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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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Wednesday, 7th of February, 2024

Playlist 04.02.24 (12:15 am)

There's some great string-based music out this week, including indie-rock strings, stringdietronica (I made that up. It's awful, sorry), and some gorgeous double-bass/percussion-ambient stuff from three Aussie women. Also noise and glitch, dubstep/industrial dub, and shoegaze...

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Derek Piotr - East Tennessee feat. Ican Harem [forthcoming, check Derek Piotr Bandcamp]
On May 10th, Derek Piotr's new album Divine Supplication will be released, and tonight we've brought you the first single, "East Tennessee". Derek's music has various tendencies: far-out glitch; vocal avant-gardism and vocal manipulation; recontextualising folk and classical music (he is a folklorist as well as composer and vocalist); and manipulation of field recordings. The new album will be a goldmine of guest collaborations - vocals from brilliant Norwegian singer Maja Ratkje and, on this track, Ican Harem of Gabber Modus Operandi; composition interpolations from My Brightest Diamond and Dirty Projectors; appearances from Fennesz, Brian Chippendale of noise rockers Lightning Bolt; and Piotr makes use of Olivier Alary's processing patches from the fabled first Ensemble album Sketch Proposals. Piotr's music can lean towards arch-postmodernism at times, but this album promises to be emotionally dense along with the referential and technical aspects.

aya - Lip Flip (ft. LOFT) [YCO]
Aya Sinclair has been known as aya now for long enough to drop the "fka LOFT", but I think there's a combination of humour and pointed commentary to the former alias's continual re-references. On the title track of her forthcoming EP Lip Flip, the pseudonym is given a "featuring" credit, perhaps as a farewell, as the EP is aimed at raising funds for Aya's Facial Feminisation Surgery. The music itself is a glitchy piece of 4/4 funk, digi-house with off-beat sprays of synth glitter and occasional vocal snippets.

Patrick Carpenter - The Revenant (Blushing Panda remix) [Patrick Carpenter Bandcamp]
Patrick Carpenter - Lucky 7 [Patrick Carpenter Bandcamp]
Although Patrick Carpenter has been an important figure in the intersection of UK hip-hop, electronic music and jazz for decades, there's been precious little in the way of solo work. He was the "PC" half of PC & Strictly with Strictly Kev aka Kevin Foakes, who as a duo complemented Matt Black and Jonathan More of Coldcut when contractual obligations led them to form DJ Food to experiment in instrumental, sample-based music outside of their usual alias. A few years in, they retrieved control of "Coldcut", and DJ Food was passed on to PC & Strictly, who together authored the incredible Kaleidoscope album in 2000 (augmented with the beautiful Kaleidoscope Companion a few years back). Along the way, PC & Strictly also joined More & Black in what many consider the greatest DJ mix of all time. Meanwhile he was also part of J Swinscoe's Cinematic Orchestra for a number of albums, but for a while now I believe he's been mostly working in an engineering/production capacity. But some creative projects have been happening behind the scenes, so we now have the eight-track Electric Envelope on his *ahem* Minestrone of Sound, in which you can hear the jazz orchestrations and trip-hop bass/beats of those older projects, but also tight & controlled electronic beats. Eight brilliant productions, but importantly eight compositions steeped in humanity.

toechter - Me she said [Morr Music/Bandcamp]
toechter - Mercury [Morr Music/Bandcamp]
So how does a trio of string players end up being released on the Morr Music label? The three members of German trio toechter, Marie-Claire Schlameus, Lisa Marie Vogel, Katrine Grarup Elbo play cello and violin, and classical composition filters through their self-composed works, but they also use their instruments to create percussive sounds and process them in other ways, and the musicians' voices join these acoustic & electronic elements so that what we hear is a seamless blend of songwriting and composition with electronics. In the early days of Utility Fog, Morr Music was home to various Notwist side-projects (Lali Puna, Ms John Soda etc) as well as acts like Styrofoam who feel awkwardly under the umbrella of "indietronica". Here, another generation takes those tropes and somehow reconstructs the sounds purely on strings. It's a thing of beauty.

Gareth Skinner - Sangfroid Aloha [Kasumuen]
Gareth Skinner - Bitching [Kasumuen]
Melbourne cellist Gareth Skinner was an indie rocker in the '90s, playing bass guitar but also quite prominently featuring the cello in the great, wild indie rock band bZARK. I've been a fan of Gareth's solo music too for a long time - songs from 2009's Looking For Vertical still appear unbidden in my head at odd times. So you can guarantee my ears perked up to the news of a new solo album. Off // Axis is out now via Kasumuen - sadly vinyl only (and digital) - and like Gareth's other records, most of the instrumental load is carried by multi-tracked cello. There's drums via Drew Caldwell, who played with Gareth in Disaster Plan and The Ergot Derivative, and a few other guests (including Joel Silbersher of notorious Melbourne punk/rock bands GOD and Hoss), but there are riffs and melodies and unhinged solos on the cello, as well as Gareth's somewhat deadpan vocals. I love it, hope you do too!

Panghalina - Not Super [Room40/Bandcamp]
Panghalina - Whale Dance [Room40/Bandcamp]
Room40 have already started the year strongly, and Lava, from new Australian trio Panghalina is already a highlight. This music is simultaneously abstract and representational - the slow-moving molten rock that is lava flows through the music. Helen Svoboda's double bass serves as the melodic instrument a lot of the time, with gorgeous mournful harmonics floating through the scattered percussion of Bonnie Stewart and Maria Moles. Svoboda's and Stewart's voices also provide eerie melodies, and despite 2/3 of the band being drummers, this isn't rhythmic music at all much of the time (not surprising given Moles' prior solo work!) Really you need to sink into Panghalina's volcano and trust that it stays dormant. Your trust will be richly rewarded.

Tot Onyx - Naked Repugnance [group A Bandcamp]
Way back in 2018, the Berlin-based Japanese techno/noise/experimental duo Group A performed at Dark Mofo and I was blown away by the flow of uncategorisable sound the two women produced - Sayaka Botanic on violin and electronics, Tommi Tokyo on all sorts of other electronics, both also adding their voices to the layered, pulsating madness. The duo haven't seemingly been that active for a while, but Tommi Tokyo introduced her solo act Tot Onyx a couple of years ago, and a slew of releases has followed. The start of 2024 brings her first self-released EP, T.O.1, made up of fragments of live performances over the last year or two, and it brings some of the bewildering energy of that performance in 2018, albeit considerably abstracted from any kind of beats. This is noise as sound-art, from a serious and talented practitioner.

sonaura - Vymazané Scény #1 (by The Owl) [Perceptual Tapes/Bandcamp]
sonaura - Deleted scenes #1 [Perceptual Tapes/Bandcamp]
sonaura - No Way of Telling (Ben Nodes Remix) [Perceptual Tapes/Bandcamp]
Last year, the nipaluna/Hobart label Perceptual Tapes sent me a beautiful album of processed piano by label head Timothy Allan aka Spectrical. The follow-up album Noumena came from UK artist sonaura, and I'm sad I didn't manage to play it at the time, as it's lovely subtly surreal tape and glitch stuff. I played "Deleted scenes #1" tonight along with a couple of pieces from the remix album Sonaura have released, Noumena: Reimaginings, which expands the pallette into stuttering granular processing like that of prolific Czech band The Owl, glitchy beats like those from UK's Ben Nodes, along with more tape manipulation. You can download the album for free, but anything contributed will go to MAP/Medical Aid for Palestinians. It's also nice to pay something for Bandcamp releases because the release will then turn up in your Bandcamp library and will turn up in the timelines & notifications of people you're connected to.

Madobe Rika - Ordinary days SNAFU [Virgin Babylon Records]
Here's another piece of breakcore-J-pop from the mysterious "virtual girl" Madobe Rika. It's perfect Virgin Babylon music really, embodying (or rather... not embodying) Japanese aesthetics of prettiness and harshness in equal amounts, with a little wink of humour throughout.

Match Fixer - Rats [SE:CD]
Match Fixer - See Me [SE:CD]
Naarm/Melbourne musician Andrew Cowie has released music under the name Angel Eyes, but switched to instrumental experimental electronica as Match Fixer some years ago. I was hooked from just about the start, through to an excellent album last year on Melbourne's Nice Music, but it's still great to find him now on the Berlin-based SE:CD, which launched last year with the great exael. Cowie's music bears the influence of IDM and contemporary experimental sounds, but with a sure understanding of techno and bass musics. New EP Done brings him as close to jungle/drum'n'bass as he's been, with an album promised around the corner from the same label. And MAP/Medical Aid for Palestinians will also be the beneficiary of any Bandcamp purchases.

Tawdry Otter - What She Knew [Adrien75 Bandcamp]
Adrien Capozzi is best known as Adrien75 in the IDM world, and as part of various ensembles uner the Carpet Bomb label umbrella - I've said before that I wish the Highways Over Gardens comp was still available to share with you. Maybe I'll bug them about it, but in the meantime, Adrien has continued making weird beats and genre-agnostic stuff under the Adrien75 moniker, and for a little while now also as Tawdry Otter, all-electronic, beat-based releases which I think are probably mostly created on the Koala Sampler mobile app. In any case, it's sample-based and beat-based fun, light of touch and fleet of foot.

Shit & Shine - Joy_14 [OOH-sounds/Bandcamp]
Shit & Shine - Joy_04 [OOH-sounds/Bandcamp]
Craig Clouse has been a lot of things through his career, and Shit & Shine is his vehicle for solo shenanigans. I've always through of it as a noise act, but there are memorable lo-fi loop-disco, heavy dubstep, glitch, hardcore punk and metal forays as well... at the very least. It's also at times been a band (oh, and don't forget the grind/doom of Todd while we're at it!) but my impression that for ages it's been the outlet for anything Clouse solo chooses to do. So we get to Joy of Joys, released by Italian experimental label OOH-sounds. It's actually not out of order to call this noise, among other things. It's definitely experimental music in the real sense of experimentation. Each track is a relatively short vignette made of short blurted samples that only accidentally form any kind of rhythms - and yet vocal stabs and delay effects at times remind one of the in-between bits of some dub techno or industrial record, the sound of a warm-up, a soundcheck. But, you know... in a good way.

Wraz. - Dreadbox [Artikal Music/Bandcamp]
I discovered Québecois dubstep producer Wraz. via UK label Artikal Music about a year ago with the excellent Wraith EP, so it's great to find him back on the label with another winner, Dreadbox: four tracks of heavy bass action, great sense of dynamics and creative beats. For my money one of the essential dubstep artists at the moment.

Cartridge - Dem God [DEEP MEDi/Bandcamp]
You always know you'll get quality from DEEP MEDi, one of the most consistent dubstep labels (of course, given it was founded by Mala). Prolific Manchester producer Cartridge has made a mark on the dubstep scene, with collaborations and a growing amount of mastering work, and the Altitude is a killer debut on DEEP MEDi. "Dem God" keeps the dub in dubstep, as well as the good ol' 'ardcore continuum...

The Bug - Gutted(Human Filth) [Pressure/Bandcamp]
Following 4 filth-ridden EPs last year, The Bug concludes the Machine series with Machine V, five tracks of sludgy industrial dub, as always dubstep-adjacent but in that special way that Kevin Martin has honed over 3+ decades of production. These tracks were debuted at one of The Bug's many appearances with grime legend and recent Grammy winner Flowdan, and one can only imagine the intensity.

jesu - Hard To Reach (2024 Remaster) [jesu Bandcamp]
Of course JK Broadrick is a longtime associate of Mr Martin, and their OG duo Techno Animal is seeing its '90s albums re-released with heavy-as-fuck remasters from Broadrick. But Jesu is a well-loved identity within JKB's massive oeuvre, his visionary take on shoegaze-metal, and home to many blissful searing songs of melancholy. The Hard To Reach EP is not technically new: the two opening tracks appear on Jesu's somewhat legendary split with Japanese emo/screamo band Envy, released in 2008, but they appear here remastered by Broadrick - along with two contemporary unreleased gems and an alternate version of the title track, which we hear tonight in all its 13+-minute glory. A super-punchy drum machine beat, albeit different from the beats he programs for Godflesh, motors through, eventually almost overwhelmed by the layers of reverbed guitars, electronics, and Broadrick's clean vox. Seriously wondrous stuff.

Listen again — ~211MB


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