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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, 29th of March, 2015

Playlist 29.03.15 (8:13 pm)

Wide-ranging show of interesting music tonight! Folk, postrock, post-classical, gothic metal cello, experimental & arcane electronics...

LISTEN AGAIN because you can't afford to miss out! Podcast here, stream there.

John Renbourn, the second legendary folk/crossover guitarist from English band The Pentangle has passed away this week. It's been a while since I found myself playing them in tribute to Bert Jansch, and it's sad to be remembering them again for this reason. What amazing music though, cross-fertilizing English folk with jazz, blues, Americana, with virtuoso playing and pure English singing from Jacqui McShee.

It's always an Event when Godspeed You! Black Emperor release an album, especially given the 10 year gap before the last one - and the last one was 3 years ago! It's not quite an epic or double album or anything - in fact all the tracks segue into each other and it could be considered a single 40-minute composition in 4 parts. The middle two tracks are fantastic drone works, quite different from each other, and the first & last are nice heavy riffage with strings and soaring melodies, the full Godspeed. It's quite wonderful - in some ways I prefer it this way, as the big extended bombast can get a bit wearying. That a strong endorsement people, imbibe this.

href="http://www.nilsfrahm.com/">Nils Frahm has declared the 88th day of the year (usually March 29th) Piano Day and is using the inaugral event as the day to release his new album solo. It's available as a free download from the site, but you can also find information about a behemoth of an instrument that he's trying to get funded, so maybe get the vinyl or CD edition as well to help with that! It's very pretty, mostly unadorned piano, but runs from quiet contemplative stuff to rhythmic thumping and one reverb-laden piece for "Four Hands" which obviously featured multitracked Nils (well, I didn't see another player credited).

Nils Frahm also appears on the next track, which I'm using to segue into the next special... here he's collaborating with incendiary doom cellist Helen Money aka Alison Chesley, along with the Marseilles-based musical travel agent Philippe Petit. It's quite a seductive piece and one of the highlights from an excellent album of varied collaborations from Petit.

Next up, though, we have a truly wonderful offering from Helen Money working with the legendary Jarboe. The tracks are credited variously to one or other artist both together, or one "with" the other, presumably representing who came up with the original ideas. We have massive distorted doom cello lines, Jarboe's keyboards and sometimes guitar, and it's pure perfection.
Nothing like a good excuse for an artist special, so we delved back into a very small & personal (for me) selection of Jarboe's archives, from her iconoclastic work with Swans to collaborations with experimental metal legends Neurosis and Jesu, and contemporary Japanese metal/post-classical geniuses Vampillia.

Félicia Atkinson has been making low-key lo-fi and not-so-lo-fi music under her own name and as Je suis le petit chevalier and has built up a name for herself for her drone works and for very strung-out indie songs and experimental electronic works. Her latest album A Readymade Ceremony features avant-garde pieces for electronics and acoustic instruments. Earlier works featured electronic cut-ups and vocals, and more recently she's concentrated on more minimal drones. This new album is a challenging and recommended listen.

And we finish up with some arcane and spooky sounds from IX Tab. Taking some cues from Coil in terms of magickal references and weirdly processed electronics. He loves timestretched vocals and other sounds, stuttering through half-recognizable shapes while pulsating grooves hover like interference patterns in some quantum physics experiment. It's bizarre in the best way.

The Pentangle - Train Song [Shanachie]
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light!' [Constellation]
Nils Frahm - Four Hands [Piano Day free download/Erased Tapes]
Philippe Petit & Alison Chesley & Nils Frahm - Succumb to Gravity [Home Normal]
Alison Chesley & Jarboe - For My Father [Aurora Borealis]
Swans - Songs For Dead Time (Jarboe version) [Young God Records]
Neurosis & Jarboe - Within [Neurot Recordings]
Jesu - Storm Comin' On (feat. Jarboe) [Hydra Head]
Vampillia - tui feat. Jarboe [Virgin Babylon]
Alison Chesley with vocals by Jarboe - Wired [Aurora Borealis]
Jarboe & Alison Chesley - Hello Mr. Blue [Aurora Borealis]
Félicia Atkinson - Carve The Concept And The Artichoke [Shelter Press]
Félicia Atkinson - Guitar means mountain [Spekk]
Félicia Atkinson - Against Archives [Shelter Press]
IX Tab - Blasted [Twiggwytch Recordings]
IX Tab - The Seams of Goodwill (Blue Blood) [Exotic Pylon/IX Tab Bandcamp]
IX Tab - The Burned Wretch [Front & Follow]
IX Tab - Blowm (for Alan Turing) (tiny excerpt) [Twiggwytch Recordings]

Listen again — ~104MB

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Sunday, 22nd of March, 2015

Playlist 22.03.15 (8:07 pm)

Selection of noise, strings with electronics, folk guitar and subdued post-punk electronic... yeah that makes sense.

LISTEN AGAIN or just LISTEN, over here or stream via FBi.

Starting tonight with some music from Brisbane's Benjamin Thompson, who ended last week's show as well. Having been a member of The Rational Academy for years, he's got plenty cred in the indie/indietronic/noise/experimental electronics world already. But under his Pale Earth moniker he's releasing some of his most exciting music yet - electronic music unfettered by genre concerns.
Last year he also put out a release with Ian Rogers of No Anchor on the sadly defunct Wood and Wire label as Black Pines. It's a shouty mix of hardcore and noise, fierce and sparse.

Dutch producer Michel Banabila & violist Oene van Geel have just released their second album of gorgeous experimental electronics and viola. Van Geel first came upon my radar with another Banabila collaboration, the lovely Cloud Ensemble from earlier last year, with world-influenced beats and instruments and vocals from all n4tural. The first Music for viola and electronics was strictly van Geel's viola improvisations & compositions with Banabila's electronics by turn lush and abrasive. The new one follows the same sonic path but adds further instrumentation: bass clarinet, cello, trumpet, drums (see link below for full lineup). It's not all experimental modular electronics & extended techniques, but nor is it all lush world beats & string melodies - it strikes a nice balance. They've both stayed on my virtual turntable a lot recently.

Brisbane's Chris Perren is one talented individual, with a musical pedigree that crosses from classical training in composition and guitar through math rock bands and glitchy electronic cut-ups to post-classical meets postrock. His new release is under the name Software of Seagulls from Sydney's beloved Feral Media label, a longtime collaborator with him. Our first track features a beautiful electric violin performance from Fern Thompsett, while there are also bits of folktronica and his other interests across the new album. We also heard something from his rare first solo recording, and an unreleased remix of my own band FourPlay String Quartet (from a frequently-delayed remix album that needs to get out there soon...) Chris's post-classical/postrock group Nonsemble released a single last year on respected British label Bigo & Twigetti, with an album due out this year.

Tomkins Square Records have been releasing extraordinary compilations of fingerstyle guitar - all solo finger-picked guitar - for 10 years now. It's a style which has had experimentalism at its core for decades, with John Fahey as one of its American figureheads and second-wave pioneers. A decade later, the latest album is compiled by young guitarist Hayden Pedigo and features some great new artists as well as some legends like Simon Scott of shoegazers Slowdive. We heard a lovely almost-shoegazey track from Michael Vallera and something from adventurous Portuguese guitarist Norberto Lobo. In between, a beauty of fingerpicked guitar and delays from Greg Davis (make some more music, Greg!).

Finishing up with some new music from the prolific Aidan Baker, one half of heavy dreamy doom duo Nadja. Here he gives us quiet, whispery songs with clear-toned electric guitar over a glitchy backdrop of noises produced from an unfortunate but serendipitous hard disk crash. It's immersive music that slowly unfolds in your mind - small grabs might seem monotone, but the songs have patient shapes that reward your attention.

Pale Earth - Racey Leopard [Pale Earth Bandcamp]
Pale Earth - Mia [ROOM40]
Black Pines - Die Out [Wood and Wire]
Pale Earth - Duo [Pale Earth Bandcamp]
Michel Banabila & Oene van Geel - Vleugels [Tapu]
Cloud Ensemble - Hide and Seek [Tapu]
Michel Banabila & Oene van Geel - Dondergod [Tapu]
Michel Banabila & Oene van Geel - Chaos [Tapu]
Software of Seagulls - Redundant Array of Independent Worlds [Feral Media]
Chris Perren - A New Logic [self-released]
Mr. Maps - Your Heels in Sand, Soul in Pursuit (original version) [Lofly]
Nonsemble - Go Part 3c [Bigo & Twigetti]
FourPlay String Quartet - Now To The Future (Chris Perren remix) [unreleased]
Software of Seagulls - Adelaide St. [Feral Media]
Michael Vallera - USA Self [Tompkins Square Records]
Greg Davis - Sleep Architecture [Tompkins Square Records]
Norberto Lobo - Enchiridion [Tompkins Square Records]
Aidan Baker - Hart [Pleasence Records/Aidan Baker Bandcamp]
Aidan Baker - Something Less [Pleasence Records/Aidan Baker Bandcamp]

Listen again — ~105MB

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Sunday, 15th of March, 2015

Playlist 15.03.15 (8:08 pm)

Good evening! I'm back after a week in Radelaide, with lots to play you!

Listen again because you loved it the first time... Stream on demand, podcast here.

We start with a bit of an unusual special on Björk. I didn't want to focus on album tracks from her history or anything - we all know that (brilliant) stuff. So I found a few oddities & rarities to play you tonight.
It seems to me that Vulnicura might be Björk's best album yet - it's soul-baring and very difficult listening, but it's also beautifully produced and beautifully composed. The beats are still cutting edge (made with Arca), the mix intense in every way (thanks The Haxan Cloak!), and Björk's string arrangements are incredible. The lyrics are jagged and painful, brutally honest and yet as poetic as she's ever managed - and there are some sweet references to her other work, such as "Find our mutual coordinates" in "stonemilker", sung to accentuate the connection to "mutual core"; for that matter, the first few string notes of the same song recall The Brodsky Quartet's celebrated version of "Hyperballad".
I didn't play any of The Brodsky Quartet collaborations tonight, but we had a few other interesting tidbits: People forget that even recently Björk has been happy to guest on other people's work (e.g. Ólöf Arnalds second-last album), and she'd worked with The Black Dog since the beginning of her solo career; so it makes sense Plaid asked her to sing on a track on their debut album after leaving The Black Dog. They've also remixed her a number of times.
In 2008 Stereogum decided to put together a tribute to Post, Björk's second album, and invited a selection of indie artists to cover all the tracks. It made a lot of sense to have Owen Pallett (appearing in Sydney this Saturday March 21st!) as Final Fantasy, and Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear to cover "Possibly Maybe", with a scintillating string arrangement melding with electronics in its original form. They strip it down to mainly drum machine and Pallett's own strings, and sing the lyric deadpan without swapping gender (nor should they).
Meanwhile, in the lead-up to the release of Vespertine (still probably my favourite), idm-heads were excited about the presence of Matmos in the production credits (along with other electronic heroes of the time like Opiate and The Notwist's Console). Prior to the album's release, Matmos leaked a few very odd "remixes" of studio sessions, and "Hearts & Bones" is how I always thought of "Hidden Place" for quite some time...

Next up, a new generation of fearless female electronic performer. Holly Herndon is shortly to release her second album, this time through 4AD in conjunction with RVNG Intl.. Before we get there though, I discovered she put out a standalone single, running for 11½ minutes. It's pretty abstract! Some of her processed vocals appear hear and there along with what sound like very processed field recordings and hints at beats or basslines. Herndon's fractured music balances precariously between dancefloor accessibility and academic abstruseness. I'm very interested to hear what the album brings...

Firmly on the dancefloor, but no less abstract for that, is the new single from Sydney's Cassius Select aka Lavurn Lee. Broken beats point at grime and uk garage as much as house. You can see him along with Marcus Whale and Jared Beeler in the incredible Black Vanilla this Friday the 20th of March at Civic Underground.

EVA (a reference to space walks and the like) is Brisbane's Amelia Paxman. Her new EP is a lovely lo-fi affair with analogue electronics, drum machine, piano and vocals.

Gurun Gurun are a folktronic, slightly post-classical (yeah that makes sense) group from Czech Republic, although they sound like they should be Japanese. Their music is released by an English label based in Japan, Home Normal (soon to become a Japanese label based in England) and their forthcoming album does feature some well-loved Japanese vocalists such as Cokiyu and Cuushe. Before we get the album, Home Normal have released a single on their Bandcamp with some fine remixes and all proceeds go to a great charity.

Now to a little special on Snow Ghosts, who released their second album on the great Houndstooth last month. It continues the trip hop meets contemporary beats of Hannah Cartwright aka Augustus Ghost and Ross Tones aka Throwing Snow, but adds multi-instrumentalist Oliver Knowles into the mix. It feels bad to criticise when I actually love their music so much, but unfortunate to my string player ears many of the violin are hard to listen to - wavering pitch doesn't sit nicely with electronic instruments. That aside, the sounds are stunning, as much based around filthy noise drones as cutting-edge chopped beats. We heard some of those beats that Throwing Snow has become known for after mosty abandoning his early gentler folktronic sound - Mosaic album was one last year's album highlights, jumping between styles and dipping its toe into some drum'n'bass-like breakbeat juggling here and there. We also heard Kwesi Darko remixing a track which he contributed to on the album as Blue Daisy; here he unearths his dark rapper alter-ego Dahlia Black for a forbidding take on the same song.

I wanted to play more from Brisbane's Benjamin Thompson aka Pale Earth, but I ran out of time - so more next week. I've been a fan since his first 3" CD on a little label of John Chantler's, which mixed indiefolk songs with field recordings and electronics. He's a member of indietronicnoisepunk band The Rational Academy, and I'm very impressed with the drones, cut-ups and beats he's doing under this new name. He also contributed the latest soundtrack to FBi's Ears Have Ears.

Björk - stonemilker [One Little Indian]
Plaid - lilith (ft. björk) [Warp]
Final Fantasy & Ed Droste - Possibly Maybe [Stereogum]
Björk - Isobel (The Carcass remix) [One Little Indian]
Björk & Matmos - Hearts & Bones [unreleased, download from Matmos back in 2001]
Björk - family [One Little Indian]
Holly Herndon - Recruit [RVNG Intl.]
Cassius Select - He Ain't Worth [Unknown To The Unknown]
EVA - Lost In Spaces [EVA Bandcamp]
EVA - Deja Vu [EVA Bandcamp]
Gurun Gurun - Tsuki ni te feat. Cokiyu [Home Normal]
Gurun Gurun - Atarashii hi (Pawn / Hideki Umezawa remix) [Home Normal]
Snow Ghosts - Drought [Houndstooth]
Snow Ghosts - The Wreck [Houndstooth]
Throwing Snow - Pyre [Local Action]
Snow Ghosts - Murder Cries [Houndstooth]
Snow Ghosts feat. Dahlia Black - Covenant (Remix) [Houndstooth]
Throwing Snow - Maera feat. Adda Kaleh [Houndstooth]
Snow Ghosts - On Knifes [Houndstooth]
Pale Earth - Racey Leopard [Pale Earth Bandcamp]

Listen again — ~106MB

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Sunday, 1st of March, 2015

Playlist 01.03.15 (8:06 pm)

Variegated musics from aroumd the world tonight!
Next week I'll be in Radelaide for WOMADelaide, so I'll see you in two weeks!

LISTEN AGAIN and again and again... stream on demand or podcast here...

Pelicans are perhaps best known as an instrumental post-metal band, embodying that mix of post-rock dynamics and metal heaviness. On new single "The Cliff" they add vocals to the mix, and have asked a couple of friends to contribute some remixes. There's a typically great one from genre-defying rock god JK Broadrick, and one by Palms, which we heard tonight. Palms is the band that the "other" members of ISIS formed after Aaron Turner (another genre-defying rock god if ever there was one) dissolved the band. Featuring Chino Moreno of the Deftones, their album was a decidedly less challenging affair than ISIS - but they're all superlative musicians, and their remix here is an exploratory journey.

We heard expat Brisvegan Mirko last week on the show, and hear another track from his forthcoming digital EP on Room40 tonight. Synth drones and pulsating basslines ahoy!

Speaking of synths, Canberra's Raus gives us a veritable Casio keyboard odyssey in almost 13 minutes from his LP from last year on hellosQuare. You can listen to an hour-long mix I just finished (including spoken bits) of my favourite hellosQuare releases right now at Mixcloud.

Adelaide's Michael Radzevicius aka Glamour Lakes has played in a few bands through the years including Aviator Lane - and the previous incarnation of Glamour Lakes was a more indie-pop (electronic) affair. The new material sees him taking tips from Tim Hecker as well as Vatican Shadow, from a more glitchy ambient sound. It'll be interesting to hear what else turns up in the album due out in May.

Hessien is the cross-continental duo of Charlie Sage aka y0t0 (Queenbeyan, NSW) and Tim Martin aka Maps and Diagrams. Guitars and dreamy electronics brush up against each other in ambient almost-drone tracks which give up a lot of detail if you immerse yourself in them.

Daniel W J Mackenzie has been making music as Ekca Liena for some years, also inhabiting the world of not-quite-drone. His Slow Music For Rapid Eye Movement made a big impression when I came across it a few years ago; he's made drones, noise rock, space rock, and even collaborated with Aidan Baker along the way, but this is his first "album proper" in some time. The 13-minute track we heard tonight is the centrepiece of an album that encompasses a lot of those styles. Here we have drones, but plenty of movement, a repetitive rock groove and noise crescendo. Quite excellent.

Richard Adams of Hood has by now been making music for long enough as The Declining Winter - with or without accompanying band - that I shouldn't need to refer to his previous band, except that they're one of the most important (if neglected by the mainsteam) bands of the last couple of decades. Suffice to say they're hugely important for me, and so when one of the Adams brothers has a new release it's big news. And this is definitely Richard's best work outside of Hood - great songs of great variety, and although his signature lurching guitar patterns are there in some tracks, there's also strumming postpunk phrasings, some great plodding synth basslines, and even a bit of indiepop with organ and piano in there. Out on March 23rd, pre-order your copy now!

Dublin producer Dunk Murphy has been featured a lot of UFog over the years, from his duo Ambulance to his solo work as Sunken Foal. Electronica which isn't afraid to build its melodies around acoustic guitar or piano, it's as melodic as the best of Plaid, say, and as rhythmically inventive as Luke Vibert, say. And it's lots of fun.

Grasscut started out on the Ninja Tune label, but have found a home now with Lo Recordings. Their new single is surprisingly (indie-)pop, but the b-side has that gentle early-Tunng-like folktronic feel that they're known for. There's a new album coming out soon.

We heard from Sydney artist CORIN a few weeks ago as she's released a remix EP, but tonight we heard from last year's Deluge EP, with a lovely synth composition to round out the show.

Pelicans - The Cliff (Palms Remix) [Pelicans Bandcamp]
Mirko - A Soft Fall [Room40]
Raus - Odyssey [hellosQuare]
Glamour Lakes - Altitude Into Light [Glamour Lakes Bandcamp]
Hessien - Man Overboard [Long Story Recording Company]
Hessien - five sisters feat. jane williams (zelienople remix) [Fluid Audio]
Hessien - Army Of David [Long Story Recording Company]
Ekca Liena - Free Precipitation [Consouling Sounds]
The Declining Winter - Around The Winding Roads [Home Assembly Music]
The Declining Winter - Hurled To The Curb [Home Assembly Music]
The Declining Winter - When Things Mattered [Home Assembly Music]
The Declining Winter - A Field Defunct [Home Assembly Music]
Sunken Foal - Piss Into The Smash (ft. Foxy Box & Bobby Softrock) [Countersunk]
Sunken Foal - Hotel Bristol [Countersunk]
Sunken Foal - White Night Flight [Countersunk]
Sunken Foal - Hard Rime Lattice [Countersunk]
Sunken Foal - Family Floor Tune [Countersunk]
Grasscut - September's Night Sky [Lo Recordings]
CORIN - Riverboat [CORIN Bandcamp]

Listen again — ~104MB

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