a wholly owned subsiduary of
Frogworth Corp
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, 29th of September, 2013

Playlist 29.09.13 (10:10 pm)

Big show tonight with a bit special on Machinedrum on the occasion of the release of his amazing new album Vapor City, plus new sounds from Banabila & Machinefabriek and another of my favourite artists, Justin K Broadrick as Jesu...

LISTEN AGAIN via the link at the bottom, or stream on demand from FBi!

Jesu - comforter [Avalanche Recordings/Daymare]
Banabila & Machinefabriek - Travelog [Tapu/Lumberton Trading Company]
Machinefabriek - John Davis [self-released]
Banabila & Machinefabriek - Descend [Tapu/Machinefabriek]
Banabila & Machinefabriek - Ill Rave [Tapu]
Banabila & Machinefabriek - Narita [Tapu/Lumberton Trading Company]
Machinedrum - Baby Its U [Ninja Tune]
Machinedrum - Rise N Fall [Ninja Tune]
Syndrone - wax window [Merck]
Machinedrum - my visuals feat. Poly-Sci [Merck]
Machinedrum - Entrau / Disa Bling [Merck]
The Untouchables - N Joi This (Machinedrum edit) [self-released]
Machinedrum - Sacred Frequency [Planet µ]
Sepalcure - Eternally Yrs [Hotflush]
Machinedrum - Alarmaa [LuckyMe]
Azealia Banks - NEEDSUMLUV (SXLND) (prod. Machinedrum) [SoundCloud]
Fracture & Neptune - Clissold (Machinedrum VIP) [Astrophonica]
Machinedrum - Seesea [Ninja Tune]
Bob Streckfuss - How will they know that we ever existed? [0.1 Bandcamp]
Brother Witch - My Last Breath [Brother Witch Bandcamp]

Listen again — ~107MB

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Sunday, 22nd of September, 2013

Playlist 22.09.13 (10:08 pm)

Here we are again... Tonight, an interview with Satu Vänskä from ACO Underground a week away from their next performance, plus strings, folk and idm!

LISTEN AGAIN via the link at the bottom, or stream on demand from FBi!

With a decidedly strings-oriented beginning to the show, tonight we start with the magnificent solo album from Toronto's Sarah Neufeld, violinist in the Arcade Fire, sure, but also in the excellent postrock ensemble Bell Orchestre, from whom we heard a pretty crazy cover of a crazy Aphex Twin track among others. Neufeld's album in comparison is pared down to almost solely violin, with almost no overdubs from what I can hear - similar in approach to collaborator (and guest on one track) Colin Stetson's sax material, with Neufeld replacing his multiphonics with double-stops and sinuous lines that give the effect of multiple melodic lines. Gorgeous and unique stuff.

Next up, I had a chat with the extremely talented Satu Vänskä, violinist in the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the main driving force behind their leftfield and unusual project ACO Underground. We learnt that ACO concertmaster Richard Tognetti is actually behind some of the arrangements, including the pretty amazing Nirvana cover we heard tonight (you should really check it out on YouTube!), and it was great to hear how much they relish the challenge and opportunity that comes from playing non-classical music in non-classical venues. They're doing something really valuable here.

Keeping it stringy, we have one track from the ew album from Sydney's Crooked Fiddle Band, who are taking their gypsy/klezmer/folk roots and mixing them with a solid rock/postrock sensibility, aided & abetted here by the sympathetic ear of Steve Albini on production duties. It's raw yet accomplished, cohesive despite its varied inputs. One of the best local releases in some time and I'll definitely be playing more.

And now we have a treat - the latest (and last) volume in Second Language's Music and Migration series is out, a third compilation of original music from this superlative English label, all about birds in the name of raising money for nature conservation organisation BirdLife International.
So we start with Glen Johnson of Piano Magic, who is one of the people behind the label, and gives us a touching song from the perspective of an old & tired migrating bird. Then we're back to the first compilation with a typically delightful piece of prepared piano from Hauschka. M&M compiler The Home Current gives us a track from the second compilation, which forms the basis of the supscription bonus disc that came with the latest comp - a stash of remixes including one from idm/folktronica hero Opiate! Also in there, another from the new compilation, pretty vocals and twinkliness from Icelandic duo Pascal Pinon.

But Opiate has brought us into more electronic waters, and we have to hear this next one right away - an incredible new Tricky remix from Andy Stott, perhaps Burial-esque, but in fact nothing less than Andy Stott-esque in its slow-growing minimalism.

And that's it, we're then into our other mini-special for the evening - once a young upstart, now a don of the Warp label, none other than (Chris) Clark, who has just released a double remix album - mainly highlights from his own remixes, with a few remixes of him thrown in for good measure.
I only played a couple of the remixes tonight - a new post-dubstep techno monster remixing Letherette, and an older breakcore-styled monster remixing the sadly-missed Milanese. In the middle a few highlights from across Clark's career - his first couple of albums are an interesting amalgam of disparate styles from idm & acid to solitary piano; but he swiftly grew into a producer of uniquely organic, tactile electronica. Only perhaps James Holden in recent years approaches something similar.

Sarah Neufeld - You Are The Field [Constellation]
Bell Orchestre - the upwards march [Rough Trade]
Bell Orchestre - Bucephalus Bouncing Ball [Arts & Crafts]
Sarah Neufeld - Forcelessness [Constellation]
...interview with Satu Vänskä of ACO Underground...
ACO Underground - The Price of Cows is Stable at Present (aka "Milk It" by Nirvana) [unreleased!]
Crooked Fiddle Band - The Vanishing Shapes of a Better World [Bird's Robe Collective]
Glen Johnson - L'abandon [Second Language]
Hauschka - Lipstick Race [Second Language]
The Home Current - Theme from Mizieb [Second Language]
Pascal Pinon - Fuglar [Second Language]
The Home Current - Theme from Mizieb (Opiate remix) [Second Language]
Tricky - Valentine (Andy Stott remix) [False Idols]
Letherette - D&T (Clark remix) [Warp]
Chris Clark - Sabbath [Warp]
Chris Clark - Tycan [Warp]
Clark - Herzog [Warp]
Clark - Secret Slow Show (feat. Martina Topley-Bird) [Warp]
Milanese - Mr Bad News (Clark remix) [Warp]

Listen again — ~109MB

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Sunday, 15th of September, 2013

Playlist 15.09.13 (10:07 pm)

Couldn't have been a more varied show tonight, from the purest driven folk to black metal Americana drone to noise/techno/jungle to post-jazz glitch drone to indie math rock to post-rock! I guess. You know, whatever.

LISTEN AGAIN via the link at the bottom, or stream on demand from FBi!

Starting with the folk stylings of Sharron Kraus, with another of Second Language's beautifully-packaged "library series" CDs, complete with a bonus disc courtesy of my newly-minted subscription to the label! Kraus has roots in English and Appalachian folk songs, but the singing on this album is wordless, and indeed the song structures are repetitive and evolving rather than involving verses and choruses. It initially comes across as quite minimally constructed, but becomes quietly involving.

Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds is in the country and playing at the Basement this Thursday and Friday. Oh... and I'm supporting him on Thursday if you wanna come along, m'kay? We heard a couple of his more electronic pieces, which I tend to find more compelling than the straight piano & strings classical stuff. I love the heavy beats of "til enda" backing up the strings, and the more minimal beats of "Endalaus II" with piano.

And now we get to our special on the pretty incredible music of Jenks Miller aka Horseback. There's actually a lot I missed here, including his "solo" works, a new album of which is winging its way to me right now. But as Horseback (group and solo), he manages to cover a lot of ground, including the black metal-style screams that make up most of his vocals, and awesome riffage drawing from metal and punk, but along with that there's epic and beautiful drones and other sonic experimentation from the noise world, and a surprising influence from Americana - folk, blues and rock. It somehow all works and has resulted in some of the best experimental sounds in "metal" from the last half-decade (if you can get past those bloodcurdling vocals). Plus on this latest 3CD rarities compilation, there's a whole collection of tracks made from drum loops, organs and, well, less confronting vocals - a whole other direction.

Making totally different music also drawing from noise is the mysterious duo Violetshaped. Their techno stylings owe a debt to industrial and extreme noise as well as to the usual electronic sources, and for their two remix EPs they've chosen some particularly great remixers, including the great post-dubstep noisester Roly Porter on the previous, and none other than Keith Fullerton Whitman on the latest, with a side-long epic of generative beats & textures. I didn't have time to play that, but another of my favourite artists ever also appears: Justin K Broadrick, here in his JK Flesh guise, with a heavy, slowed-down junglist rework which really hits the spot.

And next, a sequence of artists related to Shoeb Ahmad's hellosQuare label. Melbourne new/post(?)-jazz group Motion have a couple of excellent albums out, but I only just acquired the remix disc, and it is fiiiiine. Especially this almost-black-metal remix by Shoeb Ahmad himself. Also present is the mix from Perth's Kynan Tan, and therein lies the connection, as Tan and Motion's Andrew Brooks make up new act , a very dark noise/drone act using the tortured sax of Brooks along with lots of electronics.

We also heard another track from the brilliant Golden Blonde debut album, plus something from their previous incarnation as Kasha, released on hellosQuare. It's perhaps straighter math rock of a sort, but you can definitely hear the origins of their sound in there.

Finally, some very lovely postrock out of Brisbane from Ghost Notes. Instrumental music, but with piano, trumpet and other instruments pushing it in jazz and folk directions. Highly recommended.

Sharron Kraus - Cadair Idris [Second Language]
Sharron Kraus - Bittersweet [Second Language]
Sharron Kraus - Candlemas Moon [Second Language]
Ólafur Arnalds - til enda [Erased Tape Records]
Ólafur Arnalds - Endalaus II [Unseen Music]
Horseback - Do You Have a True Feeling? (Plagued Version) [Relapse]
Horseback - Invokation [Relapse]
Horseback - The Golden Horn [Relapse]
Horseback - Ahriman [Relapse]
Horseback - Recite [Relapse]
Horseback - Clattering Info Aggregators [Relapse]
Violetshaped - The Lord Won't Forget (Roly Porter remix) [Violet Poison]
Violetshaped - cX310 (JK Flesh Reshape) [Violet Poison]
Motion - Pendulum (Slow Rails Mix, reworked by Shoeb Ahmad) [Listen/Hear Collective]
- Coda [hellosQuare Recordings]
Motion - Here.Now (reworked by Kynan Tan) [Listen/Hear Collective]
Motion - first short [Listen/Hear Collective]
Kynan Tan - skeletal (mass) / skeletal (altitude) (excerpt) [Listen/Hear Collective]
- Slither [hellosQuare Recordings]
Golden Blonde - Teeth In Open [Tenzenmen]
Kasha - Dot [hellosQuare]
Ghost Notes - Melt, Bloom [Incremental Records]

Listen again — ~106MB

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Sunday, 8th of September, 2013

Playlist 08.09.13 (10:09 pm)

I've done two shows of ten-year retrospective sounds, so it's time to get back to the new shit!

LISTEN AGAIN as usual... Link on this post or stream on demand.

We start with the latest from Four Tet, which might seem to further cement his new position in 4/4 techno - and indeed it is 4/4, but it's decidedly quirky. As befitting its title, a tribute to the London pirate radio station that was central to hardcore/jungle in the early '90s and is still broadcasting today, he liberally drops mashed-up amen breaks over the 4/4 beat, along with a hilarious and briefly terrifying vocal snippet. On the flipside, the "bliss mix" takes everything out except the high-pitched warble and a tiny bit of vocal sample, and lives up to its name.

I know nothing of R.S.A.G. except they have an excellent acronym for a name (Rarely Seen Above Ground from their URL) and have been remixed by the always excellent Mr Dunk Murphy aka Sunken Foal. A nice bit of moody electronic pop with bouncy beats.

Speaking of bouncy and electronic, Lorn is back on Ninja Tune with an EP that carries on from the rather dark outlook of his 2nd album (and debut on Ninja Tune). In amongst the very melodic synths and post-dubstep/wonky beats he has been scattering very organic sounds, to his benefit, and there are some quite tribal 6/8 beats appearing here too - he's always been a force unto himself, despite fitting in the scene around Flying Lotus (who released his first album) et al...

Rory St John is a techno producer from Dublin, now based in Berlin. On this new EP he seems to take his sound in a more breakbeat/hardcore direction, harkening back to classic hardore in a way, and this impression can only be heightened by the presence of an excellent remix from DHR legend Christoph de Babalon.

Next up, a series of tracks from Swedish composer & electronic musician Marcus Fjellström, on the occasion of his new album Epilogue -M-, which explores the very sci-fi sounds of his murky synthesisers. He's an accomplished composer for orchestra as well, but mostly tonight I focused on his electronic works, from some earlier albums as well. Somehow the 20th century feel of his sounds and compositional style sit very easily with contemporary trends.

Oh, and speaking of soundtracks, our own Ben Frost (if he's willing to be called Australian any more, so long has he been resident in Iceland) has released 3 of his scores on his Bandcamp, which are replete with his famous growling sub-bass and electronic touches with classical and rock instrumentation. For those of us who've been waiting impatiently after the last two stellar albums, these are very welcome.

I'm very happy to finally be able to play more than just the initial singles from Golden Blonde's debut album on Tenzenmen. Their previous incarnation as punkish math-rock band Kasha promised a lot, but what they've delivered here is far beyond expectations. The math-rock angularity is still there, but there's heaps of electronic processing and editing, disjointed vocals, surprising Grizzly Bear-like melodies, full-on crazy drumming and much more. Actually listening back to their 2009 EP five songs for sunstroke, a considerable amount of this was already present, but they've put everything into this album, mixed it up and let it mature. Top album.

Keeping with pop out of left-field, Crackler is another project I'm finally able to play you. The work of Ollie Bown with Adem Ilhan of Fridge, it comes across as a more experimental Tunng. Or maybe a less skittery Icarus with vocals. In any case, you can download it all from Ollie Bown's Soundcloud and you should.

Finally, one beautiful track from Kate Carr's new album on her own Flaming Pines label. Entitled Songs from a cold place, it incorporates evocative field recordings from her time in northern Iceland earlier this year with lonesome guitar recordings - although it's a lot more varied than you might think. This melding of field recordings and musical recordings is at the core of what Carr is doing with Flaming Pines, and this is a very fine example.

Four Tet - Kool FM (Bliss mix) (under talking) [TEXT]
Four Tet - Kool FM [TEXT]
R.S.A.G. - You Want More (Sunken Foal mix) [A Rare Production]
Lorn - Inverted [Ninja Tune]
Lorn - None An Island [Brainfeeder]
Lorn - Ghosst(s) [Ninja Tune]
Lorn - Bury Your Brother [Ninja Tune]
Rory St John - Astroakoustic Three [Acroplane]
Rory St John - Astroakoustic Three (Christoph de Babalon remix) [Acroplane]
Marcus Fjellström - Dance Music 3 [Aagoo Rev.Lab]
Marcus Fjellström - War Music, 1st Perspective [Lampse]
Marcus Fjellström - Antichrist Architecture Management [Miasmah]
Marcus Fjellström - LM-110 [Kafkagarden]
Marcus Fjellström - Explicator [Aagoo Rev.Lab]
Ben Frost - Undulating Beast [Ben Frost Bandcamp]
Ben Frost - In Flesh And Blood feat. Helgi Hrafn Jónson [Ben Frost Bandcamp]
Ben Frost - Soma And Psyche [Ben Frost Bandcamp]
Golden Blonde - Lint [Tenzenmen]
Kasha - Let a Storm [self-released through hellosQuare]
Golden Blonde - Oak [Tenzenmen]
Golden Blonde - You Lead Me [Tenzenmen]
Crackler - Wooden Headphones [Ollie Bown Soundcloud]
Kate Carr - beginnings [Flaming Pines]

Listen again — ~107MB

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Saturday, 7th of September, 2013

Ten albums (and a couple of cheats) from ten genres for ten years of FBi (and Utility Fog!) (12:45 am)

In celebration of ten years, I've done a list of ten things!

Anyone who's listened to Utility Fog much during its ten years (so far) of existence will come away with at least a couple of impressions:

1) I have a love of obscure, quaintly specific, and let's face if often completely made-up genres (including UFog's very own portmanteau genre "postfolkrocktronica") and
2) I talk too much. Way too much. Sorry.
And I like too much music, so choosing 10 albums from one year, let alone 10 years is physically painful - hence the genres thing.

folktronica - The Lemon of Pink by The Books
It would be easy to choose Four Tet's Rounds for this category, but this album was also released 10 years ago, and is tightly wound around the birth of my show and what I've always cared about in music. Acoustic instruments from folk, world and classical settings treated, chopped up and spliced digitally had been around for a good few years already and those sounds were a major inspiration for liminal, genre-blending show I intended to present. But what the duo created here has never been equalled: impeccably-slapdash edits of cello and guitar along with other instruments, vocals, and a deeply intelligent sense of humour and pathos.

indietronica - Outside Closer / The Lost You EP by Hood
It's impossible to underestimate the impact of this still-rather-obscure band on not just my musical taste, but that of a large proportion of the musicians I spruik on my show. Ranging from the jangly indie-noise of their earliest releases through ambient textural postrock and pure electronica, they were always at the top of the game, but always a little too odd to be really popular. Their myriad side-projects continue, and their influence continues to reverberate through indie, postrock and electronic circles.

postrock - One Time For All Time by 65daysofstatic
It's hard to know what goes under the "postrock" umbrella - almost anything instrumental and a bit live? But I've been playing 65daysofstatic's quietLOUDquiet guitars plus electronic beats since their inception, and I'm pleased to hear that it was my airplay that brought them to the attention of their Australian label and eventually saw them tour here for the first time last year. And incidentally I'm thanked on this album which is like whaaaaaaaaaa!

breakcore - Rossz Csillag Alatt Született by Venetian Snares
This was surprisingly easy - lots of breakcore is close to my heart, but this album is something special. When I wrote up the show's bio, I cheekily included "orchestral breakcore" as a genre. Two years in, VSnares has an epiphany in Hungary and creates an album juxtaposing huge slabs of 20th century classical music with his 7/8 junglist beats and it's amazing.

noise - Blood Lightning 2007 by Burning Star Core
It seems like during Utility Fog's existence noise music (which can be traced back to '80s power electronics and nascent industrial at least) had a resurgence and then lately has waned again. C. Spencer Yeh's solo and group works as Burning Star Core go back somewhat before we started, and have lately mutated into something else, but his screeching, swooping violin, cracked vocal emanations and noise sources of all sorts, with help from various other noise luminaries, have always struck me as the pinnacle of what noise can be - psych rock freakouts, ear-splitting drones, electronic processing, beauty and ugliness.

drone - Weleer by Machinefabriek
It wasn't until a good few years into Utility Fog's tenure that drone really clicked with me, despite my love of the glitchy sounds of
Christian Fennesz et al. It was Machinefabriek wot did it, and while his art extends far beyond "pure" drone into meticulously-recorded sound art of all sorts, he's a genius at 20+-minute extended crescendos. This album collects a lot of shorter earlier works and covers a fair lot of ground.

alt.hop - The Weather by Busdriver & Radioinactive with Daedelus
I'm sure "alt.hop" is a kind-of offensive faux-genre, but while I love mainstream hip-hop, I also have a fondness for the variant featuring unlikely samples smashed together under nasal-voiced beat poetry and/or shouty political blokes. A number of those Anticon types worked with 'Fog favourites Hood (see above). Still, Busdriver's the king of this shit, and on this particular album his insanity-inducing stream-of-consciousness is tempered by Radioinactive's gentler touch, and Daedelus couldn't be a better choice for a whole-album producer.

dubstep - City Limits Vol. 1 & 2 by Silkie
For all that Utility Fog is about unlikely genre crossovers, I like to be able to swing the pendulum all the way to the archaic folk of The Pentangle and then back to the electronica and even onto the dancefloor now and then. I was too much of a junglist to get into dubstep right away, but I was still playing it before most - and eventually much of the breakcore community seem to have migrated into some form of dubstep (or at least taken a holiday there). Let's ignore the abomination of Skr*ll*x. From East London, Silkie employs the classic head-nodding bass 'n' beats pioneered by Loefah, Mala, Coki, Skream et al but also has an unparalleled ear for melody.

idm/electronica - Exai by Autechre
The selection from the oldest band on this list might as well be the newest album. I've often suggested that much of the history of
experimental electronica from the last couple of decades is basically everybody else catching up with Autechre. Not sure if they're still
ahead of everyone else, but they're still producing incredible shit, and if this double album should've just been one CD, it's still full of great b-boy beats, impossibly fragile melodies and insanely processed audio.

an insane mess of absolutely everything - Hurtbreak Wonderland by World's End Girlfriend
It's no surprise that the most uncategorizable and quintessentially Utility Fog music on this list comes from Japan. We might as well just classify WEG as "postfolkrocktronica"; he came to my attention on an electronica compilation, with drill'n'bass beats rubbing up against glitched-up acoustic guitar, whilst on this album classical string arrangements and piano will be pushed aside by punk guitar riffs and frenetic beats. Couldn't come more highly endorsed.

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