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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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Sunday, 19th of April, 2020

Playlist 19.04.20 (6:24 pm)

Onwards we go... minimalist classical and jazz mix with avant-garde indiepop and electronics tonight!

LISTEN AGAIN for all your non-genre-typical needs... Stream on demand from FBi or podcast right here.

Wim Mertens - Struggle For Pleasure [Les Disques Du Crépuscule]
Quite a few great musicians have died this week, including free jazz double bassist Henry Grimes. But the death that resonated the most for me was not a musician, and was not due to COVID-19: Brian Dennehy passed away from natural causes. I know him best from his brilliant performance in Peter Greenaway's The Belly of an Architect, a movie I saw at a pretty young age, and I discovered it through it soundtrack. Rather than Michael Nyman, this movie makes use of Flemish composer Wim Mertens' music, plus a few disturbing drones from Glenn Branca. Mertens' soundtrack is of a piece with Nyman, Philip Glass etc, but if anything it's got more of an emotional core - especially the well-known piece I played here.

Alister Spence - (back)water [Alister Spence Music, available through Birdland]
Alister Spence - (en)folded [Alister Spence Music, available through Birdland]
Sydney pianist Alister Spence has featured on this show frequently through the years, primarily with his trio, which features in-demand drummer Toby Hall and The Necks' Lloyd Swanton on bass. Whirlpool is his first solo album after decades as a pianist. Over 2CDs of studio improvisations, he coaxes beautiful impressionist works, percussive chaos, otherworldly moans, creaks and shimmers from his piano.

Tilman Robinson - Yours, Deer Heart [Hobbledehoy Records/Bandcamp]
Tilman Robinson - Clathrate Gun [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
Tilman Robinson - Bartholomew, Growing [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
Tilman Robinson - The Word for World is Forest [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
I first discovered Perth composer Tilman Robinson (now based in Melbourne) via a fellow Western Australian friend who thought I should check out his first album of contemporary composed jazz & electronics. It was indeed very good, but gave no warning of the work he would create a few years later after spending an extended time at Valgeir Sigurðsson's studio in Reykjavik. Deer Heart, the album that came out of that time, bears some resemblance to Icelandic artists from that circle, as well as the work of ex-pat Aussie Ben Frost, but was released through local Melbourne label Hobbledehoy. It's great to see Valgeir's collective Bedroom Community put their support behind his follow-up, Culturecide. The album sets the whole modern malaise in its sights - the scourge of colonialism, late-stage capitalism & neo-liberalism, and its end-game climate change. As fits an album on Bedroom Community, the album pits crackling electronics and field recordings against impeccably-orchestrated piano, percussion and strings (including some bewitching viola da gamba, a baroque-period cousin of the cello, on "The Word for World is Forest", played by Laura Moore). A soundtrack for our times, and frankly essential listening.

On Diamond - Crying For It (Maria Moles Remix) [On Diamond Bandcamp]
On Diamond - The Ocean Floor (Jules Pascoe Remix) [On Diamond Bandcamp]
Melbourne indie band On Diamond already has a solid experimental & genre-crossing pedigree through their members, fronted by dream-folk singer Lisa Salvo, and featuring experimental drummer/sound-artist Maria Moles on drums, jazz saxophonist Scott McConnachie on (avant-garde) guitar, fellow adventurous folkie Hannah Cameron on guitar & backing vocals, and Tinpan Orange's Jules Pascoe on bass. Following last year's excellent debut album, they've just released a four-track remix EP, in which bandmembers Salvo, Moles and Pascoe emphasise the experimental aspects of their songs, along with friend of UFog Shoeb Ahmad. I could happily have played any of the tracks, but tonight we hear Moles' ambient head-nodder and Pascoe's dubbed-out sub-aquaticism.
Oh, and all profits go to Pay The Rent, so no excuse not to buy it!

Herner Vertzog - Aisling Railways [Bandcamp]
One bass player to another - we heard from Josh Ahearn's Herner Vertzog just last week with Boards of Canada-style electronica. This one's not a million miles from that, but it feels like it has a little of his prog background in it too. There's some gnarly, if subdued, bass riffage and a guitar melody, when the change finally comes - but mostly it's a pulsating synth refrain that wouldn't be amiss in an early Icehouse track, over some subtle loops and field recordings.

Kate Carr - Where to begin (excerpt) [Kate Carr Bandcamp]
Field recordings may be used in amongst the musical instruments in Tilman Robinson's work, but few are able to incorporate field recordings into their music as effectively as ex-pat Aussie Kate Carr. Her latest work, Where to begin, was originally created for the BBC; various people were enlisted to read out love letters, and around these fragmentary texts are laid foley sounds (crumpled paper, scritching pens etc) and musical elements that draw out the theme of loneliness - scurrying detuned chords & sub-bass tones fed through slow delays. It's abstract but highly compelling sound art.

Nick Storring - My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell [Orange Milk Records/Nick Storring Bandcamp]
Nick Storring - poised [Nick Storring Bandcamp]
Nick Storring - Qualms I (excerpt) [Never Anything Records]
Nick Storring - Now Neither One Of Us Is Breaking [Orange Milk Records/Nick Storring Bandcamp]
I've admired Toronto cellist Nick Storring for some years, and not just because he's a cellist; he's one of those versatile musicians who's made everything from extreme glitchy electronics (see the second track tonight), unfettered folk, dark indie with Picastro, and sumptuously orchestrated contemporary classical & sound-art (see the excerpt from Qualms I), such as his last few works. His new album My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell is released through the great Orange Milk Records (check that Seth Graham artwork!) and it's exquisite. He presents it as an homage to Roberta Flack, although the music is all original, but you'll find the connection in the emotiveness, the lush jazz voicings, and some lyrical references in track titles. Like last year's Qualms and 2014's Gardens, Storring plays all the bewildering array of instruments, building up an orchestra, a house band, and whatever else he needs for these pieces. These magic dreams are still utterly spellbinding, and well worth your time.

Passepartout Duo - Vis-à-Vis (Sections 1 & 2) [Passepartout Duo Bandcamp]
Passepartout Duo - Vis-à-Vis (Section 4) [Passepartout Duo Bandcamp]
After a collaborative release late in 2018, the debut album from Passepartout Duo was conceived and debuted on a series of train trips that took them from Geneva, Switzerland all the way to Shanghai, China. Due to these circumstances, for thie project the duo, made up of pianist Nicoletta Favari and percussionist Christopher Salvito, play handmade portable percussion instruments and electronic keyboards (see some examples here), and the sensations of motion and displacement can be felt through the rhythmic techniques and harmonies. They are now artists-in-residence at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai.

Philipp Rumsch Ensemble - a4 [Denovali]
Philipp Rumsch Ensemble - d3 [Denovali]
Philipp Rumsch Ensemble - a5 [Denovali]
Continuing the theme of classical musicians crossing over into electronics, postrock and avant-pop we have the second album from Philipp Rumsch Ensemble on Denovali. The album is called µ - of Anxiety x Discernment, is split into "a" (anxiety) track and "d" tracks (discernment), reflects complex, layered emotional states through a combination of processed vocals and sounds, minimalist classical ensemble arrangements (piano, strings, horns, percussion) and occasional postrock-ish outbursts. It's all great, but I had to finish with the lush pitch-shifted, harmonised electronic choir of "a5".

Listen again — ~192MB

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