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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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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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