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Stumblings in the dark
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experimental electronica
electric string quartet

Utility Fog

postfolkrocktronica, from granular pop to orchestral breakcore and beyond...
Sunday nights from 9 to 11pm on FBi Radio, 94.5 FM in Sydney, Australia.
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Playlists are listed with artist name first, then track title and (remixer), then [record label]. Enjoy the links.

Sunday, 21st of December, 2014

Playlist 21.12.14 (8:06 pm)

It's that time of year! This is Utility Fog's Best of 2014 Part 1! What a year for music it's been…

LISTEN AGAIN because it's the best of the best! Download/podcast here or stream on demand over there.

But first up, we feature a song from Crow Versus Crow's For Scant Applause: A Collection of Christmas-ish Songs, by longtime Utility Fog favourite Oliver Barrett aka Petrels aka Bleeding Heart Narrative etc.

This year of course had the excitement of the "return" of Aphex Twin, but cool though that was (and I'll almost certainly be playing him in Part 2) for me there was a far bigger return to releasing music: that of Chris Adams, once lead-man of Hood, who brought back not just his indietronic magic as Bracken but also his drum'n'bass/proto-breakcore alias Downpour. Needless to say both releases are right up there in my top of the year.

Meanwhile, his once Hood compatriot and one half of The Remote Viewer, Andrew Johnson, released his first solo album as a new line (related), with subtle minimalist beats of all sorts, ending the 2LP set with some fab vocal loops and pulses.

Discovery of the year is double bassist, sound designer and beatsmith Yair Elazar Glotman, who put out two cassettes of deeply-processed beats and sounds as KETEV, plus a stunning ambient album under his own name. He also released a collaborative 12" with James Ginzburg of emptyset. I'll be keenly on the lookout for what he does next.

Probably the album I've seen on more people's best of lists than any other is Andy Stott's incredible Faith In Strangers. And no surprise – it actually fulfils the promise of his genius previous LP Luxury Problems, while pushing in different directions. It features a lot more of the vocals of Alison Skidmore, and also draws a lot on the brilliant drum'n'bass/breakbeat excursions of his Millie & Andrea project with Miles Whittaker of Demdike Stare, who incidentally also finally released an actual album this year…

Well, Millie & Andrea's original 12"s in 2008 or so (along with their still semi-anonymous Hate (Unknown) project) predate the junglist revival of the last year or so, but it's fitting that the album came out this year. Last year's wrap-up focused on the sounds of '90s jungle mixing with contemporary footwork and post-dubstep sounds, but this year jungle has come even more to the fore, with the mid-year jungle warz a particular highlight.
Early in the year grime/dubstep producer Sully took to '94-style jungle with relish on his Blue double EP, perfectly reproducing the sounds of 20 years ago, albeit with today's mastering & production chops :)
And jungle album of the year, if not electronic album of the year, needs to go to Om Unit's album (or is it also some kind of double EP? Also a CD though) on Metalheadz, Inversion, which perfectly combines the post-footwork buzz, the post-dubstep head-nods of the slow/fast movement he helped pioneer, and the euphoria of Metalheadz-style breaks.

Akkord worked separately & together on dubstep, techno & drum'n'bass as Synkro & Indigo, but when they paired up officially as Akkord something seems to have instantly clicked – nothing out of place, ascetic electronic tones & beats, almost disquietingly pure. Their album from last year was brilliant, but the HTH020 EP this year was a masterpiece off odd sounds (purring engine!) and rhythms (syncopation that only resolves every four bars)… but I love the slowed-down jungle of the second track.
This release also spawned a celebrated remix 12" later in the year, with a remix of the whole EP by The Haxan Cloak, which is great but I probably didn't love as much as a lot of peeps…

One of the hugest releases for 2014 was the new album from The Bug, Angels & Devils. Kevin Martin's a genius and he's only been getting better over the last few years. The last Bug album was a massively important, and then he went off and formed the softer King Midas Sound and stunned everybody with that album… Some of that softness rubbed off on the first half of this new album, and the opening track with Liz Harris of Grouper is particularly stunning. But then an EP called Exit came out a month or two after the album, featuring, if possible, an even more heavenly collaboration with Harris.
On the album, there's also a gorgeous floating, marching instrumental piece that I played this evening, and a number of other hard-hitting vocal contributions including frequent collaborator Flowdan. Tonight's track also features another UFog fave Justin K Broadrick on guitar – appearing as JK Flesh, as he often did as far back as the '90s in colaboration with Martin (the two's projects included Techno Animal, GOD and various others). Broadrick's reformed Godflesh put out another highlight this year, which will probably appear in the next couple of shows…

Mixing noise and hip-hop in ultimately fairly different ways from The Bug is the brilliant trio clipping., made up vocalist Daveed Diggs and well-pedigreed noise/drone/experimental electronic artists Jonathan Snipes (of breakcore/pop/hardcore party band Captain Ahab!) and William Hutson. Their mixtape/debut album of last year was fantastic, and perhaps leaned more towards the noise side than the new one, but CLPPNG, their debut for Sub Pop of all people, still hits hard without toning down the challenging side that much at all. A passel of insanely brilliant videos brought them to a whole internet of audience… everybody should watch those videos my god.
Here you go, no excuse: Work Work | Body & Blood | Story 2 | Inside Out | Get Up

The Books are still the most-lamented broken-up duo ever in the history of my kind of music. I probably feel a little unreasonable resentment for the break-up (although their last album never really appealed that much to me), and it may have rubbed off on Nick Zammuto's Zammuto project, which is ridiculous because I've loved just about anything he's ever done. Anchor, the second album, doesn't quite shine as brightly as I'd like it to for me, but the second track I played tonight sure is a beauty.
Meanwhile, Books cellist Paul de Jong hasn't done as much as prominently as Nick since the breakup, but I've tried to showcase everything I could find. This track comes from the Red Hot + Bach compilation from AIDS charity Red Hot, which featured a whole lot of interesting takes (and a few boring ones) on good ol' JS. This one is de Jong's take on the well-loved first prelude from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, through the lens of the Ave Maria, a melody added by French composer Charles Gounod a century & a half later. This history aside, de Jong weaves a beautiful piece of electronic pop around the original, with help from the wonderful Mia Doi Todd on vocals. It's a beautiful song regardless, and then about halfway through, the familiar melody appears and it's next-level gorgeousness.

Tune in next week for some considerably darker, heavier sounds along with more electronics, beats and drones.

Petrels – More Than You Could Ever Know [Crow Versus Crow]
Bracken – Presence (in close focus) [Baro Records]
Downpour – Do you remember when it was all about the drums? [Downpour Bandcamp]
Bracken – Grace abstract dying sun [Baro Records]
a new line (related) – great palaces [Home Assembly Music]
Yair Elazar Glotman – Home Port [Glacial Movements]
KETEV – Zelah [Opal Tapes]
Andy Stott – Violence [Modern Love]
Andy Stott – Faith In Strangers [Modern Love]
Millie & Andrea – Drop The Vowels [Modern Love]
Sully – M141 [Keysound]
Om Unit – Parallel [Metalheadz]
Akkord – Continuum [Houndstooth]
The Bug – Black Wasp feat. Liz Harris of Grouper [Ninja Tune]
The Bug – Fat Mac feat. Flowdan & JK Flesh [Ninja Tune]
The Bug – Ascension [Ninja Tune]
clipping. – taking off [Sub Pop]
clipping. – work work (feat. cocc pistol cree) [Sub Pop]
Zammuto – Don't Be a Tool [Temporary Residence]
Zammuto – Sinker [Temporary Residence]
Paul de Jong – Number Man (feat. Mia Doi Todd) [Red Hot] {based on the well-known 1st Prelude in C from the Well-Tempered Clavier by JS Bach as adaped by Charles Gounod}

Listen again — ~108MB

Sunday, 14th of December, 2014

Playlist 14.12.14 (8:07 pm)

Indiepunk, mushed lo-fi hip-hop, musique concrète electro-pop… that's the pretty gregarious order of the day. Some pretty spectacular new music (and related history) to end the year! Tune in to the next couple of weeks for best of 2014 wrap-up!

LISTEN AGAIN for the highs and even-highers! Podcast here, stream on demand over there (which is recommended because STEREO!)

Starting with Sydney duo H A N N A H B A N D, whose pedigree includes fantastic Newcastle/Central Coast noisesters Crab Smasher and lo-fi indie-postrockers Polyfox and the Union of the Most Ghosts, along with various other shouty indiepunk groups. I love how the hardcore punkish shoutiness coexists with more melodic vocals, interesting chord progressions (which you all noticed), and jangly guitars as well as some satisfying heavy riffing. All with just a boy & a girl – that's all it takes!

Ben Frost's long-awaited new album V A R I A N T (there's a spaced-out-all-caps theme here) dropped earlier this year to great acclaim. With big drums and synths, it pretty much abandoned the synthesis of organic, acoustic sounds and noise that made 2009's By The Throat one of the best albums of that year. I don't mind it at all, but it doesn't have the same thrill of that or the earlier Theory of Machines for me – it's not as interesting or adventurous. Nor are the remixes on the recently-released V A R I A N T, but it's nice hearing HTRK buck the trend of big beats and noises, going for their mogadon beats and only hinting at the original track.

Last week on the show I played Naps' remix of pimmon from the Strain of Origin IV compilation, and I didn't know anything about Naps. I've now tracked him down to Melbourne and found his SoundCloud, and discovered he put out an album this year on This Thing. Studiedly scattershot beats with carefully-produced lo-fi samples, very nice stuff.

hamaYôko is the experimental electro-pop guise of Yoko Higashi (or Yoko H. Marchetti), a vocalist, dancer and musician who's worked with experimental musicians like Keith Rowe and regularly with musique concrète composer Lionel Marchetti. With the hamaYôko work, it's wonderful finding cabaret-influenced song floating in and out of very experimental productions. Musique concrète is in there, as are noise and electronica and who knows what else. It's pretty inspiring really. And from this year's remix album Vue par…, her husband Lionel Marchetti contributes a 20-minute remix which manages to be a very cohesive track at that length, and is not as abstract as you'd expect for Marchetti either, with elements of pulse and bassline hinted at throughout, along with Higashi's vocal melodies.

Valerio Tricoli is a member of legendary Bologna experimental postrock group, and has worked with and produced adventurous artists like New Zealand's Dean Roberts. His new album on label of the moment PAN is absolutely musique concrète, with few musical signifiers added to the sounds. It's challenging but undeniably well-constructed, although I'm still a bit puzzled why it's won such high accolades.

And next, another Japanese experimental chanteuse, Tujiko Noriko, who's back with her original label (Editions) Mego. Despite the label's (and her own) experimental reputation, this may be her most accessible album yet, with some really beautiful songs. It's tagged as a more acoustic affair, and compared to a lot of her output it is (give or take the amazing albums on Room40), but it still features plenty of electronic beats and sounds along with mandolin, violin and live drums. There's a lovely French feel to some of this, offset by the mostly Japanese vocals, which ties in nicely with the hamaYôko work despite sounding not much like it. We also heard a great track from her first album showcasing electronic effects and crunchy beats.

We finished with something from a shortly forthcoming release from Seattle/Washington State duo Cock & Swan, whose lovely organic-sounding electronic pop I've been a fan of since before their first album on Lost Tribe Sound. Their latest release is a "dual mono" cassette recording, in which instruments and vocals are panned hard-left and right, held together through doubling of vocals & drums or tape delays. It's not as disorienting as it sounds, and as usual it's just great propulsive pop, with a psychedelic krautrocky sound reminiscent of Broadcast or Stereolab.

H A N N A H B A N D – I will let you down [Art As Catharsis/Lesstalk Records]
H A N N A H B A N D – Long Distance Running [Lesstalk Records]
H A N N A H B A N D – "He wasn't a good man, but he was a man" [Lesstalk Records]
H A N N A H B A N D – Show them love [Art As Catharsis/Lesstalk Records]
Ben Frost – Venter (HTRK Remix) [Mute/Bedroom Community]
Naps – Kickflip [This Thing]
Naps – Lemonade [This Thing]
Naps – For Sale [This Thing]
Naps – Green Growth [This Thing]
hamaYôko – Galactica666 [Entr'acte]
hamaYôko – UCHU-JIN – face A (UCHU-JIN – Un Être En Dehors De La Terre remix by Lionel Marchetti) [Entr'acte]
hamaYôko – Rôsoku [Entr'acte]
hamaYôko – Maudy -In- [Entr'acte]
Valerio Tricoli – Hic Labor Ille Domus et Inextricabilis [PAN]
Tujiko Noriko – Through The Rain [Editions Mego]
Tujiko Noriko – Bebe [Mego]
Tujiko Noriko – Yellow Of You [Editions Mego]
Cock & Swan – What Was Life? [TAR]

Listen again — ~105MB

Sunday, 7th of December, 2014

Playlist 07.12.14 (8:16 pm)

Tonight we've got Australian remix collaborations, dubby techno, strings + electronics, and a Aussie/New York sound-art collaboration.

LISTEN AGAIN because where else you gonna get this shit? Podcast here, stereo stream on demand over there

Every year for the last 4 years, labels/collectives Feral Media from Sydney and Lofly from Brisbane have pitted their artists against each other in bloody hand-to-fist remix chaos. This year the remit seems broader, with artists from Melbourne, Canberra and elsewhere featuring as well. The quality's undeniably high. There's a certain segment of the music critic population that loves to spurn remix collections. They're cloth-eared nincompoops. I'll happily buy a whole collection of remixes of an artist I don't know if there are great people doing the reworks, and here there are plenty of artists I don't know, or tracks I don't know.
I started with a pair of awesome experimental electronic/indie crossover artists though. Pale Earth is Benjamin Thompson from The Rational Academy, and Shoeb Spartak is, well, Shoeb Ahmad from Spartak. There are fragments of Shoeb's vocals (I presume) floating in a sea of noise here.
Then we have one of Australia's premier glitch/noise/drone artists, Sydney's beloved pimmon (who as music maven Paul Gough now presents The Inside Sleeve on ABC Radio National), whose grainy textures are here moulded into stop-start beats by Melbourne's Naps.
And finally, a cheat in which the Blue Mountains' 0point1's indie/postrock/drill'n'bass is remixed by one of Feral Media's original artists, idm/drill'n'bass maverick Comatone.
The whole thing's free to download now from http://feralmedia.bandcamp.com/

Now we move to Barcelona, where Cristian Vogel now resides. Born in Chile, brought up in Brighton, Vogel was very involved in the loopier end of the idm/electronic scene in the UK in the '90s – No Future, maybe Spymania… But his music's usually had more of a techno bent. He also has a secondary side more recently in more academic "art music" electronic music. But tonight we heard a couple of excellent dubby techno tracks from his last couple of albums on Shitkatapult, plus most of a really lovely processed piano track which closes his new album.

John Beltran's history goes way back to early Detroit techno, and he's made lots of ambient, house and techno records in the interim. We find him now with a lovely melodic track released by Kieran Hebden's TEXT label. The original's great, but Keiran contributes a Four Tet remix on the flip that's pretty as.

And now to two European string players specialising in electronica. France's Chapelier fou has visited Australia a couple of times, bringing his impressive live show that features not only his live violin looping, but also keyboards and lots of lovely crunchy, glitchy beats – basically everything that's on the album, but triggered & controlled live. The new album is nothing different, but he's onto a good thing. I particularly love the simple, emotive piano chords in the last part of "Pluisme".

Then we're off to Germany with cellist, drummer and electronic musician Andi Otto, whose new album is a collaboration with fellow German, guitarist & electronic artist F.S. Blumm. As well as the studio project Springintgut, Andi is a researcher in digital interfaces (to grossly oversimplify) and plays a fascinating crazy invention called the Fello – as far as I can tell, the cello itself is a normal cello with pickup, but the bow is setup with various sensors for movement, finger pressure, acceleration etc, which control computer effects. It's hard, of course, to know how that sounds but listening to a track like the gorgeous "kamogawa cycling" from last year's where we need no map, you can hear the gradual entry of smeared-out, glitchy re-samplings integrating beautifully with the cello sounds. But there are also traditional idm beats, fitting in nicely with Chapelier fou – and the earliest Springintgut from 10 years ago is more of a straight electronica affair.
I haven't always warmed to the music of F.S. Blumm (he collaborated with Nils Frahm a few years back), but here his acoustic guitar meshes very sympathetically with the cello & effects. I'd strongly recommend both this album and Springintgut's from last year, both on the adorably-named Pingipung label.

Finally, another collaboration, between Brisbane's Lawrence English, king of Room40 and link between Australia and many interesting exploratory international artists, and New York's Stephen Vitiello, who had a residency in Sydney a few years ago. Both albums are beautifully textured, with field recordings mixed up with organs and other musical instruments, and non-musical sounds, all with a subtle rhythmic bed. I can imagine it's the sort of sound-art/drone stuff that could be accessible to newcomers, which is not to sell it short – it's just really good!

Pale Earth vs Shoeb Spartak – Point of Attack [Feral Media/Lofly]
pimmon – Limited E Country (Naps remix) [Feral Media/Lofly]
0point1 – Radio Edit (Comatone remix) [Feral Media/Lofly]
Cristian Vogel – Lost in the Chase [Shitkatapult]
Cristian Vogel – Society of Hands (excerpt) [Shitkatapult]
Cristian Vogel – Deepwater [Shitkatapult]
John Beltran – Faux (Four Tet remix) [TEXT]
Chapelier fou – Tea Tea Tea [Ici D'Ailleurs]
Chapelier fou – Pluisme [Ici D'Ailleurs]
Springintgut & F.S. Blumm – Chitin [Pingipung]
Springintgut – Walden [Pingipung]
Springintgut – Precastor feat. Kazumi [City Centre Offices]
Springintgut – dizzy heights feat. Sasha Perera [Pingipung]
Springintgut – kamogawa cycling [Pingipung]
Springintgut & F.S. Blumm – Eskimono [Pingipung]
Lawrence English + Stephen Vitiello – Over Inland Play [Dragon's Eye Recordings]
Lawrence English + Stephen Vitiello – Christening The Blackbird [Crónica]
Lawrence English + Stephen Vitiello – That Caress, Inverted [Dragon's Eye Recordings]

Listen again — ~107MB

Sunday, 30th of November, 2014

Playlist 30.11.14 (8:07 pm)

Dark ambient and techno are the order of the day tonight, including a big feature on a pretty much new artist for 2014, double bassist & sound-artist Yair Elazar Glotman.

LISTEN AGAIN because this is where it's at. This meaning either here or other there at FBi Radio where you can stream on demand with the advantage of STEREO.

Starting with TJ Hertz' Objekt, a projekt that appeared fully-formed in 2011 with his first self-released EP. There's a definite dubstep/bass influence to his techno, and not just because the bottom end features so, er, heavily. It's also because unlike a lot of techno, he focuses a lot on syncopation and gaps – indeed, he loves pulling the rug out from under the listener, no more so than on his stunning remix of Radiohead from later in the very year he released his first EP. Almost as soon as the vocal enters, it gets viciously glitched so (even in this day and age) you almost think something's gone wrong with your download (or CD player). Beats drop out or dissolve at weird junctures, and then the bassline re-enters with perfectly-engineered funk. So it's about time he released an album, and as is only proper, it's a mix of shorter and longer tracks, more ambient, more electro and more technoey tracks. It's a great showcase of a huge talent.

From Oslo, Norway comes the considerably more fucked-up techno & ambient of Lars Holdhus aka TCF. Those strings of hexadecimal pairs that title his tracks lead to a disorienting effect, and the music is almost as-if created by some kind of futuristic, slightly malfunctioning AI. Like Giant Claw from last week there's a sense that this music could only have been created now, in this post-everything world, and it also shares a distinct focus on sub-bass with the other artists from tonight. Very fine.

Next up, a big focus on one of the artists of the year, Yair Elazar Glotman and his post-techno guise KETEV. An Israeli double-bassist now based in Berlin, he's trained in sound art and has some fascinating installation work documented on his site, as well as two cassette releases under the KETEV moniker and a stunning piece of deeply-textured ambient under his own name, combining double bass, acoustic guitar, field recordings, synths, plenty of sub bass and some submerged beats. The KETEV stuff isn't that far removed, but has a lot more focus on beats obviously, sometimes even recalling Andy Stott (and actually being good enough to dare to do so)…
All this attention on Glotman comes from my discovery of him via a collaboration with James Ginzburg out this week on Subtext Recordings (run by quasi-Aussie-expat Paul Jebanasam). Ginzburg is one half of Bristolian post-techno duo emptyset, whose reconfigured techno hit my right in the brain cavity a few years ago (see my review for Cyclic Defrost). They've gone on to abstract their sound further from techno & dubstep into explorations of pure electronics, distortion and space. Meanwhile, Ginzburg put out a gorgeous and surprising album of acoustic & folktronic pop last year as Faint Wild Light… We can only hope that the Glotman/Ginzburg duo produces more music, as this is enthralling and enveloping, and sees Glotman exploring his double bass more thoroughly than in his solo work.
It recalls the more experimental pairings of Hildur Guðnadóttir's cello on the Pan Sonic-related Angel project (including an album from this year) and another cellist, Arne Deforce's collaboration with the other half of Pan Sonic, Mika Vainio. But of course the added depth of the double bass (almost an octave lower) creates an even heavier sound, amplified and bowed so it's almost like some eldritch, organic motor grinding away… Fantastic.

I thought we should hear Ginzburg's Faint Wild Light music as it's truly excellent and under-appreciated, and conveniently there's an excellent remix by Brazilian percussionist (by way of Boston) Ricardo Donoso, our last artist of the night. Donoso released a number of noise cassettes and then a few amazing EPs and albums on Digitalis Industries, and has now signed to the all-consuming Denovali, who are releasing the astonishing Saravá Exu album early next year. It's the best thing he's done, which is saying a lot after some very impressive ambient/techno synth albums. All the synth stuff is still there, along with glitchy bursts of noise, live percussion and some beats. Definitely one to look out for at the start of 2015.

Objekt – One Fell Swoop [PAN]
Objekt – The Goose That Got Away [Objekt]
Radiohead – Bloom (Objekt remix) [Radiohead]
Objekt – Agnes Demise [Objekt]
Objekt – First Witness [PAN]
TCF – D7 08 2A 8D 2A 37 FA FE 17 0E 62 39 06 81 C8 A1 49 30 6F ED 56 AD 5E 04 [Liberation Technologies]
TCF – 8B 2E E5 32 7B 5A 0B 33 73 B7 00 A9 F5 C2 A5 E4 0F D9 E5 17 DC 5F 3D BC 54 98 20 2C 55 F0 E6 87 6B 06 0C 5A 0E 3B EA 9B C1 4F 7C 50 45 E1 31 4D 8F B0 36 F9 89 AD A8 62 D1 96 D9 63 4C C8 40 05 [The Wire/Unsound]
TCF – 54 C6 05 1C 13 CC 72 E9 CC DC 84 F2 A3 FF CC 38 1E 94 0D C0 50 5C 3E E8 [Liberation Technologies]
KETEV – Zelah [Opal Tapes]
KETEV – Akko [Where To Now? Records]
Yair Elazar Glotman – Sunken Anchor [Glacial Movements]
Yair Elazar Glotman – Home Port [Glacial Movements]
KETEV – Uruk [Opal Tapes]
James Ginzburg & Yair Elazar Glotman – Nimbes [Subtext Recordings]
emptyset – Gate 3 [Caravan Recordings]
Faint Wild Light – Halfsleep [Digitalis]
Faint Wild Light – Debris (Ricardo Donoso remix) [Digitalis]
Ricardo Donoso – Galliciniuim [Denovali]
Ricardo Donoso – Conticinium [Denovali]

Listen again — ~104MB

Sunday, 23rd of November, 2014

Playlist 23.11.14 (8:04 pm)

Mad rush to get in today after playing in Mullumbimby at the awesome Mullum Music Festival

LISTEN AGAIN of course, because the more listens the better the listens? Podcast right here, stream on demand IN STEREO over there.

By popular demand, the return of the crazed write-ups!

Starting tonight with what we finished with last week – the pop-collage-by-way-of-noise of Giant Claw. This is a strange music that feels like it belongs in the world of cassette culture, despite being decidedly digital (and it's getting a CD release on Japan's Virgin Babylon Records). Keith Rankin, the man behind Giant Claw and also (with a partner) Orange Milk Records, is also a very psychedelic visual artist, and his computer-aided fauxstalgic artistic anachronisms are echoed in his music. With references to trap and footwork in the beats, this music couldn't have been made anytime except now, but the '90s(?) r'n'b samples and strange faux-classical MIDI passages are something else… Despite referencing lots of things – despite being basically nothing but reference, this is truly unique music.

So nice to hear some new tracks appearing from Alyx Dennison, once half of Sydney duo kyü. Although this is a remix by fellow Melbournite (as Dennison is now) Felicity Yang, her ecstatic experimental pop origins are audible in the work. Can't wait for more.

From Sydney, we next hear two pieces of experimental pop from suiix aka Sarah Jullienne of various local bands including Shady Lane. There's a hint of Julia Holter about the vocals and arrangements. Looking forward to more from this artist too.

Melbourne pianist Luke Howard first appeared on my radar earlier this year due to some collaborations with Tim Shiel. His new release puts him firmly in the Nils Frahm-style post-classical camp, with lovely muted piano and occasional sparkly electronics. Well worth a listen.

The last couple of years have seen a huge resurgence in early-to-mid-'90s jungle stylings – chopped up amen breaks and slow basslines, a mere 2 decades on from the beginnings of that greatest of all dance music genres. Dubstep and grime both owe a lot to jungle and drumn'n'bass, many grime MCs having grown up freestyling to jungle on pirate radio, or hearing others doing the same, while dubstep in its early incarnation almost represents an inversion of drum'n'bass with the energy coming from the basslines and the beats sneaking in around them. However, the real impetus for this return to the beginnings comes from the spread of footwork productions out of Chicago, and the almost instant hybridisation of that genre with east London sounds. Many noted that the double-speed hip-hop samples and general frenetic pace recalled jungle, albeit with a different pull and sway to the beats. It took a little while, but producers like Om Unit, Sam Binga and Machinedrum started sneaking footwork hi-hats, snares and stuttering kick drums in along with the slow-fast drum'n'bass (already a kind of hybrid form of dubstep and drum'n'bass), and eventually we started hearing righteous amen juggling in the mix.
Well, I may have gotten the timeline a bit mixed up, but anyway Machinedrum's cyberpunkish Vapor City was one of my albums of the year last year, and he's since spent a year or so trickling out EPs and free tracks galore in the same jungle-juke style. This is now capped off with the Vapor City Archives album. Nothing in there is quite as good as the original album, but more of these sounds are welcome.
On the other hand, after some promising singles, Om Unit has finally dropped the album (officially a double EP) that I've been wishing for, and it's right up there in the best of the year. Released by none other than drum'n'bass legends Metalheadz, it features a smattering of samples from Goldie's DAT archives to lend it that junglist verisimilitude, and beats that are absolutely now but absolutely rooted in the excitement of raging beat-sliced mayhem.

Luke Vibert has been making jungle-influenced tracks since the mid-'90s, as Plug and more recently Amen Andrews – even though he's at least as well known for his acid, hip-hop and idm, and he's usually been placed in the drill'n'bass category despite not really sounding that much like Squarepusher or Aphex Twin. Still, there's something a bit off about the sounds – no doubt deliberately. I love Plug to death, but Amen Andrews is a bit more hit-and-miss, and so it is with his new EP, especially next to the slick sounds of the new jungle productions. Still, there's a lot of humour to Vibert's productions and a lot of skill.

Moving away from the dancefloor, we stick with rhythm for a little longer via Italian percussionist and inveterate collaborator Andrea Belfi, here with his fifth solo album. In solo form Belfi's most recently been seen on Brisbane's Room40 but here he finds a very comfortable home with Erik Skodvin's amazing Miasmah label. Circular percussion patterns and electric drones are the order of the day, recalling Oren Ambarchi's recent work. Very moody and compelling.

You might be surprised to hear "metal" on this show, but it's farther reaches are not that distant from noise or drone, not to mention breakcore, one of the show's earlier focuses, and when you consider the roots of JK Broadrick, Scorn and The Bug in grindcore pioneers Napalm Death, you'll see that everything's connected.
In the "post-metal" canon, almost nobody looms larger than ISIS, whose frontman Aaron Turner ran the hugely influential Hydra Head Records (now sadly semi-defunct) and has worked with basically everybody at one time or other. Once upon a time Old Man Gloom was a side project for him, but this supergroup (featuring members of metal-cum-indie-rockers Cave In and hardcore (in the punk sense) band Converge as well) is now surely one of his main outlets, along with his wife Faith Coloccia's shoegaze-goth-folk-classical-metal project Mamiffer.
Both released new albums in the last few weeks. Mamiffer's is apparently a stepping stone to a new album for next year, and is gorgeous. Their collaboration with dark ambient/black metal/noise masters Locrian was brilliant, but this is their best work yet under this name, featuring a gothy piano + drone number and a beautiful piece of shoegazey folk. Bring on the new album!
Old Man Gloom's release turns out to be two albums, both entitled The Ape of God. Weird. One has slightly shorter, slightly more hardcore tracks, and one has just four tracks, all epic and genre-agnostic, typical of this band. They've cemented for me just how important this group is. You have to be able to tolerate the gruff metal screaming, but if you can get past that, the soundscapes, chugging riffs and basslines, and yes, melodies, are cathartic and all-embracing. This very dark but somehow very positive and joyous. Joyously satanic. Get into it.

Terminal Sound System absolutely deserves a one-hour plus special at some point soon. I'm hoping to have him up from Melbourne in the new year. His roots too lie in sludge metal (with HALO), but for almost as long he was making ambient/glitch albums under the Terminal Sound System moniker. Somewhere along the way he started pushing it into heavier territories, and for a few albums found himself recontextualising drum'n'bass in weird ways, then throwing that back into the shoegazey guitar mix… but for the newie, we're in wholly different territory once more.
Here we find a species of acoustic shoegaze, with deep breathy vocals and strummy guitars. The old TSS aesthetic is there, with stop-start edits, sometimes glitched up, and subtle beats on a few tracks, but everything seems to have been processed by being recorded onto cassette tape and then left in the sun on the dashboard for a few days (a la early Boards of Canada, only… moreso). Reminds me a lot of the recent efforts from Boduf Songs.
It's challenging stuff but when it clicks with you, absolutely amazing.

Giant Claw – DARK WEB 005 [Orange Milk Records/Virgin Babylon Records]
Giant Claw – DARK WEB 001 [Orange Milk Records/Virgin Babylon Records]
Alyx Dennison – I Don't Love You Anymore (Felicity Yang Remix) [SoundCloud]
suiix – Hi [suiix Bandcamp]
suiix – Planet [suiix Bandcamp]
Luke Howard – Cibi [Luke Howard Bandcamp]
Om Unit – The Crossing [Metalheadz]
Om Unit – Parallel [Metalheadz]
Machinedrum – More Than Friends [Ninja Tune]
Machinedrum – Gunshotta [Ninja Tune]
Machinedrum – Safed [Ninja Tune]
Amen Andrews – Amen HQ [Blueberry Recordings]
Andrea Belfi – roteano [Miasmah]
Andrea Belfi – immobili [Miasmah]
Old Man Gloom – Simia Dei / The Lash (excerpt) [SIGE/Profound Lore/Daymare]
Old Man Gloom – Arrows to Our Hearts [SIGE/Profound Lore/Daymare]
Mamiffer – Caelestis Partus [SIGE/Daymare]
Terminal Sound System – Deep Black Static [Denovali]
Terminal Sound System – Keepers [Denovali]

Listen again — ~106MB

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