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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, 28th of April, 2013

Playlist 28.04.13 (10:07 pm)

Japanese shoegaze, Aussie indietronica, an astonishingly atmospheric song cycle from Aidan Baker and a host of female singers, Colin Stetson's saxophone mangling and more...

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We start with a bit of an audacious project from Japan's High Fader Records, a cover of My Bloody Valentine's most famous album, titled *ahem* Yellow Loveless. The opening track is a bit of a red herring in a way - Tokyo Shoegazer do such a literalist take on "only shallow" that you really could be forgiven for thinking it was MBV themselves, on a cursory listen. But I think it's worth hearing for precisely that reason.
On the other hand, The Sodom Project take the general harmonic structure of the instrumental "touched" and take it into very different territory, with the motif on piano, expanding into an insane wubwub dubstep mid-section, and then more piano and electronics. There's way more on this compilation, not just shoegaze, and you should really seek it out.

On the other hand, The Sodom Project take the general harmonic structure of the instrumental "touched" and take it into very different territory, with the motif on piano, expanding into an insane wubwub dubstep mid-section, and then more piano and electronics. There's way more on this compilation, not just shoegaze, and you should really seek it out.

New Zealander Heidi Elva moved from Sydney to Melbourne a couple of years ago and she took her harp with her, but along with her lo-fi harp-based indie, she's been writing tunes on her iPhone, while commuting (she's no stranger to the phone as musical instrument, having played and looped samples from old Nokias in her harp sets as well). Regardless of the source, it's compelling minimal electronica with her sweet vocals. An album will be out in the coming months.

And so we come to one of the most exciting albums of the year for us here at Utility Fog Towers. Aidan Baker, member of crushing drone-noise-meisters Nadja, extremely prolific artist across many genres, releases a song suite based around folk tales and mythology of female water spirits, featuring a collection of brilliant female vocalists, who also contribute instruments and, in a couple of cases, lyrical translations. The music is impossibly moody, quite minimalist as expected with Aidan Baker, but variously the tracks feature surging crescendos, beautifully arranged strings, electronic processing, and of course gorgeous vocals - tonight we heard fellow Canadians Geneviève Castrée (also an awesome comics artist) and Clara Engel. Couldn't recommend it highly enough. We also heard an immense 14-minute track from Nadja's Dagdrøm album of last year.

I first saw Colin Stetson in an incredible guest spot with My Brightest Diamond at the Vivid Festival in 2010. My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden turned up as guest singer on his second album shortly after, along with Vivid co-curator Laurie Anderson. It sounds like Stetson's presence on Bon Iver's recent touring has been similarly revelatory, and it's great to hear Justin Vernon appearing on a few tracks on Stetson's new album, including his grindcore-style barking on one of tonight's tracks. As usual, guests aside, aided by Ben Frost's bass-heavy production, it's all about Stetson's intense, endless playing on his various saxophones, multiphonics with rapturous singing through the reed, all while circular breathing (one track goes for a good 15 minutes!). It's as incredible as his second album, which is saying something.

More rapturous playing up next from A Hawk and a Hacksaw, an English duo who have completely assimilated the gypsy and Eastern European folk music they so love, and are now able to create their own facsimiles. Combining these sounds with some amazing movie samples and occasional processing is effective - I especially love the mega-distortion at the end of "The Sorcerer".

And so we get to a bit of a special tonight on Brisbane's The Rational Academy, whose new album is out now on vinyl and digital through their Bandcamp. I first came across their singer/guitarist Benjamin Thompson on a highly limited 3" CDR in the early days of the Room40 label, passed on by John Chantler (now running the London arm of the label), and featuring Brisbane-based label boss Lawrence English producing and processing Thompson's guitar in a series of lo-fi indiefolk songs. The Rational Academy's early material continues this cut-up, ramshackle aesthetic, an essential Brisvegan contribution to indietronica. Even the more rockin' incarnation now still has some excellent jarring moments of digital edits stutters and edits. Excellent stuff all round.

Speaking of postmodern indiepop, Golden Blonde still haven't released their album, but this is one of the tracks I'm allowed to play you. Essentially a reborn Kasha, they've gone from a kind of math rock to a sortof demented version of Animal Collective, Lucky Dragons and god knows what else. Apparently they're great live too, and I can't imagine how they would achieve this sound live, which is an excellent thing.

Finishing with another of Li Daiguo's Chengdu vignettes, wonderful avant-garde Chinese folk.

Tokyo Shoegazer - only shallow [High Fader Records]
The Sodom Project - touched [High Fader Records]
Panoptique Electrical - Mount Schank Part Three [Panoptique Electrical Bandcamp]
Heidi Elva - Waiting by the river [Heidi Elva SoundCloud]
Aidan Baker - Already Drowning feat. Clara Engel [Gizeh Records]
Nadja - space time and absence [Broken Spine Productions/Daymare]
Aidan Baker - Tout Juste Sous la Surface, Je Guette (feat. Geneviève Castrée) [Gizeh Records]
Colin Stetson - Hunted [Constellation Records]
Colin Stetson - Groundswell [Aagoo]
Colin Stetson - Fear of the unknown and the blazing sun (feat. Laurie Anderson and Shara Worden) [Constellation]
Colin Stetson - Brute (feat. Justin Vernon) [Constellation Records]
A Hawk and a Hacksaw - Open It, Rose [L.M. Dupli-cation]
A Hawk and a Hacksaw - Ivan and Marichka/The Sorcerer [L.M. Dupli-cation]
The Rational Academy - Great Care [The Rational Academy Bandcamp]
Benjamin Thompson - Girl Singers [Room40]
The Rational Academy - Your Hands Just Fall - Your Chest and Face Are Noise [The Rational Academy Bandcamp]
The Rational Academy - David Version [hellosQuare Recordings]
The Rational Academy - Hammer [Someone Good]
The Rational Academy - 夏 夫 (Summer Husbands) [The Rational Academy Bandcamp]
Golden Blonde - We Begin [Golden Blonde]
Li Daiguo - Chengdu Plant and Bird Market [Tenzenmen]

Listen again — ~ 158MB

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