a wholly owned subsiduary of
Frogworth Corp
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, 30th of April, 2017

Playlist 30.04.17 (12:36 am)

From sludge to folk to electronic to noise, we’ve got you covered this week…

LISTEN AGAIN because you just can’t believe how great it was the first time… Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Black metal/sludge/noise band the body are known for mixing beauty in with their horrific distorted extravagances, and their work with vocalists like Chrissy Wolpert and Maralie Armstrong lends a spine-tingling gorgeousness to many of their songs, including inspired covers. Tonight is their take on a classic song of self-loathing by Alex Chilton with Big Star.

I discovered violinist/violist/singer Dina Maccabee when she played Julia Holter at the Newtown Social Club (RIP!) last year. It was the second time I’ve seen Holter, and while both were fantastic, she was a whole lot more assured this time, and benefited from a superb backing band – especially Maccabee, on side of stage with viola and vocal mic, viola hooked up to a laptop controlling loops & effects with a Keith McMillen SoftStep pedal. At the time there was one lovely EP for violin & voice on her Bandcamp, as well as the work of her sweet folk duo Ramon & Jessica. But luckily for us, two new albums appeared on her Bandcamp this week – one a soundtrack to Sweet Land, the Musical (Americana-tinged instrumentals), and the other a proper solo album called The World is in the Work, a collection of touching songs and innovative viola work.

A few weeks earlier, Julia Holter released a live (in studio) album recorded on the same tour, which is well worth it even if you think you have all the tracks on her studio albums. These are really great arrangements and benefit from a band who’d been touring pretty intensely. And this track has Maccabee’s viola all over it.

Norwegian guitarist Stephan Meidell has played in propulsive postrock band Cakewalk for about 5 years, but his debut album is a pretty different affair, melding classical & folk instrumentation like harpsichord, baroque violin and clarinet, with tape manipulation, programmed beats and electronics. It’s core ‘Fog music and of course we love it. Dark, expressive and alien. Get in it.

Perth composer Rhys Channing explores Max/MSP processing and Garrahand percussion as tilde~ on his new album for the excellent Perth label Tone List, which is showcasing some of the great WA Experimental scene. These pieces for slow-moving hand percussion and electronic glitches & drones are lovely.

Mastermind behind the amazing Tandem Tapes split cassette label based in Jakarta, Morgan McKellar has long been featured on this show under various aliases. As Bright Sea he’s releasing probably his most obscure stuff yet, and the latest release is produced entirely from processing field recordings of birds. The last track is pretty intense, including some top notch sub bass drones!

In his dubstep & drum’n’bass work as Indigo and in his extraordinary duo Akkord with Synkro, Liam Blackburn is deeply familiar with the sub bass too. And he certainly hasn’t abandoned that in his explorations of fourth world ambient and tribal techno as Ancestral Voices. His first album under that name did shy away from the beats to some extent, and although he released two excellent beat-driven EPs last year, his new album finds him deeper in the oceans, albeit with some rhythmic drive here and there.

Very much rhythmically driven is the new album from virtuoso saxophone player Colin Stetson. I first saw him playing an astonishing guest spot with My Brightest Diamond at a Vivid Festival a few years ago – before his first acclaimed album on Constellation – and have been never less than gobsmacked by anything he does since. Here we hear his usual circular breathing, singing & multiphonics through the sax, and there’s an added emphasis on the percussive aspects of the sax, drawing (we’re told) on his love of early ’90s electronica like Aphex Twin and Autechre. Whether we hear that specifically, there’s certainly heavy basslines and grooves going on here, and lovely melodies floating over the top.

For a decade and a half, Wolf Eyes have been one of the most prominent ensembles in the noise scene, although now they like to characterise their music as “trip metal”. Their latest album features a vocal delivery that could almost be out of late Birthday Party or early Bad Seeds, and the music is strange & eerie but not all that abrasive.
Meanwhile, ex-Wolf Eye Aaron Dilloway, a long-term noise favourite of mine, has a new album out too, with rather more gutteral vocal emanations and generally very disturbing sounds. Yes. Accept it into your heart.

the body – Holocaust [Sisters in Christ]
Dina Maccabee – Someone Fearless [Dina Maccabee Bandcamp]
Ramon & Jessica – Caterpillar [Ramon & Jessica Bandcamp]
Dina Maccabee – By the Graveyard [Dina Maccabee Bandcamp]
Dina Maccabee – Northern Lights [Dina Maccabee Bandcamp]
Dina Maccabee – Even When the Stars Align [Dina Maccabee Bandcamp]
Julia Holter – In The Green Wild [Domino]
Stephan Meidell – State I [Hubro]
Stephan Meidell – Baroque I [Hubro]
Stephan Meidell – State II [Hubro]
tilde~ – Öüôø [Tone List]
Bright Sea – Negara Real [Bright Sea Bandcamp]
Ancestral Voices – Geomancy [Samurai Music Group]
Ancestral Voices – Forn Sidr [Samurai Music Group]
Colin Stetson – All this I do for glory [52 Hz]
Colin Stetson – Between water and wind [52 Hz]
Wolf Eyes – Undertow [Lower Floor Music]
Aaron Dilloway – Inhuman Form Reflected [Dais Records]

Listen again — ~189.MB

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Sunday, 23rd of April, 2017

Playlist 23.04.17 (12:36 am)

Hey ho, thanks to Andrew Maxam for his wonderful fill-in last week! I’m back with a great assortment of mixed sounds.

LISTEN AGAIN for the weekly fix you need… via stream on demand from FBi, or podcast link here.

As well as being half of Graveyard Tapes with Matthew Collings, Euan McMeeken makes beautiful post-classical/ambient indie music as Glacis. Last year he released his album The World is a Little Lonelier Without You through the boutique Facture label in a very limited CD edition, but there are currently a few days left of the Kickstarter he’s running to release it on vinyl, so head on over if it sounds like your thing!

Here’s something unusual that popped into my mailbox this week. Irish indiefolk dreamer Villagers has teamed up with the one & only composer/arranger/orchestrator Nico Muhly for a single release – seems to just be this one track. It’s mostly twinkly prettiness but I like how it goes a bit overdriven near the end.

Originally from Sydney, I believe, the duo Ducks! are now based in Berlin where they quack and benefit from water running off their backs, but they also make some lovely trip hoppy indietronica. You can grab this single over on their Bandcamp and I’m looking forward to more soon.

Shaun Leacy used to play with the legendary, infamous Newcastle noise/ritual/neo-Neanderthal group Castings, but they broke up years ago (*sob*), so it’s excellent to hear some new cassette releases from him, solo – despite the name Suburban Cracked Collective. It’s electronic music, even with some beats, but with a freeform noise/psychedelic approach. Been enjoying these a lot this past week.

Perhaps the most prominent name from the groundbreaking leftfield hip-hop group Anti-Pop ConsortiumBeans has collaborated with lots of experimental electronic artists over the years, including an appearance on last year’s Mark Pritchard album. But it’s been a while since a real release from Beans, so it’s kind of a surprise to suddenly find he’s just released not one but THREE albums simultaneously. The first is produced by Canadian producer Toboggan, while the second features collaborations with heaps of interesting producers including Laurel HaloChelsea Wolfe producer Ben Chisholm and Yellow Swans‘ Pete Swanson. The third is focused on the appalling unchecked violence towards black people in America, and has some quite harrowing listening, mostly produced by Ay Fast of the Schematic label.

Once upon a time the Anticon label’s core product was weirdass hip-hop, but now they cover everything from electronica to indie, so it’s nice hearing Anticon original doseone turning up with a good dose of dark electronic hip-hop along with underground rapper Mestizo. The project’s called A7PHA, and it’s the best material I’ve heard involving doseone in a while.

Latvian producer N1L appeared on the scene with his ultra-processed, technical, messed-up techno with a 2015 EP that launched Lee Gamble‘s UIQ label. A second EP followed on UIQ this year, and his latest release is an EP on Where To Now? Records, a slightly more ambient affair but equally weird. Off the back of that first EP he was asked by PAN to remix experimental electronic maestro Helm.

Finally, Gradients, the somewhat delayed debut compilation from the wonderful Astrophonica, has dropped this week. A who’s who of contemporary jungle & jungle-meets-footwork-meets-bass music, it’s got some killer tracks, and who better to start things off than label founders Fracture & Neptune? It’s crazy technical stuff, beat juggling like none other, but the classic fast drums and slow bass sound we’ve loved for over 2 decades now… Newcomer Lewis James bounces the beats over ambient pads and a slow-fast backbone, while Sully reminds us that rave music had breakbeats even before jungle was a thing.

Glacis – 16 March [Facture/Kickstarter to release on vinyl]
Villagers & Nico Muhly – Fortunate Child [created for This Ain’t No Disco]
Ducks! – Giant World [Ducks! Bandcamp]
Suburban Cracked Collective – Oh Gravity… You Fucker [Chemical Imbalance]
Castings – no puppet, no dice [Steady Cam Records]
Suburban Cracked Collective – What’s With All The Peacocks [Altered States Tapes]
Beans – Slow Motion Explosion [Tyger Rawwk Rcrds/Beans Bandcamp]
Anti-Pop Consortium – Volcano (Four Tet Remix) [Ninja Tune]
Beans – Grey Meat [Tyger Rawwk Rcrds/Beans Bandcamp]
Beans – Waterboarding [Tyger Rawwk Rcrds/Beans Bandcamp]
Beans – VX [Tyger Rawwk Rcrds/Beans Bandcamp]
Beans – Super Bleak [Tyger Rawwk Rcrds/Beans Bandcamp]
A7PHA – No Breaks [Anticon]
A7PHA – Kingdom [Anticon]
N1L – Sleep Architecture [UIQ]
N1L – Iguana Love Bite [UIQ]
Helm – Olympic Mess (N1L Remix) [PAN]
N1L – Chasing The Sun [Where To Now? Records]
Fracture & Neptune – Whatever [Astrophonica]
Lewis James – Snook [Astrophonica]
Sully – We’re Here [Astrophonica]

Listen again — ~110MB

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Sunday, 9th of April, 2017

Playlist 09.04.17 (12:34 am)

Got some cool electronic goodies for you tonight, including some nice industrial beats and ambience, and later some more of that ol’ post-classical prettiness.

LISTEN AGAIN for the full effect… stream on demand at the FBi website or podcast here.

Second Woman, the duo of Telefon Tel Aviv‘s Joshua Eustis and longtime collaborator Turk Dietrich (aka Belong) debuted last year with an album of pure electronica that balanced itself uneasily between the chaotic and focused, with barlines frequently obscured by the tendency of every sound to bounce around according to some kind of stochastic algorithms. The influence of Autechre is strong here, but it’s there just as much in the way they’re drawn to beautiful buried melodies too. On their new album, out in a couple of weeks, they seem to have found their sense of balance, and while the same tendencies are there, they’re less likely to bump the listener out of the zone. It’s engrossing and very satisfying listening.

A new project from the amazing Kiki HitomiWaqWaq Kingdom sees her back on the German digidub label Jahtari, working with the infamous DJ Scotch Egg and brilliant Italian percussionist & experimental musician Andrea Belfi. Quite the team-up, it’s still the usual langourous electronic dub Hitomi is known for, but it’s a focused selection of songs with some righteous beats and basslines.

House producer Paul Woolford has been slipping out his stunning jungle/drum’n’bass productions under the Special Request moniker for a few years now, and it’s always a joy to have new tunes or remixes appear. Fresh off the release of his epic FABRICLIVE DJ mix, we’ve now got the exclusive new cuts from that mix along with a couple of others. There’s a bit of techno and ambient rounding out the jungle on this EP, including a remix from Berlin producer Minor Science drawing the links between jungle and techno with his very technical bass reimagining.

After last year’s quasi-classical soundtrack album, Clark returns to techno on his new Death Peak album, although as usual the sounds are all organically mushy around the edges, and there’s some nice choral stuff floating around the last few tracks.

I play quite a bit of stuff on this show that I term “industrial” – industrial techno at least, or industrial ambient or metal here and there. Lucerne’s S S S S is one of the true industrial faithful, in terms of iconography and approach. Some of his stuff can easily be called industrial techno, although it’s in a different vein from that bass-heavy Berlin style techno of Lakker, These Hidden Hands et al. But his new release is a vinyl version of a cassette from 2015 called just dead stars for dead eyes. Originally released on Haunter Records, you can find the cassette version on Bandcamp here. The vinyl edition is expertly mastered by none other than Lawrence English, but it’s not just a remaster: the arrangements are subtly changed as well, with differing emphasis on piano & ambient pads vs noise. Regardless, the two ~14 minute tracks are masterful dark sonic narratives.

With distorted ambient textures, LK10 is a new and experimental project for its creator Brendan Wixted, who is best known as leader of the lo-fi indie band The Model School. There’s still guitar in there among the other sounds. It sounds like it’s a fruitful avenue, so hopefully we’ll hear more soon!

Since the early 2000s, Kris Keogh has been making audacious experimental music out of the Northern Territory. He used to send out crazily-packaged CDRs of his breakcore & idm stuff as Blastcorp, but he’s gone through a bunch of other projects in the meantime – indietronica, dancefloor pop, and under his own name these lovely processed harp works. Volume 1 came out in 2011 on Stu Buchanan‘s New Weird Australia, and now the second volume has been released on Buchanan’s new label, Provenance Records. It can at times be a bit too pretty, with the corruscating harp phrases bouncing around digital delays, but frequently Keogh finds the right amount of, well, processing to carry the listener on blissful puffy clouds.

Last week I showcased a few tracks from the lovely Piano Day comp from Spirit Level, the label that Tim Shiel founded with his mate Wally de Backer. I could easily play another three tracks, but with limited time I still wanted to find a place for Tim’s own track, which is utterly pretty. Check out the whole comp though, as it’s rad.

Named after the last Jacques Brel album, Les Marquises is the project of Jean-Sébastien Nouveau, which takes Brel’s modernised French chanson into the 21st century with influences from the minimalist, trip-hoppy “darkjazz” and occasional hints at industrial music, but is founded in a world of mostly acoustic, world of classical/jazz arrangements. It’s a wonderful update of chanson with some great musicians, including Matt Elliott lending some English language vocals on a number of tracks.

Speaking of chanson, we segue into the recent documentary soundtrack work of Olivier Alary via the gorgeous last album of his Ensemble project, Excerpts, which featured a brilliant band of strings, keyboards and female vocalists. Previously, Alary’s Ensemble had been built from shimmering glitchscapes and samples, although he always worked with female singers. His new album moves him from FatCat Records to their post-classical subsiduary 130701, and says au revoir to the vocals – perhaps temporarily. It shows us what he’s been up to since 2011, creating soundtracks, and at least on this album it’s almost all acousic arrangements. And it’s rather beautiful.

We’re kind of keeping the French connection with the last track tonight, the seemingly unlikely collaboration between Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales. Gonzales is in his fin-de-siècle French impressionist piano mode here, a la his beloved Solo Piano albums. Set in Room 29 of the Chateau Marmont hotel on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, the album is a song cycle speak-sung by Cocker ostensibly from the point of view of the baby grand piano that lived in that room and saw many decadent activities from the famous and infamous celebrities that stayed there.

Second Woman – 06 ////\\ [Spectrum Spools]
Second Woman – 900438an4 [Spectrum Spools]
Second Woman – 05 ////\ [Spectrum Spools]
WaqWaq Kingdom – Koko Says [Jahtari]
WaqWaq Kingdom – Step Into The World [Jahtari]
Special Request – Stairfoot Lane Bunker [Houndstooth]
Special Request – Stairfoot Lane Bunker (Minor Science Remix) [Houndstooth]
Clark – Hoova [Warp]
S S S S – Hegemonie Negative [Haunter Records]
S S S S – just dead stars for dead eyes, part II [Hallow Ground]
LK10 – Nuclear Codes [SoundCloud]
Kris Keogh – I held on so tight as our whole world disintegrated [New Weird Australia]
Tim Shiel – For Your Health [Spirit Level]
Les Marquises – Vallées Closes [Ici d’ailleurs]
Les Marquises – Following Strangers feat. Matt Elliott [Ici d’ailleurs]
Ensemble – Things I Forgot [FatCat Records]
Olivier Alary – Nollywood [130701]
Olivier Alary – Pulses [130701]
Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales – Room 29 [Deutsche Grammophon]

Listen again — ~111MB

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Sunday, 2nd of April, 2017

Playlist 02.04.17 (12:33 am)

Tonight’s ‘Fog is a bit neo-classical, or is that post-classical? A lot of the selections inhabit that zone between classical orchestrations and electronic treatments anyway. We’ve got some soundtrack works and some Piano Day pieces, and some stuff that just fits in.

LISTEN AGAIN to this heady mix… podcast it here or stream it on demand from FBi.

UK duo Raime make a kind of dark, taut postpunk dance music that always references jungle/drum’n’bass and that continuum through 2step to grime & dubstep. Occasionally they turn out 12"s under other aliases – Moin is perhaps more “postpunk” and Yally is more explicitly electronic music. Their new Yally 12" on Powell’s Diagonal Records features their most junglist track yet on the A side – indecipherable fragments of some MC exhorting a crowd in a club, and a beat which slowly but surely builds into the rolling breakbeats of jungle in its purest original form.

Micha? Jacaszek has been renowned for his blending of classical influences and classical arrangements with glitchy electronic production since his debut album came out in 2008, outside of Poland released through the home of acoustic doom & weird, dark electronics, Miasmah. Now released through Ghostly International, he continues to trawl the glitchy, distorted edges of electronics, but he’s also proven his contemporary classical credentials in a collaboration with Polish chamber ensemble Kwartludium, released in 2014 on Touch. His new album, inspired by some 17th century metaphysical poetry, is his most vocal-oriented, with some almost straight songs and some experimental pieces with snippets of sampled vocals. It’s as lovely as ever.

Ever since his first album as Son Lux on Anticon – before that moniker became a band – Ryan Lott has put his compositional chops to good use within his more indie & electronic works. He’s a great songwriter and expert electronic producer, and has composed for the likes of yMusic (whose latest album is entirely made up of his compositions). I played some older classical/electronic compositions of his recently as they appeared on his personal Bandcamp, and now we have a whole original soundtrack released there, for the rural coming-of-age thriller Mean Dreams. It’s evocative music, utilising all the range of a cinema soundsystem (we love our deep sub-bass rumbles these days) as well as Lott’s skills at orchestration.

Ben Frost hasn’t quite ventured into indie songwriting, but shares with Ryan Lott a talent for dense & cutting electronic production and has developed some impressive skills in orchestration & composition as well – we recently heard his operatic setting of Ian Banks’ The Wasp Factory. Here he’s soundtracking the TV series Fortitude. The series is a detective thriller set in a town in the Arctic Circle, so Frost’s music is perfect. He’s clearly been listening to his Ligeti, but also weaves in his surging bass distortions, rhythmic passages and beautiful windswept orchestrations.

Tim Shiel‘s Melbourne label Spirit Level decided to celebrate this year’s Piano Day with a compilation of “kindred spirits” from Australia & beyond. Apart from those I played today, there’s Sydney’s Sophie Hutchings and Melbourne’s Evelyn Morris aka Pikelet, and Tim Shiel himself, all contributing wonderful stuff. Tonight I’m playing Sydney’s mara, with a cavernous abstract piece taking you inside the piano, California’s researcher glitching up some Satiesque vibes, and UK-resident ex-pat Brisvegan Leah Kardos with something characteristically gorgeous melding sparkly piano and electronics.

Kardos also contributed a Piano Day track to an EP for her UK label bigo & twigetti, split with her lablemate Jim Perkins. Both tracks are beautiful electronic-classical hybrids, but it seemed a bit unfair to play the entire 2-track EP, so go grab it (for free) from Bandcamp!

For over a decade Volker Bertelmann’s Hauschka has been bringing us prepared piano & neo-classical works. More recently he’s added electronics to the pot, sampling and looping his prepared piano with synths and drum machines along with dub effects. His science fiction-themed new album What If follows on from 2014’s Abandoned City in that regard, but if anything he seems more comfortable with the electronics now. It’s beautiful and immersive.

When Italian composer/producer Teho Teardo & legendary singer/guitarist Blixa Bargeld got together in 2010 or so they obviously realised they were on to a good thing, as they’ve now released two albums and now two EPs – 2014’s Spring was followed this week with Fall. There’s a wonderfully pompous cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My” on there with clarinets & strings, but I decided to go for an original. Both artists have a solid background in industrial music, so the music combines electronics & noise with Teardo’s classical arrangements (honed in soundtrack work) and something of a cabaret feel.

Finishing up with Roumanian duo Makunouchi Bento and their side of one of the latest cassettes on Jakarta-based label Tandem Tapes. It’s an excellent sound work, with choral samples, errant electronics and field recordings, quite soundtrack-like, and I’ve only been able to fit in about half (or less) of the 17-minute side. Check out the whole thing here!

Yally – Dread Risk [Diagonal Records]
Jacaszek – To Flowers feat. Hania Malarowska [Ghostly International]
Jacaszek – To Violets feat. Hania Malarowska [Ghostly International]
Jacaszek – RytmRytm To Nie?miertelno?? II [Miasmah/Gustaff]
Jacaszek – Dare-gale [Ghostly International]
Jacaszek & Kwartludium – A book of lake (Roselière) [Touch]
Jacaszek – Soft Music feat. Hania Malarowska [Ghostly International]
Ryan Lott – The Garage [Ryan Lott Bandcamp]
Ryan Lott – The Drowning Trough [Ryan Lott Bandcamp]
Ryan Lott – The Chase [Ryan Lott Bandcamp]
Ben Frost – Welcome to Fortitude / Is He a Good Sheriff or a Bad Sheriff? [Mute]
Ben Frost – Mammoth Suite [Mute]
Ben Frost – Tupilaq (A shower scene) [Mute]
Ben Frost – You’re All I See [Mute]
mara – shift [Spirit Level]
researcher – Love Will You Love Me When I’m Not The 1 [Spirit Level]
Leah Kardos – Novice [Spirit Level]
Leah Kardos – Rosamund Chime [bigo & twigetti]
Hauschka – We Live A Thousand Years [City Slang/Temporary Residence]
Hauschka – I Can’t Find Water [City Slang/Temporary Residence]
Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld – Ziegenfisch [Specula]
Makunouchi Bento – The Lost Flatliners of Avebell (excerpt) [Tandem Tapes]

Listen again — ~111MB

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