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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, 30th of May, 2021

Playlist 30.05.21 (7:32 pm)

Journey through jazz, postrock, shoegaze-metal, ambient pop, soundtrack work, experimental electronics and jungle tonight...

Come, ignore all genre constraints and LISTEN AGAIN with me... Stream on demand with FBi, podcast here.

jaimie branch - theme nothing [International Anthem]
jaimie branch - waltzer [International Anthem]
I'm not always that excited about the prospect of live albums - music perfected in the studio then performed imperfectly and recorded in uncontrolled circumstances with annoying crowd noise. But sometimes live albums are the perfect distillation of a band at that point in time - like Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense or NoMeansNo's Live + Cuddly. Of course jazz is an artform that's all about the alchemy of musicians playing together, and that alchemy produced the astounding performance by Chicago trumpeter jaimie branch's ensemble, recorded in Switzerland before the last US election, and immortalised on FLY or DIE LIVE. Both FLY or DIE albums are amazing, creative works, with compositions and unchained trumpet from the still young Colombian-American musician. For the live album, Branch is joined by the core group who recorded the second album - cellist Lester St. Louis, bassist Jason Ajemian and drummer Chad Taylor, and here I've played two tracks from the first album reworked with this tight lineup. There's also a 14-minute rendition of the great "Prayer For Amerikkka Pt 1 & 2" which you'll have to check out for yourself.

Fly Pan Am - Scanner [Constellation/Bandcamp]
Le Fly Pan Am - Univoque / Équivoque [Constellation/Bandcamp]
Fly Pan Am - Distance Dealer [Constellation/Bandcamp]
Fly Pan Am - Grid Wall [Constellation/Bandcamp]
Formed in 1996, Montréal band (Le) Fly Pan Am have been a key part of that city's postrock & experimental scene since the beginning - their first release was a split 7" with Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Initially their sound had more to do with the jazz-punk hybrids of Tortoise than the expansive orchestrations of Godspeed, and they gradually incorporated more electronics at the same time as an interest in the blast beats & occasional screamy vocals of black metal - a really anything goes aesthetic. From 2004 until 2019 the band took a rather long hiatus, in which the members pursued other projects, but it was great to have them back on 2019's C'est ça (see the second-last track tonight). Early in 2020, as Sydney Festival's programmed performances went ahead while the world slowly understood the breadth of the pandemic approaching us, Canadian dance company Animals of Distinction brought their new project Frontera to Carriageworks - and it wasn't until I was just about to go and see it that I realised that I was getting to see Fly Pan Am performing live for the first time! Albeit behind a screen for most of the show. It was quite something to hear this entire new album of theirs with an evocative piece of physical performance, and it works really well as their new album too.

Nadja - Fruiting Bodies [Southern Lord/Daymare (buy)/Bandcamp]
Nadja - Ketene [Southern Lord/Daymare (buy)]
Fly Pan Am's flirting with metal is reflected the other way in a lot of metal bands from the last couple of decades. You couldn't call fellow Canadians Nadja post-metal, but postrock is nevertheless present in their doomy shoegaze sound (doomgaze?... or dream sludge?), and for their latest album Luminous Rot the married couple of Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff handed over the recordings to someone else for the first time to mix - and it's none other than David Pajo, a key figure in the Chicago postrock scene, original member of Tortoise, and Slint before that. Pajo has done a phenomenal job, keeping the grinding intensity of Baker's guitar and Buckareff's bass, but revealing lamina of detail to the sound throughout, and allowing the vocals, hissing and shimmering, to peek through the miasma of sound a little more than usual. Of course James Plotkin's mastering helps too. I picked the CD up from Japanese label Daymare, licensed from Southern Lord, which of course has a bonus track, "Ketene", which we also heard tonight.

Penelope Trappes - Lucky Eleven [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
Penelope Trappes - Low [Optimo Music/Bandcamp]
Penelope Trappes - Kismet [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
Penelope Trappes - Forest [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
Originally from Australia, Penelope Trappes made her way to New York with a band, before landing in London, where she's been based with her small family for some time now, during which she has released three Penelope albums as well as some more ambient & experimental EPs and a great remix album. Penelope Three completes her quasi-self-titled trilogy with the familiar tropes of her solo work: ambient/dream pop with ethereal vocals, piano and experimental electronic production. She writes as a mother and a woman in her 40s - an age at which women in the music industry too often find themselves discarded and ignored. This third album takes the themes of birth and rebirth, grief and loss, centred on the female body, and focuses on healing and love. It's beautiful work full of darkness and light, from a highly creative artist.

Andrée Greenwell - Fire (instro redux) [Andrée Greenwell Bandcamp]
Andrée Greenwell - Piano Tendrils [Andrée Greenwell Bandcamp]
Andrée Greenwell - Secret Texture [Andrée Greenwell Bandcamp]
Sydney composer Andrée Greenwell has always been hard to pigeonhole. Even when writing in an ostensibly classical context, she draws on postpunk, electronic, industrial, folk and more. While she has created her own works, including in 2018 a powerful examination of gendered violence called Listen To Me, she's also a prolific composer for film and TV, and from that repertoire is drawn her new album Cinéaste Vol. 1. I'm particularly drawn to the pieces with electronic elements - crunchy & fluttery beats and delicate processing, mixed in with chamber strings and piano. Well worth exploring.

Daniele Sciolla - Arp [Elli Records/Bandcamp]
Daniele Sciolla - Poly [Elli Records/Bandcamp]
Italian artist Daniele Sciolla has a background in mathematics as well as conservatorium training in music, which all sounds very familiar to me... His latest work is an exploration of his love of classic synths - here he's taken a collection of analogue synths, once seen as experimental instruments and now the backbone of a lot of pop & dance music, and each track on his EP Spin of Synth takes one such instrument and triggers scattered, glitchy timbral explorations from them. It's more vaporwave than synthwave.

MoMA Ready - Simple As A Song Ft. Mina Thomas & Yunie Mojica [HAUS of ALTR]
MoMA Ready - The Influence Of [HAUS of ALTR]
New York producer Wyatt D. Stevens, aka MoMA Ready or Gallery S, is a true lover of club culture on both sides of the Atlantic. He's the proprieter of HAUS of ALTR, on which he's released his latest Untitled album which, unlike some of his releases, refuses to stay pinned down to one particular genre, with house & techno mingling with a few choice jungle cuts. With vocals from Mina Thomas and jazzy, psychedelic saxophone from Yunie Mojica, "Simple As A Song" is a clear highlight, while "The Influence Of" is straight beat juggling bliss.

K-65 - In My Mind [SEAGRAVE]
Speaking of junglist beat juggling, UK's SEAGRAVE are back in the compilation game, curated again by "The Fissure Family" like their earlier compilation albums, but here released as a series of 12"s called Quarters. There's lots of jungle/drum'n'bass, and other breakbeaty rave styles and the like. Bristol's K-65 here gives us some classic early '90s jungle feels.

Small Town Twiin - Bark [Bigger Deer Recordings]
Small Town Twiin - The Trees That Held Up The Sky [Bigger Deer Recordings]
I can't tell you a lot about our last artist, Small Town Twiin (note the "ii"), because even the press release from Bigger Deer Recordings focuses only on expressions like "growing from adversity" and so on. There are field recordings weaved in here with sounds drawing from UK bass music, folktronica and ambient music. It's surprisingly compelling music, with a lovely attention to detail.

Listen again — ~211MB

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