a wholly owned subsiduary of
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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, 29th of October, 2023

Playlist 29.10.23 (11:00 pm)

The world's gone mad but what's new. Another week, means another Utility Fog to sooth the savage breast.

Charm or curse, LISTEN AGAIN and feel the magick courtesy of FBi's stream on demand, or podcast here.

Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter - I'm Getting Out While I Can [Perpetual Flame Ministries/Bandcamp]
Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter - I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole [Perpetual Flame Ministries/Bandcamp]
As Lingua Ignota, Kristin Hayter released three electrifying albums - two on Profound Lore, one on Sargent House - that were based around her piano and voice, classical training filtered through noise and metal. Her guest spots with the body, and as part of Sightless Pit with Lee Buford of the the body and Dylan Walker of Full of Hell, were phenomenal as well, bringing deep emotion and musicality. But the suffering that infused the Lingua Ignota projects was drawn from life, and performing her personal trauma through that music became too much of a burden. So SAVED! comes to us from Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter - she really is ordained, although as she told The Quietus, "it is also true that you can become ordained as a minister in about five minutes online". SAVED! is by no means an easy listen, even compared to her previous work, but there's humour as well as redemption strung through these gospel covers and original songs. Recorded with Seth Manchester at Machines With Magnets, the all-analogue production suffuses the album in hiss and tape warping, although thankfully the shuddering stops and starts of the first track are toned down later. There are still jarring splices - particularly shocking when Hayter's anguished (or is it ecstatic?) glossolalia interrupts a hymn-like piece. This postmodern treatment aims to evoke the dubbed-and-redubbed tapes of gospel music shared among Christian households when Hayter was growing up. The final summation is an album with real beauty and sincerity that nevertheless undercuts itself fiercly throughout, its protagonist forever marked by trauma, but finally arriving to her salvation.

Daniel Jumpertz - Everything Is Lost [Feral Media/Bandcamp]
The Feral Media label has been around even longer than FBi and Utility Fog's two decades, and main proprietor Danny Jumpertz was a great supporter of this show in its early days (and onwards). The label has been responsible for many key releases in Sydney electronic & indie music over this period, but it slowed down in the last 5 or 6 years due to relocations and family commitments. So it's nice to have a new label sampler, X-RAYCITY-1 released for FREE on Bandcamp to coincide with the Independent Music Exchange event that happened last weekend in Thornbury, VIC. Among some old and new tunes are some forthcoming or otherwise unreleased goodies, and this song from Jumpertz himself is a stirring piece of postpunk electronic pop. I have no further info except that it's great.

F'tang - Morning Mist [Black Wire Records/F'tang Bandcamp]
F'tang - A Medical Joke You Will Learn [Black Wire Records/F'tang Bandcamp]
Eora/Sydney group F'tang released their previous EP in 2013, and before that an EP solely the work of Tom Houlahan in 2009. But really the chiming, jangling guitars and drums could be instrumental indie music from the '90s or earlier. With instrumental music like this, it doesn't really seem to matter. Album closer "Morning Mist" is a lovely piece of guitars through delays, sparse drums and melodic bass, but in general even the more rocking songs here make much of minimal ingredients - synths often adding a little sparkle to bass & drum riffs. And with titles like "Trust Me, I'm a Stomach" and "Lucky In Love, Unlucky With Fruit", who needs lyrics?
And by the way, the excellent artwork is by Lizzie Nagy, who makes occasional music as Taxpayer.

Water From Your Eyes - Remember Not My Name (Mandy, Indiana Version) [Matador/Bandcamp]
Earlier this year, Brooklyn duo Water From Your Eyes released their album Everyone's Crushed on Matador Records. Coincidentally a week earlier Manchester's Mandy, Indiana released their incredible album i've seen a way, a different but similar approach to extremeness in pop/rock. So when WFYE inverted their album title to put together the remix album Crushed By Everyone, it clearly made perfect sense to get Mandy, Indiana to tamper with a track. Here we have weird skittery beats, warping synths and vocals only half-audible. Hella good.

Gantz - Spineless (Pleasuremodel VIP) [Gantz Bandcamp]
Gantz - Axxon N VIP [Gantz Bandcamp]
Time for another EP from Turkish post-dubstep beatmulcher Gantz! Pusher Acid VIP is all VIPs versioned from the original Pusher Acid, and includes an appearance from the highly vocoded bass music entity Pleasuremodel. It seems like Gantz has slightly reined in the post-Autechre sonic destruction here - controlled chaos.

Fearful x Mtwn - Careful (feat. Riko Dan) [YUKU/Bandcamp]
Both London musician Fearful and Belgian brothers Mtwn (pronounced "Motown") have released jungle/drum'n'bass/autonomic material in the past, and have spread into all other areas of bass music since. Beyond the Veil is the trio's second release for Czech trailblazers YUKU, and like 2021's Exordium, Beyond the Veil is a full-length album. While the presence of key Roll Deep member Riko Dan indicates grime and dubstep, there's a range of bass styles across the album. It's really nice dark bass-heavy music, worth your time.

19arrascaeta - knafeh [From The River To The Sea Bandcamp]
[kevinindafield] - Chain Reaction [From The River To The Sea Bandcamp]
Bass/IDM producer Outsider put a call out on her Instagram for tracks for a compilation in solidarity with Palestine, when it was already clear that Gaza would suffer massive civilian deaths and even greater injuries from Israel's retaliation for Hamas' murderous attack on October 7th. It's worth noting that "From the River to the Sea" is considered by many Jews to be a call for the destruction of Israel or even genocide, but for context I recommend reading Yousef Munayyer's 2021 article in Jewish Currents for a clear explanation of the phrase's use as a rallying call for Palestinian freedom. In any case, Outsider's compilation will raise funds for Palestine Children's Relief Fund and Medical Aid for Palestinians. I have no info on 19arrascaeta, but they contribute a piece with sparse bass stabs and gentle synths, while transgender Sudanese artist [kevinindafield] goes all-out jungle.

Surusinghe - Boka [AD93/Bandcamp]
Naarm/Melbourne-born Suze Surusinghe has already been known to Australian ears since early last year. Based in London now, her art spreads further with her Brake Fluid EP for the influential AD93 label. Surusinghe makes percussive bass music at various tempos, and the jittery "Boka" fits surprisingly well with drum'n'bass.

Senegalese Baba Sy and Moroccan beatmaker 3xOJ team up courtesy of the Barcelona-based JOKKOO collective, with the hard-hitting grime/bass song SATHIE that spits in the face of corrupt kleptocracies, specifically (but not exclusively) their homelands.

Pole - Stechmück (Version) [Mute/Bandcamp]
One of the original European glitch pioneers, mastering engineer Stefan Betke aka Pole has long been a master of electronically-degraded dub. Last year's Tempus was another exercise in abstraction and minimalism, and has now been given the remix treatment by... Sleaford Mods? Yes, "Stechmück" is sped up to suit Jason Williamson's funny-but-serious raps, while Rrose reshapes the same track into minimal techno, and Nine Inch Nails member and modular synth devotee Alessandro Cortini stretches the title track into an ambient dirge. But Betke himself also versions Stechmück, thickening the bass and emphasising those freaky klaxons.

Yuko Araki - Gravitational Collapse [ROOM40/Bandcamp]
Japanese multi-instrumentalist Yuko Araki is the drummer in psych-rock trio Kuunatic; her earlier solo EPs & albums drew from harsh noise, rock, free jazz and more, culminating in End of Trilogy for ROOM40 in 2021. It seems it wasn't really the end, nor a trilogy, because IV has just appeared, again via ROOM40. This seems like her strongest work yet to me: a kind of industrial post-club music, still with noise references, with a sinister feel that is completed with the introduction of Taichi Nagura's vocals on the last track (check his band Endon for properly scary noise!)

mankeepitdeep - drinking a cha da cup in this temporal world [Odd Gulabi]
Leeds producer mankeepitdeep inaugurates his Odd Gulabi label with an EP that mixes the Panjabi music of his heritage with UK bass music. South Asian music has melded with UK dance music since the '80s, but mankeepitdeep isn't reviving Talvin Singh or Fun-Da-Mental's styles (or even Sarathy Korwar!), but taking his own path through this fusion.

Ellie Wilson - By The Time I Got Back Pt.1 [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]
Ellie Wilson - Mindpop [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]
When I discovered UK composer & violinist Ellie Wilson was a former member of English folk/electronic band Stick In The Wheel, it immediately made sense. Wilson's Memory Islands has some of the neo-classicism that's the bigo & twigetti label's bread and butter, but mixed in are nods to folk music, dark electronics and occasional beats. In fact, it's impossible to classify this album, starting as it does with a lush folk violin dirge, followed by rhythmic layered pizzicato, and then the first piece I played today, with glitchy, stuttery micro-rhythms and the voice of Wilson's grandfather. There follow driving beats, ambient soundscapes, echoing distorted crunches, and pastoral folk that's joined by pastoral electronica for the finale. It's definitely an album worth setting half an hour aside for.

Felicity Mangan - Time Flys [mappa]
Vic Bang - Whizz [mappa]
Kate Carr - Three calls [mappa]
Jakub Juhás curates the amazing Slovenian label mappa, a showcase for what he calls "liquid cartography" and "sonic wanderings", which often translates as music on the borders. Hence the idea of Synthetic Bird Music, which he pitched to 32 artists from all round the world - and I count four Australian acts (five people, as Banana is the duo of Alexandra Spence and MP Hopkins). There's a wonderful range of interpretations of this theme, from tracks that are electronic evocations of field recordings of birds, to music in which bird calls are incorporated into melodies, accompanied by synths and even beats. A number of the artists are old hands at this: both Berlin-based Australian Felicity Mangan and London-based Aussie Kate Carr work with field recordings as well as electronic adaptations (see Kate's recent False Dawn for a vivid example). Characteristically, Mangan twists her birds (and insects, to my ears) into a semblance of techno, while Carr winds her "Three calls" between facsimile field recordings and gorgeous electronic textures. In between I played Argentinian composer & sound-artist Vic Bang aka Victoria Barca, who works her bird calls into the texture of her piece as quirky melodic snatches around beats & bassline.

Pierre Bastien & Michel Banabila - Stray Carrier Pigeon [Pingipung/Bandcamp]
The pairing of French experimental musical instrument builder Pierre Bastien and Dutch composer & sound-artist Michel Banabila is one that seems inevitable once you discover it. The creaking, woozy "playing" of Bastien's mechanical contraptions - which can sound like strings, trumpets, percussion and who knows what else - and the fourth world-influenced electronic alchemy of Banabila combine on Baba Soirée to evoke a dimly-lit basement club in a steampunk alternate past. This is strange music that delights in its strangeness, and odds-on so will you.

Piiptsjilling - it swalkjen [Cloudchamber Recordings/Bandcamp]
A magickal combination of ambient/dreamgaze artists from Holland, Piiptsjilling combines the beautiful, fragile singing of Mariska Baars aka soccer Committee, the sensitive electronics of Rutger Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek and the Kleefstra brothers - poet Jan Kleefstra and guitarist Romke Kleefstra. The Kleefstras' output usually consists of ambient guitar drones accompanying the soft voice of Jan speaking in Frisian, a language only spoken in the north-west of Holland. Add Baars and Zuydervelt and you have slow-roiling bodies of experimental sound, high vocal melodies and spoken words that are somehow evocative despite not understanding them. There's really nothing like this quartet, whose signature sound since 2008 has not greatly changed, and that's just fine - open your ears and be enveloped.

Sun's Signature - Golden Air (CUTS Remix) [Liberator Music/Bandcamp]
Mariska Baar's soaring voice recalls Elizabeth Fraser in the Cocteau Twins, which brings us nicely to our finale. After many years with little output, Fraser formed Sun's Signature with her partner Damon Reece, and they released their self-titled EP last year. The EP has now been re-released with a second disc of six remixes. Fraser voice is as gorgeous as ever, and she even sings in English at least some of the time. "Golden Air" is my favourite track on the album, heard here in a reworking by CUTS, aka musician and filmmaker Anthony Tombling Jr. This version is a slow build, culminating in a rapturous ending, beautifully constructed.

Listen again — ~201MB

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