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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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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