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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, 23rd of February, 2020

Playlist 23.02.20 (8:22 pm)

Lots of glitchy electro-acoustic sounds, classical composition meets experimental electronics and so on tonight...

LISTEN AGAIN, listen closely... stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Luigi Archetti & Bo Wiget - Santa Cruz - Malans [Die Schachtel]
Luigi Archetti & Bo Wiget - stück 5 [Rune Grammofon]
Luigi Archetti & Bo Wiget - stück 17 [Rune Grammofon]
Simon Lenski & Bo Wiget - Trottinette [Radical Duke Entertainment]
Luigi Archetti & Bo Wiget - stück 33 [Rune Grammofon]
Bo Wiget - O Mango Monopol [Bo Wiget Bandcamp]
Luigi Archetti & Bo Wiget - Kyoto - Salzburg [Die Schachtel]
If you know me at all, you know that I love finding experimental cellists of all sorts. So I have no idea how Bo Wiget remained in the periphery of my awareness until now. His duo with fellow Swiss experimenter Luigi Archetti, with Wiget on cello and Archetti on guitar and both on electronics, is right up my alley, with extended instrumental techniques rubbing up against glitchy production, minimalist electronic tones, and disembodied passages of neoclassical harmony. There is even some distorted guitar riffage in one of the selections tonight. We’re hearing them because Die Schachtel, the in-house label of Italian online experimental record store SoundOhm, have released a wonderful new album from them called Weltformat, 10 years after the last of their trio of low tide digitals albums for the legendary Norwegian label Rune Grammofon. Along with a track from each album, we heard some more from their cellist: in 2007 he released a duo album with Belgian cellist Simon Lenski, best known as a member of the genre-destroying band DAAU (Die Anarchistische Abendunterhaltung) – avant-garde cello & electronics also, but with very different results from the Archetti / Wiget pairing. And in 2017, a solo album from Wiget features alarming avant-garde vocals along with his acoustic cello. Another idiosyncratic take on playing this great instrument.

yMusic - Tesselations (Gabriella Smith) [New Amsterdam/Bandcamp]
American contemporary classical ensemble yMusic straddle genre worlds, having worked with My Brightest Diamond on a wonderful album of hers, have performed compositions of many other crossover artists like Sufjan Stevens, and worked on an album recently with Ben Folds. With a lineup of cello, viola, violin/guitar, trumpet/horn, clarinet and flute, they tend to play commissioned new work, and their new album features Missy Mazzoli among others. Tonight we heard an energetic piece based around rhythmic strings, by San Francisco-based composer Gabriella Smith.

Emma Kate Matthews - Similis [Musicity Global]
The unusual chamber ensemble of yMusic leads us from strings and guitar to clarinet and double bass in the next piece. From an album inspired by London architecture, specifically that of London’s “Culture Mile”, it’s appropriate that Emma Kate Matthews is an architect as well as composer and musician. The album was compiled by BBC Radio 3’s Nick Luscombe (founder of Musicity) and commissioned in conjunction with the Barbican Centre, and it’s the Barbican’s main foyer space that inspired the intense clarinet drones and explosions in Matthews’ track. More info on how the recording & reproduction invokes the space here.

Jasmine Guffond - Forever Listening [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
Sydney/Berlin composer Jasmine Guffond continues her deep exploration of online surveillance and sound on her first solo album for Editions Mego. Entitled Microphone Permission, the album sways musically between exquisitely detuned acoustic-sounding pads, harsh digital interjections, and clicky rhythmic bursts. The measured pace and pristine sound recording invoke an unsettling sense of paranoia – is my laptop or device’s microphone listening without my permission? Is my data being used in nefarious ways? Am I safe? I don’t really care as long as Jasmine continues to produce stunning music like this and her last few releases...

Daspo - Hollandsche Rading [Setola Di Maiale/Bandcamp]
Daspo - Overvecht [Setola Di Maiale/Bandcamp]
The Italian duo of Davide Palmentiero and Giuseppe Pisano make up Daspo, whose debut album combines improvisations on customised instruments with careful post-production. Produced in an anechoic chamber at the HKU in Utrecht, and evokes some of the same strange discombobulation of Jasmine Guffond’s work above. As is often the case with electro-acoustic and experimental sound work, it’s the human element and the way the music is constructed rather than the concepts behind the works that makes them win, and these musicians have a real sense of musical narrative which makes this album stand out.

Samuele Strufaldi & Tommaso Rosati - Collisio [Auand/Bandcamp]
Staying again in Italy, we have some crepuscular, intergalactic electronic jazz from Samuele Strufaldi (piano) & Tommaso Rosati (live electronics). I would’ve loved to play more than one track from this gorgeous album, but the beauty of the piano & glitchy electronics’ interactions here does some justice to an excellent album. It’s the sort of stuff that could fit in the ECM basket, but is perhaps a bit too disturbed. A great discovery.

Memotone - Trading Cities [Disktopia/Bandcamp]
Multi-instrumentalist William Yates never quite does what you expect – after a series of EPs as Memotone (his main alias but one of many!) which placed him firmly in the post-dubstep/electronica camp, his facility with acoustic instruments, classical and jazz composition came to the fore, and on any release you might find submerged techno beats rubbing up against amazing live percussion, piano motifs, or at the start of this track, some emotive cello lines... before we move into dark electronics and machine beats. This is courtesy of Japanese shop/label Disktopia, from a free compilation that came out at the end of last year.

Hence Therefore - Signal Drift 1 [Cherche Encore/Bandcamp]
So good to have more newness from Sydney's Simon Unwin aka Hence Therefore. This was recorded during his last London winter before returning to Sydney, and samples from some random London radio noise, muffled and chopped into rhythmic chunks slowly developing over 4 minutes into something resembling minimal techno.

Sightless Pit - Kingscorpse [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Sightless Pit - Violent Rain [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Incredible work from an extreme metal/noise supergroup here. All have worked together on other projects before, particularly through Lee Buford's incredible duo the body, who have recorded two collaborative albums with Dylan Walker's hardcore force of nature Full of Hell. Meanwhile Kristin Hayer is a force of nature herself, with her classical-meets-gothic-meets-metal project Lingua Ignota, and that classical/gothic influence is very evident all over this album, along with myriad electronics, heavy sounds, and (really only) occasional metal vocals. Disturbing, unsettling? Sure. But also beautiful and thrilling.

Zoë Mc Pherson - Power fluids (pitchless) [SFX/Bandcamp]
Zoë Mc Pherson - vii. Transmission (so it shall never be lost) [SVS Records]
Zoë Mc Pherson - Learn ur language faster feat. Elvin Brandhi [SFX/Bandcamp]
Belgium-based singer, jazz drummer and electronic musician Zoë Mc Pherson released her debut album in 2018, and follows it up now with an album that embeds her processed voice in electronic sound-fields, often percussive, often noisy. Experimental music steeped in club and electronica, it's the first release on the new label SFX that she's formed with multimedia artist Alessandra Leone.

Lara Sarkissian - The Girl, Leopard and Trees [Lara Sarkissian Bandcamp]
Finishing up tonight with the San Francisco-based electronic producer Lara Sarkissian, once again drawing on her Armenian heritage, this time using the sound of the kanun, a zither or cembalom-like instrument, here sampled from a performance of a concerto by Karine Hovhannisyan. Heavy bass and electronic orchestrations, and occasional hints at (deconstructed) club beats underscore the amazing sound of this instrument.

Listen again — ~190MB


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Sunday, 16th of February, 2020

Playlist 16.02.20 (8:26 pm)

Lots of experimental electronics tonight, more brilliant junglisms, and also plenty of vocals!

LISTEN AGAIN and sing along, via podcast here or stream on demand at FBi.

golden window house - The Man I Follow (ft. Marcus Whale) [Defaul Settings]
Kcin - Belief Network [Defaul Settings]
Starting tonight with another bushfire relief compilation. There’s been a lot of these, which just goes to show that in a business that could do with all the small amounts of money it could make, people in the arts are admirably morally centred. While some labels and artists were able to draw on existing material to get fundraiser compilations out the door as soon as the scale of the disasters became evident, others have put together wonderfully considered special material. New Sydney label Default Settings is a friend of the show’s – label head Tom Vanderzeil has filled in on shows following us a bit too. Their comp raises funds for WIRES and RSPCA NSW. Golden Window House is the ambient alias of Jacques Emery, enfolding Marcus Whale’s vocals in layers of quasi-classical samples, distorted noise and sub-bass. And Nick Meredith’s Kcin contributes an exclusive work of grungy bass synths and beats.

NERVE - VERMILLION DAWN (MDE Version) [AR53]
Melbourne producer Joshua Wells has appeared a fair bit on the show recently with his hard-hitting industrial-leaning techno as NERVE. This track is a live improvisation from the middle of a recent set, and again shows his techno teetering dangerously on the edge of drum’n’bass.

Thugwidow - i long to be carried away [Aurawire/Bandcamp]
Thugwidow - Dominion [Circadian Rhythms Records/Bandcamp]
Thugwidow - what ever happened to the pouring soul liger [Aurawire/Bandcamp]
Did anybody say drum’n’bass? I just discovered this wild album from 2019 by Manchester-based producer Thugwidow aka Alex Lowther-Harris, whose brilliant bass/drum’n’bass track “Dominion” appeared on the great jungle/idm/grime comp Partisan from last year on Circadian Rhythms. Seemingly one of a billion albums he put out in the last couple of years, it’s released through Minneapolis label Aurawire, a label that specialises mostly in ambient. It’s a beautiful homage to early ‘90s jungle, with rave synths, skittering breaks scattered octaves above sub-bass-lines, an absolute delight. And it’s released on CD! Although the mastering leaves a little to be desired – I boosted all the tracks by 3.4dB and topped-and-tailed all the tracks, because that’s the kind of thing I do, and so here we are. Really, grab this asap.

Louis King ft. Brain Rays - Let's Get It (Brain Rays + Quiet Remix) [SEAGRAVE]
Louis King ft. Brain Rays - Why Pree? (Ice_Eyes Remix) [SEAGRAVE]
There’s never a dud from British label SEAGRAVE. They remind us of the deep and weird connections between idm and dancefloor genres, and how blurred those lines are. The latest release is a grime single with various remixes. South London MC Louis King pairs up with producer Brain Rays for a couple of tracks which are flipped and messed with by the likes of algorave king Renick Bell, and tonight we heard Brain Rays himself with regular collaborator Quiet taking things into footwork-meets-jungle territory, and then Greek idm duo Ice_Eyes take it head-nodding and crunchy.

Pentagrime - No Pithering Allowed [James Plotkin Bandcamp]
James Plotkin can’t get enough of the modular synth idm beats. His years making the scariest doom metal in the business and being one of the most respected mastering engineers in the world give him a strange perspective on electronica, but he’s always been into weird & cutting edge electronic production as well. The third EP as Pentagrime is first class, from the acid slow-fast vibes of this track to the Aphexisms of “Lemur Orgy”. Also note the last track, an alternate version of the track I played tonight, bestowed with the subtitle “[rehearsal demo live peel session roughmix (remix)]”.

SUDS - Shuttlecock Fanfare [anno]
Legendary Digital Hardcore producer Christoph de Babalon, as well as releasing new music AND a series of archival releases of amazing drum’n’bass and dark ambient over the last few years, has been involved in a few collaborations lately, and his new one with Berlin-based experimental electronic producer Wilted Woman is very impressive. No junglisms here (although the beats skitter and syncopate plenty), but dark beats, bass and melodies. According to the EP title, SUDS = Sick Universe Demands Sharing. Maybe they’ll change it every release?

Ash Koosha - iLLY [Realms/Bandcamp]
Ash Koosha - Robot Kareem [Realms/Bandcamp]
Ash Koosha - The Egg Sea [Realms/Bandcamp]
Iranian ex-pat Ashkan Kooshanejad aka Ash Koosha, after a brilliant debut mixtape on Olde English Spelling Bee and debut album on Ninja Tune, has been steadily dropping mixtapes and albums on his own label as well as material from his handmade AI singer-songwriter YONA. His latest album-cum-mixtape BLUUD is as exciting as his earliest releases, combining crunchy beats and heavy bass with a Persian-inflected talent for melodic and harmonic invention.

Katie Gately - The Tower [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
Katie Gately - Last Day [Public Information]
Katie Gately - Lift [Tri-Angle/Bandcamp]
Katie Gately - Rite [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
We’ve been fans on this show of the vocal magic and sound-art of LA-based musician Katie Gately for ages. It’s easy to forget that she’s a songwriter when contemplating her adeptness with sonic exploration, as well as the 10+-minute tracks appearing on Fat Cat and other labels – and indeed the lead single from her astonishing new album Loom is again over 10 minutes. As Gately was preparing the initial material, she received the devastating news that her mother had terminal cancer, and recorded the album during her mother’s illness. The emotional heft of those events is evident in many of the songs here, but as Gately is an inveterate sound artist, we have the sonic heft of earthquake recordings appearing in these complex tracks, along with coffins closing, wolves howling, pill bottles shaking, etc. None of this distracts from the great songwriting – and along with the rhythmic, song-structured pieces there are a couple of lovely shorter, simpler works for layered vocals and electronics. I felt that her last album (2016’s Color) deserved more accolades than it received, but to prove she’s been a huge creative force for a long time, we went back to 2013’s self-title album on Public Information – already complete with rumbling crashes, found-sound beats and wonderful vocal processing.

Arrom x KAIAR - Starcrossed [Provenance/Bandcamp]
Arrom x KAIAR - I Know The Ocean [Provenance/Bandcamp]
Two vocal & electronic producers from Melbourne team up for a new release on rejuvenated Aussie label Provenance. Both Arrom (aka Melissa Valence) and KAIAR (aka Karla Gilbard) are lovers of experimental electronics, and we hear the vocals of both (Valence is a classically-trained choral singer) as the main sonic element – sometimes floating melodically, sometimes chopped and processed – with booming beats or fragmented drum machines or glitchy crunches.

Olivia Louvel - Conversation with Magic Stones [Cat Werk Imprint]
Olivia Louvel - Bats (If You Cross The Line remix by Simon Fisher Turner) (excerpt!) [Cat Werk Imprint]
French-born British composer Olivia Louvel works with voice and electronics to explore digital narrative. Her latest work Hepworth Resounds, part of her Masters study, is in dialogue with the writings of British sculptor Barbara Hepworth. Part of this work is an installation, and part is the new album SulptOr. Spoken and sung texts appear along with glitchy, stop-start beats. It's lovely stuff. And I wish I'd had time to play the complete, epic, beautiful remix of her track "Bats By Night" by the unimpleachably great Simon Fisher Turner, but we had time for just an extract.

Listen again — ~203MB


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Sunday, 9th of February, 2020

Playlist 09.02.20 (8:16 pm)

We've got folktronica, post-classical experimentalism, folktronic house (does that make sense) and drill'n'bass tonight, with a bit of ambient thrown in...!

LISTEN AGAIN to the best new sounds. Podcast here, stream on demand from FBi.

Reuben Ingall - Close Contact [Reuben Ingall Bandcamp]
Reuben Ingall - Video 2004 [Reuben Ingall Bandcamp]
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the work of Canberra musician Reuben Ingall on this show. I've been playing him for around 10 years now, since his earliest forays into PureData patches live-processing mournful lo-fi indie guitar. He's performed drone pieces for a microwave heating up a pie, created techno works for environmentalist political satire, and now he's gone and released a beautiful, brilliant folktronica album. Or sound-art, or electro-acoustic? While theres some challenging bits of sinewave noise and collage there, and lots of music made from non-musical sound, there are also so many gorgeous passages. All tracks are within the 3 minutes of pop-song length - pop music for a better world!

Midori Hirano - Invisible Island [Sonic Pieces/Bandcamp]
Midori Hirano - Terra [Midi Creative/Noble Label]
MimiCof - ReckTon [Wrong Weather Forecast #2]
Midori Hirano - Strain [Sonic Pieces/Bandcamp]
Classically-trained Japanese composer & pianist Midori Hirano has been based in Berlin for ages now, but wherever she's based she has a true talent for being in a class of her own. You'll hear lovely post-classical piano, sometimes prepared piano, ambient sound processing, classical string arrangements, but there's an edge of strangeness and a compositional style which is freer than much of what passes for (post-)classical or ambient. She also has an electronic (beats) alias in MimiCof, although as we can see she's no purist when it comes to the material under her own name. The new album Invisible Island, her second for Berlin-based boutique label Sonic Pieces, seems like a career highlight.

Zoltan Fecso - Rainbow Noise [Shimmering Moods]
Zoltan Fecso - In Place [Shimmering Moods]
Excellent to find the second album from unique Melbourne guitarist Zoltan Fecso appearing on the lovely Dutch ambient label Shimmering Moods. Zoltan came in for a chat on this show a year and a bit ago, describing the incredible specially-made guitar he performs on, which has a 2-dimensional USB controller built in, so that he can sample, control and sequence fragments of the guitar sound in real time. He creates pointilistic compositions which can be rhythmic or free, guitar-like or anything but. On this new one he's expanded into using field recordings as well. I love the shimmering, pulsating tones, but it's also lovely when long guitar harmonics and tones are allowed to speak. Still a very creative artist like no other.

Beatrice Dillon - Workaround Five (feat. Lucy Railton) [PAN/Bandcamp]
Beatrice Dillon - Workaround Two (feat. Laurel Halo) [PAN/Bandcamp]
Beatrice Dillon - Workaround Eight [PAN/Bandcamp]
London-based producer Beatrice Dillon has a long history mixing avant-garde sensibilities with a great talent for rhythm. Whether it's minimal techno or house or UK bass music, her beats flow as much as they skitter. On her superb new album for PAN, she sticks at 150bpm (except for a couple of beatless interludes) and leaves plenty of space for the flow of the beats to recall UKG or dubstep's space as much as techno. And there are plenty of acoustic sounds in there, and plenty of jazzy musicality. I keep thinking of the sonic adventurousness and meticulous dancefloor dedication of Matthew Herbert. In any case, this is one of the best albums of the year so far, and one I plan to return to.

Om Unit - Runes [Cosmic Bridge Records]
From 150bpm to 160... The hybridisation of drum'n'bass and other UK & international bass styles like dubstep, UK garage, techno etc sits very comfortably at this tempo, and on his new album Submerged, Om Unit (one of the originators of this loose genre or movement) showcases a variety of rolling beats and sounds that work at 160bpm. Very nice stuff.

Tennis Pagan - Heads [Spirit Level]
Coming out next month from Melbourne's Spirit Level is a delightful EP of idm-ish sounds from mysterious(?) Melbourne artist Tennis Pagan. This little preview is a bit of drill'n'bass that segues rather well into our special on Tom Jenkinson aka...

Squarepusher - Terminal Slam [Warp]
Squarepusher - Tundra [Rephlex]
Squarepusher - Port Rhombus [Warp]
Squarepusher - massif (stay strong) [Warp]
Squarepusher - Detroit People Mover [Warp]
While Tom Jenkinson's music as Squarepusher has taken various twists and turns through the years - weird lo-fi facsimile jazz, prog, robot funk band, etc, he's never abandoned the drill'n'bass that everybody was obsessed with when his earliest stuff came out on Spymania, Rephlex and then Warp. A madcap take on the mangled beats of jungle, it mixed lo-fi synth melodies, jazz chords, ridiculously technical funk bass, and neverending complex chopped-up beats. Aphex Twin, Luke Vibert (as Plug) and various others started doing similar stuff at the same time, as did µ-Ziq, but drill'n'bass is still probably most synonymous with Squarepusher. It's nice to hear the melodic aspect popping back in on his new one, Be Up A Hello - even though 2015's Damogen Furies has hard-hitting drum'n'bass beats and acid basslines, this one seems more like a return to classic Squarepusher in a way. So I decided to return to classic Squarepusher, from 1996's Feed Me Weird Things, and his debut EP on Warp, and then a much-loved favourite from 1998.

Tilman Robinson - We Came For Your Riches [Bedroom Community]
Melboure-based composer Tilman Robinson (originally from Perth) has spent a lot of time in Iceland, and in fact recorded his last album at Valgeir Sigurðsson's studio, so it's rather nice to see him joining the Bedroom Community label properly with this new single. The track itself is a "wordless shriek" lamenting the horrors commited by white Australia's colonial past. As he eloquently puts it, "The destruction continues to this day as 21st century cowboys with their Haulpaks and piledrivers pillage land for every last scrap of resources and governments undermine the rights of First Nations peoples everywhere." The subdued, clanking rhythms, classical instruments and choir of wails are quite something.

Glamour Lakes - Competent Rock [Glamour Lakes Bandcamp]
Melbourne's Glamour Lakes has a history in indie bands and his solo stuff has been indietronica, minimal glitchy techno, and has now settled into something more ambient. But, despite the fact that somebody on YouTube claims his music is used by the IRS as hold music, there are some unsettling, dark undercurrents in there, especially on the rather perplexingly titled "Competent Rock".

Listen again — ~274MB


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