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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, 3rd of October, 2021

Playlist 03.10.21 (11:51 pm)

Doom, folk rock, experimental electronics and even less categorizable stuff.

LISTEN AGAIN and expand your ear horizons. Stream on demand @ FBi, podcast here.

Divide and Dissolve - Mental Gymnastics (Moor Mother Remix) [Invada/Bandcamp]
Divide and Dissolve - Far From Ideal (Chelsea Wolfe Remix) [Invada/Bandcamp]
A second remix from indigenous doom duo Divide and Dissolve came out this week. Moor Mother adds her apocalyptic spoken word over the emotive saxophone & guitars of Takiaya Reed (Black & Tsalagi [Cherokee]) and drums of Sylvie Nehill (Māori) - welcome to the dangerzone! A couple of months back I picked up Chelsea Wolfe's remix but for some reason then forgot about it, which is a shame because it's brilliant - Reed & Nehill's original is chopped up & repurposed as backing for Wolfe's singing. Both tracks are amazingly effective works for the remixers while remaining true to the originals as well.

the body and Big|Brave - oh sinner [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
the body and Big|Brave - once i had a sweetheart [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
It's not exactly a surprise to find the body collaborating with Big|Brave. the body are inveterate collaborators, often reining in the harsher parts of their doom/black metal sound (but not always), and the emotional postrock-meets-doom of Big|Brave makes a lot of sense as a foil for their electronics-infused heavy beauty/ugliness. Except... that's not what this is at all. The result of this collaboration, leaving none but small birds, finds the two bands teaming up to create an album of folk & rootsy country. Big|Brave's Robin Wattie compiled lyrics from Appalachian, Canadian, and English hymns and traditional songs, with particular focus on the marginalised & victimised in those stories. The two groups then created gnarly, repetitive folk-rock pieces, no less heavy than the bands' previous work despite featuring violin, piano and acoustic guitars. A hell of an album really.

Sandy Hsu - Endless Summer [Provenance/Bandcamp]
Here's the first track tonight from Provenance Collective's big drop of releases from this Friday. A few singles and a few albums, and this one's a bit of a revelation. Recently seen collaborating with Aphir, Naarm's Sandy Hsu here gives us a beautiful song that starts with guitar, adds quiet electronic undertones, but also gorgeous violin arrangements from Emma Kelly aka Happy Axe. It's a song about the meaning of life, and really does evoke a lazy endless summer day.

Maurice Louca - Yara (Fire Flies) [Northern Spy/Sub Rosa/Bandcamp]
Maurice Louca - El-Gullashah (Foul Tongue) [Northern Spy/Sub Rosa/Bandcamp]
I've been following Egyptian musician Maurice Louca for some years now, enjoying his earlier electronic productions and also his involvement in various areas of psychedelic Arabic rock and free jazz. His last few albums have leaned on the jazz & experimental side, and this second album on Northern Spy (US) and Sub Rosa (Europe), called Saet El Hazz (The Luck Hour), carries on from where 2019's Elephantine left off, with brilliant musicians from Egypt, Lebanon and Berlin, along with contributions from Turkey (where he obtained a custom-made guitar) and Indonesia (lending Gamelan instrumentation to the mix). The album evokes "the luck hour" or saet hazz, a euphemistic Egyptian expression for a night of debauchery. Somehow the elements of free improv, music from across the MENA region and beyond combine into something thrilling and not nearly as "difficult" as you might guess. Louca and his fellow musicians are experts at compelling, enjoyable musical storytelling.

Shoeb Ahmad - sliding into rivers [Provenance/Bandcamp]
Shoeb Ahmad - in the rite [Provenance/Bandcamp]
It's been a while coming, but the second half of Shoeb Ahmad's album duology that started with last year's A Body Full of Tears has finally arrived. Facade is perhaps a little less heavy on dark electronic textures, but it's still got an industrial edge to its throbs and crashes, and it's vintage Sia, with its beds of processed guitars and her characteristic vocal melodies. There's a vinyl edition and also a limited perfume set available at Bandcamp, where you can also grab a vinyl bundle of the two albums together.

Crook Peak - Leafblower [Floating Limb Bandcamp]
Crook Peak - Lines [Floating Limb Bandcamp]
Back in 2008 I first discovered the work of Oli Barrett with the first album from his Bleeding Heart Narrative project - a blending of noise, postrock, ambient and psychedelic tendencies, with his distorted cello among the sounds. It was my album of the year. I've since followed BHN through its existence as a full band, his follow-up project Petrels, occasional solo cello freak-out EPs and more. But it's great to hear this new project, Crook Peak, on which Barrett returns to songwriting, still within his uncategorizable musical frameworks. There's synthpop and new romantic influences here but also krautrock and psych-noise I daresay, making for some unusual and catchy songs.

Arrom - Tore It Apart [Provenance/Bandcamp]
Arrom - Faces in the Clouds [Provenance/Bandcamp]
Our third Provenance release of the night is the new album from classically-trained vocalist and electronic producer Melissa Vallence aka Arrom. Continuing Vallence's moves into techno, there are 4/4 beats bustling under these songs at times, and not a lot of traditional song structures - but still plenty of Vallence's voice, layered and often highly processed but also often clean. As well as the more experimental & electronic works like those I played tonight, this tribute to the moon goddess Selene features some beautiful multi-tracked vocal works calling back to Vallence's choral experience.

Sonae - Summer [laaps/Bandcamp]
Sonae - Soleil Noir [laaps/Bandcamp]
Sonia Güttler's last Sonae album, I Started Wearing Black, came out on Monika-Enterprise in 2018, although a collection of her remixes came out the following year on Bit-Phalanx. Her previous work established her as a talented producer of crunchy techno beats who works also with acoustic sound sources and field recordings. On Summer, and an accompanying video installation created with Jennifer Trees, Güttler asks us to confront the stifling reality of global warming as it exists now and the future we are being bequeathed. As such, the sounds on this album are given deeper meaning - but purely in audio terms, this is clearly her best work yet, with warm, crackling sound-painting, strings, and some of those club-adjacent 4/4 beats. Highly recommended.

xphresh - xephon [3XL]
New on Berlin-based 3XL is an EP from xphresh, aka Brooklyn's Ben Bondy and Berlin-resident Special Guest DJ (aka Shy/uon), haunting the airwaves between jungle and heavy breakbeat dub through crackly time-travel radio. It's super-vapourwavey but also very much redolent of '90s dub & breakbeat rave biz.

Martyna Basta - Awakening [Warm Winters Ltd./Bandcamp]
Martyna Basta - Unknown Reel Tape [Warm Winters Ltd./Bandcamp]
Polish artist Martyna Basta's debut release on Warm Winters Ltd. is the sumptuous Making Eye Contact With Solitude, based around domestic field recordings, her own voice, and judicious use of zither, harpsichord and violin, which can at times crescendo into rich tapestries of sound. It's engrossing and gorgeous.

Ayala - (Generative for Viewfinder, 9 55 pm render) [Ayala Bandcamp]
Sydney's Donny Janks is Ayala, under which name he's just released an EP of generative works called 08-09-21. Although there are generative elements (so each render released here is just one version of the output of each musical contraption), there's clearly considered musical thought that goes into each of these works, and the renderings work very well as final compositions. The one we heard tonight was created to accompany a sculpture by Joel Adler called "Viewfinder", but even here - as well as on the other two works - the ambient textures are joined at times by hints of beats.

exael - silent kiss [exael Bandcamp]
Berlin-based Naemi aka exael continues to release tracks & EPs when they feel like it on their Bandcamp alongside label releases. This Bandcamp Friday's exclusive was the lovely "silent kiss", which marries expressive piano and electronics in their usual vaporwavey fashion.

Sebastian Field - Iris [Provenance/Bandcamp]
Sebastian Field - Measurement Doesn't Change the Distance - Arcs [Provenance/Bandcamp]
On his latest album Sandcandles - our last Provenance release for tonight - Canberra's Sebastian Field unearths and repurposes music recorded 15-20 years ago, which he has self-consciously hidden away from himself, along with recordings from fellow travellers over the last few years. Although it moves Field's work (for now) away from explicit songwriting, it's a welcome change, resulting in hazy loops of grainy guitar and electronics, worldless vocals and occasional buried beats. If you like Benoît Pioulard, don't sleep on this.

Tony Dupé - I worked hard [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
Tony Dupé - I lay down [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
I'm so glad that my longtime friend & musical colleague Tony Dupé has found a home with Lost Tribe Sound. It seems like a perfect fit for his music, rooted in indie and folk, with hints of postrock, electronic construction that doesn't usually sound electronic, and a love of neo-classical arrangements (after some years of my playing on his productions, Tony went off and learned the cello for himself). Last year Lost Tribe Sound released the long-awaited album by Tony and his brilliant partner Claire Deak, but now it's time for an exquisite solo album, no longer under the Saddleback sobriquet (and Deak & Dupé are no longer on the NSW coast near Mount Saddleback, but rather based down in Melbourne). Margaret Hammett Lived is a musical tribute to his grandmother's sister, who as Tony describes it was imprisoned for her entire adult life in the Abbotsford Convent. She was taken there after falling pregnant twice to a farmer as a teenager; her first baby was taken from her, and the second died after birth - she named both Eileen. Whether these were consensual is not clear, but the grieving Margaret was branded a "bad girl" and taken to the convent, where she spent more than six decades until she died. This tragic, cruel story inspired Tony to write a suite of absolutely stunning beauty, with strings, organ, bells and voices (and yes, some subtle electronic touches). It's gorgeously performed, poised music worthy of its subject matter. Please spend half an hour listening to this album.

Listen again — ~206MB


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