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experimental electronica
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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, 25th of January, 2015

Playlist 25.01.15 (8:09 pm)

It's January and there's already a tonne of new music!

You better LISTEN AGAIN if you want to keep up! Over there you've got your stereo stream, over here the podcast.

It was a particularly cruel and thoughtless person who leaked Björk's album this past week. Not only was it a long way off the release date, the rip was a terrible sub-cassette-quality 128k thing that was a travesty to the wonderful music. Her label One Little Indian felt boxed in by this, and ended up rushing the release out, first as an exclusive to iTunes (ugh!) and then through a few other services as well. It's sad that it came out this way (I still eagerly await the CD in March), but we're lucky to experience this incredible, franky, beautiful work now.
Co-production comes from Arca, and if you've heard his album or FKA Twigs' from last year that'll be very obvious in places – but it should be made utterly clear that as always the bulk of the programming as well as songwriting is by Björk herself. Also featured are her very fine string arrangements. It sounds like the work with Arca was very much an in-person collaboration, but at some point Björk and Arca also invited none other than consummate producer/cellist/sub-bass explorer The Haxan Cloak to bring his mixing skills to the songs. It seems clear to me that the track "family" is the one to also have some co-production from him, with bubbles of bass and crunchy beats cutting in and out, and then some somewhat avant-garde cello in there.
It's a wonderful and album from start fo finish, not to mention heartbreaking.

Sydney artist CORIN released an EP of piano and synth sounds & tasteful beats last year, which I wish I'd known about at the time – but fortunately now that she's put out a remix EP I get to hear the originals as well. Nice to have representation from fellow female Sydney electronic artist Moon Holiday here, also adding her own vocals to the mix, and meanwhile I know nothing about Tennis Boys…

We don't hear nearly enough from Perth piano-and-electronics duo Cycle~ 440, perhaps partly now because pianist Kevin Penkin has moved overseas. It feels like the track we excerpted here is the most fully-formed thing I've heard from them, or maybe it's just the one I've enjoyed the most. It's from one of the releases that sadly mark the end of an era: the end of Stu Buchanan's Wood & Wire label and the movement that spawned it – first as an FBi radio show, then also a compilation series, label and more, New Weird Australia has promoted a lot of wonderful Australian music in its years of operation. It's fitting that Brooke Olsen & Scarlett Di Maio's Ears Have Ears contribute to the last release, with four of the original "soundtracks" they host from experimental artists around the world.

And recently announced, now released is the new Aphex Twin, defined in that strange Warp fashion (Aphex and Autechre at least both do this) as an "EP" despite having 13 tracks. Well, some of them are quite short anyway! It's Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments, involving those robots he discussed in some interviews around Syro last year, and it's actually great. It's exactly what it says on the tin – acoustic instruments playing Aphex's supple, drum'n'bass & acid-inflected rhythms, some kind of presumably computer-controlled piano, maybe some bass and stuff that's synthesized (this time we don't have a complete list of instruments used!) I enjoyed it a lot more than Syro to be honest.

Afrikan Sciences is producer Eric Porter, affiliated with Deepblak Recordings but appearing here via the experimental-meets-dancefloor label PAN. On this album his beats sound like a cross between idm-tinged electro and some kind of Sun Ra jam. People have mentioned Flying Lotus and there's something to that, but it's pretty individual stuff, definitely worth a listen.

Dunk Murphy's music a longtime favourite of UFog, prior even to Sunken Foal with his duo Ambulance. At the end of 2012 and 2013 he released two great albums of extremely varied style entitled Friday Syndrome Vol. 1 & 2, mixing up his folktronica and idm among other styles. Apparently there's a Vol. 3 coming, and prior to that we have a new single with vocals from fellow Irish singer/songwriter Si Schroeder plus a couple of instrumental b-sides. Always worth grabbing.

The Seaport & The Airport, from Sydney, has the unlikeliest name in electronica, but somehow makes some pretty interesting sounds, a bit drum'n'bass, a bit r'n'b-sampling. Interested in what the rest of this album will sound like!

Speaking of drum'n'bass, Sam Binga is doing some of the most interesting stuff in jungle crossover at the moment – slow/fast, footwork crossover etc. He works a bit with grime MC Redders, and their new single is another classic in the making. He also makes the supremely uninteresting CHVRCHES sound great on an unreleased remix, and a b-side from the new single is more straight-up d'n'b.

Finally, Amit is a newish drum'n'bass producer who also works in dub and dubstep. Many of his releases feature Irish vocalist Rani and it's a great update on the trip-hop sound. These tracks are both on dBridge's forward-thinking drum'n'bass label Exit Records, but he also has a lot available from his own Bandcamp. Last track is a Machinedrum remix circa his amazing Vapor City album, doing the dub/hip-hop to jungle thing in fine style.

Björk – atom dance (feat. Antony) [One Little Indian]
Björk – It's Not Up To You [One Little Indian]
Björk – family [One Little Indian]
CORIN – Images II (Moon Holiday remix) [CORIN Bandcamp]
CORIN – Glue [CORIN Bandcamp]
CORIN – Riverboat (Tennis Boys Remix) [CORIN Bandcamp]
Cycle~ 440 – Lingering Echoes of the Tempest (excerpt) [Wood & Wire/Ears Have Ears]
Aphex Twin – diskhat ALL prepared1mixed 13 [Warp]
Aphex Twin – hatb 2b 2012b [Warp]
Aphex Twin – piano un10 it happened [Warp]
Afrikan Sciences – Tell Me Who Like That (Bedside Manner) [PAN]
Afrikan Sciences – Circuitous [PAN]
Sunken Foal – Never Knew (feat. Si Schroeder) [Countersunk]
Sunken Foal – Gravy Ladle [Countersunk]
The Seaport & The Airport – Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave [SoundCloud]
Sam Binga – Tek Nuh Chat ft. Redders [Critical Music]
CHVRCHES – Recover (Sam Binga remix) [Sam Binga SoundCloud (still unreleased?)]
Sam Binga – Chasic [Critical Music]
Amit – You Look Better Dead (ft. Rani) [Exit Records]
Amit – Human Warfare (Machinedrum Remix) [Exit Records]

Listen again — ~107MB

Sunday, 18th of January, 2015

Playlist 18.01.15 (8:07 pm)

Back after an extra week's gap when I went off to see Ben Frost & Tim Hecker!

LISTEN AGAIN for the highs and the lows (there are no lows though)! Stereo stream, mono podcast over here!

It's been a surprisingly long while between drinks for Telafonica . Their last album seemed like a single factory, full of wonderful indietronic marvels, and the new one's off to a great start with this rapturous single.

Last year I played some great experimental indie rock from Brisbane's Naked Maja, and tonight we hear from the first single from member Cedie Janson – a purely electronic affair full of bright synth pads.

It's no secret that Demdike Stare, who made their name as purveyors of murky hauntological ambience and occasional dub excursions, are big fans of rave, drum'n'bass & techno. Miles Whittaker, is also the Millie half of Millie & Andrea with Andy Stott, who years ago released some brilliant darkside jungle & UK garage 12"s, and an equally brilliant album last year. In 2013, Demdike released a mind-boggling slab of melted-down jungle on their first Testpressing 12", nothing like what they'd previously released, and the series has continued with various post-rave genres. Apparently #007, just released this weekend, spells the end of the series, and it's a great pair of tracks to end with. Hopefully they'll be collected on CD (well, stranger things have happened), but whatever they do next is keenly anticipated in Utility Fog Towers…

I first discovered world's end girlfriend on a Japanese electronica compilation in 2002 and it was love at first sight (aural sight obvs peeps). At the time Japanese releases were rather hard to come by outside of Japan, so it took some time to collect everything, but I did my best because this was my music to a tee – chopped-up acoustic guitars or strings colliding with complex breakneck drill'n'bass beats, eventually augmented with rock riffs, free jazz, awesome string quartet arrangements… all the best genres all at once! It's "clever" music but also emotive, and also lotsa silly. And hella heavy.
No time for a bit special tonight just because of a new EP, but what a great EP it is, with all his signature styles as usual. Certified genius.

Jon Mueller is something of a musical chameleon, working with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon in Volcano Choir, releasing pure percussion compositions under his own name, and also exploring in various media his thoughts about life's termination in his Death Blues project. I only recently twigged to the fact that Aaron Turner's magnificent SIGE Records (the one small mercy coming out of the sort-of death of Hydra Head a couple of years ago) released a 12" with two more-than-15-minute tracks from Death Blues. This incarnation sees Mueller joined by Ken Palme and Jim Warchol on "hammered acoustic guitar", and along with Mueller's chants and tribal percussion they make a dirge-like music a lot like an acoustic version of doom metal. The solo Jon Mueller album Death Blues from 2013 features similar work in shorter lengths, and meanwhile another Death Blues album, Ensemble, was release last year with sizeable input from UFog stalwart William Ryan Fritch – and kind of doomier, dirgier (but only slightly) adaptation of Fritch's own ecstatic world-meets-classical concoctions.

Teho Teardo has appeared a fair bit on this show courtesy of his splendid string arrangements and glitchy beats on various soundtracks and collaborations – including most recently an album and EP with Blixa Bargeld. The industrial connection goes right back to Teho's first releases with his Meathead duo, albeit a good generation later than Blixa. In 1997 he released an album with industrial dub/hip-hop pioneer Mick Harris of Scorn et al, but I first came across him in collaboration with one of my favourite cellists, Erik Friedlander. More recently he's worked with the Balanescu Quartet and Julia Kent among other string players and other musicians. Whoever he works with, there will be masterful arrangements, warm production, tasteful crunchy beats and processing… The Blixa collaborations in particular show just how a melding of minds should work.

Telafonica – What Remains (Single Edit) [4-4-2 Music]
Cedie Janson – Light Curve [Lost Race]
Demdike Stare – Rathe [Modern Love]
Demdike Stare – Collision [Modern Love]
Demdike Stare – Primitive Equations [Modern Love]
world's end girlfriend – Unable [Virgin Babylon Records]
world's end girlfriend – Girls [Virgin Babylon Records]
Death Blues – Participant [Rhythmplex]
Jon Mueller – Acceptance [Hometapes/Taiga]
Death Blues – Do [SIGE Records]
Teho Teardo – The outside force [Spècula]
matera – constant thing [Invisible]
Erik Friedlander & Teho Teardo – to the red flag [BiP_HOp]
Teho Teardo – Nemmeno Io [Spècula]
Teho Teardo / Balanescu Quartet – I'll Meet You On That Other Shore / Never The Same [Radiofandango]
Teho Teardo – wilder mann feat. Balanescu Quartet [Spècula]
Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld – What If…? [Spècula]
Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld – The Empty Boat [Spècula]
Teho Teardo – Poisonous his envy [Spècula]

Listen again — ~105MB

Sunday, 4th of January, 2015

Playlist 04.02.15 incorporating Best of the Rest, 2014 (8:07 pm)

OHSHIT It's a new year… New last digit in the playlist date. Crazy. Time stops for no man.
We've got a whole lot more best of 2014, plus a few previews of great 2015 music!

LISTEN AGAIN yada yada… you get your stereo stream on over there, your podcast over here.

The Sticks is the latest project for drummer Alon Ilsar of the much-lamented Gauche, Trigger Happy and various other stage projects and artists. In many ways it's the culmination of stuff he's been working on for a very long time – a gestural interface that lets him play "air drums" while controlling a bewildering range of factors. He's playing beats live, but also processing those sounds, live-sampling the musicians around him, and playing & processing those sounds.
It's not that easy to hear all that in the recorded tracks, but what you get is really great electronica. You can see The Sticks at The Dock at 182 Redfern St, Redfern, every Tuesday night January.

Sydney artist Shisd aka Felix Idle released an EP of lovely indietronica a couple of years ago on Wood and Wire. He's now based in Tokyo, and his new EP comes out soon on Mexican label Memory N° 36. Vaporwave? Indietronica? Chillwave? Dream-pop? Call it what you will, it's lovely stuff.

Erik K Skodvin is a lot of things – boss of the amazing Miasmah label, one half of Deaf Center, drone/doom artist Svarte Greiner, and collaborator with many others. In 2014 he released the third in a trilogy of albums under his own name for the essential Sonic Pieces label, featuring more acoustic doom made by his cello, percussion, and other instruments.
Also on Sonic Pieces, his partner in Deaf Center Otto A Totland released a lovely album of soft-pedal piano and not much else (some subtle delays here and there).

Dutch artist Wouter van Veldhoven uses tape effects and instruments (some home-made) to produce an idiosyncratic sound all his own, which despite being rooted in the analogue fits right in with the digital drone-meisters. It's truly beautiful music and I wish more people would hear it.

In 2014, the venerable Warp released not only a long-awaited new Aphex Twin album, but also albums by idm heroes Plaid and 2nd-gen electronic genius Clark (once himself considered a boy wonder, now a bit of an old master himself). Both were filled with their signature sounds. I chose a track where Plaid's lovely melodies are tinged darker, and from Clark a sequence of tracks traversing ravey techno breakbeats, chill-out piano and more.

While Sufjan Stevens didn't have an album proper out last year, he did release a collaboration with Son Lux and Serengeti, previously S/S/S/, now as Sisyphus. It's sort of an extension of Sufjan's electronic forays from The Age of Adz, although it fits nicely into the catalogues of the other two artists too.

Speaking of collaborations, 2012 Utility Fog fave Memotone returned this year, but in a duo with fellow producer Soosh. Their album Memoosh was another hidden masterpiece, contemporary beatsmithing rubbing up against acoustic instrumentation and sound recording – oh, and one bit of pretty nice jungle in there too.

Norwegian producer TCF has appeared in the last year or two with long hexadecimal titles and music which is perhaps less unintelligible, but equally machine-like. I discovered him via a compilation accompanying Wire Magazine to promote the Unsound Festival, which also featured the experimental techno of Poland's Aleksandra Grunholz aka We Will Fail.

Matthew Collings released one of the albums of the year in 2013, albeit quietly on a very small boutique label. The album, Splintered Instruments, has now been re-released by Denovali along with a new album in 2014, Silence Is A Rhythm Too, which continues the theme of clarinets and acoustic instruments, live drums and electronics. It's a wonderful mix of composition, postrock and glitchy electronica.

Post-2014 special, we hear from a couple of early 2015 releases. I featured a preview track from Irish band Second Moon of Winter last year. The album is out soon, also on Denovali, and it's a heady mix of operatic vocals, delicate electronics, and murky metal guitar drones. Quite gorgeous.

And finally, a surprising collaboration between two French electronic mavericks. Igorrr has for some years been combining his loves of heavy electronica & breakcore, opera and metal into one mutant form, while Ruby My Dear sticks more on the breakcore & acid techno end of things (his debut album knocked me for six a few years ago). On this EP we discover that Igorrr's opera-core tendencies and Ruby My Dear's precise, detailed beats make a perfect match. It's a little toned down from Igorrr's usual madness, strangely accessible but no less bizarre.

The Sticks – Shug [unreleased]
Shisd – Colour Bars feat. P A R K S [Memory N° 36]
Shisd – Without You, Walking [Wood and Wire]
Shisd – In June [Memory N° 36]
Erik K Skodvin – Moving Mistake [Sonic Pieces]
Otto A Totland – solêr [Sonic Pieces]
Wouter van Veldhoven – Sketch / First Failure AE 10-2008 [Umor Rex]
Plaid – Ropen [Warp]
Clark – Strength Through Fragility [Warp]
Clark – Banjo [Warp]
Clark – Snowbird [Warp]
Sisyphus – Hardly Hanging On [Asthmatic Kitty/Joyful Noise]
Sisyphus – Alcohol [Asthmatic Kitty/Joyful Noise]
Memotone & Soosh – First Avenue [Project Mooncircle]
Memotone & Soosh – Aponi [Project Mooncircle]
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]
We Will Fail – 061 [Unsound via Wire Mag]
We Will Fail – V.02 [Monotype]
Matthew Collings – Toms [Denovali]
—END OF 2014—
Second Moon of Winter – Two Magpies [Denovali]
Igorrr & Ruby My Dear – Alain [Ad Noiseam]

Listen again — ~108MB

Sunday, 28th of December, 2014

Playlist 28.12.14 – Best of 2014, Part 2! (8:06 pm)

Best of 2014, Part 2, peeps!

LISTEN AGAIN because moar best of the year! Podcasty or streamy? Your call!

Starting off with Brian C Barth's Names, impeccably produced indie with orchestral, electronic and generally experimental overtones. Introduced to me by Nick Zammuto, who mastered the album.

Lovely Newcastle indie peeps Firekites up next, with one of my fave Aussie albums of the year. It's pretty low-key shoegazey and folky stuff, but just so well-done.

James Kelly was frontman of Irish black/doom metal band Altar of Plagues, but that's something you'd never guess from the sound of his new project, WIFE. His 2012 debut EP on Throwing Snow's left_blank label was a brilliant handful of contemporary beats, and the new album consolidates those production skills and adds some non-screamy pop vocals on a lot of tracks.

Speaking of black metal, The Body have been one of the most adventurous bands in the left-field of metal for some years, teaming up with full choirs and folk bands, but on the new album they enlisted Bobby Krlic aka The Haxan Cloak to help with production, and so we have incoherent screaming vocals, distorted guitars and clattering drums but also distorted sub-bass, quantized beats and more. Challenging but awesome.

Meanwhile, Wreck and Reference have been making their form of black metal without the use of guitars from the start. There's bass and drums in there, along with keyboards, and an almost New Romantic sound along with rabid screaming (which could as easily recall Xiu Xiu as Burzum). No surprise the new album is superb.

However, metal album of the year has to go to that supergroup of genius tricksters, Old Man Gloom. It's a double album, except technically it's TWO albums both entitled The Ape of God – one with slightly shorter, more hardcore tracks, and the other with four 15-minute epics of post-metal, doom, hardcore, drone, you name it. There are genuinely scary bits, and genuinely humourous bits, and lots of massive riffs and grooves as well as lots of sonic experimentation. Massive.

Of course the new Swans album needs to be on the list, and it's only because it came out so early in the year that it hasn't perhaps been as high in my mind. But along with the extremely long sonic assaults, there were those amazing groove-based tracks like "Screenshot", "A Little God in My Hands" and "Oxygen"… but I ended up choosing the wonderful, eerie closer to the first disc of To Be Kind. Those string glissandi are amazing.

Carla Bozulich has a long history in adventurous bands, starting with the industrial cabaret of Ethy Meatplow. For the last while she's put out some stunning indie-postrock albums with her band Evangelina on Constellation, but the new one comes out under her own name. Intensely personal, it has less of the sprawling arrangements of Evangelista, but it's anything but standard singer-songwriter fare.

With a background in doom metal as well as experimental electronics and glitchy drum'n'bass, Terminal Sound System aka Melbourne's Skye Klein has turned everything inside-out for his new release (very late in 2014) on Denovali. It suits its moniker, Dust Songs, with whispered vocals, guitars and some drum machine beats, sometimes fed through the digital shredder, and all of it seemingly mastered to an old cassette and left on the dashboard… Masterfully done.

Speaking of masterful, next up is Hildur Guðnadóttir's 2014 album Samar, which easily trumps her lovely earlier work, with a variety of techniques on the cello along with vocals and other additions. Beautiful songs and sounds. Guðnadóttir also contributes deep cellistics to the opening track on the new album from Ilpo Väisänen & Dirk Dresselhaus's Angel project.

Italian drummer/percussionist Andrea Belfi has collaborated with countless musicians from Italian experimentalists to David Grubbs to Aidan Baker Machinefabriek to Mike Watt to none other than Carla Bozulich (pretty sure he's on the track I played above). His last couple of releases were on Brisbane's own Carla Bozulich">ROOM40, but the latest comes from the awesome Miasmah. Similar to his recent output, it's drones and subtle motorik percussion, atmospheric and engrossing.

Jason Sweeney seems to have settled on Panoptique Electrical as the moniker for all his solo output at the moment. It started as very ambient work on synths and piano, and those elements are still there, including lots of lovely close-mic'd piano thumps and clunks, plus some subtle beats and other sounds. He released a few albums in 2014, but Love Lost In a Storm seemed a particularly great achievement. It was also wonderful that finally his indie/postrock/tronica collaboration with Great Earthquake on drums and Richard Adams of The Declining Winter (and Hood) on vocals was finally released, even if just as a Bandcamp thing.

Speaking of indietronica, Canberra/Sydney duo (now trio) Spartak have long been UFog faves, so a new release is likely to find its way to the best-of list. But this year's EP should have been huge, if only everyone had my taste (in which case the aforementioned Hood would've been chartbusters their whole career, so yeah, probably unlikely). Their background is in loose postpunk/postrock improv and lots of electronic post-production; but here they turn to more song-based forms, and while the production is still challenging and adventurous, there are plenty of melodic hooks.

One version of the Spartak EP came with a set of remixes, including one from Marcus Whale aka Scissor Lock. His r'n'b/garage trio BLACK VANILLA didn't release an album this year, but this one track did make an appearance, and surely by next year they'll be winning all the Grammies.

Giant Claw is a recent discovery (for me, obviously), with a background in graphic art and the cassette noise scene, and his latest is a brilliant collage of ('80s?) r'n'b/pop samples, found classical MIDI sequences and contemporary beats. It's disturbingly amazing.

And finally, back to some heroes of the doom metal scene, all also pretty wide-ranging musical masters. Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O'Malley and Randall Dunn are also all connected with Sunn O))), but this album is somewhat different, a soundtrack to a multimedia movie/work originally released on vinyl on Drag City at the beginning of the year, and also available as a special 2CD set on Japan's Daymare. It's from the second disc that we hear this piece of weird synth/rock/noise groove. There's rockout numbers and also an almost folk number featuring Japanese singer Ai Aso on the album. Well worth a listen.

Names – The Long and Short of It [Names Bandcamp]
Firekites – Fallen [Spunk]
WIFE – Salvage [Tri-Angle]
The Body – Alone All the Way [RNVG International]
Wreck and Reference – Stranger, Fill This Hole In Me [The Flenser]
Old Man Gloom – Arrows to Our Hearts [SIGE/Profound Lore/Daymare]
Swans – Some Things We Do [Young God]
Carla Bozulich – Deeper Than The Well [Constellation]
Terminal Sound System – Deep Black Static [Denovali]
Terminal Sound System – Keepers [Denovali]
Hildur Guðnadóttir – Heima [Touch]
Andrea Belfi – roteano [Miasmah]
Panoptique Electrical – Action [Panoptique Electrical Bandcamp]
Great Panoptique Winter – Put Hope In Future Days [Great Panoptique Winter Bandcamp]
Spartak – Nightshift [Feral Media]
Spartak – Locked In Three (Scissor Lock rework) [Feral Media]
Giant Claw – DARK WEB 005 [Orange Milk Records/Virgin Babylon Records]
AmbarchiO'MalleyDunn – Metric Homme [Drag City/Daymare]

Listen again — ~106MB

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Sunday, 21st of December, 2014

Playlist 21.12.14 – Best of 2014, Part 1! (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

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