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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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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

3 Responses to “Playlist 08.04.12”

  1. rog Says:

    Epic show dude.

  2. Peter Says:

    Cheers Rog!
    Are you a Utility Rog?

  3. rog Says:

    in more ways than one ;)

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