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Utility Fog

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Sunday nights from 9 to 11pm on FBi Radio, 94.5 FM in Sydney, Australia.

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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

2 Responses to “Playlist 26.06.16”

  1. Matt Harris Says:

    Wonderful music to listen to while being industrious on election day. Such a wealth of music from the many-and-gentle-tentacled Hood collective. Vote Hood!

  2. Peter Says:

    Word. I'd vote Hood without hesitation!

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