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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, 8th of December, 2019

Playlist 08.12.19 (7:56 pm)

From folk to electronic, with some weird improv and post-classical oddments along the way...? It's Utility Fog.

You should LISTEN AGAIN because you just should. You can stream on demand at FBi, or podcast here.

Richard Youngs & Raül Refree - Nil By Mind [Soft Abuse/Bandcamp]
Glasgow musician Richard Youngs is one of those incredibly versatile people who is known as a pioneer in the noise & experimental music scene for solo & collaborative albums stretching back to the ’80s, but also for a stunning run of vocal albums that explore the English folk tradition, electronic pop and more through a very idiosyncratic lens. He has a lovely, light, yearning voice that can’t help but imbue his song-based music with emotion. Here he’s working for the first time with Barcelona musician Raül Refree across four wonderful tracks that augment Youngs’ usual repetitive, exploratory techniques with a host of instruments including warm, melodic, agile double bass, piano and interlocking acoustic guitar patterns.

Stick In The Wheel - down in yon forest [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]
Stick In The Wheel - the over (feat. lisa knapp) [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]
Stick In The Wheel - nine herbs charm [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]
Let’s continue immersing ourselves in English folk music, albeit again from a very strange perspective. Members of Stick In The Wheel were involved in London’s electronic music scene, contributing to 12”s from Various Production among other things, but formed Stick In The Wheel and their From Here Records as a vehicle for exploring centuries of the English folk music tradition. Many of their releases treat this mission with the utmost respect and authenticity, with extraordinary raw vocals and acoustic instrumentation, but alongside this they have released two “mixtapes” which allow them to play faster & looser with their approach. So we have electronic beats, sound design, spoken word mixed in – yet the ultimate result is still a rootsy, folky oeuvre.

Ninoosh - Voice X [Synth Babes/Ninoosh Bandcamp]
Ninoosh - To Play [Synth Babes/Ninoosh Bandcamp]
Melbourne-born Anya Trybala, now based in Sweden, is the founder of Synth Babes, a collective for female & non-binary electronic musicians. She also makes music as Ninoosh, and her new album Floodgates has just come out. It manages to balance itself between more club-oriented techno tendencies, glitchy broken-down soundscapes and songs, and I particularly enjoy when these three combine, with shuddering stretched vocals crescendoing into 4/4 beats, or the beats themselves crunched into acid snow.

Gail Priest - Orographic Lift live 07-03-2019 [Subsequence Radio]
Millie Watson - Improvisation and Interference live 07-02-2019 [Subsequence Radio]
For some years, great Canberran experimental musician Reuben Ingall has presented Subsequence Radio on Canberra’s community station 2XXFM. Along with Chris Finnigan, he also curates a monthly performance night called Sounscapes at Smith's Alternative, and the latest annual compilation from Subsequence showcases a number of recordings from these nights. It’s varied, challenging and beautiful. Tonight we’re hearing from Sydney (now Blue Mountains) sound-art master Gail Priest, with a typically rapturous piece of electronic beats and vocals, and Canberran musician Millie Watson (now based in London) with a brilliant piano improvisation accompanied by field recordings.

Masonik - The Dolt [Masonik Bandcamp (soon?)]
Perth collective Masonik have now been around for over 13 years, with a dozen releases under their belt. Current lineup is Basil Psanoudakis on bass, electronics & video, Wheldon Thornley on keyboards & electronics, Alia-Enor Bath on cello and Patrick Bindon on electric cello, but I'm sure I still hear Pax Andrews on saxophone in there too. Although there is a clear jazz influence to some of the work, their music is surprisingly hard to pin down, with aspects of weird psych, postrock and industrial electronic fuckery involved. Their new album is their first to be pressed to vinyl, out now although not quite up on their Bandcamp yet.

Ot to, not to - Apaxionado [New Info/Ot to, not to Bandcamp]
Ot to, not to - Harpist [ACR Bandcamp/Ot to, not to Bandcamp]
Ot to, not to - Apaxionado (Machinefabriek Remix) [New Info/Ot to, not to Bandcamp]
Ot to, not to - Blanc [New Info/Ot to, not to Bandcamp]
A late discovery for the year, which I was reminded of because Machinefabriek did a remix for him, but it slipped my mind at the time! This is ridiculous because if I’d checked I would have realised that Ian Mugerwa, the main character behind Ot to, not to, frequently harnesses his cello in amongst the artfully mislaid samples, instruments and vocal melisma of his mysterious lo-fi-hi-tech deconstructed r'n'b. His first album came out on Nicolas Jaar’s Other People label in 2016, but I’m only going back to 2017’s these movements i & ii cassette released on London’s ACR. Despite the UK & Irish labels, Mugerwa and bandmate Noah Smith are from Virginia in the USA. I can only think of Lucky Dragons and The Books as precursors to the unorthodox structures and seemingly-accidental arrangements here, but the r’n’b element brings it closer to Micachu or Tirzah.

Clark - Diamond Body [Deutsche Grammophon]
Clark - I'm Pulling My Face Off [Deutsche Grammophon]
Clark - Volatile [Deutsche Grammophon]
Chris Clark is a real oddity in the Warp stable, starting out as a young artist extremely beholden to the greats of early ‘90s idm – Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada et al – and like Richard D James, mixing piano with acid techno at will. Clark’s musicality has always been evident, and his interest in the classical end of the spectrum means that he’s taken naturally to soundtrack work. The previous soundtracks have been a little too toned down and straightforward for me, but his work for new psychological horror movie Daniel Isn’t Real, ironically his first released on classical label Deutsche Grammophon, welds his bass-heavy electronic productions back on to the creepy piano and orchestrations. It’s not just a collection of cues – it works well as a more classically-inclined Clark album, and is all the better for it.

Bersarin Quartett - 2287 [Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]
Bersarin Quartett - St. Petersburg [Lidar/Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]
Jean-Michel - Hello Narita [onpa)))))]
Bersarin Quartett - Alles ist ein Wunder [Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]
Bersarin Quartett - Ist es das was Du willst [Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]
Bersarin Quartett - Das Prinzip der Entsprechung [Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]
Thomas Bücker started off making downtempo, breaks and idm under various monikers in the 1990s, but really broke through when he evoked the austerity and romanticism of classical music with his Bersarin Quartett moniker, starting in 2008. Although it's not a quartet, let alone say a string quartet, and it's not your familiar post-classical piano & "subtle electronics", it nevertheless manages to conjure up the feeling of the concert hall, with cleverly manipulated and designed orchestral samples and a just-so atmosphere, despite its willingness to still drop glitchy beats and deep bass. It's too beat-heavy in my opinion to be ambient music, but it works as such for fans of the genre too. But dig that doomy first chord on "2287" – this is not your average anything music! We went back to the first Bersarin album, and then heard a fun bit of drill'n'bass from his Jean-Michel alias's last album Tons Of Fun, and some more dark electronics from 2012's II and 2015's III. It's been 4 years since that last album, and Methoden und Maschinen is a very welcome return.

Listen again — ~193MB


Sunday, 1st of December, 2019

Playlist 01.12.19 (8:08 pm)

Electronics, strings, glitches, noises, pop songwriting and abstract sound-art... all of that.

LISTEN AGAIN, it's a good habit to get into. Stream on demand the FBi way, podcast here.

Aphir - Your Heroine [Provenance/Aphir Bandcamp]
Melbourne’s Becki Whitton, now actively involved with co-running and promoting the Provenance label setup by FBi alumnus Stu Buchanan, likes to slip out EPs and singles of her off-beat electronic pop as Aphir – hence her latest 2-tracker, out next week just before the end-of-the-year shutdown. On the face of it, “Your Heroine” is one of her more pop-oriented tracks, with an emotional vocal about unrequited love – at least until the distorted beats come in halfway through. The song has an unusual history too, having originally been handed to her friend Tim Pearce, who recorded a garage rock-style version (under the title “Katie”) with his band The Wrst.

Aasthma - Army of Love (feat. Penelope Trappes) [Aasthma]
Pär Grindvik and Peder Mannerfelt have been intrinsic members of the Swedish electronic music scene for the last decade or more – Grindvik runs the Stockholm LTD label, the latter his eponymous Peder Mannerfelt Produktion, as well as being part of the experimental duo Roll The Dice and a frequent collaborator with Fever Ray (Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife). This year they have released three 12”s under the name Aasthma, delving into club genres of various types and also ambient club-adjacent sounds. Earlier this year the duo also remixed London-resident Aussie Penelope Trappes for her remix album on Houndstooth, and she now returns the favour with some subtle vocals on the breaky, ravey A side of their new 12”.

Sig Nu Gris - Butter Soft [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]
After her October EP of “Fixations”, Melbourne producer Sig Nu Gris aka Erin Hyde returns with a two-track single of dense electronic productions. The sounds here are warped & mangled beyond recognition, with nice choppy drums and plenty of bottom end action. Oh, and Becki Whitton did the final mixes. Looking forward to more from her next year!

the little hand of the faithful - All the combs are standing on their teeth [Mound of Sound]
the little hand of the faithful - And then [Mound of Sound]
Moving now from Melbourne to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, where we join Mitch Jones, a stalwart of Sydney’s experimental music scene since the 1980s, when he was a central member of post-punk/proto-industrial band Scattered Order. It’s wrong to talk of them in the past – in fact, the aforementioned Provenance are releasing a new Scattered Order album next year! Meanwhile this is the second album (third if you count a split cassette release with his excellent partner Drusilla Jones) of his solo act the little hand of the faithful, named after his very faithful stuffed bear, who for this album Bears Gifts. The music, as ever, is built from manipulated samples, synths and deftly programmed beats. His musical history is evident, but this music – with frequent film samples and a hypnagogic quality – fits neatly into the post-vaporwave present.

Alva Noto & Anne-James Chaton - A-BU -> BUG -> BU-CR [Noton]
Alva Noto & Anne-James Chaton - QU-SO [Noton]
Two minimalists come together for the first time as a duo. The surreal, disciplined poet Anne-James Chaton has worked closely with experimental guitarist Andy Moor for many years, releasing bizarre minimalist wonders of wordplay, cut-ups and rhythmic underpinnings. More recently, the duo also worked with Thurston Moore on a conceptual album about Heretics. Meanwhile, Chaton has also appeared on a number of releases from Carsten Nicolai aka Alva Noto, head honcho of the “Noton” half of Raster-Noton, these last few years split back into two labels – and Nicolai was involved in at least one of Chaton's solo albums. So here we have Chaton’s vision of words split from their meanings, lyrics reduced to 0s and 1s or numbers & letters, shorn of referents. Alva Noto’s pure electronic beats, bass and floating pads provide the perfect foundation for these dangling signifiers.

Croatian Amor & Varg2TM - Body of Carbon [Posh Isolation/Bandcamp]
Loke Rahbek aka Croatian Amor is a longtime part of the noise scene and also deeply involved in supporting the Danish experimental music scene through his Posh Isolation label. Even his more recent productions shy away from explicit beats & club references, but here with his second collaboration with Jonas Rönnberg aka Varg2TM (previously Varg until the metal band told him to stop) we have a selection of real club bangers – only now and then leaning on the “deconstructed” side even. It’s intense and really great rave material.

Roman Jungblut - Detox - Retox [Roman Jungblut Bandcamp]
We hear enormous amounts of music from Berlin these days – admittedly a lot of it not from German artists – but Cologne has for decades been a hotspot for techno & other adventurous music. Roman Jungblut has a history in bands and sound design for film, games and installations, so Back to where it never started is a sardonic name for his solo debut. It’s surprisingly varied, but the synth melody that grows out of the sparse bass thumps in this track creates a beautiful & eerie opening for this excellent work.

Oto Hiax - Overcurve [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
Oto Hiax - Plates [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
The second release from Seefeel’s Mark Clifford and Loops Haunt’s Scott Gordon suits their home of Editions Mego – it’s got an alien nature which blends acoustic sounds with spectral synthesis, with an icy splendour when you open yourself to it.

Anne Müller - being anne [Erased Tapes/Bandcamp]
Anne Müller - drifting circles [Erased Tapes/Bandcamp]
I first encountered Berlin cellist Anne Müller on her 2010 collaboration with Nils Frahm – one of his most electronic releases, combined with Müller’s gorgeous string arrangements. She has appeared on a number of his albums, and has contributed solo tracks to a few collaborative projects & compilations, but Heliopause is her first solo album proper, and it shows that her abilities as composer & producer are top notch too. Making use of the cello’s percussive qualities, and its lowest & highest tones, Müller creates a music which draws on classical heritage but also references contemporary electronica and composition.

Annelyse Gelman & Jason Grier - Maxes [Fonograf Editions]
Annelyse Gelman & Jason Grier - Rain [Fonograf Editions]
The opening track of Annelyse Gelman & Jason Grier’s debut About Repulsion (a two-track 7” with 6 digital tracks) segues nicely from Anne Müller courtesy of the guest cello from Clare Monfredo – a creative arrangement with harmonics, a plucked ostinato and bowed countermelodies. Eventually Gelman’s vocals & the cello are subsumed & caught up in Grier’s electronic manipulations before breaking free. Gelman, a poet herself, has assembled samples from various contemporary poets on the record as well – Max Ritvo features on the “Maxes”. On “Rain”, multiple versions of Gelman’s singing competes with more & less recognizable field recordings. For all the alienating techniques, it’s incredibly emotive music.

Kirk Barley - Trickle [33-33/Bandcamp]
Kirk Barley - Cradle [33-33/Bandcamp]
Yorkshire musician Kirk Barley has previously released music as Bambooman and Grouphums. This first release under his own name, Landscapes finds him released on Thirty Three Thirty Three for the first time, layering processed guitars, synths and sounds of nature, and joined by Matt Davies’ drums on a few tracks. It’s evocative and peaceful music for turbulent times.

Listen again — ~196MB



 
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