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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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Sunday, 5th of March, 2017

Playlist 05.03.17 (12:18 am)

This Wednesday is International Women’s Day, so we have a focus on female artists tonight.

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Starting with 9T Antiope, an Iranian duo based in Paris. Made up of Nima Aghiani and Sara Bigdeli Shamloo, they use many electronic noisemakers and plenty of sound processing alongside jazz-inflected vocals, violin and other acoustic instruments. They frequently produce slow-burning dronelike pieces, into which Sara Shamloo places crystal clear song structures. The juxtaposition of her strong melodies with the sometimes abstract noisescapes, and the way these pieces slowly gel can be quite extraordinary.

Kristina Esfandiari’s King Woman first came to the world’s attention with their incredible EP Doubt in 2015, released on The Flenser. For all the progress we think we’ve made, female-fronted metal acts still face a depressing amount of bigotry and out-and-out misogyny in the metal world, something which Esfandiari has not been backward in calling out. Having previously played in other people’s bands (including somewhat controversial shoegazers Whirr), Esfandiari pairs the heaviness of doom metal and Jesu-style shoegaze metal with an ethereal, Mazzy Star-like indie-country twang (which she explores further in her solo project Miserable), resulting in something truly moving.

Salt Lake City’s SubRosa are unusual not just for being a female-fronted sludge/doom band, but because they feature two electric violins as their lead melodic instruments. The three women in the band play guitar and the two electric violins, next to the male rhythm section. Occasional distorted hardcore vocals stand beside full-throated clean vocals, but a parallel love of folk and folk rock results in softer passages, and while folk is hardly an unusual juxtaposition in any metal styles, the harmonised folk singing in SubRosa is always a delight next to the righteous riffage.

Noveller is the one-woman act of Sarah Lipstate, who’s explored the guitar in all its potential for some years, finding herself flitting in and out of the noise and drone worlds, but settling into some sort of pure instrumental music, somewhat ambient and utterly pretty. Although she’s collaborated with many top-notch musicians and briefly played in a number of bands, her own albums are resolutely solo affairs based around Lipstate’s talent for producing incredibly varied, layered sounds from her guitars.

Following with another instrumental artist closely associated with her instrument of choice: Sydney’s Sophie Hutchings. Her new album was commissioned by Dutch post-classical label 1631 Recordings, who were very keen to bring her into the fold with the current European love of all things ethereal and piano-based. To me Sophie’s music is not quite in the same genre, but it’s still a distinct pleasure to see it finding an international resonance. The second track I played actually features me on cello – and Jeremy Kong on violin – improvised live in Jim Moginie’s studio as part of the sessions for Sophie’s last album. It was late a night and I hardly remember playing these notes at all, so it’s quite nice hearing them back now!

Norwegian ensemble Nakama work around jazz and classical structures with an acoustic line-up of violin, piano, double bass and drums (there is a vocalist but she doesn’t appear on this album). We started with a solo improvisation from their pianist Ayumi Tanaka (who is of course the connection with our all-women lineup tonight, as well as connecting us to the previous artist)… but actually it’s interesting to hear the concept behind this album: composer and bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen (whose beautiful warm tones can be heard on the last track I played) asked the members of the band to compose a “Dedication” to one of the other members. That member did not play on the dedication, but performed an improvised solo piece (entitled “Gratitude”) following their dedication. It’s quite a lovely idea, and explains where Tanaka’s solo piece came from. The group’s instrumental makeup and blurred line between composition and improvisation leads to a unique and beautiful sound.

9T Antiope – Telophase [Eilean Records]
9T Antiope – Abiding Eventide [Unperceived Records]
9T Antiope – Venator [Flaming Pines]
9T Antiope – Edax [9T Antiope Bandcamp]
9T Antiope – Metaphase [Eilean Records]
King Woman – Deny [Relapse Records]
King Woman – Wrong [The Flenser]
King Woman – Hem [Relapse Records]
SubRosa – Il Cappio [Profound Lore Records]
SubRosa – Wound of the Warden [Profound Lore Records]
Noveller – A Pink Sunset For No One [Fire Records]
Noveller – Rituals [Fire Records]
Sophie Hutchings – Sway [1631 Recordings/Hobbledehoy Records]
Sophie Hutchings – Pipe Dream [1631 Recordings/Hobbledehoy Records]
Nakama – Gratitude III [Nakama Records]
Nakama – Intimate [Nakama Records]
Nakama – Dedication I [Nakama Records]

Listen again — ~188MB

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