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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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Monday, 24th of July, 2023

Playlist 23.07.23 (11:45 pm)

A random-not-random aesthetic runs across a lot of the music tonight, which is one of my favourite vibes in the music I've encountered and spread through this show's many years. Whether it's sounds from indie rock, krautrock, sample-based electronica, musique concrète or hip-hop, you can hear cacophanies of sound that reveal themselves to be sensitively and surprisingly thought-out.

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Animal Hospital - Ok, Kevin [Sipsman/Bandcamp]
Kevin Micka's Animal Hospital made a huge impression with his 2009 album Memory, on which strummed indie rock and Americana collide with glitch edits and blackened doom drones. Recently there were a few odd & quirky digital releases under his own name, but this year Animal Hospital has returned. A typically expansive 17-minute track came out earlier this year, and now "OK, Kevin" appears at a more digestible length, but once again we have the hallmark strategy of luring us in with jaunty indie riffs before extending doom chords to infinity. An album is on its way through Sipsman, and you'll hear about it here when it appears.

Rutger Hauser - Signs in my hand [Scatter Archive Bandcamp/Rutger Hauser Bandcamp (CD)]
Rutger Hauser - A good sleep [Scatter Archive Bandcamp/Rutger Hauser Bandcamp (CD)]
A few years ago I featured the second album from English/Faroese ensemble Rutger Hauser. The Swim was recorded in the Faroe Islands, a remote archipelago between Scotland and Iceland, but their new one, Good Sleep found the current members in a town in Anglesey, Wales, although key member Jón Klæmint Hofgaard's parts were recorded later. The band create pieces through improvisation, field recording and embracing of chance, and are gleefully scornful of structural norms. The 9-minute "Signs in my hand" spends the bulk of its length chopping up samples of a composition by Benji Jeffrey called "Nymanesque" alongside scattershot free jazz-esque percussion before coalescing into something resembling a "song". This is post-music in the best way - and if Utility Fog's conceit is to cover "postfolkrocktronica" then at this point why not break it down to just "post-"?

skipism - Only Choppo knows [Mound of Sound]
skipism - Window Sylvia [Mound of Sound]
Drusilla Johnson/Jones has been part of the Sydney underground for over 4 decades, her distinctive art gracing many of the covers of Scattered Order, the experimental/post-punk/proto-industrial band formed by her husband Mitch Jones in 1979. Dru Johnson was a member of Height/Dismay with Patrick Gibson and at times a member of Scattered Order too. These days, she makes ambient/experimental music with Mitch under the name Lint, and her art and solo music appear under the name skipism. Last year she released a cassette of vignettes called Sound Stitches and now, again on cassette, we get Under your hat, which entices the listener into a close-up sonic space where sounds lurk behind your head and, well, right there under your hat. With snippets of vocal samples and fragmented beats, this music is uncannily well-adapted for the zeitgeist.

Morwell - Starlight [Morwell Bandcamp]
Morwell - Looking for Somebody [Morwell Bandcamp]
Max Morwell is back with more rave adaptations, this time with a mixtape called Resonance that explicitly places the breakbeats and vocal samples of rave into a short non-stop mix (split across 3 tracks on each side of the cassette). As with Morwell's usual strategies, the music here is redolent of '90s rave styles, but could only have been made now.

Yunzero - Dunk Constellation [.jpeg Artefacts/Bandcamp]
Yunzero - Con Air [.jpeg Artefacts/Bandcamp]
Yunzero - Invisible Dog (Slo Version) [.jpeg Artefacts/Bandcamp]
Just as I was putting this playlist together on Saturday, a new album appeared from Naarm/Melbourne iconoclast Yunzero. His 2022 album Butterfly DNA came out via Huerco S's West Mineral Ltd but now he's back on Naarm's influential .jpeg Artefacts with Donkey Laundromat. The music here was created for a "video + meme compilation" presented just last week at Collingwood moving image agency/venue Composite - and when you purchase the album on Bandcamp you get a link to download the entire 40-minute video. The funny thing is, Yunzero's music has always been made up of lo-fi YouTube snippets and other cultural detritus, rearranged and built into hi-fi post-club concoctions. The music here is as compelling and strange as ever, whether it's bass-heavy beats or unsettling atmospherics.

Deepchild - Underworlds [Seppuku Records]
Deepchild - Learning To Grieve [Seppuku Records]
2022 was a big year for Sydney's Deepchild, now comfortably ensconsed on Gadigal land after many years in Berlin. His deep techno know-how is evident in releases like last year's Black Atlantic and the recent 77, a set of DJ tools in tribute to the long-running Club 77 where he has a residency. But in 2022 Rick Bull also unleashed his ambient side, harkening back perhaps to his days with Frigid/Cryogenesis and Club Kooky in late '90s and early '00s. The archetypal '90s ambient underground label Mille Plateaux (sister label to techno heavyweights Force Inc) released Fathersong, his moving tribute to his late father, and then LA-based idm/ambient lovers A Strangely Isolated Place released a postscript to Fathersong, Mycological Patterns, which spread like fungus into the nooks and crannies of the ambient internet - a highly deserved success. On August 4th Deepchild's next ambient (or at least non-techno) album Portals comes out through his own Seppuku, with more murky and profound electronic works, two of which we previewed tonight. Lots of humanity goes into these pieces as always.

Magic City Counterpoint - Sun [Magic City Counterpoint Bandcamp]
Magic City Counterpoint - Main Beach [Magic City Counterpoint Bandcamp]
I had the pleasure of previewing two singles from Meanjin/Brisbane duo Magic City Counterpoint, and now you get two more from their debut EP Dialogue, out on August 4th. Madeleine Cocolas and Chris Perren collaborate here on widescreen electronica that benefits from both musicians' work in post-classical circles as well as postrock, math rock, ambient, drone and more. This album will simultaneously come out in game format courtesy of Gadigal-based queer duo Fuzzy Ghost. This was how I first experienced the album - wandering around a surreal landscape watching as things gradually changed as I listened to each track. "Sun" in particular has these gorgeous saturated sun flares when the music hits its peak points, while "Main Beach" is a blissful slow crescendo. Follow Magic City Counterpoint on Bandcamp, and subscribe on their website to get notified when this comes out - you'll thank me later.

Fatboi Sharif - Ash Wednesday [Backwoodz Studioz/Bandcamp]
Fatboi Sharif - Phantasm [Backwoodz Studioz/Bandcamp]
Fatboi Sharif - Brandon Lee [Backwoodz Studioz/Bandcamp]
billy woods isn't just one of the most important voices in underground hip-hop at the moment, he's also the founder (and A&R guy, and executive producer) of Backwoodz Studioz, endlessly reliable for quality joints. And that's how we got the phenomenal album from Fatboi Sharif this week. Decay is entirely produced by Backwoodz stalwart Steel Tipped Dove, and their simpatico relationship is evident throughout. The vibe here is extremely downturned, albeit still with great humour. Sharif's burly but adaptable voice gets pitched right down (or up high) over pitched-down loops or avant-garde piano, with beats that at times doggedly refuse to line up. Throughout, Sharif serves surreal, dislocated, collaged lyrics. Uneasy listening for uneasy times.

David Shea - MG [ROOM40/Bandcamp]
David Shea - String Rhizomes [ROOM40/Bandcamp]
Steel Tipped Dove's manipulated samples give way to contemporary musique concrète from Downtown New York veteran David Shea, who's been based in Melbourne since the mid-'00s. In fact the material on Una Nota Solo dates from 2005, just as Shea had relocated to Melbourne, and bears the influence of Luc Ferrari, who he befriended in his last few years while Shea was working at IRCAM in Paris. The music here features performances from Belgian chamber orchestra Ictus and contemporary music Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles, including samples from Shea's Chamber Symphony #1. It moves seamlessly from classical composition into droned-out spectral processing and glitch. Shea is a pioneering "un composer", incorporating the sampler as a musical instrument alongside live musicians since the early '90s, but here it's more about post-processing performances of his own work.

Lawrence English & Lea Bertucci - Amorphic Foothills [American Dreams/Bandcamp]
Shea's album is released on Lawrence English's ROOM40 label, and now we hear English himself collaborating with Lea Bertucci, who has formed one half of a number of duo lineups recently. Chthonic, to be released by American Dreams on August 11th, builds tectonic soundworks from Bertucci's cello, viola, flute and lap steel guitar, manipulated through English's tape machines, analogue effects and field recordings. On last year's duos, Berucci was more likely to be on the tape machine (among other things), but she's equally adept with the tables turned. Imposing orchestrations in cavernous settings. One to look out for in a couple of weeks!

Sote & Mazdak - Forsaken Clouds [Zabte Sote]
Ata "Sote" Ebtekar was recently here in Eora/Sydney for Soft Centre, performing his Majestic Noise Made in Beautiful Rotten Iran with incredible, massive visuals from Tarik Barri. Now, on his own Zabte Sote label, we get a four track EP, Forsaken Clouds, in musical collaboration with Mazdak Khamda. Khamda is credited to Acoustic Musical Composition alongside Ebtekar's Electronic Music Composition, with Khamda on piano and guests on violin & cello as well as traditional Persian instruments like setar and santour. Because of the western classical instruments, the music here feels a little less "Persian" than some of Sote's more recent work, but it's no less beautiful for that, and Ebtekar is in fine form manipulating and accompanying the acoustic sounds.

Ava Rasti - Cow [Flaming Pines/Bandcamp]
Ava Rasti - Goldberg [Flaming Pines/Bandcamp]
Staying in Iran we now meet Ava Rasti, who is a pianist and composer, sound-artist, and bass guitarist (she played in an underground all-girl post-punk band in Tehran, which sounds extremely daring!) Her new album Ginestra, released next week on Flaming Pines, is a deconstruction of works from the classical canon, reflecting on the violence that exists in the beauty of nostalgia, and performing a revoltion by taking apart past beauty to build something new. There are metaphors here, of course, for the world and for current-day Iran. Ginestra is Italian for "broom", and this music was recorded during a residency at Fabrica in Italy. On these tracks we hear fleeting glimpses of classical works (e.g. JS Bach in "Goldberg"), through murky haze or booming distortion or even shuddering blasts of glitch-noise. I feel like this could have fitted nicely on the Editions Mego label (Peter Rehberg RIP).

Flaer - Forever Never [Odda Recordings/Bandcamp]
Closing with some very pretty post-classical folktronic stuff, done all in analogue. Odda Recordings is the new imprint from The Leaf Label's Thea Hudson-Davies. Flaer, aka visual artist Realf Heygate, is the debut artist on the label's debut release, with analogue recordings of cello, acoustic guitar and piano, replete with the interstitial environmental sounds of creaking furniture and the sounds of the rural setting in which it was recorded. The echoing, stuttering sounds of multiple takes layered on top of each other comes to sound like the glitchy digital edits of early-'00s folktronica. This is subtle music, worth tuning into.

Listen again — ~204MB

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