A rare International Women's Day edition of Utility Fog. It's not that rare for me to program a lot of music by women, but it's not that often that the show actually falls on IWD, so it's nice to be able to celebrate that in style. So much to choose from too!
Leah Kardos - Bird Rib [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]Leah Kardos - Apology [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]Leah Kardos - Remnant 2 [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]Leah Kardos - Sexy Monday [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]Leah Kardos - Novice [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]Leah Kardos - Little Phase [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]Leah Kardos - Into Sporks [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]
London composer Leah Kardos, who grew up in Brisbane but has been in the UK so long she's a native now, is a beloved stalwart of Utility Fog playlists, with her combined interests & deep capabilities in classical composition, electronica and pop - indeed she's teaching a BA(Hons) in Music Technology at the University of Kingston in London nowadays. Since her last album Roccocochet in 2017, she founded the Visconti Studio at the University with the venerable longtime David Bowie producer Tony Visconti. It's great to have a new album from her, one which looks back at her earlier work and builds a number of compositions from reversed and manipulated versions of older works.
We went back to that original wonder, 2011's Feather Hammer - two tracks, the sampled yearning voices over emotive piano on "Apology", and the live acoustic cut-ups and piano-percussion of "Remnant 2". From 2013's Machines, featuring the classically-trained Laura Wolk-Lewanowicz on vocals, we have spam emails turned into IDM pop, and then from Spirit Level's 2017 Piano Day comp Kindred Spirits, her pitch-perfect mute-pedal post-classical piano ballad "Novice". Finally, on 2017's Roccocochet, Leah abandoned computer recording techniques almost entirely, so on "Little Phase" we have a live ensemble performing a piece that's equal parts minimalist composition and post-rock. And we finish back with the new album, where "Into Sporks" harkens back to the IDM beats of Leah's earlier work.
Belia Winnewisser - Lower [Buh Records/The Wire]
From a compilation of Swiss Underground Experimental Music from late last year, this is a new track of glitchy electronica from producer Belia Winnewisser, a cross between almost academic sound design and quite catchy electronica. Her last release was 2018, so I hope we get something more from her this coming year along the lines of this track!
Soho Rezanejad - Ezra [Silicone Records/SHAPE Platform 2019/The Wire]
I first discovered Danish-Iranian artist Soho Rezanejad via her beautiful vocals on Croatian Amor's Love Means Taking Action album. I now need to investigate her two albums on her Silicone Records, from which this track is taken - experimental electronic techniques, extended vocal techniques, a pop sensibility but also a love of darkness, drones and noise. What's not to love!
Carla dal Forno - Blue Morning [Blackest Ever Black]
Another Australian artist (here from Melbourne) who's relocated to London, Carla dal Forno has a background in quite experimental ensembles, but creates subtle, catchy minimalist pop with some surprising instruments and a talent for getting under your skin. Her last album came out on her own new Kallista Records label, in no small part because the label who nurtured her earlier releases, Blackest Ever Black, has now closed up shop with this last compilation, aptly titled A short illness from which he never recovered.
Bonniesongs - Sand Dunes [Bonniesongs]
Hot on the heels of her wonderful debut album Energetic Mind, Sydney-based Irish musician Bonnie Stewart aka Bonniesongs recently released this gorgeous new song, inspired by a trip into the NSW wilderness with the improv ensemble Splinter Orchestra, which was followed by the devastation of the recent bushfires. It features regular collaborator Freya Schack-Arnott on cello, and all profits go to WIRES.
Lack The Low - Convert The Masses [Provenance Records]
More strings here, with a stunning track combining beauty with harshness from Melbourne singer-songwriter Kat Hunter aka Lack The Low, from another bushfire fundraiser, Provenance Records' Marks of Provenance III.
Insect Ark - Tectonic [Profound Lore Records/Bandcamp]Insect Ark - Lift Off [Insect Ark Bandcamp]Insect Ark - The Collector [AutumnSongs Records/Bandcamp]Insect Ark - Daath [Profound Lore Records/Bandcamp]Insect Ark - Swollen Sun [Profound Lore Records/Bandcamp]
Dana Schechter is a very busy woman. I first heard her work in Michael Gira's Angels of Light, which combined sometimes heavy sonics with psychedelic folk and roots. She now plays in the touring line-up of Swans, as well as joining the doom-folk of Wrekmeister Harmonies, and the insanely evil extreme metal band Gnaw, among many others. But among a few of her own ensembles, she's recorded as Insect Ark since 2011. The 2013 EP Lift Off already showcases the doomy riffs and disconcerting sonic experimentation of the project, and the brilliant 2015 debut album Portal/Well has punishing doom riffs and dark drones aplenty. Schecter's multi-instrumental talents have her playing massive basslines alongside pedal steel and electronics, but for the last two albums she's augmented the band into a duo with drummers Ashley Spungin for 2018's Marrow Hymns, and now Andy Patterson (of the great female-led folk/metal group SubRosa, RIP) for 2020's The Vanishing, both released on Profound Lore Records. The fact that it's instrumental makes it no less heavy and no less absorbing. It's all about the bloody great riffs and sonic exploration (e.g. the binaural panning of the lovely ambient track I finished with).
Laura Cannell - BE ONE - The Tallest Tower [Brawl Records]
A stunning field recording of church bells recorded in Cow Hill, Norwich is at the centre of this new track from Laura Cannell, English folk violinist from the UK. She has requested recordings of bells from around the world to incorporate into new recordings - a series called The Bell Effect Project. These ringing tones in the first track to be released fit beautifully with the organ drones and (perhaps?) electronics here. I hope there are more of these soon!
Maria Moles - II [Nice Music]
Releases from solo percussionists can often be surprising affairs. Melbourne percussionist Maria Moles works extensively with contemporary ensembles and composers as well as bands and electronic musicians. Her own practice involves live drums and percussion layered and then manipulated with filters and modulators. This track, the second side of a cassette recently released by Melbourne's Nice Music, starts with a loping repetitive rhythm but slowly the sounds are swamped in resonant electronics, eventually fading to nothing and restarting a few times in different ways. It's quite wonderful to zone out to, or to follow closely.
This is an Australian track.
This is a local artist.