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electric string quartet

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, 17th of May, 2020

Playlist 17.05.20 (7:33 pm)

It's another string thing, a lotta cello thing tonight, but there's also double bass, violin, and plenty of electronics and industrial sounds as well. That's your Utility Fog really, all there.

LISTEN AGAIN for the pure pleasure of it. Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here...

Mabe Fratti - Creo que puedo hacer algo [Hole Records/Tin Angel Records]
Mabe Fratti - Entrando al cuarto de la duda [Hole Records/Tin Angel Records]
Mabe Fratti - Renacuajos + Kit Schluter [Hole Records]
Mabe Fratti - Muchos Ayeres + Belafonte Sensacional [Hole Records]
It's always wonderful to discover new cellists. Guatemalan musician Mabe Fratti, now based in Mexico City, uses her cello along with synths, effects, and her voice to create experimental music of a truly compelling nature. Her cello will produce scratchy rhythmic bowed patterns, murky drones, jazzy basslines, or bright melodies. She's clearly interested in experimenting with sound, and one of the things I love about listening to these works is how she's quite capable of creating gorgeous, pure song (see the first track tonight), but she's happy peppering these around collections of pure weirdness - tape manipulation, field recordings, strangely processed vocals etc.
She's also keen on collaboration, and just as I was catching up with the stunning Pies Sobre la Tierra ("Feet on the ground") from last year, she's released Planos para Construir ("Plans to build"), which saw her handing pieces of music over to various musicians and writers, and after some back and forth this album arose. Mexico-based writer Kit Schluter contributes a pitched-down spoken piece, and Mexican band Belafonte Sensacional appear buried beneath a repeated bassline and shimmering synth chords.

Okkyung Lee - in stardust (for kang kyung-ok) [Shelter Press/Bandcamp]
Okkyung Lee - one bright lazy sunday afternoon (you whispered that name) [Shelter Press/Bandcamp]
New York cellist Okkyung Lee is perhaps best known for her involvement in the Downtown jazz scene and the noise scene (for the latter, particularly a stunning album with Burning Star Core's C Spencer Yeh and Lasse Marhaug. Marhaug as producer also helped realise the incredibly intense sound on solo albums such as Ghil. But earlier work like Nihm and Noisy Love Songs (For George Dyer) for Tzadik demonstrated her skills at melody and arrangement, and those come to the fore on Yeo-Neun, her latest album. It's the most melodic and accessible since those early Tzadik albums (without the obvious jazz inclinations), and very explicitly references her Korean background, both in titles (Kang Kyung-ok is a Korean comics (Manhwa) artist) and in the music itself. So classical composition, Korean traditional music, and certain elements of noise & improv (such as the extended cellistic techniques I've highlighted in these two selections) all get combined into something shiningly gorgeous. Shelter Press seems like an ideal home for these sounds.

Jo David Meyer Lysne & Mats Eilertsen - Lamyra [Hubro]
Jo David Meyer Lysne & Mats Eilertsen - Forve [Hubro]
These two musicians form a cross-generational partnership within the incredibly fertile Norwegian jazz/experimental scene. Jo David Meyer Lysne, guitarist among many other instruments, was born in 1994 and forms part of the newer generation of experimental musicians - his solo album from last year mixes composition with improv, acoustic playing with subtle but integral effects. Double bassist Mats Eilertsen, 20 years Lysne's senior, plays with innumerable ensembles (check out his Discogs credits) and his equally gorgeous album from last year built soundscapes and ensembles out of contributions from luminaries of the Norwegian scene along with his own playing. This new album is also strangely intertextual - the crackling vinyl of their previous duo album is used for minimalist rhythms and textures alongside their own playing. It's got that Scandinavian feel, pristine & crystalline, warm & organic.

Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson - Turn Roots In Iodine [Miasmah/Bandcamp]
Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson - Interlude II [130701/Bandcamp]
Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson - Procession [130701/Bandcamp]
Another Mats, Danish musician Mats Erlandsson, teams up here with Berlin-based Israeli double bassist & sound artist Yair Elazar Glotman for the second time. Their first, released by Miasmah in 2017, was an extension of Glotman's close-mic'd double bass works, with additional strings & sound design from Erlandsson. For Emanate the music has become less intense, the vibrations slower and and the sounds more orchestral. It seems Glotman's years spent working closely on film scores with Jóhann Jóhannsson has rubbed off here, with brass appearing alongside strings and electronic tones. It's durational music, not as drawn out as some, but still the harmonies change at a slow pace, pitches at times bending gradually, everything slightly blurred - even when sparse percussion enters during the Interludes.

Happy Axe - Just Before The Rain [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
Moon Sign Gemini - 003 [Moon Sign Gemini Bandcamp]
Kcin - Belief Network [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
Sydney's Stu Buchanan has a long history with FBi Radio, presenting various shows and even running the station for a while, and at one point he was responsible for both co-presenting a show and also curating a series of compilations under the banner of New Weird Australia. While still co-running his Provenance label, he's decided to reinstate New Weird Australia with a DOUBLE compilation entitled Solitary Wave - Out represents the more energetic stuff, while In is the calmer end. There are a lot of familiar names there from the Australian experimental scene, and plenty of newies to learn about too. We love Emma Kelly's Happy Axe, and her looped, reversed and processed violin & vocals keep the strings theme going. And the distorted percussion and electronics of Nick Meredith's Kcin are also a frequent visitor to these playlists. Hearing Adelaide's Moon Sign Gemini on this comp, I had to zoom over to his Bandcamp immediately and grab all the things - sampled orchestras with breakcore are bread & butter for Utility Fog! So this is a different selection from the one Stu put on the Out comp. Dylan Cooper usually plays in hardcore punk bands, and Moon Sign Gemini is a recent venture in electronic production - impressive & fun stuff.

France Jobin & Klara Lewis - soar [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
This beauty is a digital-only track on the new Editions Mego release from Montréal sound artist France Jobin, performed with Swiss artist Klara Lewis, whose recent Mego release Ingrid sees a single cello phrase looped and distorted slowly over 20 minutes. The two tracks on the physical release from Jobin are each almost as long, but at under 8 minutes, this track is more easily consumable, and also I adore it. It layers a few electronic sounds simply but effectively, carring you with pulsating fuzzy distortion and occasional crackling interjections. "Soar" indeed.

Animal Hospital - Framework [Whited Sepulchre/Bandcamp]
Kevin Micka is an avant garde guitarist whose works as Animal Hospital take idiomatic blues, rock & other guitar-based genres and shuffle them through harsh digital edits or strnge sideways arrangements like the slow-growing doom-laden chords on one track from his extraordinary 2009 album Memory. 11 years later, new album Fatigue arrives, with four tracks which share little except guitar as a sound source - from pure tones to broken-down blues, to shuddering krautrock-drone, to this wonderful thing in which guitar is shattered into digital fragments and rebuilt.

Sote - MOSCELS O [Opal Tapes]
Sote - MOSCELS X [Opal Tapes]
We're only just recovering from the wonder of last year's Parallel Persia from Ata Ebtekar aka Sote (and getting to see him live in Sydney at Soft Centre!) - and reminded of that by a recent remix 12" - when he's now ready to take us on his next trip into new territories in sound with MOSCELS, back on Opal Tapes. There are no traditional Persian instruments being processed here, nor any hardcore or breakcore beats. All sounds are entirely electronically produced, whether it's quasi-orchestral drones or seeming harpsichords giving way to Autechre-like sliding & bubbling tones. Comparisons are ultimately pointless - this is Sote, the sound of pure artistry.

Einstürzende Neubauten - Taschen [Potomak]
Einstürzende Neubauten - Ten Grand Goldie [Potomak]
While there's been plenty of activity from the bandmembers, it's been quite some time since a new studio album from Einstürzende Neubauten (some of their work is released at least initially only for their passionate supporter base, mind you). Blixa Bargeld turns up working with experimental musicians of various stripes, and has featured on this show with Alva Noto in anbb, and on a number of duo recordings with Italian composer & electronic musician Teho Teardo. Alexander Hacke has been working & touring with his brilliant wife Danielle de Picciotto as hackedepiciotto. But here it is, a fully formed new album from the industrial superpower, and it's got all their hallmarks - cabaret-style singsonginess, crashing metallic noises, string arrangements to fit that theme for tonight, and so on. Honestly it's really good and reminds me that for all that their large discography does not imply diluted quality. I'll need to fill in a few gaps in the next little while!

Listen again — ~188MB

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