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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, 28th of June, 2015

Playlist 28.06.15 (9:06 pm)

Gidday! Nice mixture of stuff, lots of electronic sounds tonight but not exclusively!

LISTEN AGAIN for the sheer pleasure of it all. Podcast here, stream on demand over there.

Starting with the wonderful new Jenny Hval album, couple more tracks after a bit of a special on this extraordinary artist last week.

Second cab off the rank is a new Perth postrock group called Original Past Life, featuring Adam Trainer of Gilded, Radarmaker (whose Warwick Hall joins him here) et al. Looking forward to the whole album!

I played a couple of new Björk remixes last week, and part two of the Vulnicura remixes is out this week. The one that stood out is from the guy whose mixing magic is all over the album - and co-production on a couple of tracks too - The Haxan Cloak. It's heavy too!

It's been great seeing Sydney trio Black Vanilla getting a bit of international attention on the music blogs of late - FACT Mag featured this new single, and it is as they say rather ominous - everything they do is pretty dark, and pretty dank lol. The production is never not top-notch, heavy but sparse grooves, couldn't-give-a-fuck vocals.

Melbourne's I'lls are a pretty different proposion - dancefloor-oriented indietronica. Their first couple of EPs were much more on the "indie" side, although very electronically-mediated. More recently they've slid over to the other side, very 2step/uk garage-sounding production, with modular synthesis to the fore in the live setting, but still with the indie-inflected vocals and songwriting. Whole new EP coming soon.

Back to Sydney, Bushranger is a new project from Sydney's Eli Murray aka Gentleforce. Released on Australian label Built Environment, it bridges field recordings and ambient techno in interesting ways - a really great listen, as is everything Eli does.

Next up, a fascinating collaboration between Italian sound artist, spoken word artist & singer Alessandro Bosetti & Sydney's own pianist Chris Abrahams. Piano meanders around fidgety, glitchy ambient textures, or shadows spoken texts, while sung vocals often haunt the background. It's beautiful, immersive stuff, highly recommended.

Back in 1995, as legend has it, there was a malfunctioning (or at least noisy) fridge in an Austrian house and inspired the duo of General Magic along with Pita to sample and process it into a bunch of ambient & techno tracks - and thus was the legendary glitch label Mego born. These early releases actually don't have a lot of the granular processing, micro-sampling and clicks & cuts that would characterise the sound, but they're still part of that continuum - and it's exciting that Editions Mego (as they are now, run by Pita's Peter Rehberg) have re-released a collection of all the original tracks, on vinyl and digital.

Michel Banabila's latest EP sees him returning to rhythmic sampled vocals, with a pan-world music feel. In some ways it could be a throwback to the '90s ethnomusicology of Deep Forest or something - or even Jean-Michel Jarre's strange, groundbreaking Zoolook, but it has enough of a contemporary sheen to set it apart, particularly with the glitchy vocal interruptions. Calming dubby grooves and lovely disembodied vocals make for great travelling music (even if you're sitting on your sofa travelling in your head).

Frequent Banabila collaborator Machinefabriek is the first artist to appear off Hibernate Records' Dayalu / for Nepal, which raised an impressive amount of money in its pre-order phase for the Nepal disaster. It's a 2CD set full of beautiful ambient, drone and electronic sounds, highly recommended for its music let alone the worth cause. Machinefabriek contributed a number of 1-minute pieces, scattered throughout. We also heard some gorgeous glitchy piano from Caught In The Wake Forever, ambient electronica from idm legend Arovane, and some ambient piano-and-drums from Mute Forest feat. Matthew Herron.

Next up, the processed guitar and tenor/baritone ukulele(!) of Kevin Hufnagel, best known as a prog/metal guitarist in bands like Dysrhythmia and for his much more folky, sometimes almost classical ukulele & guitar-based solo works. His new album Kleines Biest is a bit of a change of direction, still featuring those instruments, but consistently chopped and processed in his computer to create new forms - from contemplative ambient work to more frenetic cut-ups and layers of distorted riffs at points. Cool stuff.

Finally, a new collaboration from Sontag Shogun's Jeremy Young and celebrated cellist & multi-instrumentalist drone-folk artist Aaron Martin. Released on Chihei Hatekayama's White Paddy Mountain, it's a gorgeous set of tape-looped piano, cello and drones.

Jenny Hval - That Battle Is Over / White Underground [Sacred Bones Records]
Original Past Life - Times of Ceylon [Original Past Life Bandcamp]
Björk - mouth mantra (the haxan cloak remix) [One Little Indian]
Black Vanilla - Slug [Black Vanilla SoundCloud]
I'lls - Keep [Solitaire Recordings]
Bushranger - Dry Creek Bed [Built Environment]
Bushranger - The Billabong Speaks [Built Environment]
Alessandro Bosetti & Chris Abrahams - La Nourriture [Unsounds]
Alessandro Bosetti & Chris Abrahams - Eye [Unsounds]
General Magic & Pita - Theme Fridge [Mego]
General Magic & Pita - Dope Fridge [Mego]
General Magic & Pita - Shuffle Fridge [Mego]
Michel Banabila - Tortoise [Banabila Bandcamp]
Michel Banabila - Field Trip [Banabila Bandcamp]
Machinefabriek - Minuut 5 [Hibernate]
Caught In The Wake Forever - Station Middle [Hibernate]
Machinefabriek - Minuut 8 [Hibernate]
Arovane - Flueplay for Nepal [Hibernate]
Mute Forest feat. Matthew Herron - Amid River Sounds [Hibernate]
Kevin Hufnagel - Súton [Kevin Hufnagel Bandcamp]
Kevin Hufnagel - Rain Visions [Kevin Hufnagel Bandcamp]
Kevin Hufnagel - Shallow Beds [Kevin Hufnagel Bandcamp]
Jeremy Young & Aaron Martin - A Pulse Passes From Hand To Hand III [White Paddy Mountain]

Listen again — ~106MB

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Sunday, 21st of June, 2015

Playlist 21.06.15 (9:09 pm)

UtiLADY Fog again tonight, all-woman lineup of awesome music from around the world.

Starting tonight's all-female special with one of the most important musicians of the last 2-3 decades, Björk. Her wonderful, harrowing, touching album vulnicura will be among the best albums of the year by a long shot, and it's a brave artist who takes on the task of remixing any of the very personal tracks from the album. The first crop of four remixers appropriately features two women, and I started with one, electronic vocal manipulator Katie Gately, who we heard a few months ago(?) with her split 12" on Fat Cat. Vocal manipulation is the name of the game here, maximalist electronic-mediated orchestrations. Dutch techno artist Krampfhaft rebuilds the song from the ground up into something full of soft movement.

English composer Emily Hall is the first new signing to Icelandic label/collective Bedroom Community in quite some years. In a connection with our previous artist, the work on her new album Folie Á Deux is a collaboration with Icelandic author and frequent Björk collaborator Sjón. It also features electronics from Mira Calix, and vocals from Sofia Jernberg and Allan Clayton, along with a specially-made instrument called the electro-magnetic harp. Classical crossover stuff is very much the Bedroom Community vibe, and it's lovely stuff.

Experimental synth/noise artist Alex Barnett has been associated with Mamiffer's Faith Coloccia since her early days in the experimental group Everlovely Lightningheart, and they've now released two albums of very dark electronic investigations as BARNETT + COLOCCIA. We started with a track that almost emulates techno of the post-industrial sort favoured by labels like Blackest Ever Black and Opal Tapes, but most of their stuff is more in the ambient-noise-drone vein, with spectral vocals sometimes hovering in the background. I played a track from Mamiffer's album Status Nascendi from last year as a bit of a guide to the other stuff Coloccia has done.

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to pop into Paris on the way home from a brief UK tour, and I got to see an amazing gig with Liturgy at the tiny Espace B. But at least as much impact was made by the support, fellow Thrill Jockey artist Haley Fohr aka Circuit des Yeux, who performed with a 12 string guitar, chorus, delay and distortion, producing an incredible baritone from behind a very long fringe. On record there's a lot more to the arrangements than chiming, beautifully played 12 string, and while her astonishing voice is central to her art, it's also absent a lot of the time, with the adventurous arrangements & production (or hypnotically riffing guitar) allowed to tease out their own meanings.

Sydney artist Astrid Zeman plays live on various instruments with loop pedal and vocals - she's a quite frequent performer around Sydney at the moment - but her recent demos are seeing her production develop with layers of guitars, vocals and piano along with various effects. Hopefully recent tracks will be collected into an EP soon.

It's impossible to downplay the impact that Jenny Hval's first album under her own name, viscera, had on me when it came out in 2011. I'd heard of her previous project Rockettothesky, as she'd been resident in Melbourne for a few years doing postgraduate study, but this album came into my radar as it was released on the legendary Norwegian label Rune Grammofon and featured musicians from the fertile Norwegian experimental jazz/noise scene including production from Helge Sten aka Deathprod. The vision is all Jenny's though, and frankly the musical arrangements too. You can hear her musical and lyrical themes going back through that Rockettothesky material and forward through her work since, poetic and personal explorations of female sexuality, "visceral" indeed yet also academic... and beautifully melodic yet also deeply challenging musically. It's uncompromising stuff and we're lucky to have her.

Björk - family (katie gately remix) [One Little Indian]
Björk - history of touches (krampfhaft remix) [One Little Indian]
Emily Hall - ode to the pylon [Bedroom Community]
Emily Hall - loneliness [Bedroom Community]
Barnett + Coloccia - Dreamsnake [Blackest Ever Black]
Barnett + Coloccia - Hallway [Blackest Ever Black]
Mamiffer - Mercy [SIGE/Daymare]
Barnett + Coloccia - Rose Eye [Blackest Ever Black]
Circuit des Yeux - Do The Dishes [Thrill Jockey]
Circuit des Yeux - Acarina [Thrill Jockey]
Circuit des Yeux - Dream of TV [Thrill Jockey]
Astrid Zeman - Dark Horses [stream at Astrid Zeman">SoundCloud]
Jenny Hval - Sabbath [Sacred Bones Records]
Rockettothesky - They are bastards! (We are better) [Trust Me Records]
Rockettothesky - Grizzly Man [Trust Me Records]
Jenny Hval - blood flight [Rune Grammofon]
Jenny Hval - is there anything on me that doesn't speak [Rune Grammofon]
Jenny Hval & Susanna - I Have Walked This Body [Rune Grammofon]
Jenny Hval - Heaven [Sacred Bones Records]

Listen again — ~103MB

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Sunday, 14th of June, 2015

Playlist 14.06.15 (9:05 pm)

Evening all! I'm back from a creative & fun (and exhausting) trip to the UK & Paris - many thanks to Heli Newton and Xiaoran Shi for filling in while I was away.

LISTEN... AGAIN or for the first time! Stream on demand from FBi, in stereo! Or podcast over here.

German duo Schneider Kacirek are playing at the Goethe-Institut in Sydney on Friday (and various other locations around Australia from Wednesday). It's an early show - 6-8pm - and you need to RSVP to the Goethe-Institut beforehand. Recommended!
Stefan Schneider aka Mapstation is a member of German post-rock/electronic trio To Rococo Rot and combines his synths with Sven Kacirek to create a moody music equally influenced by German krautrock and the African music they've spent some time studying.
hellosQuare Recordings' own hellosQuare Recordings appears on the flipside of a new 12" they've released in conjunction with the duo's Australian tour, a fantastic follow-up to his 2012 solo album - electronic beats & edits colliding with drones and postpunk guitars.

Some more of the subtle sounds of Daughter's Fever... a gorgeous collaboration between Grand Salvo's Paddy Mann and Peter Knight on trumpet/electronics. This jazz/experimental/indie collision is rounded out with Joe Talia on drums, Erik Griswold on prepared piano, Vanessa Tomlinson on junk percussion and Andrew Brooks on saxophone. Magical stuff.

English duo Grasscut first appeared in 2010, released by Ninja Tune. Rooted in English geography, combining arcane English folk and glitchy electronic in the manner of early Tunng, they've never made as much impact as I've felt they deserve. I played a couple of tracks from their excellent first album, because I think the first track is an unsung folktronic classic, and the second beautifully combines an archival folk recording off a 78 record (it sounds) with live instrumentation and electronics - a technique they've continued to use in later recordings. They've shown off their electronic credentials also on a few remixes, including a skittery take on venerable jazztronic Norwegians Jaga Jazzist.

Peter Broderick's new album Colours of the Night brings African pop and dub into his acoustic/electronic equation... Occasionally he can stray to the wrong side of the corny/naff divide for my ears, but he delivers his music with such earnestness and with such beauty that it's hard to complain.
Recently, Peter put up the stems of the title track from the album and invited remixes from all around the world. A selection of those have been released on 7" and digital by Portland record store and label Beacon Sound. We heard a twisted dub take by E3, and a droney one by Fabio Keiner.

Edinburgh-based artist Ben Chatwin has been releasing music for some time under the Talvihorros moniker, mostly sitting in the drone/noise spectrum, albeit always featuring acoustic & live instruments. It's evident from the sounds on his new album The Sleeper Awakes why he's put this one out under his own name though - the darkness is tempered by much more lushness, twinkly piano (or Dulcitone), strings carrying warm harmonies, etc. It's beautiful - and I do recommend checking out the Talvihorros stuff too, especially Eaten Alive and And It Was So for sounds which are in fact more in keeping with our next artist...

English bass guitarist James Welburn has been based in Berlin for a while and plays in Tony Buck's Transmit. He's enlisted the Necks drummer on his solo album Hold, released on the ever-reliable Miasmah label, creating very dark soundscapes of ever-growing distortion and krautrocky dirge drumming.

Ending on an even noisier note, we join Dutch free jazz/noise duo Dead Neanderthals, who have collaborated with the likes of Machinefabriek (including on a massive 2CD live set which is winging its way to me as we speak) and are beginning to make a big name for themselves outside of Holland. Here they collaborate with Norwegian noise artist Sten Ove Toft on a brutal & disturbing piece of noise.

Shoeb Ahmad - White Teeth [hellosQuare Recordings]
Schneider Kacirek - Lithos [hellosQuare Recordings]
Schneider Kacirek - Holzton [hellosQuare Recordings]
Shoeb Ahmad - Aloha Osaka! [hellosQuare Recordings]
Daughter's Fever - Daughter's Fever [hellosQuare Recordings]
Grasscut - Islander [Lo Recordings]
Grasscut - High Down [Ninja Tune]
Grasscut - The Tin Man [Ninja Tune]
Jaga Jazzist - Toccata Grasscut remix) [Ninja Tune]
Grasscut - Reservoir [Ninja Tune]
Grasscut - Red Kite [Lo Recordings]
Peter Broderick - Red Earth [Bella Union]
Peter Broderick - Colours of the Night (E3's To The Moon Mix) [Beacon Sound]
Peter Broderick - Colours of the Night (Totensonntagslied by Fabio Keiner) [Beacon Sound]
Ben Chatwin - Sirius [Village Green]
Ben Chatwin - In The Fire [Village Green]
James Welburn - Naught [Miasmah]
Sten Ove Toft & Dead Neanderthals - Hollow [Dead Neanderthals Bandcamp]

Listen again — ~107MB

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