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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, 26th of June, 2016

Playlist 26.06.16 (9:04 pm)

Tonight is a big Hood/Bracken special!

LISTEN AGAIN because let's face it, Hood are the best band that ever there was... Postcast over here, stream on demand from FBi radio.

So this Friday a whole heap of dispossessed British people, abandoned by the political classes, voted for a thing that they thought was one thing but turned out to be a much, much worse thing. It's an all-round tragedy and one can only hope they can pull themselves out of it.
In the spirit of this massive Hood special I'm starting with a band who were influences in so many ways by them. epic45 hail from a slightly different part of the the mid-north of England, but have a similar pastoral connection with the countryside and the seasons, and utilise a similar mix of high technology and lo-fi indie. The track I've opened with has a rather bitter connection to this weekend's events.

We start tonight's big special with a track from the new Bracken album - Chris Adams' first full album as Bracken since 2008. After some years of relative silence, peppered by remixes here and there, Adams revived the Bracken project in 2014 with an incredible mini-album on cassette (and later vinyl), but it still feels like a bit of a miracle to have this whole album here with us now.
Why a miracle? Why so much fuss? Well hopefully tonight's show will demonstrate what a radical band Hood were - from jangly, punky indie beginnings through noise experiments, and incorporating the most experimental and the most beautiful elements of electronica along the way. I'll try and put down a few words about why this band are so special to me, but I think this show will serve just as well, and more convincingly as you can hear it for yourself!

We start with a single from Hood that originally appeared as a b-side but was such a great little number that they released it on its own 7" in a new version. It's a lo-fi jangly indie piece that's much beloved of their fans but made little impact outside of that. With a field recording of a train, and a morose but catchy melody, it set the scene for much of what became of Hood - song & album titles became if anything more sarcastic & dark ("Crushed By Life", "Hood is Finished"), even when they signed to Domino, and like so many "cult" bands, they managed to be both passionately loved and largely ignored, iconoclastic & influential, but mostly obscure.
We follow this indie classic with the first appearance of amen breaks in Hood's music, from a 1996 anthology of rare tracks and new bits. The experimental drum'n'bass influence was mostly shunted off from Hood shortly afterwards into Chris Adams' solo project Downpour, and "Hey Charles Hayward" (a nice nod to the brilliant postpunk drummer who was doing live drum'n'bass before the genre even existed) is taken from the Windstorms Broken Microphones EP that blew many minds with its proto-breakcore amalgam of distorted breaks & samples, beauty and harsh noise mashed up against each other. It was not for a while until I connected Downpour with Hood; in fact it would be through the electronic side-projects and weird compilation tracks like the Lo Recordings one here that I first connected with Hood.
Still, eventually the various 7"s, 12"s and compilation tracks were compiled and became more readily available, so we have gems like the indie-meets-digital-cut-ups of "(the) weight", and the postrock of "the year of occasional lull".

While Hood's first couple of Domino albums had found them some acclaim with their postrock/ambient/indie beauty, it would be 2001's Cold House that detonated in the brains of so many people - not least because of the nasal rapping of two of Anticon's finest, doseone & why? on a few tracks. In fact, the other member of the groundbreaking experimental hip-hop crew cLOUDDEAD, producer Odd Nosdam, was a fan & collector of Hood since the '90s and dropped a lot of their tunes on Le Mixtape around the same year this album came out. Connections, connections...
Meanwhile, despite still being on Domino, Hood were still dropping tracks on compilations all over the place. Two really sweet tracks appeared on a compilation from a shortlived label called Simballrec featuring 45 second ditties from an amazing array of artists (Dntel, Tarantel, Daedelus and many others also make appearances) - and the one we heard directly comments on Chris Adams' penchant for intense digital edits on both Hood tracks and in the drum breaks of Downpour releases.
Our last Hood track comes not from their last album Outside Closer (great thought that is), nor from the afterthought of odds and sods called The Hood Tapes, but rather from the single that preceded Outside Closer. As usual they buried one of their best tracks as a b-side, and "Over the land, over the sea." is one of those tracks that will never leave me - shuffling drum beat, gorgeous guitar, string & synth textures, and what sounds like muffled doseone samples in there. It's pretty glorious.

So the Anticon. connection culminated in a number of guest appearances from Chris on releases from Subtle, Odd Nosdam and others, and the release of the extraordinary first album from Chris's new solo project Bracken on that label in 2008. The wobble of dubstep's basslines and the head-nod beats with the dub snare hits on the 2nd & 4th beats had taken hold and We Know About The Need exploits this expertly, underpinning the indietronica and digital processing with a dirty bass weight.

The following year there was an ambient, experimental piece of weirdness called Eno About The Need (lol) that was initially released as a single vinyl dubplate that was posted around the world to different fans to listen to one by one(!) and eventually found its way back to Adams whereupon it was digitized and released as a limited CDR... And then, nothing but remixes and the occasional compilation appearance for many years. I played a beautiful remix tonight, one of many, many that I could have chosen (in fact I only dropped his remix of Aussie Shoeb Ahmad from the playlist at the last minute for reasons of length).
And then suddenly in 2014 a new EP popped up from Downpour on Bandcamp - a love letter to classic '90s jungle, absolutely pitch-perfect and wonderful. And just about simultaneously, a new Bracken release - long EP, album? Let's call it a mini-album, released on cassette and then later on limited vinyl from the legendary Norman Records' new "Public House Recordings". With contemporary beats, snatches of singing, gorgeous tape-warped ambient and more, it was everything a modernized Bracken should be.
Skip forward two years and we have another new Downpour EP on the Bandcamp, and finally a full album from Bracken courtesy of Home Assembly Music. More of the same loveliness in every regard, from chopped-up Prefuse 73-style hip-hop to a lovely piece of ambient house with a bassline drop 3/4 of the way through that's to die for.

Meanwhile, last year Stewart Anderson of Steward, Boyracer and much more (and once head honcho of the extremely influential Hood-releasing 555 Recordings) formed a new punk/"hard mod" band called Hard Left, to spit out all the political venom he & his mates needed to release (excellent!) and I only just discovered there's a hard-hitting Downpour remix on there.

We segue into another Hood-related project via the last appearance of Chris Adams tonight - with the shortlived duo On Fell, which featured Chris working with Andrew Johnson - best known as one half of The Remote Viewer, the subdued, magical duo he & Craig Tattersal formed around about the time they both left Hood. Prior to this they were The Famous Boyfriend, making both scrappy indiepunk and glorious indietronica, but The Remote Viewer heralded a switch to masterful heartstring-pulling minimal electronics. The duo released heaps of clicky electronica & ambient on their Moteer label, which dissolved a few years back, but The Remote Viewer never quite seems to break up.
While Craig Tattersal has seemingly endless solo & band projects to his name (including The Boats), the arrival of a new line (related) a couple of years ago was the first time Johnson had set sail on his own. Working with incredibly primitive hardware he creates superb techno, house and ambient pieces, tonight's being a slightly unnerving lullaby with his softly distorted vocals hovering in the back of the mix.

Hood were a gem of a band, and while admittedly this was mostly a Chris Adams special, it's unfortunate I haven't covered all the various alumni, including John Clyde-Evans, Matt Robson and Chris's brother Richard Adams' The Declining Winter and Memory Drawings. So it goes.

epic45 - england fallen over [Make Mine Music]
Bracken - Masked Headlands [Home Assembly Music]
Hood - I've Forgotten How To Live [Love Train/Misplaced Music]
Hood - resonant 1942 [Slumberland]
Downpour - Hey Charles Hayward [Drop Beat]
Hood - Lo-Band-Width [Lo Recordings]
Hood - (the) weight [555 Recordings]
Hood - the year of occasional lull [Rocket Racer]
Hood - They removed all trace that anything had ever happened here (feat. dose & why?) [Domino]
Downpour - Let's do the blank [self-released]
Hood - it's not that much to lose [Simballrec]
Hood - Over the land, over the sea. [Domino]
Bracken - of athroll slains [Anticon.]
aus - Moraine (Bracken remix) [Preco]
Downpour - Infinity [Downpour Bandcamp]
Bracken - Presence (in close focus) [Baro Records]
Bracken - Awake into falling light [Baro Records]
Hard Left - Red Flag (Downpour Re-Work) [Hard Left Bandcamp]
Bracken - Ravenser Odd II [Home Assembly Music]
On Fell - Untitled B side from first 7" [Moteer]
The Remote Viewer - Untitled track 04 from debut LP [555 Recordings]
a new line (related) - A Finger But No Pulse To Put It On [Home Normal]

Listen again — ~191MB

Sunday, 19th of June, 2016

Playlist 19.06.16 (9:06 pm)

New music extravaganza on the show tonight! So excited by how this year's turning out.

LISTEN AGAIN because music is timeless. Podcast here, stream on demand at FBi.

It's been a big year for Kane Ikin, with already a solo album on a well-regarded UK label, and an EP on a French techno label. Now his duo Solo Andata, formed in Perth but now I believe based in Melbourne, have released a surprise new album after some years' silence. They started out with their debut on beloved Chicago postrock/jazz/electronic label Hefty Records 10 years ago, and have stayed in the international spotlight since. Their music is pure gentleness, with guitar, piano, percussion, field recordings and very subtle electronic touches.

Sar Friedman releases her debut as Medicine Voice on Provenance, the new label run by Stuart Buchanan of New Weird Australia and Wood & Wire. Although there are high-profile collaborators on here (Oren Ambarchi, Joe Talia & James Rushford), Friedman's is a singular vision, and this track in particular is predominantly her piano and vocals, with some nicely disturbing drones underneath.

I often talk about Canberra-based Reuben Ingall as one of my favourite Australian artists. I guess he walks that line that Utility Fog loves so much where live instrumentation washes up against electronic processing - using Max/MSP patches and pedals, he samples and glitches his voice and guitar along with non-musical objects, and switches easily between emotive indie guitar dirges and complex programmed electronics. His new release comes from a new cassette label Tandem Tapes run by ex-Underlapper Morgan McKellar, now based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The label pairs Indonesian experimental artists (who I will get to in a future show) with overseas artists, mostly from McKellar's Australian connections for now.
Ingall's side is from the second Tandem Tapes release. The debut cassette features a side from Melbourne experimental electronic artist Pare Ohm, jittery beats with a jazzy inflection.

Back to Provenance, and back to Canberra whence the duo Spartak originate. Drummer Evan Dorrian is now based in Sydney, but guitarist Shoeb Ahmad is still in Canberra; both also contribute electronics of all sorts and vocals, and will be joined by a female vocalist on most of their new album, due in July, which I'm 100% pumped for. This track comes from Marks of Provenance I, given away with all purchases of the first (few?) Provenance releases, and it's an alternate version of a track from their new album.

Also from Marks of Provenance I is Melbourne electronic pop artist KAIA, extending tonight's theme of glitched vocals. And Sydney's Simo Soo gets remixed into quite dark territory by Vivian Huynh aka Lovely Head.

Our final Australian track for tonight takes us to Brisbane with Feet Teeth, a trio who combine electronics with live instrumentation, all improvised live. Their new release, Gout sees them collaborating with various Australian improvisers & experimental artists like Andrew Tuttle, Erik Griswold and Duskdarter's Kahl Monticone. This piece starts off as pure electronic drone but soon we hear the trumpet and drums surfacing out of the mix.

So finally we move overseas to Great Britain, with a band whose albums have a strong sense of place - their first was a folky, indie, symphonic, electronic ode to the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland; their new one examines and celebrates a small English town called Skelmersdale. Orkney is home to singer Erland Cooper of Erland & the Carnival, while multi-instrumentalist Simon Tong (ex member of The Verve and Gorillaz, also playing in Cooper's band) hails from Skelmersdale, so presumably their next album will take them to third member Hannah Peel's Ireland. The folk musics of their various countries heavily informs their songwriting, as does an indie rock sensibility and a certain homespun electronic undercurrent (drum machine beats etc).

As I listened to their new album I noticed something very familiar - a bassline that drives the wonderful single "Bay of Skaill" from their first album. It appears as a bassline on the single "Signs", but also as on plucked strings and a vocal refrain on "Pennylands" and elsewhere on the album too. It's a nice unifying feature and a callback to a popular song from their first release, but it was familiar quite aside from this, and it took a couple of listens before I managed to make the necessary mental connections - was it Boards of Canada? Autechre? Not quite right... Suddenly I knew exactly who it was. I would be surprised if it's a deliberate lifting, in fact I'd be surprised if The Magnetic North know the track at all, but it's almost exactly the bassline from a gorgeous idm track by the legendary Darrel Fitton aka Bola, from his Mauver EP. A bizarre and unexpected connection.

This electronic sidestep connects us handily to the work of Klara Lewis, whose second album on Editions Mego came out a few weeks ago. Lewis hails from Sweden, so it was not until reading an interview recently that I made the connection that she is the daughter of Edvard Graham Lewis of English post-punk experimentalists Wire. Her father has also released music on the Mego label, and while some of her sensibilities are similar, it's not necessary to draw comparisons or bring expectations to her own music. She's adept at the sort of sonic fusions and deconstructions long favoured by Mego, with chopped up sounds, gaseous ambient tracts, spooky sampled voices and the like, but she's also willing to drop in muffled techno beats here and there. In the same year as her Mego debut she put out a 12" on Peder Mannerfelt Produktion (and it was nice to read Mannerfelt in the new edition of The Wire talking about wanting to break down what he sees as extreme segregation in Swedish society, and releasing a number of female Swedish electronic artists is part of that). There's no doubt that new releases from Lewis will be highly anticipated round these parts.

Finally, another recent Editions Mego release is from the label boss himself, Peter Rehberg aka Pita. Rehberg is one of the originals in the glitch/noise scene that came out of Austria centred around the label that was originally called Mego. The Rehberg & Bauer releases with Ramon Bauer formed the catalyst for the pair to start the label, and Rehberg has also collaborated fruitfully with Christian Fennesz and Jim O'Rourke as FennO'Berg. Solo, the Pita work was always quite confrontingly noisy, although his work under his real name for contemporary dance artists is less tinittus-inducing. His new album Get In situates itself in a series of Pita releases (Get Out, Get Down, Get Off), and has passages of quite harsh abstract noise, but on the whole is queasy and ambient. I couldn't resist playing an epic and gorgeous untitled piece from 1999's Get Out, a shoegazey, faux-orchestral, distorted onslaught.

Solo Andata - Left [12k]
Solo Andata - Separate Lovers [12k]
Medicine Voice - the roman / crossing the fourth threshold [Provenance]
Reuben Ingall - Tomorrow [Tandem Tapes]
Reuben Ingall - Superfood [Tandem Tapes]
Pare Ohm - Com Glut [Tandem Tapes]
Pare Ohm - Three in One Hundred [Tandem Tapes]
Spartak - Black Eye Trace [Provenance]
KAIA - iii [Provenance]
Simo Soo - Dancer In The Dark (Lovely Head Remix) [Provenance]
Feet Teeth - six minutes and twelve seconds [Feet Teeth Bandcamp]
The Magnetic North - Signs [Full Time Hobby]
The Magnetic North - Bay of Skaill [Full Time Hobby]
The Magnetic North - Pennylands [Full Time Hobby]
Bola - Vespers [Skam]
Klara Lewis - Twist [Editions Mego]
Klara Lewis - c a t t [Editions Mego]
Klara Lewis - Msuic I [Peder Mannerfelt Produktion]
Klara Lewis - Beaming [Editions Mego]
Klara Lewis - Us [Editions Mego]
Pita - 9U2016 [Editions Mego]
Pita - Untitled 3 from Get Out [Editions Mego]

Listen again — ~194MB

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Sunday, 12th of June, 2016

Playlist 12.06.16 (9:26 pm)

Industrial hip-hop & industrial techno are the main features tonight... back after an unintended gap due to the east coast storms & flooding!

LISTEN AGAIN, listen anytime, listening is good. Podcast here, stream on demand at FBi.

It was a huge pleasure to discover that FBi have decided to make Marcus Whale's debut album (under his own name) Inland Sea album of the week this week. Not just because it's nice when my taste overlaps with the station's highest level of official endorsement, but also because Marcus has been an important part of this show for a long time, and indeed this show played a role in his own musical story, playing his experimental tracks as Scissor Lock back when he was still at school. His bands Collarbones and Black Vanilla draw from r'n'b/pop as well as post-dubstep, uk garage and experimental electronic forms, but he's also got a background in postrock, noise & metal as well as training in classical performance & composition. And all of this emerges in some form or other on this new album, with avant-garde horn and string arrangements, skittering hi-hats, occasional glitchy edits, and massive, complex drums. Live they're performed by dual drummers - usually Ivan Lisyak along with Russell Fitzgibbon of Fishing. Lyrically the album explores the dark undercurrents of Australia's history, whether it's a tribute to a gay bushranger or laments for our horrific treatment of indigenous Australians and particular Aboriginal women. It's Australian album of the year for me.

Perth artist Kane Ikin (now based in Melbourne I believe?) was the subject of a feature on this show a few weeks ago, and is back with another new EP, Basalt Crush. It follows Modern Pressure with a similar style of gritty techno and post-industrial ambient electronics. Ikin's turn to the outer reaches of the dancefloor, and the attention he's receiving internationally of late, is extremely welcome.

Had I not been stranded outside of Sydney last Sunday, we would've had an even more substantial special on the amazing industrial hip-hop/noise/shoegaze/etc collective dälek. Fronted by MC Dälek aka Will Brooks, for most of its history alongside producer Alap Momin aka The Oktopus, dälek pioneered a noise-hop sound which was at once absolutely in touch with hip-hop history going back to Public Enemy and earlier, and absolutely iconoclastic in the way it drew from noise, shoegaze, psych rock, metal and more - indeed the band was generally released on metal-affiliated labels, and appeared on stage with metal-related bands. Brooks' raps are politically charged, and gain depth from the moody, harsh and beautiful productions (for particular beauty see the 2 minute outro on the 10-minute title track to 2007's Abandoned Language). We also heard one of their remixes (of Swiss indietronic band Velma, released under the umbrella of Deadverse, the collective revolving around the various members & collaborators of dälek). In 2009 or 2010 dälek quietly broke up, with Brooks completing a doctorate and Momin moving to Berlin to work on solo production. Brooks has released a substantial amount of solo material as iconAclass, with an impressive handle on beatmaking as well as his rapping; meanwhile, among other projects Momin was involved with a hip-hop supergroup called Numbers Not Names. Released & conceived by French label Ici d'ailleurs, it also features Chris Cole of Manyfingers and various incarnations of Third Eye Foundation on drums. Brooks reformed dälek last year as he felt he had more to say with its particular voice. Momin didn't want to be involved but was happy for it to go ahead, and dälek alumni Destructo Swarmbots and DJ rEk, along with Brooks, have produced a bunch of tracks that easily live up to the name.

Lately in industrial hip-hop we've had Death Grips and even more excitingly to me, clipping. Serendipitously, just as I was putting together this dälek special together, clipping. (full stop included) released a stack of new stuff on their Bandcamp, including the full stems from their brilliant 2014 album CLPPNG, and a remix album full of weird & experimental artists. Producers William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes have connections to the noise, experimental electronic & breakcore scenes - Snipes was one half of Captain Ahab, which explains the presence of Aussie breakcore larrikin Toecutter, and also breakcore luminary Xanopticon. Also of note in the Bandcamp update is a 24hr "remix" of the album track "Dream". Extreme timestretching and other techniques make for an insane piece of art, which one day I would love to attempt to experience in full (give or take some sleeping hours!)

Final artist for tonight is one of the true geniuses, Justin K Broadrick, grindcore and industrial metal pioneer, shoegaze metal pioneer, who's also in his long history produced experimental ambient guitar music, minimalist electronics, drum'n'bass, breakcore, electronic shoegaze & idm... and no doubt more. As JK Flesh he's explored various electronic genres - dubstep, instrumental hip-hop, drum'n'bass and now techno - with a heaviness inherited from metal. Distorted bass, distorted beats, occasional post-hardcore howls, make for a primal sound that's high-tech but lo-fi and strangely timeless. This is made clear listening back to the Techno Animal cut I played from 1997 - he & The Bug's Kevin Martin have been in this game longer than most. Again, I wish I'd had a chance for a more comprehensive overview of JK Flesh & related music but I'm glad I slipped this Techno Animal reminder in at least :)

Marcus Whale - Is He That Man [Good Manners Music]
Marcus Whale - Arcadia [Good Manners Music]
Kane Ikin - Street Flare [Latency Recordings]
Kane Ikin - Grid [Latency Recordings]
dälek - Shattered [Profound Lore]
dälek - Spiritual Healing [Ipecac]
dälek - Abandoned Language [Ipecac]
Velma - Rouge (Deadverse Remix) [Hydra Head Records]
Numbers Not Names - Numbers Not Names [Ici d'ailleurs]
iconAclass - Crushed [Deadverse Recordings Bandcamp]
dälek - 6dB [Profound Lore]
clipping. - body & blood [Sub Pop]
clipping. - ends (xanopticon remix) [clipping. Bandcamp]
JK Flesh - trinity [Electic Deluxe]
Techno Animal - demonoid [City Slang]
JK Flesh - Hide & Seek [JK Flesh Bandcamp]

Listen again — ~199MB

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