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experimental electronica
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, 8th of November, 2020

Playlist 08.11.20 (6:30 pm)

On one of the best days of 2020, we have folktronic musings on death, poppy experimental jazz, jazzy postrock, juddering electro-acoustic drone and quiet experimentalism from all round the world.

LISTEN AGAIN with more than a little relief, by streaming on demand at FBi, or podcasting right here.

Tunng - Eating the Dead (feat. AC Grayling) [Full Time Hobby/Bandcamp]
Tunng - Three Birds [Full Time Hobby/Bandcamp]
It was fantastic to find original Tunng singer & songwriter Sam Genders rejoining the band alongside producer Mike Lindsay in 2018. Genders & Lindsay's original duo incarnation of Tunng - and the following couple of albums at least - were hugely important to Utility Fog's early years, after I discovered their first single well before their debut album was released; arcane, authentic-feeling English folk rubbing up against glitchy electronic production and club memories. Following the 2018 reformation, they're back with a concept album of sorts for 2020, Tunng presents... DEAD CLUB, in which they interrogate death and grief, inspired by Max Porter's novel Grief is the Thing With Feathers. Porter (the brother of the great post-dubstep/power ambient producer Roly Porter) appears on the album reading two poignant, beautifully-written short stories, "Man" and "Woman", which I recommend checking out - but I've gone for two songs which are very much vintage Tunng in sound. The first features a snippet of a conversation Genders had with the philosopher AC Grayling.

Mary Halvorson's Code Girl - Bigger Flames (feat. Robert Wyatt) [Firehouse 12/Bandcamp]
Robert Wyatt - The United States of Amnesia [Rough Trade/Hannibal/Domino]
Mary Halvorson & John Dieterich - vega's array [New Amsterdam/Bandcamp]
Mary Halvorson's Code Girl - Artlessly Falling [Firehouse 12/Bandcamp]
I've played American jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson before on this show as part of cellist Tomeka Reid's quartet. Her skillful playing is instantly recognizable whenever she twists her melodies with the whammy bar. Halvorson is so talented and idiosyncratic that she was recognized last year with a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship. Following that comes her second "Code Girl" album, Artlessly Falling, for which she wrote all the lyrics as well as music, and she's joined by jazz singer Amirtha Kidambi on most tracks, but she pulled off the remarkable feat of luring the mostly-retired Robert Wyatt to sing on three of the tracks. Wyatt is one of my favourite singers & musicians, so I headed to 1986's Old Rottenhat for a song about America's destructive colonial history. Also in the middle there, an extraordinary track from Halvorson's 2019 collaboration with Deerhoof guitarist John Dieterich, featuring that distinctive sharp-edged shine of Halvorson's melodic playing.

Voice & Strings & Timpani - Escargot [Hubro/Bandcamp]
Strings & Timpani - Umpf Collection [Hubro/Bandcamp]
Voice & Strings & Timpani - Talk Tick Talk [Hubro/Bandcamp]
Prolific guitarist Stephan Meidell and drummer Øyvind Hegg-Lunde together are Strings & Timpani, whose first album Hyphen was full of wonderful acoustic postrock crescendos and jazz dexterity. For Voice & Strings & Timpani they are joined by Mari Kvien Brunvoll (who plays with Hegg-Lunde in post-jazz/folk trio Building Instrument and brings electronics as well as vocals to the ensemble) and Eva Pfitzenmaier (aka By the Waterhole, playing flute & keyboards as well as vocals) - and they also get extra drumming from Kim Åge Furuhaug. It's a big sound, again full of jazz and postrock dynamics - a typical Norwegian, shimmering joy, the kind of stuff Hubro excels in.

Susanna Gartmayer & Christof Kurzmann - Little Rage [Klanggalerie/Bandcamp]
Austrian electronic musician Christof Kurzmann bridges the divide between experimental improvised music and electronica, with many projects over a decades-long career. He has a wonderful indietronic/jazz ensemble The Magic I.D. with experimental singer/songwriter Margareth Kammerer and two avant-garde clarinettists, but this new project finds him working with bass clarinettist Susanna Gartmayer, who uses extended techniques to create drones and overtones as well as melodies (and I note plays with The Vegetable Orchestra with Ulrich Troyer, among others), in combination with Kurzmann's loops, samples, processing and voice. Their album Smaller Sad as beautiful as it is challenging, really something else.

Phaeton - Silverback [Oxtail Recordings]
Following clarinet with oboe, played here by Luke Gallagher alongside his brother Matthew on synthesizer for their project Phaeton on Oxtail Recordings. Oboe is not always the most forgiving instrument, but in these siblings' hands it's the perfect melodic instrument for these slow-moving, bubbling, kosmische electronic pieces inspired as much by ecology and evolutionary biology as they are by the usual new age concepts of ambient music.

Erland Dahlen - Desert [Hubro/Bandcamp]
Erland Dahlen - Monkey [Hubro/Bandcamp]
Erland Dahlen - Bones [Hubro/Bandcamp]
Back to Norway and Hubro, with some more jazz-inspired postrock (or is it the other way round?) from the excellent drummer Erland Dahlen. His four albums all cover similar territory to the latest, Bones - expansive and percussive, with melodies from the whistling musical saw and countless other musical instruments and found objects, along with drum machines and electronic production. It's stirring and cinematic, an abundant sound created by one guy.

Kcin - Global South [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]
Sydney drummer & live electronic musician Nick Meredith has been promising the debut album proper from Kcin for a while now, and it's coming out from Spirit Level... soon? We now have the first single "Global South" from Decade Zero, a thumping number drawing on the revolutionary, much-needed politics of Naomi Klein.

Xani - Injured Animal [Xani Bandcamp]
Xani - Fragmented [Xani Bandcamp]
Melbourne violinist Xani Kolac has made her mark on Melbourne's indie and folk music scene as part of The Twoks and playing with many other musicians, and has released three albums of excellent instrumental music. Her new album for 2020, From the Bottom of the Well sees her finding her songwriting & singing voice, but for Utility Fog I'm drawn again to the instrumental tracks. We've had quite a percussive show and "Injured Animal" features the drumming of Brooke Custerson along with lots of lovely violin effects and processing; "Fragmented" is a whispy piece with Erica Tucceri's flute joining Xani's violin.

Gregory Paul Mineeff - Dimanche [Cosmicleaf Records]
After a few mostly piano-based tracks from Wollongong musician Gregory Paul Mineeff, his new single "Dimanche" is a little bit of blissful Sunday synth work. A talented artist floating mostly under the radar - you can find a lot of singles and an album or two on Cosmicleaf's Bandcamp.

Subespai - City Circles (excerpt) [chemical imbalance]
Here's an excerpt from a new work composed by Sydney musician Mauri Edo aka Subespai for the 2020 Australasian Computer Music Conference. Released by chemical imbalance, City Circles buries evocative field recordings of an unnamed city with pure, enveloping, pulsating drones.

part timer - donut day for victoria [part timer bandcamp]
part timer - quiet streets after 9 [part timer bandcamp]
The return of part timer in 2020, the folktronic/ambient project of UK-born, Melbourne-based John McCaffrey, was sudden but unrelenting. It's like the mid-2000s again, when John would send me music every week or so, and I'd faithfully play glitchy pieces of sampled acoustic instruments and clunky beats. Now he's taken to the piano, playing exquisite little études alongside his subtle, scratchy electronics. He's quite unfairly talented, but who can deny the pleasure of a Melbourne musician celebrating the end of their gruelling lockdown? These Satie-inspired pieces are enchanting.

Listen again — ~204MB

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