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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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Monday, 28th of June, 2021

Playlist 27.06.21 (12:37 am)

Thanks to Gus McGrath for filling in last week while I was at Dark Mofo! Safely back in locked-down Sydney now, for a show focusing on low-key songwriting, cello & violin, hazy electronics and melodic percussion.

LISTEN AGAIN for the subtle sounds... Stream on demand at the FBi website, podcast here.

soccer Committee - Hazy [Morc Records/Morc Bandcamp/soccer Committee Bandcamp]
soccer Committee & machinefabriek - for i have none [Morc Records/Digitalis/soccer Committee Bandcamp/Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
soccer Committee & machinefabriek - high jacked drone 1 (by andrea belfi) [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
soccer Committee - Interstellar [Morc Records/Morc Bandcamp/soccer Committee Bandcamp]
soccer Committee - While you're in the world [Morc Records/Morc Bandcamp/soccer Committee Bandcamp]
I first discovered the Dutch musician Mariska Baars through her work with Rutger Zuydervelt Machinefabriek - drawn from 2008 is a masterclass in heart-stopping slowcore, glistening songwriting coupled with expert sound art, and the following year's redrawn collected magical reworkings from the cream of the crop from the time. Meanwhile, Baars and Zuydervelt formed an array of minimalist ensembles such as Piipstjilling, FEAN and many others - and in 2019 the pair released the 30-minute single track eau, a drifting sea of processed voice and electronics. But Baars' very low-key songwriting and performances really shine on their own, so it's an unexpected pleasure to have this solo album, Tell from the grass, a mere 14 years after her only other solo release!

Mabe Fratti - Que Me Hace Saber Esto [Unheard of Hope/Bandcamp]
Mabe Fratti - Creo que puedo hacer algo [Unheard of Hope/Tin Angel Bandcamp/Mabe Fratti Bandcamp]
Mabe Fratti - Hacia el Vacío [Unheard of Hope/Bandcamp]
It was wonderful to discover Mexico-based Guatemalan cellist Mabe Fratti last year. Her Pies sobra la tierra showcased beautiful, creative songs accompanied live with cello and electronics, and there's more of that to be found on her new album Será que ahora podremos entendernos ("Now we will be able to understand each other"). The album contemplates the idea of communication, and of how often people make understanding more difficult. Fratti's involvement in the Mexican improv & experimental scene resulted in many collaborations on this album, but the vision is all hers.

Laura Cannell & Kate Ellis - We Took Short Journeys [Brawl Records]
Laura Cannell & Kate Ellis - Follow me to the Lantern Marsh [Brawl Records]
Laura Cannell & Kate Ellis - In the Sun Shadows we Walked [Brawl Records]
More cello now, from English musician Kate Ellis, collaborating on a yearlong monthly series with the brilliant English folk musician Laura Cannell, who has recorded a number of stunning albums with overbowed violin, vocals and wind instruments in churches and other spaces in the UK. The monthly releases allow for a gradual exploration of what two string players can do, so we have a touching poem with cello from May's edition, exquisite close discords from February, and strings through bouncing delays from June. At the halfway mark now, this collaboration has produced music to savour.

Gabriella Smith & Gabriel Cabezas - Tarn [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
Gabriella Smith & Gabriel Cabezas - Bard of a Wasteland [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
Our next cellist is American musician Gabriel Cabezas, who's working here with the composer & signer Gabriella Smith, along with violist Nadia Sirota, who produced this album and contributed viola to some tracks. Lost Coast, released by Bedroom Community, collects the eponymous three-part work with related songs, some written during the terrifying 2019 wildfires which engulfed much of the west coast of the USA (and ended up overlapping with Australia's horrific 2019/2020 bushfire season) and others in the opposite weather in Iceland. There's a sense of nature's power in these works, but they're also strongly based in the physical nature of the wood, gut & hair of the cello and the singer's body. The cello & viola are often used as percussion, and even when bowed & plucked they are quite rhythmic in some passages - contrasted with simple but un-straightfoward harmonies on strings & voice. It's ultimately an intimate album that lets us find our place in a big, uncontrollable world.

Dau - Hangman's Cricket [Phantom Limb/Bandcamp]
UK musician Phil Self started his new project Dau as a space for creating ambient & drone works. About half feature, yes, the cello - layered in pulses or drawn out in drones. The loveliness of these pieces is accentuated by the inteleaved pieces for accordion or gentle percussion.

Seabuckthorn - Old Storms [Seabuckthorn Bandcamp]
Now we leave strings behind, except - do we? The guitar is a stringed instrument, and as Seabuckthorn Andy Cartwright has recorded some gorgeous fingerstyle works, but on And Spark And Singe we find him frequently bowing his resonator guitar - it's quite eerie, especially with the sliding notes in this track.

Passepartout Duo - Plainness [Passepartout Duo Bandcamp]
Passepartout Duo - Hue [Passepartout Duo Bandcamp]
Although Passepartout Duo are back in Europe now, the two musicians (pianist Nicoletta Favari and percussionist Christopher Salvito) spent some time in China in the last couple of years, and took their time travelling there, creating musical in a portable way in their travels, with homemade percussion and synths. The fruits of these adventures and residencies have been heard on their last few releases, and Daylighting (released on cassette by Chinese art label AnyOne) continues with the synth focus, with a subtle theme of duality & symmetry through the two musicians' performances. It's rich, surprising music disguised as something simpler than it is.

Gregory Paul Mineeff - Dissolution [Cosmic Leaf Records]
Gregory Paul Mineeff - What Wonderful Things [Cosmic Leaf Records]
After a series of singles over the last few months, Wollongong pianist & electronic musician Gregory Paul Mineeff returns with his new album Scrape Away The Snow, which covers his various interests from late-night piano to shimmering synths and tape effects. It's organic, genuine, expressive music.

Dear Hughes - Castle [Internet & Weed/Bandcamp]
Christian McKenna aka Christian Alexander keeps on adding new projects to his credits. End Christian apparently still exists, but The Brazilian Gentleman seems to be the main thing now - but there's also the excellent hip-hop duo C Trip A. Most of this seems miles away from the psych & metal he started in, and that's certainly true of Dear Hughes. Released on Internet & Weed, the label of frequent collaborator Alap Momin (once upon a time producer with industrial hip-hop legends dälek), Dear Hughes has Christian joining with fellow Brazilian Gent Mark Anthony, and pop singer River Hooks. It's pop with a psychedelic sheen, and I'm looking forward to what comes next.

Eli Keszler - Static Doesn’t Exist [LuckyMe/Bandcamp]
Eli Keszler - The Accident [LuckyMe/Bandcamp]
On new album Icons, New York percussionist Eli Keszler strays even further from the avant-garde world with an album that strangely fits well with the Glasgow label LuckyMe who are releasing it. The album makes a little more sense when you note that Keszler's worked with Oneohtrix Point Never's Daniel Lopatin on a few projects lately - there's a hazy neon street sheen to some of the ambience here. There are some of the skittery beats that made 2019's Stadium so incredible, but there are also nods at downtempo as well as free jazz. It's not an album that welcomes a single interpretation, but it's always fascinating.

Felicity Mangan - Double-headed emu [Mappa Bandcamp/Felicity Mangan Bandcamp]
Felicity Mangan - Cyborg bugs [Mappa Bandcamp/Felicity Mangan Bandcamp]
Creepy Crawly is the latest work in Australian artist Felicity Mangan's electronics powered by her archive of Australian wildlife sounds. Bugs and birds are corralled into glitchy IDM beats. I'm always pleased to find something new from Mangan, and missed this when Mappa released it on cassette last year.

Peon - No Code [Peon Bandcamp]
Melbourne duo Peon put out a few releases a decade or so ago, but since then there's only been one in 2019 (which I missed, although it's great!) They're a percussion duo, although both musicians also play electronics. Sam Price has been rather active with his live drums & electronics, and has of late been involved with new label echogene. Ronny Ferella plays in a variety of jazz acts. Together they create a pleasing clatter in just the way two drummers playing together should, along with bloops and blurts and what sound like sharp edits but could just be very clever playing. New EP The Fracture of Meaning has just been released.

Masayoshi Fujita - Stellar [Erased Tapes/Bandcamp]
el fog - Broken [FLAU/Bandcamp]
Masayoshi Fujita - Gaia [Erased Tapes/Bandcamp]
When I first discovered Japanese dub vibraphone musician Masayoshi Fujita he was releasing albums as "el fog" on UK electronic labels, and then on the excellent Japanese label FLAU. He was found by Erased Tapes some years back and has now released a number of albums under his own name. His core instrument of vibraphone is here replaced by the warmer tones of the marimba (wood rather than metal), and while there's not so much of the glitchy digidub vibes now, there's still lots of electronic processing through these tracks - who knew that distorted marimba would sound so cool?

Listen again — ~198MB

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