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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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Sunday, 28th of November, 2021

Playlist 28.11.21 (6:49 pm)

Heavy dub beats and bass techno gives way to percussive skitterscapes, guitarscapes, free jazz and... gothic metal? - only to land at string-folk and post-classical recontextualisations. It's Utility Fog.

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SIMM - Civil War (featuring Flowdan) [Ohm Resistance]
Equations of Eternity - Kurukulla [Wordsound]
SIMM - Hope Spectre [Ohm Resistance]
SIMM - Gqom Squbulo (featuring Phelimuncasi) [Ohm Resistance]
The industrial dub sounds of Eraldo Bernocchi go back to the '90s, alongside dark ambient and sound-art work and film soundtrack recordings. An inveterate collaborator, Bernocchi worked extensively with Mick Harris of Scorn, including also their project with Bill Laswell as Equations of Eternity. SIMM has been one of his main aliases for the dub beats, and it's easy to hear the cross-pollination of his mate Mick Harris, whose mid-'90s Scorn work prefigures dubstep a decade before it coalesced in the East/South London scene. Bernocchi's new SIMM album Too Late To Dream, for the great Ohm Resistance (also responsible for some years for Scorn's recent output), finds him treading similar ground to The Bug or Harris, with dubstep & grime-adjacent bass music (often menacing, sometimes peaceful), and MCs on about half the tracks. Grime master Flowdan appears on a number of tracks here, and there's also a brilliant collaboration with South African gqom legends Phelimuncasi.

Vacuum - Resonate [Heavy Machinery Records/Bandcamp/It Records/Bandcamp]
Vacuum - Resonate Deadverse (Dälek Remix) [Heavy Machinery Records/Bandcamp/It Records/Bandcamp]
Naarm/Melbourne duo Jenny Branagan and Andrea Blake have played in post-punk and synth-punk bands for some time, and their Vacuum duo dates back to 2013; but their self-titled album is to be their first real release, coming out now in February 2022. A couple of singles are out to tide you over, but I'm giving a sneak peak of a minimalist highlight, like Suicide with drop bass, the deeply disquieting "Resonate". The album comes with a set of excellent remixes, including Dublin's Lakker and locals Ela Stiles and Sow Discord, but "Resonate" has been given the Deadverse treatment but industrial hip-hop legends Dälek, which naturally I couldn't resist.

NERVE - MIRRORWISE [Nerve Bandcamp]
Also out of Naarm/Melbourne is NERVE, who continues releasing live fragments on his Bandcamp with industrial-leaning syncopated drum machine techno that sites somewhere to left of drum'n'bass.

Hodge & Simo Cell - Medusa [Livity Sound]
Two alumni of Bristol's Livity Sound appear together on the label: Bristol's Hodge (most recently seen on Houndstooth) and Paris's Simo Cell. As is their wont, this EP traverses different tempos and styles while staying true to bass and syncopated beats. Club music as it should be.

Blawan - Blika [XL Recordings/Bandcamp]
Berlin-based UK mainstay Blawan takes a break from his usual 4/4 fare with more bass-oriented syncopation here for XL Recordings, on the excellently-titled Woke Up Right-Handed. A restless beat and a distorted vocal that seeps into the subs make the opening track an instant freakish classic.

Construction - Nervous (Katerina's Tension Remix) [forthcoming]
Construction - Nervous [Construction Bandcamp]
Seattle based Nadya Peek and Marko Ahtisaari make dancefloor-adjacent postpunk or post-rock under the name Construction. Last year they released the EP We're Great Thanks For Asking, and now they're preparing a remix 12", on which Finnish-Bulgarian producer Katerina simultaneously moves their track "Nervous" closer towards the dancefloor and also into a sort of psychedelic pop space.

Eli Keszler - Years of This [LuckyMe/Bandcamp]
Earlier this year, New York avant-garde percussionist Eli Keszler released his album Icons on Glasgow's LuckyMe - probably his most approachable album yet. Now just in time for Christmas the album gets extended as Icons+ with two bonus digital tracks and a scented candle edition (as you do!) The extra tracks are worth it - Keszler's hyperactive drill'n'bass-influenced live drumming and electronics never fails to dazzle.

Ingar Zach/Michele Rabbia - Typology [SOFA/Bandcamp]
Ingar Zach/Michele Rabbia - Proprioception [SOFA/Bandcamp]
Following Keszler, a pair of brilliant percussionist bring their second collaboration to Norway's SOFA Music. Musique pour deux corps (Music for two bodies) finds Norway's Ingar Zach and Italy's Michele Rabbia both on the same setup of percussion and electronics, with a beguiling and disorienting mix of programmed electronics and drones with beautifully-recorded acoustic percussion.

Leo Abrahams - Spiral Trem [figureight/Bandcamp]
Leo Abrahams - Alternations [figureight/Bandcamp]
Speaking of disorienting & beguiling, here's the full new album from Leo Abrahams on Shahzad Ismaily's figureight label. On Scene Memory II, the in-demand guitarist bends his instrument into Fennesz-like glitchscapes, and loops noises and crackles into abstract quasi-rhythmic figures. No two tracks sound the same, but the same creative spirit runs through the whole work; highly recommended.

Irreversible Entanglements - Keys to Creation [International Anthem/Bandcamp]
Chicago label International Anthem has their finger on the pulse. They released the debut album from free jazz/rap/poetry ensemble Irreversible Entanglements last year, and if anything the band have surpassed that now with Open The Gates. Sure, it's free jazz, but as heard on this track there's wonderful cyclical drumming and bass underpinning postpunk synths as well as trumpet & sax, and of course the evocative, incisive spoken words of Camae Ayewa aka Moor Mother. Astonishing.

Converge & Chelsea Wolfe - Blood Dawn [Epitaph/Bandcamp]
Converge & Chelsea Wolfe - Coil [Epitaph/Bandcamp]
Speaking of worlds colliding, here we find powerhouse musicians drawing something new from each other. Hardcore punk legends Converge could hardly be more influential, with revered producer Kurt Ballou as their guitarist, vocalist Jacob Bannon also responsible for their iconic artwork, and bassist Nate Newton also playing in the untouchable Old Man Gloom. Not only are they joined on this album by gothic rock/folk/doom maestro Chelsea Wolfe and her creative partner Ben Chisholm, but Steve Brodsky is also on hand (too many projects to mention, now including Old Man Gloom). And yes, there's a fair share of growly metal vocals, but also passionate clean singing from all, and a spread of styles from across all contributors. Bloodmoon: I (which implies the future existence of Bloodmoon: II) is a behemoth of an album.

Marissa Paternoster - Waste [Don Giovanni Records/Bandcamp]
Marissa Paternoster - Promise [Don Giovanni Records/Bandcamp]
A couple of weeks ago I played the gorgeous single "White Dove" from Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females. There's a metal connection here, as much of the album was created in collaboration with Andy Gibbs from the great New Orleans metal band THOU, but the album veers in different directions, featuring throughout the cello & backing vocals from Kate Wakefield of Cincinnati avant-rock duo Lung. While I still think "White Dove" is one of the songs of the year, the folk-rock harmonised bliss is found on a number of other tracks, such as those featured tonight.

Laura Cannell, Kate Ellis & Adrian Hart - Through Frost & Thunder [Brawl Records]
It's getting late in the year, so we're up to the second-last in the phenomenal series These Feral Lands - A Year Documented in Sound and Art from British violinist Laura Cannell & cellist Kate Ellis. As with the last few months, for November they're joined by a collaborator, this time violinist and producer Adrian Hart who lends additional classical technique and folk knowledge to the two core string players, while on some tracks Cannell adds her pure vocals. Each month these Sounds have been an absolute joy.

Gabriel Prokofiev + OpenSoundOrchestra - Sad Colours I [Melodiya]
Gabriel Prokofiev + OpenSoundOrchestra - Isolation [Melodiya]
We finish tonight by bringing the strings back around to the UK bass/experimental electronic we started with, courtesy of English composer Gabriel Prokofiev. Prokofiev (who is indeed descended from the great Russian "neoclassical" composer Sergei Prokofiev) travelled to Russia to work on new & recent compositions with the adventurous contemporary ensemble OpenSoundOrchestra. From those recordings he then deconstructed and reconstructed his own work in the manner of his earliest releases on the Nonclassical label, his String Quartet No.1 and No.2, which invited contemporary dubstep & techno artist to remix the works using only sound from the string quartet themselves. So here we have jittery cuts and slices, repurposing the orchestral sounds into a trip through grime, house and other dance genres. It's released on the revived Melodiya label, once the legendary music label of the Soviet state. Postmodern music for postmodern times.

Listen again — ~208MB

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