Then across to Perth, where Kynan Tan has returned from some time in Berlin to release an album of glitchy beats, and processed rhodes and vocals. I could easily have played anything off this album, and we'll hear more in coming weeks. All tracks are slippery in their structures and quite immersive.

Then FilFla takes us into our last chapter, the amazing 50-track Christopher Willits remix album. But first up, FilFla is Keiichi Sugimoto, whose quartet Minamo had a wonderful acoustic release on Room40 last year, and who also releases music as Fourcolor and Fonica. Not only that, he also founded Cubic Music, who released many amazing Japanese acts including many discs by the genius World's End Girlfriend. Someone Good are releasing his entry into their "10 songs in 20 minutes" series, with compact pieces folkrocktronica...

In 2010 Christopher Willits released his latest album, Tiger Flower Circle Sun, a sequel to 2006's Surf Boundaries with more sunny, hazy pop songs through a glitchy electronic filter. I vaguely recall last year a call-out for remixes, and now Overlap have released a huge 50 remix collection on their Bandcamp on a pay-way-you-like basis. I happy to be a fan of the remix album, both as a way of hearing familiar songs from a fresh perspective, and also as a way of discovering new artists and hearing new works from familiar artists. Away from the world of boring pop and club music, the remix tends to be a springboard for creativity to go in interesting directions, and so while 50 tracks seems pretty insane, it's mostly not gratuitous at all. Even the few artists who turn up multiple times are doing interesting stuff — and it's a shame I only fitted a few in tonight. If you're a bit daunted by the whole thing then have a listen to tonight's and tune in next week for a few more of my "hot tips".
Robert Lippok was a no-brainer. Whenever he turns his talents to indie/postrock crossover, his electronic production is just right. He did a remix off Surf Boundaries in 2006 as well. MimiCof is the more beat-oriented alter-ego of shoegazey drone producer Midori Hirano, and comes off very nicely; UFog regular Sun Hammer does his usual surging, distorting bass thing; and Alpharay closes the show with some very nice jittery drums, just the way I like it.

Zammuto - Yay [Temporary Residence]
Zammuto - mbast goodanswerremix [self-released/Apartment B]
Zammuto - some moss [self-released/Apartment B]
Zammuto - fairly aggressive salsa [remix of Raven track "We carpet bombed the old school" available somewherehere]
Zammuto - Full Martyr Status [No Type]
the books - enjoy your worries, you may never have them again [Tomlab]
the books - motherless bastard [Tomlab]
the books - the lemon of pink (pts 1 & 2) [Tomlab]
the books - there is no there [Tomlab]
the books - don't even sing about it [Tomlab]
the books - a true story of a story of true love [Tomlab]
the books - vogt dig for kloppervok [Tomlab]
the books - An Animated Description Of Mr. Maps [Tomlab]
The Books - IDKT / I Didn't Know That [Tomlab]
Zammuto - Weird Ceiling [Temporary Residence]
Zammuto - Harlequin [Temporary Residence]
Cock and Swan - Stash (Part Timer remix) [forthcoming? on Lost Tribe Sound]
y0t0 - glass canoe (part timer remix) [unreleased]
Spheres - Impious Internment [Sonoptik]
Spheres - Forsaken Soul [Sonoptik]
Kynan Tan - gleichzeitig [Listen/Hear Collective]
Kynan Tan - skeletal (mass) [Listen/Hear Collective]
Kynan Tan - skeletal (altitude) [Listen/Hear Collective]
FilFla - Morse Mall [Someone Good]
Christopher Willits - Light Into Branches (FilFla Remix) [Overlap] {free awesome 50-track download from Bandcamp!}
FilFla - Pack Plus Ice [Someone Good]
Christopher Willits - Yellow Spring (Robert Lippok Remix) [free download from RCRDLBL]
Christopher Willits - Light Into Branches (Robert Lippok Remix) [Overlap] {free awesome 50-track download from Bandcamp!}
Christopher Willits - Tiger Flower Circle Sun (MimiCof Remix) [Overlap] {free awesome 50-track download from Bandcamp!}
Christopher Willits - Sun Body (Sun Hammer Remix) [Overlap] {free awesome 50-track download from Bandcamp!}
Christopher Willits - Planty Body (Alpharay Remix) [Overlap] {free awesome 50-track download from Bandcamp!}

Listen again — ~ 155MB

Sunday, 1st of April, 2012

Playlist 01.04.12 (11:10 pm)

A night of pop, beats and ambient!
LISTEN AGAIN via the usual channels peeps - podcast/download, or stream on demand.

So on the weekend, I got an email from Dirty Projectors pointing me to their website, on which there was a link to this Soundcloud page, where Domino have posted a new song, and how incredible is it. A lot of people are commenting on how Dave Longstreth has learned to sing. Maybe so, but it's still characteristically his singing style, and the (now three) girls are sounding better than ever in backing vocals. The song is relatively simple, but it's a perfect marrying of melody, harmony and lyrics.

So we'll stick with pop (for certain values of "pop") for much of the show, courtesy of a couple of other highlight releases of the week. Right at the top is undoubtedly the new album from artist of the moment Julia Holter. I was talking to another UFog artist from tonight, Part Timer, in Melbourne this weekend (as you do), and we were discussing how what we consider "pop" is probably what other people consider incredibly challenging music. Nevertheless, for all that her songs frequently change directions at odd times, her arrangements balance the off-the-wall with tributes to '80s electro-pop and her voice is exquisite. I wasn't that impressed with last year's vinyl-only (and eventually digital) Tragedy, but this is compulsively listenable.

Sydney's 4-4-2 Music remind us what a lovely album Karoshi put out last year. "Walking In Fields", with its glitched-up female vox, was a highlight, and on the single Telafonica's Eliza composes a whole new lyric for their remix. This is a band at the height of their powers — you shouldn't be ignoring what Telafonica have been doing the last few years...

As we're doing the pop thing, I thought we needed to hear another of the tracks from Clark's new album featuring the wonderful Martina Topley Bird. It's a corker of an album and her contributions are really great.

Sydney producer Dro Carey is getting hyped everywhere at the moment, and to be honest his first EPs impressed me but seemed a little overly hyperactive and lacking warmth. But his latest couple of releases seem like a big step forward, especially the free download Tussin Underwater. Post-Bass, post-r'n'b, music for the Tumblr generation.

Addison Groove (aka Headhunter when in his dubstep guise) strikes me as inhabiting a similar space - perhaps more danceable, quite hyper, with solid roots in dubstep — or at least, this is music that couldn't have happened without dubstep. And it's from one of the central labels in the history of dubstep, Pinch's Tectonic Recordings. They're up to Volume 3 in the Tectonic Plates series, with a really nice snapshot of dubstep today, from the trad sounds of Pinch and Kryptic Minds to Addison Groove, and the amazing 10-minute dub techno from 2562.

Keeping it dark, but in a fairly different direction, we have Berlin legend Christoph de Babalon, whose 1997 album If You're Into It, I'm Out Of It on Digital Hardcore Recordings remains a classic of the breakcore/dark ambient genres. It appears he has a new album coming on Tigerbeat6, and from the sounds of it, it'll be brilliantly-produced, dark and broad-ranging. In 2008 he put out a vinyl-only epic called Scilla and Charybdis, and I discovered on his Bandcamp there's an album of extra bits available as well.

Dark and dramatic, and back to the pop theme, is Austrian pianist/singer/songwriter Soap&Skin, who again on her new album dabbles with distorted electronic beats along with passionate piano & vocals numbers. Of the songs I still think "Spiracle" is her masterpiece, but from my as-yet brief listening there's some great stuff on the new album too.

Northerner was one of the first artists on the lovely northern English Home Assembly Music label. Since the beginning, the label has released folktronic artists with bonus remix albums with early editions, and Melbourne's Part Timer has always been there from the start. Hood-related acts like the wonderful Bracken and The Declining Winter are involved, and one of the best early albums was from one-time Declining Winter member Fieldhead, who also turns in a fine minimalist remix here. Northerner's new album proper, however, finds him veering away from semi-ambient folkiness into something more upbeat and funky. At first it grated a little on me, but it's undeniably pretty and melodic.

Speaking of pretty and melodic, the Kompakt label have been doing their Pop Ambient compilation series for some time, and it's always worth a listen. From the 2012 edition we hear lovely ambient beats from Marsen Jules and blissful sequenced synths from techno maestro Superpitcher.

The latest Wire Magazine has one of their regular Wire Tapper compilations accompanying it, and as usual there are some great tracks (and some gratuitous ones). The psychedelic, krautrock-inspired Medicine And Duty caught my ear, and after Teho Teardo's new Music, Film. Music disc last week it's great to hear an exclusive track from him.
The Teho Teardo disc featured Alexander Balanescu on violin, and over the week I pulled out my old CDs from The Balanescu Quartet. Back in 1992(!) they released a set of groundbreaking Kraftwerk covers that brought the sound of the string quartet to ears that wouldn't have otherwise listened, and these faithful yet creative interpretations were an inspiration for my own band if noone else! Great to revisit these — and some of Balanescu's originals were very fine too.

Finally, back with 4-4-2 Music, Telafonica member Lessons In Time has another EP of ramshackle indietronica, in which all recorded sounds are fodder for processing and shuffling, all with a great songwriting ear.

Dirty Projectors - Gun Has No Trigger [Domino] {stream from Soundcloud}
Julia Holter - Marienbad [RVNG]
Karoshi - Walking In Fields (Telafonica version) [4-4-2 Music]
Karoshi - Walking In Fields [4-4-2 Music]
Julia Holter - This Is Ekstasis [RVNG]
Clark - Open (feat. Martina Topley Bird) [Warp]
Dro Carey - Foes, Gallons n Fathoms [free download from his Tumblr]
Dro Carey - Someday [The Trilogy Tapes]
Addison Groove - Phantom [Tectonic]
Kryptic Minds - The Talisman [Tectonic]
Pinch - Blow Out The Candle [Tectonic]
Christoph de Babalon - Traumspiel [Tigerbeat6]
Christoph de Babalon - What You Call A Life [Digital Hardcore Recordings]
Christoph de Babalon - Scylla's Night Out [Cross Fade Enter Tainment]
Christoph de Babalon - Hell's Harps [Tigerbeat6]
Soap&Skin - Deathmental [SOLFO/PIAS]
Soap&Skin - Spiracle [SOLFO/PIAS]
2562 - Rogue State [Tectonic]
Northerner - To Where? (Part Timer remix) [Home Assembly Music]
Northerner - Worry About The Government [Home Assembly Music]
Northerner - J C De M [Home Assembly Music]
Northerner - Fin (Bracken remix) [Home Assembly Music]
Northerner - Worry About The Government (Fieldhead remix) [Home Assembly Music]
Marsen Jules - Swans Reflecting Elephants [Kompakt]
Superpitcher - Jackson [Kompakt]
Medicine And Duty - Deep Sea Heat Haze [Foolproof Projects via Wire Magazine]
Teho Teardo - Dance The Sauris [Wire Magazine]
The Balanescu Quartet - Autobahn [Mute]
The Balanescu Quartet - Still With Me [Mute]
Lessons In Time - blunt and unreferenced [4-4-2 Music]

Listen again — ~ 154MB

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