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experimental electronica
electric string quartet

Utility Fog

Your weekly fix of postfolkrocktronica, dronenoise, power ambient, post-everything improv... and more?
Sunday nights from 9 to 11pm on FBi Radio, 94.5 FM in Sydney, Australia.
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Playlists are listed with artist name first, then track title and (remixer), then [record label]. Enjoy the links.

Sunday, 26th of August, 2012

Playlist 26.08.12 (10:05 pm)

Two great gothic bands (very very different) have new albums out this week, plus we have some new electronic sounds and lovely post-classical stuff...
LISTEN AGAIN by all the usual tried-and-true methods. Stream on demand. Download below playlist. Podcast (see sidebar).

One of the biggest releases of the year is clearly going to be the new Swans album The Seer, which is just out this week. The CDs and vinyl are still winging themselves around the world, but digital is available now. A massive 2CD set, it features some massive tracks, with the title track weighing in at 32 minutes long(!). Especially with my 2hr timeslot now, I can't really play such epics (although I'm sorely tempted by the very excellent album closer "The Apostate", at a mere 23 minutes), but "The Seer" is followed immediately by the 6-minute "The Seer Returns", which heads into far more song-like territory while preserving the drive and single-mindedness of the title track itself. One of the tracks of the year, I'd say. Of similar length is the opener "Lunacy", with its stunning ending comprised of the repeated, layered vocals of Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk of Low joining Michael Gira on the refrain "Your childhood is over". Indeed.
In between Swans incarnations, of course, M. Gira's main outlet was the folk-revivalist Angels of Light, with as truly indispensable a back-catalogue as the Swans themselves. In my opinion their last album, We Are Him is a masterpiece, and I had to drop one track into tonight's playlist.

In a slightly different rock vocabulary, we join OM next for two pieces of metal riffage-meets-Middle Eastern melody. The bass/drums duo keep it heavy on the new album, but are also joined by strings on all tracks, and female guest vocals as well.
It's a nice intro to the pan-cultural exoticism of our main feature for tonight...

Dead Can Dance. It's interesting to note that this duo are so firmly citizens of the world that it's easy to forget they're originally from Melbourne. Both have roots in Ireland, where Brendan Perry has lived for many years, but Lisa Gerrard still lives in Victoria. They started in 1984 very much of a piece with the post-punk gothic, early-industrial music of the time, but within an album or so they'd begun to take their moniker seriously, pouring in their fascination with ancient musical forms, still realized mostly with synthesisers and vocals. With both members (it didn't take long for the band to become just the couple at its centre) possessing stunning voices, it's still a surprise just how huge they got — apparently the biggest selling act on 4ad for many years. And their back catalogue is full of wondrous songs, albeit never very obviously structured. In "Ulysses", one of my favourites, Brendan Perry's vocal doesn't even enter until halfway through. But the hazy production and shape of the melody are so irresistibly evocative of the passing of time from ancient to present that it sticks with you.
I talked a little on the show about problems of Orientalism with DCD. They have certainly always been gregarious with their cultural appropriation, whether from the semi-ancient past or from non-European cultures, and it's even problematic that living cultures are treated as equal fodder as historical ones. I think for us to investigate this more fully we'd need to delve into academic contexts that I'm not altogether familiar with, as well as, no doubt, interviewing the artists themselves. In any case, it's wonderfully evocative music and very much uniquely idiosyncratic, for all that we might have some concerns about its vague, uncredited appropriation...

In not-quite contrast, Matthew Herbert is an artist who's built the last 12 years of electronic music creation around a manifesto called PCCOM (his "Personal Contract for the Composition Of Music"), in which, among other things, he eschews any pre-recorded samples. This comes to its natural apex in his work as Wishmountain, resurrected after many years for a new album created entirely from the 10 top-selling items from 2010 at British supermarket chain Tesco. We heard the opening track, "Lucozade", in which beats, melodies, basslines and everything else are created from this one product. You couldn't tell, and regardless of sound sources it's very fine, crunchy, sonically-complex electronica.
I recently played one of his new Björk remixes, but tonight I wanted to reprise an old favourite — from way back in 2001. It's unusual to have such a fine original track as "Pagan Poetry" comprehensively reimagined so effectively.

It's lovely to have something new from new Sydney artist Jacqui O'Reilly, whose sets her folk-derived songs to electronic arrangements. Somehow the warm, enveloping synth patterns here fitted nicely into tonight's Dead Can Dance and even the previous Björk track.

Melbourne's Peter Knight joins us again, with the titular ingredients surfacing through the track: plaintive trumpet lines subsumed by processing and amp noise. As well as download, this is available in a deluxe USB flash drive edition!

And next up we come to the part of the show where I play myself. I'm reluctant to play my own solo stuff on the show, seems wrong... but when it's my cello on someone else's music, I'm not going to penalize the lovely artists :) And Sophie Hutchings' new album is pretty special. So, introspective piano with violin and cello, plus various found instruments in various studios, buried spoken samples and field recordings. Perfect Utility Fog fodder.

Finally, I've already featured Memotone on the show, but this week I came across a big Bandcamp compilation from renowned electronic music podcast Electronic Explorations, featuring scads of great artists, and the Memtone contribution is gorgeous, so there's the perfect ending for tonight's show.

Swans - Lunacy [Young God]
Angels of Light - Not Here / Not Now [Young God]
Swans - The Seer Returns [Young God]
OM - State of Non-Return [Drag City]
OM - Addis [Drag City]
Dead Can Dance - Anabasis [PIAS]
Dead Can Dance - Cantara [4ad]
Dead Can Dance - Ulysses [4ad]
Dead Can Dance - Bird [4ad]
Dead Can Dance - The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove [4ad]
Dead Can Dance - Agape [PIAS]
Wishmountain - Lucozade [accidental]
Björk - Pagan Poetry (Matthew Herbert Handshake Mix) [One Little Indian]
Jacqui O'Reilly - from a quiet constellation [download from SoundCloud]
Peter Knight - Unknowness 1 [listen/hear collective]
Sophie Hutchings - By Night [Preservation]
Memotone - Stop running and they will catch you [Electronic Explorations]

Listen again — ~ 103MB

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Sunday, 19th of August, 2012

Playlist 19.08.12 (10:04 pm)

Tonight, Sunken Foal special, and Japanese music special by way (mostly) of Hong Kong's White Noise Records...
LISTEN AGAIN via link at bottom or stream on demand from FBi.

Started tonight with a pretty massive special on Irish electronic artist Dunk Murphy aka Sunken Foal. From the early 2000s he had a duo with Trev O'Reilly called Ambulance, who released a stunning granular idm album on Planet µ in 2003. Then his first solo album came out in 2008, opening with the languorous piano and electronics of "Dutch Elm", but keeping for the most part the crunchy beats, along with some vocals and well-placed samples (including this incredibly creepy poem from the 1961 movie The Innocents)...
Like many from ostensibly the idm world, Murphy has been attracted to dubstep/"Bass" beats more recently, some of which came to the surface in his excellent remix of trip-hop/dubstep artist Blue Daisy. We also heard a more upbeat track from his mini-album on Acroplane from last year, and then something a whole lot more downtempo from his duo The Natural History Museum with singer/songwriter Carol Keogh, featuring piano and subtle beats along with the vocals.
On the new album there's everything from mandolins & ukuleles to deep post-bassline grooves, vocodered raps and cut-up female vocals. It's free and it's awesome, so go get it!

Heading down to Melbourne, we join The Atlas Room, who moved from Sydney about a year ago and is making fab minimal techno grooves & submerged dubscapes. Grab it from Bandcamp.
And Perth's Kučka is taking the wobbly lopsided template of contemporary beats and dropping it under her very original and odd songwriting and piano. One to watch for sure (and also a a free download!).
Meanwhile Sam Gilles also donated a track to the latest New Weird Australia compilation. We've heard him before on the show with his Cycle~440 duo. Nice to hear the mysterious spoken samples along with piano and processing here.

And then we head north to Japan, courtesy of the awesome White Noise Records of Hong Kong, who I had the pleasure of visiting a few weeks back. First up is jazz/post-rock ensemble Mouse on the Keys, whose one or two (or sometimes three?) pianos plus incredible drumming have graced two EPs and an album, plus a DVD so far. Their latest EP just came out this year, and follows the same pattern of interlocking piano patterns and drum'n'bass-influenced drumming, with more jazzy/groovy tracks and some studio experimentation in between. Just great.
They're released on MachuPicchu Industrias, which is the label formed by the guys from post-rock band extraordinaire toe. White Noise Records are big fans and have recently re-released toe's earliest album and EP, but I did miss out on the fact that toe had a NEW EP out in late June as well, so that one's still on its way to me. They bear, to my ears, a bit of an influence from Mice Parade, with free-wheeling melodies and acoustic guitars along with double-speed drumming mixed up in the standard post-rock instrumentation, along with some nice mixing techiques and some electronics and piano in later material, and the occasional vocal collaboration. I'll get to some more of their stuff when the new EP arrives!

Next up, one of the more drill'n'bassy tracks from Go-qualia's album on the mighty World's End Girlfriend's label Virgin Babylon Records. There's some more glitchy ambient stuff on the record, with beats often popping up halfway through tracks — it's classic Japanese electronica, in fine style.
And ditto for Fredricson, whose two albums have been released by Preco, the record label run from out of Tokyo's Linus Records. Wonky samples, melodies and accelerated beats are the order of the day here. Sometimes I feel like Japan is keeping up the "my kind of music" job with an uncanny accuracy and reliabilty not always reflected in the rest of the world. NICE ONE NIPPON.

Sunken Foal - Cool Arms of Love [Countersunk]
Sunken Foal - Drain the Dropsy [Countersunk]
Ambulance - The Tams [Planet µ]
Sunken Foal - Dutch Elm [Planet µ]
Sunken Foal - Triplehorn [Planet µ]
Blue Daisy - Blood Petal Roses (Sunken Foal remix) [Black Acre Records]
Sunken Foal - Gift Knee Pads [Acroplane]
The Natural History Museum - The Small Hours [Countersunk]
Sunken Foal - Chizzlers (feat. Carol Keogh) [Countersunk]
Sunken Foal - Monkey Puzzle [Countersunk]
The Atlas Room - Physika [available from Bandcamp]
The Atlas Room - Reprise [available from Bandcamp]
Kučka - rewind [Wood & Wire]
Kučka - polly (serialkillersundays) [Wood & Wire]
Sam Gilles - People Are Afraid To Merge On The Highway [New Weird Australia]
Mouse on the Keys - 最後の晩餐 [MachuPicchu Industrias]
Mouse on the Keys - Completed Nihilism / Spectres de mouse [MachuPicchu Industrias]
Mouse on the Keys - aom [MachuPicchu Industrias]
toe - 向こう岸が視る夢 (mukougishi ga miru yume) [MachuPicchu Industrias/White Noise Records]
toe - music for you [MachuPicchu Industrias/White Noise Records]
toe - グッドバイ Album Version (feat. Toki Asako) [MachuPicchu Industrias/White Noise Records]
Go-qualia - 2 [Virgin Babylon Records]
Fredricson - rub [Preco]
Fredricson - Chk in bird [Preco]

Listen again — ~ 106MB

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Sunday, 12th of August, 2012

Playlist 12.08.12 (10:09 pm)

Second two-hour Utility Fog ever! I'm still getting the hang of this! But I like the early Sunday nights!
Some great psychfolkrock tonight, widescreen electronica, folktronica, and post-/non-classical. Rock it.
LISTEN AGAIN via FBi's streaming on demand, the podcast or the link at the bottom of the playlist!

I first came across the collaboration between French poet/artist Anne-James Chaton and guitarist/producer Andy Moor via DJ /rupture, and so it's nice to hear him contributing the English version of the vocal for their new Olympics-themed track "Break The Record". Minimal pulsating beats and politically-charged spoken word are the order of the day, as with the older track I played.

I'm not sure how I missed Grumbling Fur when their first album came out last year, but Southern's Latitudes imprint I discovered it's the duo of Alexander Tucker and Daniel O'Sullivan of Guapo, Ulver and Mothlite. To my ears this is miles better than the recent Mothlite album (the first was so good, such a shame) and even the Alexander Tucker's latest. Multi-instrumental and multi-genre, with psych-folk and psych-rock rubbing up against krautrock and electronic tendencies. Epic and awesome.

Also epic in sound is Borealis (no relation to Aurora Borealis label). Jesse Somfay's been making techno and ambient for a while, but this is the first album for his Borealis moniker. Shoegazey in scope, it features big reverb, glittering synths, fractured female vocal samples, and lovely big beats that sometimes sound like real drums, and sometimes that clattering, shuffling post-r'n'b thing everyone's doing these days. You can grab the album for whatever you want to pay, so go support good music.
Borealis also contributes a remix to the latest EP from Melbourne glitchtronica duo Mindbuffer on Enig'matik Sounds, an EP also featuring Valance Drakes and Sydney's own Broken Chip, on his gorgeous ambient trip rather than rather than doing the glitch-hop as Option Command.

Meanwhile, after Borealis, another artist to watch is Memotone, who's at home with the post-r'n'b/dubstep beats (one track reminds me a lot of recent Downliners Sekt) but also with almost post-classical acoustic sounds on his latest EP. It'll be very interesting to see where he goes next.

On the same label as Memotone's latest, we have With Joyful Lips, an art/music project which reminds me glancingly of earlyish Tunng, with a slightly post-r'n'b twist. Their paean to sleeplessness and melatonin has a nice lilting beat and general air of pleasantness to it.

Tune in next week for a bit of a special on Dubliner Dunk Murphy and his Sunken Foal project, including some tracks from his legendary duo Ambulance. His debut album on Planet µ floored me with its combination of piano and tweaked electronics. The new one has a bigger spread of acoustic instruments, including ukulele and mandolin, along with some very funky (literally) beats of various varieties. It's awesome and a free download.

London-based composer Gabriel Prokofiev has been running his Nonclassical label and putting on events for a few years now. His latest album is a collaboration with the virtuoso Peter Gregson, with extended techniques of all sorts on the cello, plus (as usual with Nonclassical releases) some sensitive remixes of the already rhythmic (and sometimes melodic) sounds. Tim Exile adds whumping bass, beats and nicely twisted effects on his highlight remix.

Another free Bandcamp release comes from Perth's Kučka via the excellent Wood & Wire. Laura Jane Lowther createst catchy songs from her voice, keyboards, percussion and piano along with 2012-style beats and punchy basslines. Plenty of artists come to mind, but comparisons are odious with artist with such a strong vision. She should go far.

NZ-by-way-of-Sydney duo Kompost continue to release new tracks on their Bandcamp, in their krautrocktronic vein, and they've just told me that they will be collecting some of these into a real album soon — great news!

And finally, Petrels, the side-project/solo project of Oliver Barrett now that Bleeding Heart Narrative is a full band, have released a couple of recent tracks on their Bandcamp, with more to come. One of the most exciting new artists from the last few years, with a big range from emotion-wracked post-classical through noise, songwriting, and krautrocky beats... Yes, yes, yes.

Anne-James Chaton + Andy Moor - Break The Record (English vocal by DJ /rupture) [Unsounds]
Anne-James Chaton + Andy Moor - Princess in a Mercedes Class S 280 [Unsounds]
Grumbling Fur - Huthering Whites [Latitudes]
Grumbling Fur - Curing Hides [Aurora Borealis]
Grumbling Fur - Sommaren Är Här [Aurora Borealis]
Grumbling Fur - Orb Of The Woods [Aurora Borealis]
Mindbuffer - PanFM (Borealis 'Sleeping Hanging Crescent' Remix) [Enig'matik Sounds]
Mindbuffer - PanFM (Broken Chip Remix) [Enig'matik Sounds]
Borealis - Eye Green [Origami Sound]]
Borealis - Orphan Fire [Origami Sound]]
Borealis - Skyhall [Futuresequence]
Borealis - Not Of This Reality [Origami Sound]]
Memotone - Dark Under The Eyes [free from Souncloud]
Memotone - Many Things [A Future Without]
Memotone - Sad Sack [Memotone website]
Memotone - Don't Come Looking [A Future Without]
With Joyful Lips - Melatonin [A Future Without]
Sunken Foal - Cool Arms of Love [Countersunk]
Sunken Foal - Slim Pickens [Countersunk]
Gabriel Prokofiev + Peter Gregson - Float Dance (Tim Exile remix) [Nonclassical]
Gabriel Prokofiev + Peter Gregson - Float Dance [Nonclassical]
Kučka - the operation [Wood & Wire]
Kompost - Keep Your Vice On Ice [Kompost Bandcamp]
Petrels - Talus Dice [Petrels Bandcamp]

Listen again — ~ 106MB

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Sunday, 5th of August, 2012

Playlist 05.08.12 (10:10 pm)

NEW TIMESLOT! 9pm-11pm! Wow!
It's hard to fit everything I want to into 2hrs. I smell a bonus podcast coming - but not this week.
Tonight we had some lovely indietronica and postrock from France, indiefolk from the UK, new beats, and improv postrock from Melbourne.
LISTEN AGAIN via the link at the bottom, the podcast feed or stream on demand.

It's a well-known fact that Hood are my favourite band ever — they share this honour with a few others, but still. And let's be clear: I'm far from the only one to hold them in such high regard. French music site Autres Directions are longtime fans too, and have recently put together a Hood special featuring a free download covers EP.
Artists include (the highly Hood-influence) epic45's Ben Holton aka My Autumn Empire and Melbourne's own Part Timer, late of northern English climes himself.
Both turn in lovely versions which acknowledge the twists and bends of the originals while not simply aping them. Meanwhile Arc Vel, who are new to me, do a lovely take on a Cold House classic, keeping the shape of the original but bringing out the lyricism and emphasising the beats.
Nice one.

There's always been an interesting thread of low-key French experimentalism that taps a similar vein of glitchy indie, with strange song shapes and lots of post-production. In Paris a few weeks ago I stopped by the amazing (incredible) Souffle Continu and in amongst a big haul of stuff I discovered that My Jazzy Child had released a new album last year. I had his 2003 & 2004 releases, so this was an awesome discovery. His somewhat laissez-faire approach reminds me of Lucky Dragons' early stuff, and it's nice to hear him still chopping up his vocals and strummed guitar, and switching from indie-acoustic jangles to distorted shoegazey drones and pretty glitchy pianos.
It's crazy (yet hardly surprising) how much we miss by only speaking English, isn't it? I've got some Spanish electronic & breakcore coming in the next few weeks, and some fantastic Japanese & maybe Chinese stuff from Hong Kong as well.

But back to France, at Souffle Continu I also picked up an Ultra Milkmaids album I'd been seeking out a while back, to no avail. Known now for their drone material, they've released some pretty punky guitar-based stuff as well, and this album pits indie guitar numbers with wandering basslines against glitchy production and drone sections. It's fantastic.

Hopefully a harbinger of a new album in the works, Lali Puna released a new single a few weeks ago, and it's very nice hearing a new Odd Nosdam remix. As usually, quite shoegazey and a bit noisy, but respectful to the original's indietronic prettiness.

Next up, another highlight from my trip — I heard Orkney: A Symphony of The Magnetic North playing at Sister Ray in Berwick St, Soho, and knew it was something I had to have. English folk roots, majestic indie songwriting with percussive bass and experimental touches. No surprise it's on Full Time Hobby, where Tunng went after their beginnings on Static Caravan — and indeed one of the trio, Hannah Peel, has releases on Static Caravan too.
With a strong sense of land around the far-north Scottish island it's dedicated to, this is an absorbing listen.

Nice to hear some madcap new tunes from Planet µ's Rudi Zygadlo, again with his post-prog vocals, classical flourishes and post-dubstep/Bass beats. It's both very cool and very naff at the same time, which probably makes it totes ultra-cool (and a bit embarrassing). Can't wait for more.

The new Lorn came out while I was away, and having had time now to let it digest, I have to declare it a great achievement too. It takes the bright, bouncy melodicism of his first album, with a fine musical sense and perfect West Coast beats, and twisting it into a darker space, with some freaky vocals, growling strings and less of a dancefloor focus.

Since they first appeared a year and a bit ago, Old Apparatus have often garnered comparisons to Various aka Various Production — a semi-mysterious production collective, with interests in folk and dubstep. Their beats are more in the Burial/Clubroot vein, but can go off just about anywhere if you're not paying attention. Their latest release is the debut on their new Sullen Tone label. We also heard the last segment of the first side of their Deep Medi release from last year.
Speaking of Various, EAN is apparently one of the main movers behind that group, and he branches out on his own here with some very fresh beats, combining jungle, footwork and dubstep among other things.

Another semi-unreleased beat from Comatone, "Lamplit Screenprint" is one of my favourites of his recent output. Needs a new release for the general public, that boy.
We also had another new track from Blue Mountains compatriot Broken Chip, the ambient project of Martyn Option Command Palmer.

And after Part Timer's entry into the Hood covers EP, we have one track from the new Battlesnake — Melbourne's bass-driven postrock improv onslaught. Highly recommended; more next week.

hood - (the) weight [555 Records of Leeds, UK]
My Autumn Empire - The Weight [Autres Directions]
Arc Vel - You Show No Emotion At All [Autres Directions]
My Jazzy Child - A Secret [Clapping Music]
My Jazzy Child - Did You? [Clapping Music]
My Jazzy Child - Morfler [Clapping Music]
My Jazzy Child - Concertmate Plays [Clapping Music]
My Jazzy Child - << >> [Clapping Music]
ultra milkmaids - ...guitars [ant-zen]
ultra milkmaids - my personal tv system [ant-zen]
Lali Puna - Safe Tomorrow (Odd Nosdam remix) [Morr Music]
The Magnetic North - Bay Of Skaill [Full Time Hobby]
The Magnetic North - Orphir [Full Time Hobby]
Rudi Zygadlo - Melpomene [Planet µ]
Lorn - Diamond [Ninja Tune]
Rudi Zygadlo - Arrows [Planet µ]
Lorn - The Well [Ninja Tune]
EAN - Darknet [Cosmic Bridge]
Old Apparatus - Bodah [Sullen Tone]
Old Apparatus - Old Apparatus Side A (excerpt) [Deep Medi]
Old Apparatus - Dealow [Sullen Tone]
EAN - Burnt [Cosmic Bridge]
Comatone - Lamplit Screenprint [unreleased, Soundcloud stream]
Broken Chip - lucid clock checking [Broken Chip Bandcamp]
Part Timer - Year's First Storm [Autres Directions]
Battlesnake - Into The Swamp [available from Bandcamp]

Listen again — ~ 104MB

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