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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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Monday, 3rd of May, 2021

Playlist 02.05.21 (12:46 am)

A rollercoaster through filmic post-classical, avant-garde strings & percussion, sound-art, junglist breakbeats and generative programming to highly emotive post-metal.

LISTEN AGAIN for all the thrills... Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Clark - Lambent Rag [Deutsche Grammophon/Clark Store/Bandcamp]
Clark - Shut You Down [Deutsche Grammophon/Clark Store/Bandcamp]
Clark - Emissary [Deutsche Grammophon/Clark Store/Bandcamp]
I remember 20 years ago when Chris Clark was a precocious young IDM producer with his first records on Warp... He seemed to have a good command of the emotive backbone under the flashy beat programming, in keeping with the previous generation like Aphex Twin, µ-Ziq, Boards of Canada et al. A few years later, the Body Riddle album was the first step into something that felt truly new - organic-feeling crunchy beats and sounds, clearly still electronica, clearly referencing rave tropes, but also postrock, jazz and a lot more. Since then he's careened easily between dancefloor and campfire and everywhere in between, and somewhere in the last 5 years added soundtrack work as a new string to his bow - replete with piano and orchestra. So I assumed that this new album, Playground In A Lake, released by eminent classical institution Deutsche Grammophon, was another soundtrack - but it's something different. Starting with the solo cello of Oliver Coates, featuring muted piano, orchestral passages, choral and solo classical voices, it doesn't throw out the electronics - with Ben Frost-like surging bass, processed vocals and occasional rhythm programming. And it's a narrative of sorts - a tale of lost youth and innocence, with the submerged children's playground standing in for our loss of innocence as a species in the face of accelerating climate change. Weighty subject matter, and the music matches it with darkness and gentle sadness, give or take the sweet hopefulness of "Lambent Rag". All in all an excellent entry into Clark's oeuvre.

The Selva + Machinefabriek - Mabartrama [Shhpuma/Bandcamp]
The Selva + Machinefabriek - Tramabarba [Shhpuma/Bandcamp]
Made up of Ricardo Jacinto, cello, Gonçalo Almeida, double bass and Nuno Morão on drums, The Selva (jungle in Portuguese) coax surprising sounds from their surprising combination - the strings at times as percussive as the drums, but at times sounding like ancient folk or proto-classical music. After some releases on Portuguese avant-jazz label Clean Feed, their new album on Shhpuma, Barbatrama finds them working with Dutch sound-artist Machinefabriek, a familiar face around these parts, who very subtly re-arranges their acoustic improvisations - at times seemingly hardly there, at other times stretching or collapsing the sounds, or editing them into off-kilter rhythms. This all amounts to something spookily beautiful.

BirdWorld - Svífa [Focused Silence/Bandcamp]
BirdWorld + Diana Syrse - Scintillant [Focused Silence/Bandcamp]
BirdWorld + Fran + Flora - After Rain [Focused Silence/Bandcamp]
The London/Oslo duo BirdWorld, made up of Gregor Riddell on cello & electronics, and Adam Teixeira on drums & percussion, beguiled us in late 2019 with their debut album UNDA, in which field recordings, found sounds and processing met folk, jazz and classical-derived playign on the cello and drums. Generally their tracks do not line up with expectations around musical structures, and this makes for fascinating results on the newly released UNDA Reworks, which as you may imagine is more than just a remix album. There are re-sampled beat tracks, but also approaches like Mexican singer/composer Diana Syrse, who overlays her voice on the original track to create her own beautiful song, whereas experimental klezmer/gypsy duo Fran + Flora (made up of cellist Francesca Ter-Berg and violinist Flora Curzon) concentrate on drawing the original acoustic sounds through multiple effects - reversing, pitch-shifting and granulating the music into a scintillating abstract canvas.

Emily Scott - The Garden [Blackford Hill/Bandcamp]
Kate Carr - The Owls Were Calling That Dark, Dark Night [Blackford Hill/Bandcamp]
Blackford Hill is a UK-based label and publishing house whose music encompasses electronic music, field recordings, post-classical, folk and more. Their debut physical compilation Transmissions / Volume One covers all of that ground over 2CDs, along with a book of photos and essays. It's fair to say that a sense of place and a kind of ritual meditativeness is found across much of the music. Presumably working with the Fell Down string trio, Glasgow singer & double bassist Emily Scott opens the compilation with a sumptuous folk song, which features some delicious harmonic trickiness, sliding between major and minor chords, with a beautiful flattened 5th on the dominant (so, now you know!), while ex-pat Aussie Kate Carr features twice, with her chiming guitar sitting under crackling field recordings. There's a lot to discover in these two discs.

Nick Wales - Wind Variation [Music Company/Bandcamp]
Michelle Nguyen - Vultyre [Music Company/Bandcamp]
Coming out at the end of the month is the third volume in the Vector Fields compilation series from Melbourne's Music Company, which starts with a lot of gentle neoclassical music before slowly turning to some quite experimental electronic work. Sydney violist and composer Nick Wales contributes a beautiful piece of glitchy drone, while Melbourne's Michelle Nguyen (who recently appeared on this show via New Weird Australia as Noom) has one of the most abstract pieces of sound design.

Munsha - 21 Days [Osci Edizioni]
Eraldo Bernocchi - At The Edge Of Daylight [Osci Edizioni]
New Italian label Osci Edizioni enters the fray with their compilation Boarding Songs, an auspicious debut release featuring many greats from the Italian experimental scene such as Stefano Pilia, Claudio Rochcetti, Fabio Orsi, Valerio Cosi (working with Swiss cellist Martina Bertoni), Gianluca Becuzzi, Retina.it and many more. There's drone and glich here - including a work with piano snippets and drones from Italian cellist/electronic musician Daniela Lunelli aka Munsha - but elsewhere venerable dub/industrial/ambient maestro Eraldo Bernocchi contributes a piece of dubby techno, as is his wont, and from further afield there are quiet contributions from Ian Hawgood and René Margraff among others.

NERVE - Sand Heist (WGR Version) [Winter Garden Records/Bandcamp]
Melbourne's NERVE continues his occasional releases of highly strung industrial techno, and as often is the case, it blends almost seamlessly into drum'n'bass & jungle...

Happa - Digital Recall [PT/5/Bandcamp]
UK's half Persian prince (and), Happa, has released the second in his Explorations in Music for Dancing, and this one is firmly looking at jungle & drum'n'bass, whether deconstructing it on "No Longer" or distributing fiery breaks and thundering subs on the other two tracks. I'd be happy to hear more of this from Happa!

Etch - Tyrant [Sneaker Social Club]
Brighton boy Etch has long let his jungle freak flag fly. Recent releases have seen him at slower breakbeat tempos and in other modes, so it's nice that the Anachronism EP for Sneaker Social Club brings back the early '90s junglism, dark and sparse.

Sun People - Dark Days ft Yorobi [Exit Records/Bandcamp]
Austrian producer Simon/off aka Sun People is known for broken beats mixed with juke and UK hardcore continuum styles, and his new record for Exit Records is suitably junglist. One of a few highlights is a collaboration with Yorobi, aka Dutch graphic designer Josje Bijl, who is also a jungle/drum'n'bass DJ and producer.

Ben Peers - Variation Seven [Elli Records/Bandcamp]
Ben Peers - Reprising [Bandcamp]
Ben Peers - Out [Bandcamp]
We last heard algorithmic producer Ben Peers with an EP on Elli Records earlier this year; now he's back on his own Bandcamp with In Succession, which takes a similar approach to his earlier Elli Records release Eight Variations, in which a selection of timbres, melodic and rhythmic elements are mutated over a number of tracks - and the 7th Variation from Eight Variations segued quite handily out of our drum'n'bass selections tonight. On In Succession the constituent elements are recycled both as jittery IDM pieces and peaceful textural ambient, always very listenable.

anrimeal - Hello And A Half (feat. Butterfly Child) [Crossness Records/Bandcamp]
I only just discovered the work of Ana Rita de Melo Alves aka anrimeal a few weeks ago via Objects Forever's Object Ten compilation. From there I found her debut album Could Divine, released last year, and only a couple of weeks later we're treated to a strange remix album that's not a remix album. Some artists have indeed remixed anrimeal's originals, but (as with Butterfly Child tonight) their treatments are often reworked back into hybrid pieces by Alves, and on a number of tracks spoken word segments provide a hidden history of the recordings. It's intimate and strange, and as with the original album switches joyfully from delicate folk to drone to harsh digital edits.

Big | Brave - Wited. Still And All... [Southern Lord/Bandcamp]
Big | Brave - Half Breed [Southern Lord/Bandcamp]
In some ways the only reason Montréal's Big | Brave get classed as metal is because they're released on Southern Lord. The postrock of local hero Efrim Menuck's Godspeed You! Black Emperor and A Silver Mt Zion looms large, as does the math rock of guitarist Mathieu Ball's past, but these elements along with the thunderous drums (now provided by Tasy Hudson) support an intensity when combined with Robin Wattie's raw, emotive vocals that's every bit the force of nature that, say, the Southern Lord's Sunn O))) generate through other means. Big | Brave's latest, Vital, benefits also from the sonic metallurgy of Seth Manchester at Machines With Magnets, producing a searingly focused sound, even on the droney waves of "Wited. Still And All..." - but "Half Breed" is the album's core, featuring Big | Brave's signature single hits on guitar & drums, with lyrics drawn from an essay on being mixed race by artist Alexander Cree, allowing Wattie to express herself openly through someone else's words. It's incredibly powerful.

Listen again — ~199MB


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