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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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Sunday, 26th of May, 2013

Playlist 26.05.13 (10:05 pm)

A great range of sounds tonight, from raw Americana to dark almost-dancefloor 'tronica, and shimmering strings.
So you'd better give it a LISTEN (again?) via the link at the bottom, or stream it in stereo via FBi On Demand!

Tonight we start with some new Americana from Sam Amidon, whose art exudes pure, raw, authentic folk, yet extends this with inventive arrangements and production that makes it at once an evocation of earlier times and a modern commentary on them. After two albums on Bedroom Community he now finds himself on renowned label Nonesuch Records, and accordingly seems to have moved the experimental touches mainly away from the foreground, but he's still working with some great people including Shahzad Ismaily. With clear banjo fingerpicking and his unfettered vocals, it's beautiful stuff, and the occasional outbursts of electric guitar freakouts or jazz-inflected drums are the icing on the cake.

Our choice from Sam's second album is strangely electronic-feeling despite being anything but, but it leads nicely into the fauxstalgia of Boards of Canada, whose more "recent" output (their last album & EP being 2005 & 2006 respectively) took on a tinge of faux-folk in addition to the sun-stretched cassette-mastered electronic vibe. I've been a fan since the first vinyl releases and I'm happy to follow them - and if the song seems a little too light-weight and ambient, just listen while being gently hypnotised by the video.

Once again Futuresequence have released a huuuuuge compilation, their SEQUENCE6, 40 tracks of ambient, drone, post-classical and the like. It's lovely stuff as always, with known and unknown artists, so I thought I'd play someone I'd never heard of. Some nice repetitive beats and textures from Moon Zero, will definitely follow them up!

Next up, it's full on electronica time, with the latest two tracks from Various Production, now on their Version label (or perhaps it's just how they're labelling this series of single-track releases). It's not a million miles from the electonic/dubstep side of their early releases, although mostly the folk stuff they mixed in has been abandoned. But these are among the best tracks I've heard from them in some time. Dark, beautifully-produced, some mad beats. Yes.

And then there's the contemporary connection, no really. The Balanescu Quartet's Possessed album came out in 1992, and along with a David Byrne cover and some originals, it featured half an album's worth of incredibly unusual Kraftwerk covers. All for string quartet. And as Kraftwerk have been playing at Vivid this week, I felt like pulling this out and giving Autobahn a spin, with its pastoral melodies and even a detuned cello string for revving motorcar engine...

Alexander Balanescu and his rotating string quartet have been working quite closely with Italian composer/electronic musician Teho Teardo for a few years now, and he/they appear on all three recent releases by Teardo (four if we go back to 2011). Tonight we heard music inspired by the photographs of Charles Freéger, music from the soundtrack to Diaz, an Italian film about the protests around the 2001 G8 Summit, and a pretty essential collaboration with none other than Blixa Bargeld, here in his most cabaret mode, apologising for his bad Italian, singing in Italian, German and English, sometimes in the same sentence, and just melding beautifully with Teardo's glitchy beats and strings.
And we also heard from Teardo where I first discovered him, in collaboration with the amazing cellist Erik Friedlander from 2006.

Strings take us into the post-classical/folk world of French artist Colleen aka Cécile Schott. On a number of releases for the Leaf label, she explored sampled acoustic sounds and her own multiple instruments, culminating in a stunning album of viola da gamba (a relative of the cello), acoustic guitar, harpsichord and clarinet. These instruments and more appear on her new album, her first for the wondrous Second Language Music, but it's a surprise to hear another ingredient in the mix: her voice. And it's a lovely voice too. Lyrically she's poetically obscure, which is fine by me, and her vocals are an unexpected added texture. As with Les Ondes Silencieuses, the electronics are confined to mainly looping and some other subtle effects, and tracks often take a number of sharp turns in the middle. Excellent album listening.

We finish with a new track from Jenny Hval, whose previous album was among my top picks for 2011, and still gets plenty of listens round here. Still present are her arch vocals, equally obsessed with sex and bodily functions as with theory and history. There are references to her home town of Oslo as well as her studies in Melbourne. While this new one was produced by none other than PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, his touch is surprisingly light. Many of the musicians are the same as the previous, Deathprod-produced Viscera, and the arrangements and song structures are still unusual and experimental, only occasionally straying into shorter, more rock-oriented tracks. It's taking me longer to get into this one, but it's quite unlike anything else you'll hear, and if you can get past her vocal stylings and strangeness, it's amazing listening.

Sam Amidon - As I Roved Out [Nonesuch Records]
Sam Amidon - He's Taken My Feet [Nonesuch Records]
Sam Amidon - Fall On My Knees [Bedroom Community]
Sam Amidon - How Come That Blood [Bedroom Community]
Boards of Canada - Reach For The Dead [Warp]
Moon Zero - Process [Futuresequence]
Various Production - Opus [Version]
Various Production - Shed [Version]
The Balanescu Quartet - Autobahn [Mute] {Kraftwerk cover}
Teho Teardo - wilder mann feat. The Balanescu Quartet [Specula]
Teho Teardo & The Balanescu Quartet - Stare A Guardare [Radiofandango]
Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld - Mi Scusi [Specula]
Erik Friedlander & Teho Teardo - to the red flag [Bip-Hop]
Teho Teardo - Nemmeno Io [Specula]
Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld - What If...? [Specula]
Colleen - Push the Boat onto the Sand [Second Language]
Colleen - blue sands [Leaf]
Colleen - Breaking up the Earth [Second Language]
jenny hval - rennée falconetti of orléans [Rune Grammofon]

Listen again — ~ 105MB

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