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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 May, 2019

Playlist 26.05.19 (9:15 pm)

Lots of new music tonight, from wonderful indiefolk through folktronica, noise of sorts, shuddering glitchtronica and folk-jazz hybrids.

LISTEN AGAIN for the pure pleasure of it. Stream on demand via FBi and podcast here.

Heather Woods Broderick - A Stilling Wind [Western Vinyl]
Heather Woods Broderick - From The Ground [Preservation]
Heather Woods Broderick - A Call For Distance [Western Vinyl]
Heather Woods Broderick - A Daydream [Western Vinyl]
Heather Woods Broderick - Nightcrawler [Western Vinyl]
I've been following Heather Woods Broderick since her first album, released by Sydney's own Preservation 10 years ago in 2009 - showing how switched on Andrew Khedoori has been for a long time. Heather played in indie folk band Horse Feathers, released on Kill Rock Stars, and has toured extensively with Danish postrock band Efterklang. She’s been very involved with the Portland folk scene (she compiled some local folk music on an album a few years ago), and has of course worked quite a lot with her brother Peter Broderick, on each other's projects and also in some of those other ensembles.
Her solo music works as beautifully direct singer-songwriting, but betrays her background in more experimental, freeform music with gorgeous, unusual string arrangements (like her brother she's a multi-instrumentalist, including cello) and occasional studio tricks. Still, ultimately it's about the wonderful songwriting itself. From 2015's Glider, "A Call For Distance" begins with ambient pads and guitar, before dropping into a hazy groove - and a different groove gently propels new track "A Stilling Wind". "From The Ground", from her much older debut on Preservation, finds her brother joining her in the string arrangement, while "A Daydream", from the new album Invitation, is a lovely piano vignette. The jaunty piano in "Nightcrawler" accompanies a slightly wonky almost-country number, and wobbles in varispeed through the outro.

The Breeders - 900 [4AD]
Josephine Wiggs - We Fall [The Sound of Sinners/Bandcamp]
Josephine Wiggs - Loveliest of Trees [The Sound of Sinners/Bandcamp]
What's this Breeders b-side doing in the playlist?
Well, apart from being a great, weird track, in the vein of '80s and early '90s 4AD, it's by bassist and occasional cellist Josephine Wiggs (written, produced and mostly played by her). As a cellist and cello aficionado I've been wanting to hear a solo album from Wiggs, well, since then, so it's quite a delight to finally have one - in fact it's surprising that, despite various indie bands and aliases, this is Wiggs' first foray into solo, almost totally instrumental recording (featuring only longtime collaborator Jon Mattock on a few tracks). It comes off as a little bit "post-classical" and a bit soundtracky, particularly in the way that certain thematic elements are re-used and repurposed. But it's very sparse, made up of rhythmic ostinati slowly building. In fact it's a kind of restrained postrock, and thinking back to the Breeders, and their predecessors the Pixies, even though it's indie rock I think it's absolutely one of the direct predecessors of the form.

Carla dal Forno - Fever Walk [Kallista Records]
You know Carla dal Forno by now - ex-pat Aussie based in London, part of the experimental trio F ingers, creating compelling minimalist songs and instrumentals which can’t quite be pinned down but somehow edge into your consciousness. This is the b-side from a recent single.

mara - Slow Dance Pt. 1 [Club Moss]
Mara Schwerdtfeger is a Sydney-born, Melbourne-based sound artist who went to school at the Conservatorium High School and is now studying digital media at RMIT. She played with the similarly-talented Lupa J at some early point in her career, among others, and sometimes appears with Megan Alice Clune's Alaska Orchestra. Some solo work is ethereal electronic songwriting, but on her Bandcamp you can find a few recent installation works which aren't a million miles from the two sides on this excellent new cassette from Club Moss. Using contact mics, ceramic resonances and analogue synths, Mara builds an idiomatic sound world, juxtaposing drones and rhythms with explosions of sub-bass and sharp discontinuities.

Véhicule - Disco [Midira Records/Bandcamp]
Véhicule - Je-vous [Midira Records/Bandcamp]
Véhicule - Rites [Midira Records/Bandcamp]
French artist Sylvain Milliot debuts here with the album Le Temps Du Chien, released on cassette and digital through Midira Records. It's quite a wonderful update on folktronica and experimental jazzy downtempo, with acoustic instruments including cello hitting glitchy sample chopping, and tape or vinyl manipulation alongside flickering digidub. Very unusual and ear-catching stuff, and let's be honest, very in keeping with Utility Fog's genre-mashed sensibilities. At times it feels like it could be from the '90s period of early glitch - sample mangling, sly meetings of kitsch and noise... but with a more contemporary sensibility.

Helm - I Knew You Would Respond [PAN]
Helm - Sky Wax (NYC) [PAN]
Helm - Body Rushes [PAN]
Luke Younger's solo project Helm is by now quite prominent in the experimental scene. A seasoned noise artist, he also runs the ALTER label which releases everything from noise and postpunk to experimental dancefloor work. Helm sits somewhere in the sound-art spectrum, occasionally emanating regular beats, sometimes incorporating something recognizable as a bassline or a melody, frequently made of bubbling or buzzing drones... It's evocative, and hard to pin down in the best way. His new album Chemical Flowers, again for the great PAN label, features superb string arrangements by industrial legend and Aussie ex-pat Jim Thirlwell aka Foetus. In between two new tracks we heard from his previous album proper, 2015's Olympic Mess, a subtly creepy little number.

SPIME.IM - Exaland II [ous.ooo/Bandcamp]
SPIME.IM - Exaland V [ous.ooo/Bandcamp]
Italian multimedia quartet SPIME.IM comprise musicians & digital artists/coders. Their name references science fiction author & futurist Bruce Sterling's concept of a "spime" (describing an object that can be tracked for its entire existence through space & time) with the contraction of "I am" (albeit apostrophe free) to point at the crossover of human & artificial, organic vs digital existence (and comment on pervasive surveillance). In a way this describes the earlier Véhicule work more than SPIME.IM, whose music is mostly jittery, flickery electronics with rich bass and spectral melody which would be comfortable on the raster-noton label. That's great in itself, but there are hints at something more - swelling ambient pads, half-heard acoustic sounds.

Lisathe - The Sun's Gone Dim And The Sky's Turned Black [Art As Catharsis/Bandcamp]
Lisathe - White Sun [Art As Catharsis/Bandcamp]
Sydney jazz trio Lisathe appeared on this show a few weeks ago with a surprising cover of Björk's "Pagan Poetry". Their full album, now released, sees them tackling a swathe of music from Icelandic artists, so tonight we hear their take on the late Jóhann Jóhannsson’s gorgeous "The Sun's Gone Dim And The Sky’s Turned Black", and a twinkly piece of experimental pop from Jófríður Ákadóttir aja JFDR - all on guitar, bass and drums.

Erlend Apneseth Trio with Frode Haltli - Salinka. Molika [Hubro]
Erlend Apneseth Trio with Frode Haltli - Pyramiden [Hubro]
From Australian covers of Icelandic music to Norway. Erlend Apneseth plays the Hardanger fiddle (a Norwegian folk violin with additional resonant strings) and his folk/jazz trio is here joined by Norwegian accordionist Frode Haltli. The music bridges old and new in a very Utility Fog-friendly way, where traditional melodies and harmonic progressions played on ancient instruments converse with live sampling and improvised passages. Like a lot of music on the amazing Hubro label, it jazz and folk flirt with postrock and electronics in what feels to me like a typically Norwegian way.

Listen again — ~184MB

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Sunday, 19th of May, 2019

Playlist 19.05.19 (9:54 pm)

Tonight's show comes after a bitterly disappointing Federal election, touted as the climate election, in which fear, greed and racism won out over hope and progress. Many arguments can be made about how it came to pass, but ultimately we have to keep moving forward and making a difference. All I can really do is bring you wonderful music from all around the globe. Even if you disagree with my interpretation of the politics of the day, I hope we can come together over great art (although let's remind ourselves that the conservatives who again control the public purse are no friends of challenging, adventurous art).

LISTEN AGAIN to sooth the savage breast. FBi has the stream-on-demand, podcast is here.

Ståle Storløkken - Turbulence [Hubro]
Ståle Storløkken - Stranded at Red Ice Desert. Remember Your Loved Ones (In Memory of My Dear Mother) [Hubro]
Norwegian jazz keyboardist Ståle Storløkken is a member of the legendary freeform improvising group Supersilent, whose music has ranged from noisy thrash-jazz to the most eerily beautiful ambient electronic jazz ever created. He also has a duo with jazz drummer Thomas Strønen as Humcrush. For this solo album, titled The Haze of Sleeplessness, he's created a suite of evocative pieces from synthesizers which shows that Arve Henriksen isn't the only Supersilent member with a keen sense of exquisite melody (not surprisingly!)

BirdWorld - Wicked Waste of Wax [BirdWorld Bandcamp]
BirdWorld - Chimes [BirdWorld Bandcamp]
It's great to find out that the debut EP from London/Oslo duo BirdWorld is available now. I heard the last track on a Wire compilation a little while ago. They have the unusual lineup of Gregor Riddell on cello & electronics and Adam Teixeira on drums & percussion, and they seamless meld their live, acoustic performances with field recordings and manipulations. Looking forward to the full length album.

Brian Harnetty - Boy [Karlrecords/Bandcamp]
Brian Harnetty - Jack [Karlrecords/Bandcamp]
American composer Brian Harnetty is an old hand now at weaving his contemporary compositions and arrangements with archival folk recordings and interviews. I fell in love with his first album, American Winter, back in 2007, and Shawnee, Ohio, out now on Karlrecords, is another moving, beautiful and instructive entry into his works. This focuses on the eponymous town, once a centre of coal mining, and now fracking. The latter industry is called out in the second track here, where a fellow called Jack adapts the classic union protest song "Which Side Are You On?"

Teho Teardo - A Bit About Ghosts [Specula Records]
Teho Teardo - London Offered Us Possible Mothers [Specula Records]
It's been a couple of years since we heard from Italian composer and ex-industrial musician Teho Teardo on this show. He's become known for some brilliant albums with the great Blixa Bargeld, but equally for his soundtrack work, and this new album was composed for a play by Enda Walsh adapting Max Porter's novel Grief Is The Thing With Feathers. The string arrangements, details production and occasional electronic elements make for wonderfully emotive work.

Laura Cannell - Landmark [Brawl Records]
Laura Cannell - Transient Thresholds [Brawl Records]
Like much of her work, the new album by Laura Cannell was recorded live in one take in an English church - this one in Nottingham. She makes use of scordatura (unusual tunings) on her violin to enable strange harmonies, placing her music somewhere between arcane folk and contemporary music. The double recorder she plays on the first track (yes, both melodies are played simultaneously live) certainly evokes music of centuries past.

John Harries - Tea Coffee Pepper [The Lumen Lake]
Wendra Hill For - Okroppslig [The Lumen Lake]
This split cassette is released later this month on the English label The Lumen Lake, run by multi-instrumentalist John Harries. His side of the split is dominated by a long work called "Grey Sea Over A Cold Sky", which was too long for me to play tonight but is an absorbing work of drones and percussion; Harries' solo piece is a somewhat abstract work of sound-art, and sits nicely with the semi-improvised work of the Norwegian ensemble Wendra Hill For, usually the duo of Jo David Meyer Lysne (who we heard on this show a few months ago) & double bassist Joel Ring, but Wendra Hill is also a collective and they're joined here by two multi-instrumentalists: Jenny Berger Myhre and Tobias Pfeil. Their side is quite varied, but "Okroppslig" is a stunning piece of perhaps spontaneous contemporary composition.

Madeleine Cocolas - The Way Forward [Salmon Universe]
DEEP LEARNING - Power Law [Salmon Universe]
PVT member Richard Pike last year debuted his new ambient solo project DEEP LEARNING. He's now setup a new label called Salmon Universe and later this month will release the compilation Salmon Universe Vol. 1, featuring himself alongside international artists like Luke Abbott and the newly-returned-to-Australia Madeleine Cocolas, whose arpeggiated synths here have some nice growly distortion underlying them.

Kayak - Astra [Flaming Pines]
Submatukana - Thunderstorm [Flaming Pines]
The Flaming Pines, run by sometime Aussie sound artist Kate Carr, is by now well known for its site-specific collections, and also full-length compilations of experimental music from specific countries. With Kaleidoscope it's the turn of Ukraine. Previous Flaming Pines artist Gamardah Fungus is present, as is well-known electronic musician Andrey Kiritchenko and recent ambient/post-classical artist Endless Melancholy, along with many names I'd never heard. It focuses on the ambient & droney, but as we can hear there are some tracks which grow into percussive loops and beats - such as both tracks from Kayak and Submatukana.

Jack Burton - Opus [Analogue Attic/Bandcamp]
Something more from the Lake Monger album, out later this week from Melbourne musician Jack Burton. Lovely synth drones, a muted, very slow 4/4 beat and a gorgeous outro.

Himalayan Beach Ensemble - Oasis [Julien Mier Bandcamp]
Dutch electronic musician Julien Mier has released chaotic beats under his own name, and groovy stuff as Santpoort. This is his new ambient project Himalayan Beach Ensemble, focusing on piano and other acoustic instruments, and electronic treatments, all very very subdued.

Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky - Space Ghost I [Sacred Bones]
Stephen Brodsky - Stolen Echoes Won't Return [Stephen Brodsky">Magic Bullet Records]
Xasthur feat. Marissa Nadler - Portal of Sorrow [Disharmonic Variations]
Machinefabriek - VIII (with Marissa Nadler) (excerpt) [Western Vinyl]
Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky - For the Sun [Sacred Bones]
Finally for tonight, a rather sumptuous pairing of indie/folk singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler and hardcore musician Stephen Brodsky on their album Droneflower. Of course, that's an unfair way of describing them both. Nadler is a seasoned collaborator with pretty unusual people, including her appearance on most of the final (until reformed) album by black metal artist Xasthur. More recently she contributed vocals for a track on Machinefabriek's amazing album With Voices, her voice at times fragilely a capella, at other times layered and electronically manipulated. Brodsky's Cave In is a beloved hardcore band, but injected melodic indie rock vocals for many of their years (and last year suffered the tragedy of their bass player Caleb Scofield dying in a car accident. Their final album will be released soon) - and Brodsky also has a slew of indiepop solo albums under his belt.
Together these great musicians have brought out the dark, emotive, gothic aspects of each other's work, with acoustic guitar and piano rubbing up against chugging slow riffs and Nadler's always bewitching vocals. The duo works tremendously well and I can only hope they continue working together.

Listen again — ~182MB

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Sunday, 12th of May, 2019

Playlist 12.05.19 (9:12 pm)

I'm back! I've seen waterfalls and forests and fur seals and it was great. Bought a few CDs along the way...
Lots of new music to catch up on, so it'll be jam-packed shows for a few weeks to come! Thanks heaps to Ryley Edwards and Elly Zurowski for their fantastic selections two weeks ago, and Krishtie Mofazzal for her always excellent work last week.

LISTEN AGAIN because you got to catch up! Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here...

Syntax Error - Under The Ice [Stab in the Dark Records]
Starting with a bit of epic psych rock shoegaze from Sydney quartet Syntax Error, a track that starts brooding and builds into something quite firey. Their album Message has just come out, and they're launching it this Friday at Lazybones Lounge in Marrickville.

Moor Mother x Zonal - On The Range [Adult Swim Singles 2018-2019]
A couple of years ago the Unsound Festival in Poland hosted a performance by Justin K Broadrick and Kevin Martin, resuming their longtime collaboration, probably best known under the name Techno Animal. Zonal had previously been used on an extremely limited 2000 release, but it's now their official outlet - incredibly creative, dub-heavy hip-hop and techno material. In Poland, the two were joined Philadelphia rapper Moor Mother, whose rasping, acerbic vocals are a perfect match - so it's awesome that the first available track (albeit only streaming for now) is a collaboration with her.

Holly Herndon - Bridge (feat. Martine Syms) [4AD/RVNG Intl]
Holly Herndon - Movement [RVNG Intl]
Holly Herndon - Home [4AD/RVNG Intl]
Holly Herndon - Last Gasp [4AD/RVNG Intl]
In the 4 years since her amazing last album, Holly Herndon has earned a PhD, and has also birthed an AI entity called Spawn along with her partner Mat Dryhurst, which features heavily (if elliptically) on her new album PROTO. Spawn responds to vocal input by creating new harmonies and synthesised vocals. Although Herndon's previous work (heard here in between two new tracks) was deeply interested in vocal processing and the interface between voice and electronics, here the programming is encouraged to interact "creatively" with Herndon's stunning electronic, folk and classical-derived compositions. Once you know it's there, you can't help hearing it. It's quite wonderful.

Sote - Brass Tacks [Diagonal Records/Bandcamp]
Sote - Trans Force [Diagonal Records/Bandcamp]
Sote - Electric Deaf [Warp]
Ata Ebtekar first introduced his Sote sound to the world via an ecstatic, overdriven pair of breakbeat/breakcore tracks on the Warp label in 2002. While he was studying abroad at the time, he has been based back in Tehran for many years now, and has by now put out a number of releases drawing on and interrogating the rich musical history of Iran. 2017's Sacred Horror in Design took the sounds of traditional Persian instruments and embedded them in electronics, heavily processing the sounds and re-composing and re-contextualising the compositions. That is taken further on the new album Parallel Persia, released by Diagonal Records. Alongside instruments like the santour and tar are vocal harmonies, and of course lots of electronic processing and synthesised sounds as well. At times the music is choreographed into some kind of 4/4 beats, but more often it's free, as if played by live musicians. It's quite extraordinarily beautiful.

LOFT - That Hyde Trakk [Tri-Angle/Bandcamp]
Speaking of crazy breakbeats, Manchester-based LOFT has a new EP on Tri-Angle called and departt from mono games, a vaporwavey concoction of field recordings, some muffled vocal bits, and rave atmospherics, which gives way to drill'n'bassy madness on the last track.

Evitceles - Devoid [Opal Tapes]
Evitceles - Exhausted Lust [Opal Tapes]
Evitceles - Spit Hearts [Opal Tapes]
Sofia-based producer Evitceles has releases to his name on on-point labels like Seagrave and Yerevan Tapes, and now has dropped his second release on the brilliant Opal Tapes. Like a whole cadre of new producers these days, he chews up, mulches and spits out the sounds of club music, with sub-bass, drum machines, breaks and pads that retain their funk in an off-kilter, industrial fashion.

City & i.o - Anxiety Object [Purple Tape Pedigree]
City & i.o - Markerlight [Purple Tape Pedigree]
Two tracks from a forthcoming release on the excellent Purple Tape Pedigree. I believe we've got an exclusive on this for now, which is really exciting. Will Ballantyne's City has released on Halcyon Veil and Ascetic House before, and his industrial, post-rave electronics are paired here with the dextrous drumming of Maxwell Patterson's i.o. Both are also guitarists, with some surprising heavy riffage appearing at points, but also some gorgeous calm as in our second selection tonight, which has clattering, tumbling percussive noise (forwards & reversed) sputtering around a beautiful modal piece reverberating from the strings of i.o's acoustic guitar. An album to look out for in the coming months!

Laurence Pike - Rites [The Leaf Label]
Laurence Pike - Holy Spring [The Leaf Label]
Sydney drummer Laurence Pike launches his new album Holy Spring this Saturday (yes, election night) at Golden Age Cinema & Bar in Surry Hills. It's a bit of a continuation of the percussion and samples found on his last album, and again it's released on The Leaf Label. There's some beautifully contemplative stuff, and frequently he keeps it very minimalist, as in the first track tonight, which feels like it references the tiny jazz loops of Jan Jelinek that spurred the initial work of Triosk back in the day.

Jack Burton - Cumulus Revisited [Analogue Attic/Bandcamp]
Some gorgeous ambient sounds from new Melbourne artist Jack Burton on Analogue Attic. Despite the label name, I hear some glitchy textures in there one some tracks - perhaps modular synthesis? There are acoustic instruments, and lots of lovely bubbly synths, and occasional subtle beats. It's a very special album, coming out later this month.

Listen again — ~204MB

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