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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, 19th of September, 2021

Playlist 19.09.21 (10:52 pm)

Back after one week's break with a selection of everything - hip-hop, electronic folk, slowcore, indie, glitch, drum'n'bass, drone, and even post-classical of a sort.

LISTEN AGAIN and better yourself. The FBi website has the stream on demand, podcast is here.

Moor Mother - Mangrove (feat. elucid & Antonia Gabriela) [ANTI-/Bandcamp]
Moor Mother - Obsidian (feat. Pink Siifu) [ANTI-/Bandcamp]
Camae Ayewa has been busy these last couple of years with multitudinous projects, from free jazz ensemble Irreversible Entanglements (who have another album coming soon) to the punkish Moor Jewelry to her side with JK Broadrick & Kevin Martin's Zonal, and the phenomenal BRASS with billy woods a year ago. But 2019 was the last solo album proper from Moor Mother. Powered by beats from Olof Melander, the Swiss producer with whom Ayewa released the album Anthologia 01 last year, Black Encyclopedia of the Air is consequently somewhat lighter than much of that other work (with only a couple of days to start ingesting it) - but no less powerful. Guests include elucid (billy woods' bandmate in Armand Hammer), Pink Siifu, and many others.

Stick In The Wheel - The Cuckoo [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]
Stick In The Wheel - Wierds Broke It [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]
London's Stick In The Wheel are a collective with a close interest in English folk, and have released albums of revived, traditional song from across centuries. But as I've said as I've played them over the last few years, they also have a close connection to English club music, through Ian Carter aka EAN, who was a key member of dubstep pioneers Various Production. Stick In The Wheel is now primarily Carter and Nicola Kearey, who I believe was involved in Various at times too. In between their main albums, the band have traditionally (ha!) put out "mixtape" albums, the latest of which is Tonebeds for Poetry. These still sound like English folk songs (except for some interstitial instrumentals), but with sequenced synths (at one point closely echoing the Stranger Things theme) and oft-vocoded vocals - except on the last track, which suddenly squalls into distorted rock guitars. Preserved in this sound is the deep strangeness of English folk - weird/wierd indeed!

Low - White Horses [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
Low - I Can Wait [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
Low - down (porter ricks remix) [Vernon Yard/Caroline Records]
Low - Belarus [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
Low - No Comprende [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
Low - Always Trying To Work It Out [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
Low - The Price You Pay (It Must be Wearing Off) [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
It was almost worrying imagining how Low could follow up their almost-perfect 2018 album Double Negative, which took the already intense excursions into digital production techniques from 2015's Ones and Sixes and turned up the distortion, sidechaining and general glitchiness to 11 for a mournful ode to America under Trump. But HEY WHAT, like the last two produced by BJ Burton, manages to draw yet more inspiration and emotion from these techniques - see for example the segue from opener "White Horses" into "I Can Wait", in which the repeating delay ending the first track gradually changes tempo and diffuses into the backing for the second, with the crunching, shattering sounds of both accompanying angelic harmonised melodies. The digital production aside, wrong-footing juxtapositions like these have long been the modus operandi of husband & wife Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, often joined by a bass player but now just the two with Burton on the sound deck. In the days of grunge, their untreated guitars and incredibly strung-out tempos led to the coining of "slowcore" as their genre. This patient songwriting could be combined with slow-growing drone distortions (e.g. "Pissing") or country/folk/rock as with their Dirty Three collaboration - but was also mutated into new shapes on 1998's owL Remix album, notably on the 13-minute remix by minimal dub techno greats Porter Ricks. And in 2007, drum machines and unusual production techniques made Drums and Guns a strange highlight and pre-echo of their current era. There's nothing quite like them, and much though I adore the sonic experimentation, in the end it comes back to the songs, and the gorgeous vocal harmonies.

Fabels - DotDotDot [Qusp/Fabels Bandcamp/Vinyl available here]
Fabels - Minds [Qusp/Fabels Bandcamp/Vinyl available here]
Delayed repeatedly by Covid-19, the new album Minds from Sydney duo Fabels is finally out, despite their inability to launch it live. The album continues their blend of European experimental songwriting and psych/shoegaze noise, drawing on the influences of Hiske Weijers and Ben Aylward. If I'd had time I would've played the 9 minutes of "ShereKhan", with a hypnotic groove and squalls of noise, but the title track also does the job, especially paired with "DotDotDot", which reshapes elements of that track into a billowing soundscape.

Cienfuegos, Isabella, Joachim Nordwall, Tot Onyx - Cults Explain Falling Jelly Jar [NO Recording]
NO Recording is an experimental compilation series put together by Group A, aka Berlin-based Japanese artists Tommi Tokyo and Sayaka Botanic. Their latest release is an "Exquisite Corpse" in musical form - the surrealist art game in which a work is created in series by multiple artists without knowledge of the previous artist' contributions. So all the source material comes from the individual artists prior to this project - but it's anything but chaos. I particularly love the glitched vocals and beats on tonight's track, featuring New York's Cienfuegos, Rhode Island-based Isabella, Swedish noise legend Joachim Nordwall and Tot Onyx aka Group A's Tommi Tokyo.

Domingæ - Dæmon [Sacred Bones/Bandcamp]
Chilean musician Domingæ, now based in Mexico, is best known for her psychedelic project Föllakzoid. Her new solo project, released like the band by Sacred Bones, takes the hypnotic grooves of Föllakzoid into a dark, electronic context, with thumping beats and glitchy vocal textures.

VILIFY - What's Next [Ohm Resistance/Bandcamp]
VILIFY - Illusion of Self [Ohm Resistance/Bandcamp]
Jenny Carmichael aka VILIFY is a Canadian DJ, now based in Berlin, with deep roots in the drum'n'bass scene. Her previous releases have been wide-ranging, but her excellent debut on Ohm Resistance, Illusion of Self, keeps the focus a little more on jungle/drum'n'bass, downtempo and IDM. Dark and bass-oriented, with light-footed, skittery programming just how we like it.

Teresa Winter - Echo Disappears [The Death of Rave/Boomkat]
Teresa Winter - Emptiness Is Also An Excess [The Death of Rave/Boomkat]
Drum'n'bass is also an element in the Motto of the Wheel, the latest strangely unplaceable missive from Yorkshire musician Teresa Winter. Influenced as much by various forms of philosophy and spirtuality as by glitch, IDM and rave forms, the album refuses to give in to easy descriptions - take the first track here, which starts with clattering amen breaks but dissipates into textural ambient and then ends with an interview with somebody about the practice of "tombstoning" - jumping into water without checking what's below, a concept that runs through this odd and fascinating release. Scattered through are a number of beautiful pieces made of layers of Winter's own vocals, contributing to the questioning tone of the release. Given the philosophical undercurrents, I assume that "Echo Disappears" is as much a reference to the cursed nymph who wastes away after the death of her unrequited love, the self-obsessed Narcissus, as it is of the sonic effect named after her.

Megan Alice Clune - The Swirl of the Void [Room40/Bandcamp]
Megan Alice Clune - The Chance of a Thunderstorm [Room40/Bandcamp]
Megan Alice Clune - Gentle Smile [Room40/Bandcamp]
The new album from Sydney's Megan Alice Clune, leader of the non-Alaskan non-orchestra Alaska Orchestra is a masterpiece of understatement. Borne from a dream about writing an opera, it's built instead from the minutiae of stay-at-home existence imposed by lockdowns, captive to quixotic technologies and alienated from social or musical interaction. A vocal drone runs through it, overlaid with different approaches to layering and mutating sound - here, swooping synthesizers recall Alice Coltrane's spiritualist solo works; there, different vocal layers cut in & out with subtle swells of clarinet; and over here, the vocals end up cut into small pieces, pulsing in & out like a faltering radio. One for repeated listens in quiet spaces.

Nasturtium - I Remember Everything, Almost Constantly [Room40/Bandcamp]
Something about the name of this project and the album cover made me keep thinking it would be black metal or blackened doom, but Nasturtium is something else entirely. The collaboration between Geneva Skeen and Erin Dawson pairs GS's dark droney sound-art with Dawson's lo-fi indie soundscaping to birth something not quite like either. There's much loving attention to sonic detail, with many sounds produced by guitars both distorted and clean. Some tracks drone through a haze of effects, while elsewhere they're glitched into pieces. There are frequent passages of gorgeousness, especially on the 9-minute closer "Earth Priority", in which multiple fizzling strummed guitars go through various harmonic progressions, temporarily joined by makeshift percussion and slowly stretched out to a gentle end. Don't miss it!

Midori Hirano - Binary Star [dauw]
Midori Hirano - Strain [Sonic Pieces/Bandcamp]
Midori Hirano - Phantom Train [dauw]
The last album from Midori Hirano, last year's Invisible Island on Sonic Pieces, was a career highlight, and I'm pleased to say that Soniscope, just released on Dutch sound-art label dauw, follows in its footsteps with piano and electronics that refuse to keep to the sweet & pleasant post-classical formula. Hirano knows how to write pleasing, melodic piano, but happily buries it in wobbling effects. Soniscope developed from making the soundtrack for Mizuko, a short animated film about a Buddhist ritual for aborted children, and her contemplation of the Jizo statues made for unborn children was a catalyst for this music, which seems to draw more from Japanese musical styles than her other recent works.

Listen again — ~208MB

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