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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, 3rd of May, 2020

Playlist 03.05.20 (7:19 pm)

So we're here on the weekend of the second Bandcamp Day. Friday/Saturday (in Oz) again saw a big flurry of special releases, and pleasingly an even more massive amount of spending, on a day when Bandcamp didn't take any cut themselves - a really impressive gesture from a great platform. As you may know, they're doing it again on the first Fridays of June and July.
Of course there was far too much music to properly take in, so I'm playing a few May 1st releases, but it's basically just "new stuff".

So LISTEN AGAIN and then buy everything! Stream on demand @ FBi, podcast here.

The Soft Pink Truth - Shall [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
The Soft Pink Truth - Grace [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
The Soft Pink Truth - May Increase [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Starting with something wonderful from Prof Drew Daniel, one half of Matmos and for years now purveyor of subversive electronic music as The Soft Pink Truth. After albums reimagining and recontextualising black metal, postpunk and industrial music through a house / techno / electro lens, Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase? is a blissful 45 minutes of ambient house with postrock, sunlit r'n'b and almost classical leanings (intended as two mixed halves, but also available digitally in a slightly different form with separated tracks). That's not to say that it's not still subversive - it's explicitly music for our times, a love reaction to the evils of Trumpism, and its expansive, emotionally welcoming sensibility is perfect for our COVID-era disconnected state. It's like the perfect comedown music the day after intense clubbing, and if the clubbing here is the hammering of late stage capitalism on our state of mind, it's just what we need. A tonic for trying times.

Meredith Monk & Bang on a Can All-Stars - Gamemaster's Song [Cantaloupe Music/Bandcamp]
Meredith Monk & Bang on a Can All-Stars - Downfall [Cantaloupe Music/Bandcamp]
Meredith Monk is one of the most iconoclastic musicians of the last 50 years. A composer the equal of Reich, Glass et al, but also an innovative vocal performer, her music has the strangely off-kilter melodies and harmonies of Kurt Weill and the repetitive, rhythmic invention of the American minimalists. Most of her music is released in recordings of her own ensemble(s), but new album Memory Game comes courtesy of new music powerhouse Bang on a Can - although Monk and her vocal ensemble are still there. This album collects a few reworkings of classic music (including one of my favourites, "Double Fiesta") as well as a selection of never-recorded music from her sci-fi opera The Games (which I really want to see!). It was intended to be performed at Big Ears this year, but of course that's not happening. So let's enjoy a couple of bizarre and remarkable tunes.

Erik Friedlander - Hex [Erik Friedlander Bandcamp]
New York cellist Erik Friedlander has been a stalwart of the Downtown scene for decades - playing with John Zorn, and with jazz and avant-garde ensembles of all sorts. He's also a great bandleader and composer himself, and makes highly varied music as a solo musician. I remember coming across an ambient electronic work of his in the early days of internet compilations, and these days he's putting a track up a month on his Bandcamp, often strange solo experiments. This new track is quite a creepy thing, exorcising some pretty bad demons that saw his flat flooded after a fire in their building, coinciding with COVID-19. Bad times for musicians all-round.

Field Works & Machinefabriek - Kelelawar [Temporary Residence Ltd/Bandcamp]
Field Works & Kelly Moran - Sodalis [Temporary Residence Ltd/Bandcamp]
In 2018, Temporary Residence Ltd released an incredible set of 5 albums under the banner of Field Works, conceptualised by Stuart Hyatt around his massive collection of field recordings. Just out now is another stunner. Entitled Ultrasonic, this takes as its inspiration and source material the echolocation sounds used by bats. It's lovely to have this tribute at a time when these amazing animals are facing some kind of blame for our current pandemic (alongside equally grotesque and unjustified anti-Asian racism it must be said - ignorance & hatred breed easily). As with the 2018 releases, Hyatt & Temp Res have put a lot of thought into the musicians involved, so we've got UFog fave Machinefabriek's sputting pianos & mechanisms and the electronics & prepared piano of Kelly Moran highlighted tonight but also involved are harpist Mary Lattimore, ambient guitarist Noveller, sound-artist Félicia Atkinson, and other ambient & post-classical luminaries like 12k's Taylor Deupree, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Christina Vantzou, John Also Bennett, Chihei Hatekayama, Ben Lukas Boysen, Eluvium, and French pianist Julien Marchal. Quite a lineup!

Madeleine Cocolas - Across The Ocean, But Not Yet [Someone Good/Bandcamp]
Madeleine Cocolas - Circular [Someone Good/Bandcamp]
Electronics and piano are the preferred tools of Australian composer Madeleine Cocolas, based for a long time in Canada & the US, but has now returned to Brisbane. Room40's Someone Good is releasing her new album Ithaca next Friday, and we have a preview tonight. You could mistake some tracks for relaxing piano ambient, but there's often an edge of some kind - subtly discordant vocal samples perhaps - or sometimes whole tracks of foreboding distorted drones and percussive extrusions. It's an album of mixed feelings, but as she says, ultimately of hope.

IHHH - When Life Was Awakening In The Depths Of Obscure Matter [Salmon Universe/Bandcamp]
IHHH - Melting Hot Summer [Salmon Universe/Bandcamp]
Salmon Universe, the label co-run by Sydney's Richard Pike (now residing in London) and London DJ Joe Quirke, has leaned mostly towards ambient music so far, but this new release from Argentinian jazz drummer Carlos Falanga is something different. As IHHH Falanga is making charmingly strange, glitchy electronic music - some of it smooth enough to sit in the ambient pile, but mostly too twitchy and oddball to be calming or background music. The idea of a "memory palace" is a system of mnemonic connections of visual objects with items to remember, and the slightly mysterious, spacious explorations found within this album feel a bit like walking through someone else's memory palace, imagining but not knowing the resonance of the items on display. The off-grid rhythms and decontextualised samples remind me of glitchy electronica from the late '90s and 2000s like Bisk, or even Future Sound of London, through a smudged vaporwavey lens, and that's excellent.

Shoeb Ahmad - hipless [Shoeb Ahmad Bandcamp]
This temporary release may not even be up on Shoeb Ahmad's Bandcamp by the time you read this. It's a sampler of 3 tracks from her next album, works in progress but all undeniably well-developed enough for public consumption. Those familiar with Ahmad's work solo, with Spartak (or *ahem* Tangents) will not be surprised by the expressive sounds here. Vocals are present but often treated or muffled shoegaze-style, percussion and beats can be distorted, and myriad other sound sources are sent through the blenders. Elsewhere there's Andy Stott-like minimal techno, and Spartak-like guitar pulsations, but that distorted percussion is a bit of a theme here. I can't wait for her to deem this complete, because it's going to be another corker!

Ross Downes - Border Boarders [Trestle Records]
Ross Downes - Hiding in History [Trestle Records]
We've heard a fair bit of Trestle Records' music on this show due to their One Day Band and now From Isolation. But they're by no means only about concept collaborations. Out this week is a cinematic instrumental album from label co-director Ross Downes. Abstract synths, lots of cavernous effects and ungridded percussion lead the album between ambient and industrial waters. An evocative soundtrack to your own inner thoughts.

Eugene Ward - Agitated Light [Dro Carey Bandcamp]
Eugene Ward - OOBE 2001 [Dro Carey Bandcamp]
Sydney musician Eugene Ward is best known for his broken dancefloor sounds as Dro Carey, and more muscular techno as Tuff Sherm. His previous release under his own name was music for dance called Paint en Pointe, released by Where To Now? in 2015. This new album Life After Prog is one of three albums he's released for Bandcamp Day #2, each under a different pseudonym. I love the syncopated UK bass sounds found here - if it was Dro Carey it'd be more chopped, glitchy & twitchy, but it's certainly different from the 4/4 head-nodders of Tuff Sherm's Spore Whisky and the more straightforward electronics as PMM. All revenue goes to ASRC, an added bonus for getting hold of great Sydney music!

Wedding Guns - Am I Kind [Wedding Guns Bandcamp]
super science - now which way to where? [Surgery Records, re-released on Clue To Kalo Bandcamp]
Wedding Guns - Blood In Everyone's Type [Wedding Guns Bandcamp]
You may not recognize the name Wedding Guns, but you might know Adelaide's Mark Mitchell from Clue To Kalo, his indie/folktronica outfit of many years. His first releases were brilliant indietronica under the name Super Science, from whom we heard one of the many highlights from that debut album tonight. This new stuff as Wedding Guns (yes, released on May 1st for Bandcamp Day) is more electronic and even dancefloor-ready than he's been for a while, but remains full of catchy melodic hooks and vocal melodies, and some of the body-moving rhythmic interplay that's characterised latter-day Clue To Kalo too.

ZULI - Ladies & gents [Haunter Records/Bandcamp]
ZULI - Trigger Finger (Chevel Remix) [Haunter Records/Bandcamp]
ZULI - Trigger Finger (Lee Gamble Remix) [Haunter Records/Bandcamp]
Egyptian electronic musician ZULI has made a huge impact with his grime/garage/jungle-infused experimental sounds on UIQ (including an incredible album in 2018), but one of his most celebrated releases is the Trigger Finger EP on Italian label Haunter Records, with the jungle-referencing title track and the very warped "Ladies & gents" which I played tonight. For Bandcamp Day he's revisiting that EP with a selection of remixes. Taking on the amen breaks in "Trigger Finger" are UIQ boss Lee Gamble, Italian electronic musician Chevel, beat-mashing enthusiast AYA and various others. Super fun stuff.

NERVE - P.R.F. (MYSTICK PARANOIA Version) [AR53]
Melbourne's Joshua Wells appears again as NERVE with a track swiped from a recent live set which sees junglist rhythms accelerated with dark psytrance synths for just the right amount of menace...

Listen again — ~196MB


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