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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, 21st of April, 2019

Playlist 21.04.19 (9:09 pm)

I've tried to fit a wide range of stuff in tonight - the year continues to progress with excellent releases, and I'm away for the next two weeks travelling around New Zealand, so let's see how much ground we can cover...

LISTEN AGAIN and write down all the things you need to buy... stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Michel Banabila - Collector [Tapu Records]
I don't play my own music very much on this show – it doesn't feel right. But Michel Banabila is an artist I've supported for many years on Utility Fog, and it also wouldn't feel right not to play his wonderful new album Uprooted. He asked me, along with a number of great musicians mostly from Holland, to contribute music improvised to various demo tracks. He then took our various performances apart and built new tracks out of them – with a couple of second rounds for elements he felt he needed. There's my cello on the whole release, and this track also features bass clarinet from Gareth Davis.

Romeo Moon - Circling [Hotel Motel/Bandcamp]
Romeo Moon - Our Energy [Hotel Motel/Bandcamp]
I was really pleased to be introduced to the music of Melbourne musician Romeo Moon a couple of months ago. Kevin Orr is his name, and he's making lovely low-key music flitting between indie songwriting and krautrocky instrumentals – with a definite Radiohead vibe, maybe also hints of Melbourne indietronica band I'lls. The EP is out later this week, and as I'm away for the next couple of weeks, I'm playing a couple of tracks in a row tonight – they follow each other on the album and are thematically paired.

Sunn O))) - Between Sleipnir's Breaths [Southern Lord/Bandcamp]
A new album from doom/drone metal giants Sunn O))) is always an event. Their latest, Life Metal, was released on vinyl on Record Store Day, with wider release coming this Friday (for CD fans like me, or digital/streaming peeps). I'm playing the opening track tonight, "Between Sleipnir's Breaths" (Sleipnir is Odin's eight-legged horse), which features the wonderful vocals and cello of Hildur Guðnadóttir, an artist this show is a big fan of from her solo cello (and sometimes vocal) work, and her collaborations with experimental artists of various stripes, going right back to being part of Icelandic indietronica heroes Múm back in the day. The lushly-close female vocals are a lovely addition to the incredibly slow and concentrated weight of Sunn O)))'s guitar riffage - the closest equivalent being the choral aspects of their 2009 album Monoliths & Dimensions, but here it's just two vocals (she sings an octave-up harmony), drawing out the arcane with a melody which only wavers from its single note to occasionally rise up a major third or down a major second. Both deeply warm and deeply chilling.

Barst - #2 I Die - Live Long [Consouling Sounds/Bandcamp]
Belgian musician Bart Desmet is Barst, although on some recordings it's a cast of thousands. His music intends to break the confines of genre and songwriting conventions – the last album was a single 43 minute track even though it's broken down into sections that might as well be songs. Here he reworks various Barst works into four experimental tracks which mix up drone, industrial, experimental electronic and a bit of post-metal/post-rock. This kind of mess is what UFog's about, y'know?

Orson Hentschel - When Horses Lose Ground [Denovali/Bandcamp]
Orson Hentschel - Feed The Tape [Denovali/Bandcamp]
Orson Hentschel - Facade I [Denovali/Bandcamp]
German composer/producer Orson Hentschel comes from a film background, and the flitter of film in front of a flickering shutter is part of the inspiration for his jagged music since his first album, 2016's Feed The Tape. His new one is in some ways less lush, less classical-inspired and more based on basic drum machine sounds, but it retains the restless nature of his earlier work, with eerie drones and accelerated drum programming. And I seem never to have played last year's Facades EP, which features two pieces based around text, here spoken in Korean by his friend Danhee Joe.

Mumdance - Path Of The Seer [Alter]
Luke Younger has an album coming out soon as Helm which promises to be amazing. In the meantime his label Alter has just released a compilation called ALERT! showcasing just how wide-ranging its taste is – with post-punk primitivism and contemporary dance production rubbing shoulders with noise and acoustic experimentation. I hope to return to this when I'm back from NZ, but tonight we heard Mumdance's beatless menace... closer to his work with James Kelly as Bliss Signal than the weightless stuff he's doing with Logos as heard last week.

Syntax Error - The Four Distressed Waves of Sleep [Stab in the Dark Records]
Sydney quartet Syntax Error feature three four different musicians mixing up shoegaze, krautrock and psychedelia with some experimental noise roots. Their album Message is out in a few weeks, and this last cut from it is the most sedate. It’s quite beautiful and contemplative.

Isambard Khroustaliov - Atoll Song [Not Applicable]
Sam Britton is one half of revered UK drum'n'bass/electro-acoustic duo Icarus (their other half, his cousin Ollie Bown, now lives in Sydney and plays in my band Tangents). Sam has for some reason always used Isambard Khroustaliov for his solo work (I should ask him why). He’s trained as an architect, made pioneering drum'n'bass, got a PhD in electronic music and then studied at both IRCAM in Paris and STEIM in Amsterdam. His music is very exploratory, but in between a couple of rather challenging tracks on his new album This Is My Private Beach, This Is My Jetsam (a quote from a poem by his sometime collaborator, postpunk musician Ted Milton of Blurt!), there’s this lovely, innocent piece called “Atoll Song”.

These New Puritans - Hologram [Domino]
These New Puritans - Organ Eternal [Infectious]
These New Puritans - A-R-P [Infectious]
This band of brothers and collaborators started as a kind of postpunkish dance group, but morphed over their stunning second & third albums, with an interest in 20th century British composition bringing orchestral and choral arrangements alongside vigorous percussion and dance beats. "We Want War" from Hidden was a kind of (musical) call to arms, a weird mixture of Benjamin Britten, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and something contemporary – but 2013's Field of Reeds, which ventured further into the classical composition and Talk Talk-like quietude, was going to be a hard act to follow. The new album both strips things back to more straightforward new romantic indiepop, and continues the classical filigree - still pretty amazing.

Zachary Paul - A Person With Feelings [Touch]
Contemporary violinist Zachary Paul appeared on Simon Scott's recent album for Touch, and now releases his solo album (after a number on other labels as Poppy Nogood (Terry Riley tribute!)). There are two works for violin & electronics performed live, but this is a soundtrack to an experimental film. I love how the violin slowly emerges from the synthesized sounds – it's impressive stuff.

Derek Piotr - main body (scanner "bodyless" remix) [Derek Piotr Bandcamp]
From the third and final EP to be taken from Derek Piotr's album Grunt which came out last year, we hear the legendary Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner deconstruct the already deconstructed vocal & electronic source sounds from Piotr here. Creepy good.

Listen again — ~185MB

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Sunday, 14th of April, 2019

Playlist 14.04.19 (9:12 pm)

Drum'n'bass and "hardcore continuum" stylings over a lot of tonight's show, hearkening back to the beautiful early days of dubstep as well as breakcore and drill'n'bass, but with an experimental twist, and some totally different stuff too...

LISTEN AGAIN as we take you on a journey through space & time... Stream on demand from FBi and podcast here.

Angelina Yershova - Tumbleweed [Twin Paradox]
Angelina Yershova - Korgau [Twin Paradox]
Kazakh composer Angelina Yershova has released a few albums pitting her classical composition and piano skills against her electronic production wizardry. Her new album, one of a number on Italian label Twin Paradox Records, draws deeply from her Kazakh heritage - "Korgau" features Gulzhan Amanzhol on the kazakh string instrument the kyl-kobyz, and will come with a video produced by environmentalist film-maker Saltanat Tashimova about the Kok Zhailau mountain plateau in a Kazakh national park, currently threatened with deforestation. It's a beautiful piece in which Amanzhol's choral vocals and questing kobyz are surrounded by field recordings, droning electronics, slow percussion and whispered vocals. It's quite a contrast with the first track I played, which revels in drill'n'bass beats!
The album is released this Friday, much recommended.

Indri - Foreign Tongues [Empirical Intrigue]
Indri - Fishnet [Empirical Intrigue]
Sydney artist Indri recorded this album in Iceland and references and draws from their experiences in that environment and I assume the juxtaposition with ours here in Australia. With field recordings, found sounds and incomprehensible vocals snippets accompanied by electronics, it's good music for getting lost in. In "Fishnet" the rhythmic keyboards bounce around with nice little analogue-style variations that could either be a kind of beatless dub techno or a Tangerine Dream-style krautrock throwback.

Piano Princess - I Make It Look Easy [Eternal]
Night Dives - Magum [Eternal]
Phoebe Twiggs & Grasps_' Eternal released its second compilation a couple of weeks ago. Although they're Sydney-based, not all the music is from Sydney or even Australia - it opens with Moscow-based techno/ambient musician Moa Pillar. I can't tell you where Piano Princess is from, although their SoundCloud name is "Bao Jia Xiang" and they may be Chinese - the SoundCloud doesn't give much away (in a fairly lol-worthy combative way!). Marcus Night Dives is Singaporean via Melbourne, and brings a hardcore/breakcore energy to the proceedings.

Homemade Weapons - Virga [Samurai Music]
The latest album from Seattle's Homemade Weapons continues his re-tooling of junglist drum'n'bass for the post-dubstep era on his new album Gravity for the estimable Samurai Music, with jittery, anxious super-chopped beats and sub-basslines at relentless speed and density. At his best the beats are dazzling and stylistically he stands apart from even his frequent collaborators.

Mark - Fucking Sick Of Myself Since Day One (Hot Desk Mix) [Unterton]
Mark - Hats Off To Herr F. [Unterton]
Released on Ostgut Ton sidelabel Unterton is the latest EP from German producer Mark, fourth in a series exploring an obsession with '90s drum'n'bass, rave and breakcore. It's impeccably done but it frequently reminds you (more so on his previously releases than this new one it must be said) that it's referencing those sounds rather, perhaps, than doing them - sound-art interludes, field recordings etc (and the very sardonic track titles). Mark has also released more abstract music as Klon Dump, including a couple of releases on Melbourne label A Colourful Storm.

Toasty - unconcious [Toasty Bandcamp]
Toasty - Like Sun [Hotflush Recordings]
Toasty - as one [Toasty Bandcamp]
Just earlier this week I noticed a post from Etch pointing out that dubstep legend Toasty (find him on Twitter here) had been putting up some old tracks on Bandcamp. He put out some much-loved releases on Scuba's Hotflush Recordings back as far as 2004, but was never that prolific. All these tracks date from about that period - as grime and dubstep were emerging out of UK garage - and have a wonderful breakbeat approach, some more distinctly dubstep-flavoured and others more upbeat. It's all gold. I recall when I first heard "Like Sun" in a DJ mix back in the day - blissful junglism slowed down and laid over the dubstep template - and sought out and played the 12" to death (it's now available digitally through the usual channels by the way). Halcyon days.

Logos - Arrival (T2 Mix) [Different Circles]
Logos - Glass [Different Circles]
Logos - Lighthouse Dub [Different Circles]
Alongside Mumdance, a few years ago James Parker aka Logos founded an approach called "Weightless" which strips club music - particularly UK bass music - to its bare bones, a kind of distillation of actually what dubstep was all about as it as it first emerged around 13-15 years ago (see Toasty above!). On "Glass" from 2015, we hear this approach applied to jungle's breaks 'n' bass, whereas "Lighthouse Dub" from the new album is pure, watery dub techno.

Sensaround - immolate dub [hellosQuare]
Australian/Scots trio Sensaround draws shapeshifting improvisations from Canberra's Shoeb Ahmad, Sydney pianist Alister Spence and Scottish saxophonist Raymond MacDonald. This track is serious about the "dub" aspect of its title, albeit in a way that eschews head-nodding beats or basslines. There's echoey reverbs and delays in the production, a notable separation of sonic elements including MacDonald's squealing, Middle Eastern-influenced saxophone melodies which appear & disappear across the track, and there's a kind of postpunk attitude to the noise aspect of the album's heart/noise dichotomy. This feels like the most fully-realised work yet from this very interesting collaboration.

MALK - Re-treat [Lost Tribe Sound]
MALK - Mist Up [Lost Tribe Sound]
Last up is a very unusual release from US label Lost Tribe Sound. MALK is a prolific artist under various aliases, many released by the Philadelphia label Sweet Chunk, and he's also one third of Philadelphia beatmakers Mahatma X. Last year's Death From A Love album, released like Mahatma X's by Leeds label Home Assembly Music, won Norman Records' #1 album of the year, but never really grabbed me.
This new one is different - both in that I'm really enjoying it and in that it's super different sounding - it's a ramshackle mix of home-recorded acoustic & electric instrumentation blended together beat tape style. Entitled WMAIDIT (which apparently stands for "Watch Me As I Die In Time"), its folktronic nature draws from those Dilla vibes without actually being categorizable as hip-hop, with an indiepunk DIY attitude. Music on the boundaries is what this show's all about, so check out the whole album for even stranger, more atonal, more absorbing little sonic mysteries.

Listen again — ~196MB

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Sunday, 7th of April, 2019

Playlist 07.04.19 (9:07 pm)

Big range of sounds for you on tonight's 'Fog! Coming to you from the whole damn globe...

LISTEN AGAIN, for it is your civic duty to stream on demand from FBi, or podcast here.

Makeda - Me, First [Nice Music]
Makeda - Basstrap [Nice Music]
Originally from Brisbane, now based in Melbourne, Makeda has also released music (as label and artist I think) as All Day Breakfast, but this brilliant new EP is her debut release proper, now as Makeda. Whether remixing others (such as Perth artist Shoshana Rosenberg or Melbourne legends My Disco), or here out on her own, she creates fractured underground club music like no other.

Grup Ses w/ Ethnique Punch - Hayda (Vox) [Souk Records/Bandcamp]
Grup Ses w/ Ethnique Punch - Katastrof (Inst) [Souk Records/Bandcamp]
Grup Ses w/ Ethnique Punch - Ara (Vox) [Souk Records/Bandcamp]
Grup Ses w/ Ethnique Punch - Miskinatlar (Vox) [Souk Records/Bandcamp]
Two Turkish musicians join together for this fantastic, dark, twisted album on Souk Records. Istanbul's Grup Ses has been making sample-based hip-hop cut-ups for around 12 years now, while the Anatolian Ethnique Punch aka Ali Eksan has a number of instrumental and rap albums under his belt. On the A side, these punchy (yes) hip-hop tracks with "ethnic" samples are driven by the gravelly voice of Eksan, while on the B side they appear as instrumentals. It's great to hear these beats unadorned, and it works in a really different way - you can nod along and have it in the background easily - but I do prefer them with the guttural and super fun raps on the first side...

Ifriqiyya Electrique - danee danee [Glitterbeat/Bandcamp]
Ifriqiyya Electrique - mashee kooka [Glitterbeat/Bandcamp]
If you think of noisy music from the African continent, you may think of Konono No. 1 first of all, but the banga music from Southern Tunisia must compete - it literally means "huge volume". A few years ago two Europeans went into the desert in the sub-Saharan region to learn about this music, and along with a few banga musicians formed Ifriqiyya Electrique. These tracks are from their second album, which uses down-tuned guitar riffs and incredibly heavy percussion, fusing industrial music with banga. It's dark and joyful stuff.

Show Me The Body - Camp Orchestra [Loma Vista Records]
Show Me The Body - Death Sounds 2 [self-released/Loma Vista Records]
Show Me The Body - In A Grave (feat. Denzel Curry, Moor Mother & Eartheater) [self-released]
Show Me The Body - Spit (feat. Princess Nokia) [self-released]
Show Me The Body - Now I Know [Loma Vista Records]
NYC hardcore punk trio Show Me The Body recently released their second album "proper", Dog Whistle, which brings them back to the shouty noise and riffs of their first album Body War. In between they released the awesome & diverse mixtape Corpus I, which found them joined by an array of collaborators from the hip-hop, noise and experimental music scenes. To me it's totally successful, particularly with the raps of Moor Mother and the almost Massive Attack trip-hop vibes of the track with Princess Nokia. Still, on their own they pack a punch and bring a fair share of swampy noise and vocal variation into the tracks as well.

Wabi Experience - Never Mind [Mikroton/Bandcamp]
Wabi Experience - Pasar Por Todos Lados [Mikroton/Bandcamp]
Here's an album that's had a very long journey to its release. Originally in around 2001 Tomislav Federsel wanted to make an experimental remix tribute to the Czech country musician Wabi Daněk (for some reason!) - but various things got in the way, including a computer hard drive crash. So a while later he called up fellow Czech experimental artist Jara Tarnovski (of Gurun Gurun), and bring the project to fruition. It's still taken years for it to be released, but samplescapes and rhythmic glitch is the sort of thing that could come from anytime in the last 20+ years, and even if we can't hear anything much like a much-loved late Czech country musician in there, it's a really nice bit of folktronic experimentalism.

The Matthew Herbert United Kingdom And Gibraltar European Union Membership Referendum Big Band - An A-Z of Endangered Animals [Accidental Records]
The Matthew Herbert Big Band - Misprints (feat. Shingai Shoniwa) [Accidental Records]
The Matthew Herbert United Kingdom And Gibraltar European Union Membership Referendum Big Band - Feedback (feat. Patrick Clarke) [Accidental Records]
The new album from Matthew Herbert's big band was scheduled for release on Friday the 29th of March, aka Brexit day. In the end, the Conservatives managed to drive away every public servant and member of their own party with any negotiating skills at all, and most people have very little will to make the damn thing happen... So it still hasn't. It'd be funny if No Deal wasn't so terrifying. So Herbert for this occasion re-titled his group "The Matthew Herbert United Kingdom And Gibraltar European Union Membership Referendum Big Band", and the album features contributions from musicians all over Europe. The album is mostly elegiac - sorrowful, quiet stuff, with faraway horns and field recordings combine, tracks sometimes taking minutes to come into focus. Glitchy cut-ups break into the jazz arrangements at times, as is Herbert's wont, and on the vocal tracks sadness can give way to bitterness. The whole situation is a mess, and may well lead to a lot more sadness, disruption, violence and death. Herbert's take on it all at least brings some beauty to the proceedings.

Dina Maccabee - The Sharpening Machine [Geomancy Records/Bandcamp]
Dina Maccabee - Northern Lights [Dina Maccabee Bandcamp]
Dina Maccabee - Even When The Stars Align [Dina Maccabee Bandcamp]
Dina Maccabee - Little Bite [Geomancy Records/Bandcamp]
I discovered violin, viola & vocalist Dina Maccabee playing with Julia Holter a couple of years ago in Sydney. She appeared again with Holter at her Sydney Festival performances this January, and has made central contributions to the last couple of albums. Live she plays her instruments through a laptop on stage, flawlessly controlled by a USB foot controller, and after the first Holter gig I looked her up and discovered some lovely folky songwriting with looped violin - as well as a back catalogue playing with other ensembles. Not long after, the Americana-influenced Land So Sweet appeared, followed by the gorgeous songwriting and experimental live looping & processing of The World is in the Work. For her new album Maccabee is joined by many musicians from across the spectrum, including other members of Julia Holter's band, and Mark Orton of Tin Hat (who worked with her also on Land So Sweet). Maccabee is a consummate songwriter, but loves to undermine, inserting electronic weirdness, strange bitonal layering of arrangements and beautifully unexpected chord changes. Superb.

Jessica Pavone - And Maybe In The End [Below The Radar 30/Jessica Pavone Bandcamp]
And now to another American fiddle player - known as a violinist and also electric bassist, but here on viola, played through an amplifier, with stunning sonic shadows following the plucked and bowed tones. It's masterful work, brought to us here by The Wire on their latest download compilation with the May issue (they are now running a full month ahead), and I'll certainly be checking out more of Pavone's work as soon as I can.

Zoltan Fecso - Wave [The Slow Music Movement Label]
Melbourne musician Zoltan Fecso gives us another example of his musical pointilism on this new track - featuring his self-designed guitar which embeds a Novation Launchpad in it to sample tiny fragments of his guitar tones and create wonderful glistening minimalist epics.

Listen again — ~199MB

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