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experimental electronica
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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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Playlists are listed with artist name first, then track title and (remixer), then [record label]. Enjoy the links.

Sunday, 10th of November, 2019

Playlist 10.11.19 (8:14 pm)

Dancefloor mutations of various sorts tonight, veering away into other territories near the end...

LISTEN AGAIN because you can, and you know you want to! Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here...

Katie Gately - Bracer [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
Even before her debut album Color came out in 2016, Katie Gately was a singular artist making waves with a couple of singles and remixes. Having come to music indirectly, she approached the creation of her music with scientific curiosity and precision, building incredibly catchy pieces from infectious rhythms, creative field recordings and layers of her vocals. Then, as she was preparing her second album, her mother was diagnosed with cancer, and understandably her whole perspective changed. The second abum is coming out in Feb 2020, and this first single "Bracer" was apparently her mother's favourite. It's got her signatures in spades - a driving rhythm throughout the ups and downs of its 10 and a half minutes, and the strength of musicality to sustain a cohesive song for that length - shades of Kate Bush, perhaps. For all its strangeness, it's less abstract and more of a "real song" than anything she's done before. Bring on Feb 14th!

Hiro Kone - Akoluthic Phase [Dais Records/Hiro Kone Bandcamp]
Hiro Kone - Truth That Silence Alone [Dais Records/Hiro Kone Bandcamp]
Hiro Kone - A Desire, Nameless [Dais Records/Hiro Kone Bandcamp]
For her third album, and second for Dais Records, Hiro Kone aka NYC's Nicky Mao addresses the techno-fascism of the current age through the lens of "absence". Instrumental music shackled to big concepts is always a bit of a stretch, but you can feel it working with music this evocative, drawing on the last few decades of post-cyberpunk art & music. Superb sound design and detailed beat programming that doesn't succumb to the current "deconstructed club music" obsession of the current age.

20syl - Ongoing Thing (feat. Oddisee) (Sig Nu Gris Fixation) [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]
Sig Nu Gris & Cassius Select - Herd Fixation [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]
Melbourne's Erin Hyde aka Sig Nu Gris spent October progressively releasing her EP of Fixations - radical edits of songs that she "fixates" on to a perhaps obsessive extent. I played one a few weeks ago, but really wanted to revisit them, and this more beat-heavy show is the right time. Her take on French club producer 20syl's hit with Oddisee is a completely discombobulated version of the original - a slow/fast monster; meanwhile her take on ex-Sydney maestro Cassius Select's classic "Herd" is deceptively faithful, but it's completely reconfigured by an added melodic hook and subtle changes to the (still very recognizable) beat.

Leif - Igam-Ogam [Livity Sound/Bandcamp]
Livity Sound draws from Bristol's soundsystem culture but focuses more on techno & house than dub, although many of its artists stem from the outcropping of dubstep in that fine city. Leif fits nicely into that sound, with a track that takes James Blake's post-dubstep floating jazz chords into percussive deep house. It's lovely.

Andy Stott - Ballroom [Modern Love]
Andy Stott - Versi [Modern Love]
Surprise new double EP, It Should Be Us, from Andy Stott, returning to dancefloor productions after his most recent releases progressed into more postpunk and computer-free sounds. For some reason here the aesthetic is "64k mp3s downloaded from SoulSeek in 2001" - I'm not sure why all the beats are aliased fizzles, but nevertheless it's Andy Stott, so there's beautiful pads and basslines. The highlight is of course the "bonus" track not available on vinyl, "Versi", a head-nodding 4/4 shuffle.

Rrose - Mine [Eaux]
Sutekh - Fire Weather [Orthlorn Musork/Sutekh Bandcamp]
Rrose - Open Cell [Eaux]
For years, Californian musician Seth Horvitz made intelligent, challenging techno & experimental electronic music as Sutekh. For some years now he has explored slippery techno, club music and ambient textures under the pandrogynous pseudonym Rrose (taken from Marcel Duchamp's female-identified alter-ego Rrose Sélavy). There's a continuity with their earlier work (witness the collision of 4/4 beats, field recordings and electric piano on the 2002 track I played), but the Rrose work does stand alone. The album Hymn To Moisture - the first full album as Rrose! - does indeed feel fluid, submerged, sodden. It's a beauty.

Shit & Shine - WHO ARE YOU? [OOH-Sounds/Bandcamp]
Shit & Shine - 57YOUYOI-DRINKIN [OOH-Sounds/Bandcamp]
Texas maverick (now based in the UK) of the noise and doom scenes Shit & Shine has for the last few years been producing perverted variants of electronic & dance genres, with some brilliant disco edits last year now followed with the strange minimal techno-disco on Italian label OOH-Sounds called NO NO NO NO. The title track features an incredibly frustrating phone support conversation that may or may not be a prank call, and weirdly twisted & processed vocal samples follow throughout. It's edging on creepy, but not quite as balls-out as his earlier work.

Tears|Ov - A Hopeless Place [The Tapeworm/Bandcamp]
Tears|Ov - Trapdoor Ant [The Tapeworm/Bandcamp]
An LP release on Touch-affiliated cassette label The Tapeworm (recently turned 10) here comes from UK trio Tears|Ov, made up of poet and experimental musician Lori E Allen, cellist Katie Spafford and artist & multi-instrumentalist Deborah Wale. There's a kind of postpunk industrial feel to this freeform music. The music may originate from improvisations, but it's precisely constructed and mixed into weird, angular, uncompromising quasi-songs.

Del Lumanta - Preparations I [Room40/Bandcamp]
Del Lumanta - Preparations III [Room40/Bandcamp]
This new release from Sydney's Del Lumanta, released on Room40's cassette series A Guide To Saints, documents Del's initial experiments with modular synthesis, showing once again what a talented artist they are. These thought-provoking and creative works are a response to being asked to perform at the Art Gallery of NSW for Sydney Festival earlier this year - both a response to the space and also to the artist's disquiet with the idea of institutions like this. Highly recommended.

Listen again — ~203MB

Sunday, 3rd of November, 2019

Playlist 03.11.19 (8:10 pm)

It's a rainy night if you're in Sydney, and we've got some rainy night tunes for you.

Sadly, the stream on demand facility broke down last week, so there's no listen back for this one :(

The Leaf Library - In Doors And Out Through Windows [where it's at is where you are/The Leaf Library Bandcamp]
The Leaf Library - Hollow Tone [where it's at is where you are/The Leaf Library Bandcamp]
The Leaf Library - Bright Seas [where it's at is where you are/The Leaf Library Bandcamp]
This six-piece from North London have been combining gorgeous songwriting with postrock and experimental tendencies for some time - closest comparisons I can think of are Broadcast and Stereolab. I discovered The Leaf Library via an excellent remix album a few years ago featuring a few Hood-related acts and other Utility Fog-friendly folks like Isnaj Dui. This new album, The World Is A Bell, is the first collection of new songs from the band as a whole in a while, and it's a winner. Great songs that don't mind going 2-3 times as long as typical radio would prefer, with krautrocky motoricism and delightful melodies. Surprising episodes of found sounds, odd arrangements... everything a Utility Fog curator could wish for.
Pre-order copies of the album came with a limited CD called Bell Tones with extended abstractions of the album material. I played a little looping piece of backwards sounds.

The Bad Plus - Love is the Answer [Edition Records]
US jazz piano trio The Bad Plus made their name doing perfectly skewed interpretations of unexpected songs - Nirvana, the Pixies, and a beloved version of Aphex Twin's classic "Flim". A couple of years ago founding pianist Ethan Iverson left (he'd gotten in some hot water for some pretty shitty comments about women in jazz music, which may or may not be related), but bass player / frequent songwriter Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King have continued on, enlisting another brilliant jazz pianist to join them - Orrin Evans. Evans is a less showy player than Iverson, but settles into the Bad Plus sound with ease. Tonight's choice from Activate Infinity, the second album of the new lineup, is a classic Reid Anderson tune - a beautiful cyclic motif on piano & bass with a slow build and release.

Grischa Lichtenberger - 0319 09 eins c4 (32 cents) [raster/Bandcamp]
Grischa Lichtenberger - 0319 02 saturn 2f (saturn) [raster/Bandcamp]
Berlin-based electronic musician Grischa Lichtenberger usually very much embodies the raster-noton (and now raster) sound - clicky, tight & taut electronic rhythms and high-tech sound design. For his new album this approach is married with some much looser source material, from saxophonist Phillip Gropper's ensemble PHILM. Lichtenberger's glitchy, stuttery, granular approach to audio is the order of the day, but the jazz origins of the material are frequently audible - shuffling drum kit, piano & sax melodies surfacing or even leading on some tracks, while elsewhere soundscapes are built from fragments of acoustic sounds.

memotone - The Brownie of the Black Haggs [memotone Bandcamp]
memotone - Mary Burnet [memotone Bandcamp]
I've been following the work of William Yates aka memotone on this show since around 2012. At the time he was making on-point post-dubstep and folktronic beats, but strangely with a kind of contemporary classical side. Yates is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, as can often be seen on his Instagram (and elsewhere) and creates all his music with hardware - whether it's distorted hip-hop beats, electric piano, complex drum patterns, arcane folk reels, or distorted bass synth throbbing like on the first track tonight. Both tracks come from a cassette release called FOUR TALES which is inspired by four, er, tales by 19th century author James Hogg. So our starting point musically is anything but pastoral, but there is a strain of folk weirdness going through these tunes.

John Roberts - Mental Model No. 1 [Brunette Editions]
The particular strain of deep house favoured by New York musician John Roberts has often leaned towards acoustic sounds, such as the limpid piano featuring on Glass Eights. On his new album Can Thought Exist Without The Body, beats are entirely left behind for absorbing sound design, with close-mic'd piano, humming tones and some exquisite violin glissandi among the sounds. It's quite something.

Jim Perkins - Pools [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]
Jim Perkins - Fragment [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]
Jim Perkins - A Ritual for Saying Goodbye [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]
Even more classical sounding is the new album from British composer Jim Perkins, who runs the bigo & twigetti label that focuses on modern classical & electronic music. His penchant for glitchy edits comes out in a few spots (check the sweet ending to the title track) but there's precious little in terms of electronic (or other) beats that he's featured in the past - he's leaning in to the classical & ambient stylings on this one. It's lovely stuff.

Leah Kardos - Bird Rib [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]
Jameson Nathan Jones - Continuum [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]
Inventive compilations have always been part of what bigo & twigetti like to do, and their latest, Scale, invites 17 artists to respond to the title - whether using musical scales or the idea of "scale" (loud vs soft, solo vs orchestral, small vs large etc). Ex-pat Brisvegan Leah Kardos, now well established in London as an academic, composer & sound engineer, contributes a track from a new series of pieces which respond to old material of hers played through through a tape machine backwards. You can't hear the original, but it's an interesting jumping off point - more info here (and very glad to hear there's an EP coming next year!) Mississippi composer Jameson Nathan Jones starts the compilation off with some windswept synths hovering and puslating through a slow crescendo and decrescendo. There's a lot going on in the details here. I strongly recommend checking out the whole compilation.

Joanna John & Burkhard Stangl - november air [Interstellar Records]
Joanna John & Burkhard Stangl - birds cannot enter the poem [Interstellar Records]
Beautiful sound-art from Norway-based Polish multi-media artist Joanna John & veteran Austrian experimental musician Burkhard Stangl. Stangl's guitar playing grounds this music in a rootsy comfort zone, but around it we have field recordings, noisy granular processing, and other estranging effects. It's electro-acoustic music at its finest.

She Spread Sorrow - She Didn't Care [The Helen Scarsdale Agency]
Alice Kemp - A Gold Blade To The Back Of The Head [The Helen Scarsdale Agency]
Fossil Aerosol Mining Project - Not Intended As [The Helen Scarsdale Agency]
Himukalt - Cruel By Most Estimations [The Helen Scarsdale Agency]
Originally due out on October 25th, the massive new boxset from The Helen Scarsdale Agency seems to be delayed - so hopefully it's OK that I'm "previewing" a few tracks. Titled On Corrosion, it's 10 cassette albums housed in a beautiful wooden box, featuring artists from around the world leaning towards: "post-industrial research, recombinant noise, surrealist demolition, and existential vacancy". Some of the cassettes are made up of two long tracks - so for instance I couldn't feature Richard Chartier's pinkcourtesyphone tonight. But others are more traditional EPs or mini-albums split into tracks. Italian artist Alice Kundalini aka She Spread Sorrow starts things off with a morose, processional piece from her cassette Orchid Seeds. Next, we have British experimental musician Alice Kemp and one of her 9 Dreams In Erotic Mourning - a ticking pulse and throbbing electronics. US collective Fossil Aerosol Mining Project have been around for decades, mining (yes) the collective refuse of late 20th century America - thus the woozy VHS samples, an anti-nostalgic hauntology. And finally, some wonderfully confronting / enveloping power electronics & industrial noise from Nevada-based Ester Kärkkäinen aka Himukalt, recalling Puce Mary or the halcyon days of Prurient.

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