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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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Playlists are listed with artist name first, then track title and (remixer), then [record label]. Enjoy the links.

Sunday, 24th of May, 2020

Playlist 24.05.20 (5:33 pm)

A few exciting new releases out this week, starting with a surprise new album from someone who's been featured on this show since almost the beginning...

LISTEN AGAIN, as though your very life depends on it. Podcast here, stream on demand from FBi.

Owen Pallett - Paragon Of Order [Domino/Bandcamp]
Owen Pallett - Fire-Mare [Domino/Bandcamp]
Before FBi & this show started broadcasting full time, I contacted the German label Tomlab because I knew they were releasing The Books' second album and it was pitch-perfect for this show I was starting up. A year and a bit later, the label released the debut album from "Final Fantasy", a Canadian violinist making extraordinary songs with looping and some studio trickery, so it seemed, and thus began my decades-long devotion to all things Owen Pallett. That first album Has A Good Home and the second as Final Fantasy, He Poos Clouds were recently re-released in remastered form by longtime label Domino, so it's not a massive surprise that this long-awaited new one has just droppped, but still - long-awaited it is, finished a few years ago and finally seeing the light of day. The music is as beautiful, subtle and sly as ever, and notable is the presence of the London Contemporary Orchestra, performing gorgeous strings which frequently evoke an underlying creepiness through bitonality. The first single, "A Bloody Morning" (not played tonight), is also adorned with an incredible video, featuring dancers of all backgrounds filmed in Toronto during lockdown. While you're on YouTube, you can then search for Owen (and "Final Fantasy") performing live with loop pedals - not just his own songs but myriad covers from over the years.

John Callaghan - Let the path grow over [Antigen Records/Bandcamp] {video}
John Callaghan - Phylactery (based on "Tilapia" by Autechre) [Warp] {video}
John Callaghan - Just Be [Touched Music]
John Callaghan - Ghost moments [Antigen Records/Bandcamp]
Here's another one I've been waiting for for AGES. English musician John Callaghan came into my radar in 2009 when his remake of Autechre's "Tilapia" appeared on one of Warp's 20th anniversary compilations. Callaghan has inhabited a strange zone for even longer than that - comfortable in the idm scene, making melodic electronica, yet almost always vocally-based, with eccentric lyrics and usually silly and brilliant videos. That strange dualism of electronica & songwriting sits alongside this other dualism of the beautiful & moving against the very English sense of the irreverent and ridiculous. I'm so pleased that this album has finally come out, with a few tracks familiar from videos & compilations, and plenty of new ones.

Marcus Whale - What Worth? [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
A couple of singles have come out recently from Marcus Whale in preparation for a new album, Lucifer, coming later this year. I'm guessing this one is part of that suite - dark electronics and his instantly recognizable vocals.

Night Dives - Mirror [Eternal]
New from Ptwiggs & Grasps_'s label Eternal is a collection of dark electronics - some booming post-club beats and some ambient - from Melbourne artist Night Dives. The murky, disturbing CGI artwork (see Bandcamp) kind of perfectly captures the aesthetic going on here...

Grischa Lichtenberger - snt 2cx [Raster/Bandcamp]
Grischa Lichtenberger - re derec [Raster/Bandcamp]
Berlin-based artist Grischa Lichtenberger's last album was a deconstruction/reconstruction of a jazz band into glitchy electronica. This album, KAMILHAN; il y a péril en la demeure, is the end of a 5-part cycle of quite abstract works that began with LA DEMEURE, il ya péril en la demeure, and in some ways it's the most accessible, being based around songs of a sort - albeit computer generated vocals singing cut-up material in an incomprehensible language. Deliciously strange music for strange times.

Accelera Deck - Salamander [Accelera Deck Bandcamp]
Accelera Deck - pulling through [Blackbean and Placenta/Accelera Deck Bandcamp]
Accelera Deck - halo 1 [Morr Music/Accelera Deck Bandcamp]
Accelera Deck - Tumult [Accelera Deck Bandcamp]
Accelera Deck - Smile (Dub It) [Accelera Deck Bandcamp]
Chris Jeely started making idm & ambient music in the mid-'90s inspired by classic Warp and shoegaze type stuff. From the late '90s onwards, huge amounts of material came out under the name Accelera Deck, on various labels from his native US and also across the pond in the UK and Germany and the like. He also ran a bunch of labels including the pioneering Pitchcadet for idm & glitchy electronica, and then Scarcelight for the glitchscapes and hazy shoegaze-ambient he started making himself from the mid-'00s - a lot of lovely beatless stuff now comes out under the name Llarks. As you can see from his Discogs page, there were also myriad aliases, so his process now of uploading his back catalogue to Bandcamp is uncovering/recovering a massive amount of material. In 2017, after years of shoegazey sounds and glitchy processing before that, Accelera Deck returned with an EP of (rather messed-up) beats called Tumult, and now is making available a kind of new-old release he's called Perfect Nostalgia Beach Rave. Here he imagines himself DJing his own material at some imaginary night-time beach rave, made up of old tapes of already lo-fi material, recorded on drum machines & sequenced synth - so that particular aesthetic of squished, tumbling beats and sweetly meandering melodies does indeed create a strange nostalgia for folks like me. Lovely to have this reminder of one of those streams of "deconstructed club music" - a kind of parallel-world vaporwave from days gone by!

group A - Inhuman Ecstasy [Mannequin Records]
group A - Circulation [Mecanica Records/Bandcamp/Bandcamp]
group A - Almost, Almost [Mannequin Records]
I was lucky to see the German-Japanese duo group A perform a live set at Dark Mofo in Hobart in 2018. For half an hour or more, Tommi Tokyo and Sayaka Botanic produced one long work from drum machines, noise-making electronics, violin and vocals, with delays and beats all set at the same tempo. It was incredible. Their new album anOther is the soundtrack to a dance work created with Dana Gingras and Sonya Stefan originally for Agora de la danse in Montréal in 2018, and it was performed in Launceston in 2019 for Mona Foma - I'm sad I didn't get to see it. The music is incredible as usual, head-nodding industrial-tinged techno, and the work is inspired by Isabelle Adjani's viscerally disturbing and cathartic subway scene in Andrzej Żuławski's Possession (explaining the unhinged laughter in the first track I played).

Listen again — ~196MB


Sunday, 17th of May, 2020

Playlist 17.05.20 (7:33 pm)

It's another string thing, a lotta cello thing tonight, but there's also double bass, violin, and plenty of electronics and industrial sounds as well. That's your Utility Fog really, all there.

LISTEN AGAIN for the pure pleasure of it. Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here...

Mabe Fratti - Creo que puedo hacer algo [Hole Records/Tin Angel Records]
Mabe Fratti - Entrando al cuarto de la duda [Hole Records/Tin Angel Records]
Mabe Fratti - Renacuajos + Kit Schluter [Hole Records]
Mabe Fratti - Muchos Ayeres + Belafonte Sensacional [Hole Records]
It's always wonderful to discover new cellists. Guatemalan musician Mabe Fratti, now based in Mexico City, uses her cello along with synths, effects, and her voice to create experimental music of a truly compelling nature. Her cello will produce scratchy rhythmic bowed patterns, murky drones, jazzy basslines, or bright melodies. She's clearly interested in experimenting with sound, and one of the things I love about listening to these works is how she's quite capable of creating gorgeous, pure song (see the first track tonight), but she's happy peppering these around collections of pure weirdness - tape manipulation, field recordings, strangely processed vocals etc.
She's also keen on collaboration, and just as I was catching up with the stunning Pies Sobre la Tierra ("Feet on the ground") from last year, she's released Planos para Construir ("Plans to build"), which saw her handing pieces of music over to various musicians and writers, and after some back and forth this album arose. Mexico-based writer Kit Schluter contributes a pitched-down spoken piece, and Mexican band Belafonte Sensacional appear buried beneath a repeated bassline and shimmering synth chords.

Okkyung Lee - in stardust (for kang kyung-ok) [Shelter Press/Bandcamp]
Okkyung Lee - one bright lazy sunday afternoon (you whispered that name) [Shelter Press/Bandcamp]
New York cellist Okkyung Lee is perhaps best known for her involvement in the Downtown jazz scene and the noise scene (for the latter, particularly a stunning album with Burning Star Core's C Spencer Yeh and Lasse Marhaug. Marhaug as producer also helped realise the incredibly intense sound on solo albums such as Ghil. But earlier work like Nihm and Noisy Love Songs (For George Dyer) for Tzadik demonstrated her skills at melody and arrangement, and those come to the fore on Yeo-Neun, her latest album. It's the most melodic and accessible since those early Tzadik albums (without the obvious jazz inclinations), and very explicitly references her Korean background, both in titles (Kang Kyung-ok is a Korean comics (Manhwa) artist) and in the music itself. So classical composition, Korean traditional music, and certain elements of noise & improv (such as the extended cellistic techniques I've highlighted in these two selections) all get combined into something shiningly gorgeous. Shelter Press seems like an ideal home for these sounds.

Jo David Meyer Lysne & Mats Eilertsen - Lamyra [Hubro]
Jo David Meyer Lysne & Mats Eilertsen - Forve [Hubro]
These two musicians form a cross-generational partnership within the incredibly fertile Norwegian jazz/experimental scene. Jo David Meyer Lysne, guitarist among many other instruments, was born in 1994 and forms part of the newer generation of experimental musicians - his solo album from last year mixes composition with improv, acoustic playing with subtle but integral effects. Double bassist Mats Eilertsen, 20 years Lysne's senior, plays with innumerable ensembles (check out his Discogs credits) and his equally gorgeous album from last year built soundscapes and ensembles out of contributions from luminaries of the Norwegian scene along with his own playing. This new album is also strangely intertextual - the crackling vinyl of their previous duo album is used for minimalist rhythms and textures alongside their own playing. It's got that Scandinavian feel, pristine & crystalline, warm & organic.

Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson - Turn Roots In Iodine [Miasmah/Bandcamp]
Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson - Interlude II [130701/Bandcamp]
Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson - Procession [130701/Bandcamp]
Another Mats, Danish musician Mats Erlandsson, teams up here with Berlin-based Israeli double bassist & sound artist Yair Elazar Glotman for the second time. Their first, released by Miasmah in 2017, was an extension of Glotman's close-mic'd double bass works, with additional strings & sound design from Erlandsson. For Emanate the music has become less intense, the vibrations slower and and the sounds more orchestral. It seems Glotman's years spent working closely on film scores with Jóhann Jóhannsson has rubbed off here, with brass appearing alongside strings and electronic tones. It's durational music, not as drawn out as some, but still the harmonies change at a slow pace, pitches at times bending gradually, everything slightly blurred - even when sparse percussion enters during the Interludes.

Happy Axe - Just Before The Rain [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
Moon Sign Gemini - 003 [Moon Sign Gemini Bandcamp]
Kcin - Belief Network [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
Sydney's Stu Buchanan has a long history with FBi Radio, presenting various shows and even running the station for a while, and at one point he was responsible for both co-presenting a show and also curating a series of compilations under the banner of New Weird Australia. While still co-running his Provenance label, he's decided to reinstate New Weird Australia with a DOUBLE compilation entitled Solitary Wave - Out represents the more energetic stuff, while In is the calmer end. There are a lot of familiar names there from the Australian experimental scene, and plenty of newies to learn about too. We love Emma Kelly's Happy Axe, and her looped, reversed and processed violin & vocals keep the strings theme going. And the distorted percussion and electronics of Nick Meredith's Kcin are also a frequent visitor to these playlists. Hearing Adelaide's Moon Sign Gemini on this comp, I had to zoom over to his Bandcamp immediately and grab all the things - sampled orchestras with breakcore are bread & butter for Utility Fog! So this is a different selection from the one Stu put on the Out comp. Dylan Cooper usually plays in hardcore punk bands, and Moon Sign Gemini is a recent venture in electronic production - impressive & fun stuff.

France Jobin & Klara Lewis - soar [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
This beauty is a digital-only track on the new Editions Mego release from Montréal sound artist France Jobin, performed with Swiss artist Klara Lewis, whose recent Mego release Ingrid sees a single cello phrase looped and distorted slowly over 20 minutes. The two tracks on the physical release from Jobin are each almost as long, but at under 8 minutes, this track is more easily consumable, and also I adore it. It layers a few electronic sounds simply but effectively, carring you with pulsating fuzzy distortion and occasional crackling interjections. "Soar" indeed.

Animal Hospital - Framework [Whited Sepulchre/Bandcamp]
Kevin Micka is an avant garde guitarist whose works as Animal Hospital take idiomatic blues, rock & other guitar-based genres and shuffle them through harsh digital edits or strnge sideways arrangements like the slow-growing doom-laden chords on one track from his extraordinary 2009 album Memory. 11 years later, new album Fatigue arrives, with four tracks which share little except guitar as a sound source - from pure tones to broken-down blues, to shuddering krautrock-drone, to this wonderful thing in which guitar is shattered into digital fragments and rebuilt.

Sote - MOSCELS O [Opal Tapes]
Sote - MOSCELS X [Opal Tapes]
We're only just recovering from the wonder of last year's Parallel Persia from Ata Ebtekar aka Sote (and getting to see him live in Sydney at Soft Centre!) - and reminded of that by a recent remix 12" - when he's now ready to take us on his next trip into new territories in sound with MOSCELS, back on Opal Tapes. There are no traditional Persian instruments being processed here, nor any hardcore or breakcore beats. All sounds are entirely electronically produced, whether it's quasi-orchestral drones or seeming harpsichords giving way to Autechre-like sliding & bubbling tones. Comparisons are ultimately pointless - this is Sote, the sound of pure artistry.

Einstürzende Neubauten - Taschen [Potomak]
Einstürzende Neubauten - Ten Grand Goldie [Potomak]
While there's been plenty of activity from the bandmembers, it's been quite some time since a new studio album from Einstürzende Neubauten (some of their work is released at least initially only for their passionate supporter base, mind you). Blixa Bargeld turns up working with experimental musicians of various stripes, and has featured on this show with Alva Noto in anbb, and on a number of duo recordings with Italian composer & electronic musician Teho Teardo. Alexander Hacke has been working & touring with his brilliant wife Danielle de Picciotto as hackedepiciotto. But here it is, a fully formed new album from the industrial superpower, and it's got all their hallmarks - cabaret-style singsonginess, crashing metallic noises, string arrangements to fit that theme for tonight, and so on. Honestly it's really good and reminds me that for all that their large discography does not imply diluted quality. I'll need to fill in a few gaps in the next little while!

Listen again — ~188MB


Sunday, 10th of May, 2020

Playlist 10.05.20 (6:55 pm)

This week, Kraftwerk founder Florian Schneider left us at the age of 73. There've been many tributes and many favourite tracks shared - for a single song, mine is Hall of Mirrors from Trans Europe Express - but I've decided not to derail the show itself with their music, and instead focus on new electronic & experimental sounds. It's fair to say that just about everything I'm playing owes something to the great pioneers.

So settle back & LISTEN AGAIN. Stream on demand from FBi, podcast right here.

Grand Veymont - Persistance & changement (excerpt) [Objet Disque/Bandcamp]
Grand Veymont - Bois barbu [Objet Disque/Bandcamp]
French duo Grand Veymont, on their new album and on their first, 2018's Route du Vertige, create expressive, nostalgic, longform songs out of sequenced keyboards and vocals. Listening in the context of Kraftwerk and other krautrock luminaries, it's impossible not to feel like there's a strong connection. Béatrice Morel-Journel's vocals recall the melodic work of Stereolab, Broadcast et al, so there are multiple levels of nostalgia here. New album Persistance & changement takes longform to a new level - it's almost 40 minutes long, one track digitally, although clearly in two parts for vinyl. It's absolutely listenable through, with lovely procession through various changes along the way, despite basically staying around the one chord (sometimes major, sometimes minor). It's like a mountain range, and its peaks are breathtaking.

Loraine James - ALB19 20 [Loraine James Bandcamp]
Loraine James - ALB19 10 [Loraine James Bandcamp]
Playing catchup again. Although Loraine James released a cute selection of bangers and mashups for Bandcamp Day #2, I never played anything off the amazing previous Bandcamp Day release, FYAI Demos + Ditched Album, which contains a selection of demos from her brilliant For You And I album from last year and also a whole never-released album. If these are incomplete tracks, it just goes to show what a restless & ingenious talent she is. They remind me of the complexity and everything-goes nature of idm with a thoroughly modern sensibility, and as I said on Bandcamp, it's bliss to me.

Cocktail Party Effect - Brutalism [Tectonic/Bandcamp]
Cocktail Party Effect - Lack of Wrong Format [Tectonic/Bandcamp]
Cocktail Party Effect - For The Memory Exchange [Tectonic/Bandcamp]
A trained sound designer from South London, based in Berlin, Cocktail Party Effect has a number of releases under his belt in the dubstep/techno/grime axis. For his new album on Tectonic he takes advantage of the album format to cover a lot of ground - from ambient to grime to slow/fast jungle to breakcore even. Like a lot of contemporary artists there's a bit of idm madness in there, and a tendency towards balls-out wall of sound (at times tempered by the quieter tracks). Still, there's some top-of-the-class programming and some bangers in there.

Brain Rays & Quiet - Hemlock [SEAGRAVE/Bandcamp]
Baconhead - Foreign or Domestic (feat. Nongenetic) [Bizarre Rituals]
Brain Rays & Quiet - Delilah [SEAGRAVE/Bandcamp]
I've been keen for this one since I heard Brain Rays' production with Louis King on a recent Seagrave release, which led me to Brain Rays + Quiet's incredible Electronic Explorations mix of their own music, mixing jungle, ravey techno and footstep influences with unhinged breakcore. And that's very much what you get on this excellent album on SEAGRAVE. Brain Rays & Quiet are also Baconhead, under which name they make bass-heavy hip-hop, and I played a track from 2015 with Nongenetic, who's used to working with idm types from his days in Shadow Huntaz, usually produced by Funckarma.

FAUZIA - Progression [R&S Records/Bandcamp]
R.Kitt - This Won't Last [R&S Records/Bandcamp]
For Bandcamp Day #2, legendary electronic label R&S Records riffed on their In Order To Dance series with a massive, essential compilation they called In Order to Care, for which all artists donated their tracks to fund much-needed PPE for NHS workers. It's worth repeating the label's entire statement, as it's so pertinent: “We do not see the NHS as a charity and it saddens our heart that we even have to do something like this. The UK government has failed the NHS and is outright lying about its inadequate supply chains. We have been speaking directly with frontline workers and they are in desperate need of this equipment, and if we can help get these supplies directly into the hands of workers - we feel it is our duty to unite the music community to help out.” Well, regardless of how pressing this cause is, it's choc full of brilliant music. Not heard tonight are highlights from Barker, Client_03, DjRum, Forest Drive West, Loraine James, Special Request and many more. There's quite a jungle thread through a lot of it too, including FAUZIA Habib (who contributes her production duties to a second track as well), and the slower stop-start rave sounds of Dublin's R.Kitt.

Lint - Week [Lint Bandcamp]
Dru & Mitch Jones of Aussie industrial legends Scattered Order have been making strange electronic music in various formats for decades. Drusilla is also a highly talented visual artist and solo musician as Skipism and Mitch can be found as the little hand of the faithful. This second release of the pair together as Lint combines electronic rhythms, distorted sampled vocals and other sound sources psychedelically processed beyond recognition, usually along with buzzing razor guitars. A joy as ever.

Enderie - Bass [Anterograde]
Andrew McLellan's third release as Enderie (he's also behind messy lo-fi postpunk/noise outfit Cured Pink). As Enderie he explores naïve techno & club music experiments, and here the tracks are "Swing", "Break", "Bass" and "Step". It was a toss-up between the relentlessly chopped and syncopated "Break" and this one, but in the end the ravey reverbed synth intro and eventual two-note bassline of "Bass" were the perfect fit for tonight's selections.

Aphir, Kcin & Tilman Robinson - The Garden of Earthly Delights - Panel 3 [Trestle Records/Bandcamp]
Here's a little consommé of Utility Fog connections all bundled together. Becki Whitton's Aphir (Melbourne via Canberra), Nick Meredith's Kcin (Sydney) and Tilman Robinson (Melbourne via Perth) have all featured frequently and recently on the show - Aphir's experimental electronic pop, Kcin's dark percussion & electronics, and Tilman's dark pan-genre compositions. Kcin also participated in Trestle Records' last series, One Day Band, so for their From Isolation series he suggested teaming up with these two for some remote collaboration. Thus here we have their twisted interpretation of Hieronymus Bosch's triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. This isn't exactly club music, but the fluttering motor rhythms and deep bass aren't a million miles away either.

Vertzog - Loneliness Is Cool As Hell [Vertzog Bandcamp]
Josh Ahearn obviously decided that "Herner Vertzog" was a little too punny for its own good, so now it's just Vertzog. For his third solo isolation track (three for three on this show so far!) it's another right-angle turn, with an Asian-sounding plucked melody and muffled synth pads joined eventually by Ahearn's melodic bass and a stop-start beat. It's pretty haunting. Don't give way to the loneliness mate, keep channeling it into these tunes.

Warm Stranger - Blankscreen [Warm Stranger Bandcamp]
Warm Stranger - Apron & Valium [Human Mistake Records]
Warm Stranger - Burning Ghost Dream [Esc.rec]
Warm Stranger - Freedom From Identity [Warm Stranger Bandcamp]
Nice to have a reminder of a singular musical voice from Melbourne. James Annesley is a jazz saxophonist, but as Warm Stranger he's made three albums of disquieting electronics now, drawing from the uncomfortable, creepy end of industrial, and the more abstract end of electro & idm. Oversaturated synth lines can sometimes point at Boards of Canada, if the soft-focus worlds they were showing us were more decayed and urban than their beautiful place out in the country... All three of these releases are pretty special.

Listen again — ~197MB


Sunday, 3rd of May, 2020

Playlist 03.05.20 (7:19 pm)

So we're here on the weekend of the second Bandcamp Day. Friday/Saturday (in Oz) again saw a big flurry of special releases, and pleasingly an even more massive amount of spending, on a day when Bandcamp didn't take any cut themselves - a really impressive gesture from a great platform. As you may know, they're doing it again on the first Fridays of June and July.
Of course there was far too much music to properly take in, so I'm playing a few May 1st releases, but it's basically just "new stuff".

So LISTEN AGAIN and then buy everything! Stream on demand @ FBi, podcast here.

The Soft Pink Truth - Shall [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
The Soft Pink Truth - Grace [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
The Soft Pink Truth - May Increase [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Starting with something wonderful from Prof Drew Daniel, one half of Matmos and for years now purveyor of subversive electronic music as The Soft Pink Truth. After albums reimagining and recontextualising black metal, postpunk and industrial music through a house / techno / electro lens, Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase? is a blissful 45 minutes of ambient house with postrock, sunlit r'n'b and almost classical leanings (intended as two mixed halves, but also available digitally in a slightly different form with separated tracks). That's not to say that it's not still subversive - it's explicitly music for our times, a love reaction to the evils of Trumpism, and its expansive, emotionally welcoming sensibility is perfect for our COVID-era disconnected state. It's like the perfect comedown music the day after intense clubbing, and if the clubbing here is the hammering of late stage capitalism on our state of mind, it's just what we need. A tonic for trying times.

Meredith Monk & Bang on a Can All-Stars - Gamemaster's Song [Cantaloupe Music/Bandcamp]
Meredith Monk & Bang on a Can All-Stars - Downfall [Cantaloupe Music/Bandcamp]
Meredith Monk is one of the most iconoclastic musicians of the last 50 years. A composer the equal of Reich, Glass et al, but also an innovative vocal performer, her music has the strangely off-kilter melodies and harmonies of Kurt Weill and the repetitive, rhythmic invention of the American minimalists. Most of her music is released in recordings of her own ensemble(s), but new album Memory Game comes courtesy of new music powerhouse Bang on a Can - although Monk and her vocal ensemble are still there. This album collects a few reworkings of classic music (including one of my favourites, "Double Fiesta") as well as a selection of never-recorded music from her sci-fi opera The Games (which I really want to see!). It was intended to be performed at Big Ears this year, but of course that's not happening. So let's enjoy a couple of bizarre and remarkable tunes.

Erik Friedlander - Hex [Erik Friedlander Bandcamp]
New York cellist Erik Friedlander has been a stalwart of the Downtown scene for decades - playing with John Zorn, and with jazz and avant-garde ensembles of all sorts. He's also a great bandleader and composer himself, and makes highly varied music as a solo musician. I remember coming across an ambient electronic work of his in the early days of internet compilations, and these days he's putting a track up a month on his Bandcamp, often strange solo experiments. This new track is quite a creepy thing, exorcising some pretty bad demons that saw his flat flooded after a fire in their building, coinciding with COVID-19. Bad times for musicians all-round.

Field Works & Machinefabriek - Kelelawar [Temporary Residence Ltd/Bandcamp]
Field Works & Kelly Moran - Sodalis [Temporary Residence Ltd/Bandcamp]
In 2018, Temporary Residence Ltd released an incredible set of 5 albums under the banner of Field Works, conceptualised by Stuart Hyatt around his massive collection of field recordings. Just out now is another stunner. Entitled Ultrasonic, this takes as its inspiration and source material the echolocation sounds used by bats. It's lovely to have this tribute at a time when these amazing animals are facing some kind of blame for our current pandemic (alongside equally grotesque and unjustified anti-Asian racism it must be said - ignorance & hatred breed easily). As with the 2018 releases, Hyatt & Temp Res have put a lot of thought into the musicians involved, so we've got UFog fave Machinefabriek's sputting pianos & mechanisms and the electronics & prepared piano of Kelly Moran highlighted tonight but also involved are harpist Mary Lattimore, ambient guitarist Noveller, sound-artist Félicia Atkinson, and other ambient & post-classical luminaries like 12k's Taylor Deupree, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Christina Vantzou, John Also Bennett, Chihei Hatekayama, Ben Lukas Boysen, Eluvium, and French pianist Julien Marchal. Quite a lineup!

Madeleine Cocolas - Across The Ocean, But Not Yet [Someone Good/Bandcamp]
Madeleine Cocolas - Circular [Someone Good/Bandcamp]
Electronics and piano are the preferred tools of Australian composer Madeleine Cocolas, based for a long time in Canada & the US, but has now returned to Brisbane. Room40's Someone Good is releasing her new album Ithaca next Friday, and we have a preview tonight. You could mistake some tracks for relaxing piano ambient, but there's often an edge of some kind - subtly discordant vocal samples perhaps - or sometimes whole tracks of foreboding distorted drones and percussive extrusions. It's an album of mixed feelings, but as she says, ultimately of hope.

IHHH - When Life Was Awakening In The Depths Of Obscure Matter [Salmon Universe/Bandcamp]
IHHH - Melting Hot Summer [Salmon Universe/Bandcamp]
Salmon Universe, the label co-run by Sydney's Richard Pike (now residing in London) and London DJ Joe Quirke, has leaned mostly towards ambient music so far, but this new release from Argentinian jazz drummer Carlos Falanga is something different. As IHHH Falanga is making charmingly strange, glitchy electronic music - some of it smooth enough to sit in the ambient pile, but mostly too twitchy and oddball to be calming or background music. The idea of a "memory palace" is a system of mnemonic connections of visual objects with items to remember, and the slightly mysterious, spacious explorations found within this album feel a bit like walking through someone else's memory palace, imagining but not knowing the resonance of the items on display. The off-grid rhythms and decontextualised samples remind me of glitchy electronica from the late '90s and 2000s like Bisk, or even Future Sound of London, through a smudged vaporwavey lens, and that's excellent.

Shoeb Ahmad - hipless [Shoeb Ahmad Bandcamp]
This temporary release may not even be up on Shoeb Ahmad's Bandcamp by the time you read this. It's a sampler of 3 tracks from her next album, works in progress but all undeniably well-developed enough for public consumption. Those familiar with Ahmad's work solo, with Spartak (or *ahem* Tangents) will not be surprised by the expressive sounds here. Vocals are present but often treated or muffled shoegaze-style, percussion and beats can be distorted, and myriad other sound sources are sent through the blenders. Elsewhere there's Andy Stott-like minimal techno, and Spartak-like guitar pulsations, but that distorted percussion is a bit of a theme here. I can't wait for her to deem this complete, because it's going to be another corker!

Ross Downes - Border Boarders [Trestle Records]
Ross Downes - Hiding in History [Trestle Records]
We've heard a fair bit of Trestle Records' music on this show due to their One Day Band and now From Isolation. But they're by no means only about concept collaborations. Out this week is a cinematic instrumental album from label co-director Ross Downes. Abstract synths, lots of cavernous effects and ungridded percussion lead the album between ambient and industrial waters. An evocative soundtrack to your own inner thoughts.

Eugene Ward - Agitated Light [Dro Carey Bandcamp]
Eugene Ward - OOBE 2001 [Dro Carey Bandcamp]
Sydney musician Eugene Ward is best known for his broken dancefloor sounds as Dro Carey, and more muscular techno as Tuff Sherm. His previous release under his own name was music for dance called Paint en Pointe, released by Where To Now? in 2015. This new album Life After Prog is one of three albums he's released for Bandcamp Day #2, each under a different pseudonym. I love the syncopated UK bass sounds found here - if it was Dro Carey it'd be more chopped, glitchy & twitchy, but it's certainly different from the 4/4 head-nodders of Tuff Sherm's Spore Whisky and the more straightforward electronics as PMM. All revenue goes to ASRC, an added bonus for getting hold of great Sydney music!

Wedding Guns - Am I Kind [Wedding Guns Bandcamp]
super science - now which way to where? [Surgery Records, re-released on Clue To Kalo Bandcamp]
Wedding Guns - Blood In Everyone's Type [Wedding Guns Bandcamp]
You may not recognize the name Wedding Guns, but you might know Adelaide's Mark Mitchell from Clue To Kalo, his indie/folktronica outfit of many years. His first releases were brilliant indietronica under the name Super Science, from whom we heard one of the many highlights from that debut album tonight. This new stuff as Wedding Guns (yes, released on May 1st for Bandcamp Day) is more electronic and even dancefloor-ready than he's been for a while, but remains full of catchy melodic hooks and vocal melodies, and some of the body-moving rhythmic interplay that's characterised latter-day Clue To Kalo too.

ZULI - Ladies & gents [Haunter Records/Bandcamp]
ZULI - Trigger Finger (Chevel Remix) [Haunter Records/Bandcamp]
ZULI - Trigger Finger (Lee Gamble Remix) [Haunter Records/Bandcamp]
Egyptian electronic musician ZULI has made a huge impact with his grime/garage/jungle-infused experimental sounds on UIQ (including an incredible album in 2018), but one of his most celebrated releases is the Trigger Finger EP on Italian label Haunter Records, with the jungle-referencing title track and the very warped "Ladies & gents" which I played tonight. For Bandcamp Day he's revisiting that EP with a selection of remixes. Taking on the amen breaks in "Trigger Finger" are UIQ boss Lee Gamble, Italian electronic musician Chevel, beat-mashing enthusiast AYA and various others. Super fun stuff.

NERVE - P.R.F. (MYSTICK PARANOIA Version) [AR53]
Melbourne's Joshua Wells appears again as NERVE with a track swiped from a recent live set which sees junglist rhythms accelerated with dark psytrance synths for just the right amount of menace...

Listen again — ~196MB


Sunday, 26th of April, 2020

Playlist 26.04.20 (5:26 pm)

And so we cycle back to beats this week - we've got some jungle and some techno and some idm, and also some things that don't really fit so well into them boxes.

LISTEN AGAIN for the pulse of the moment (lol)... Stream on demand from FBi, podcast right 'ere.

The Declining Winter - Nothing Is Stopping Us Yet (Distance Version) [Signal Records]
A New Line (Bracken) - Ermmm [Signal Records]
Starting with something I have a part in... Recently I took part in a compilation that was put together with amazing speed by Richard Adams from the great UK band Hood, to raise money for PPE for NHS workers (the absurdity of crowdfunding such a basic requirement is another story entirely...)
The idea was to get artists to create distance collaborations while in self-isolation/lockdown - hence Music Over Distance. So I got to work with the brilliant, creative experimental flautist (and cellist!) Katie English aka IsnajDui. The compilation features various alumni of Hood, including Richard's own The Declining Winter, his brother Chris aka Bracken, Andrew Johnson aka a new line, related, Craig Tattersall in various aliases and various others. Richard also has a thing with Aussie legend Jason Sweeney called Great Panoptique Winter which appears here, and plenty of other musicians feature like Benoît Pioulard, The Leaf Library, Cédric Pin & Glenn Johnson of Piano Magic and many others... So we started with a trio lineup of The Declining Winter, all in their own households, and then Andrew Johnson and Chris Adams teaming up for a techno stomper with a kid shouting "Thank you NHS!"

dgoHn - Invisible Sandwich [Love Love Records/Bandcamp]
dgoHn - Puppet [Love Love Records/Bandcamp]
John Cunnane’s moniker dgoHn is meant to be pronounced like his first name, and that particularly oddity feels like it places him right away into the company of the great weirdos of English music. Although there are connections to idm – his duo with fellow producer Macc was released on Rephlex over a decade ago – he leans a bit closer to the dancefloor as a main proponent of the “drumfunk” subgenre which pulled the experimental end of jungle/drum’n’bass away from breakcore’s testosterone into a more jazzy, syncopated approach to drum programming. After an EP released Fracture’s Astrophonica label last year, he returns to Love Love Records for a full album of outrageously brilliant beat juggling. Yes, the beats might be show-offy, but they flow with a real musicality, and they are accompanied by musical and melodic synth pads and funky stabs, and some half-time and ambient passages to break things up. I could listen to this all day.

Yak - Esper [3024/Bandcamp]
Sticking in the UK, Yak is a producer who comfortably jumps around genres, house and all sorts of UK bass and often junglist elements, like on this track from a new 12" on Martyn's 3024 label. There's some pretty ridiculously adept drum programming in here.

Atom™ - # [Raster/Bandcamp]
Atom™ - AC Boy/DC Girl [Raster/Bandcamp]
It's not unreasonable to say that the music of Atom™ from the mid-'90s to the early '00s was a massive influence on what I wanted to do with Utility Fog. Inhabiting an intensely digital realm, even when creating ersatz jazz and funk with Bernd Friedmann as Flanger, he was way ahead of the game with precisely chopped digital cut-ups and re-contextualised cultural signifiers, even outside of the Señor Coconut material - just one project using the music of his adopted home of Chile. Recently he's been re-releasing old techno cuts from the early '90s on his Bandcamp, mostly released under the name Atom Heart. But his new album <3 (heart emoji), released on Raster, is a return to the digital cuts & culture-jamming, ostensibly a collaboration with X1N, "an entity for generating human voice and natural language content", contributing idoru-pop vocals... About half the album has beats accelerated into drill'n'bass territory. It's super-fun and very arch.

Andrea - LG_Amb [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Andrea - Outlines [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Andrea - Liquid [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Andrea - Drumzzy [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Turin's Andrea, staple of Munich's Ilian Tape label, has just released his first album after a series of excellent 12"s. The big, hard techno beats and lush pads of his earlier work - check "Outlines" from 2015 - have been augmented over a few releases with skittery, idm-inspired beats which lean towards jungle and UK bass styles, and that really comes to the fore on the wonderful album Ritorno. His talent for melodic synth pads in the vein of Shed is still very much there, but the beats flutter and sizzle as much as they thump. It's inspired and exciting - massively recommended, but don't ignore those earlier EPs either!

&nbsp - More [The Collection Artaud/Bandcamp]
We featured some drill'n'bass from versatile Berlin-based producer Yu Miyashita aka Yaporigami a couple of weeks ago on the show. He runs The Collection Artaud label and has just released the second EP for this year from the mysterious &nbsp - an artist that sounds like it could be another alter of Miyashita, but may not be. It's super glitchy/cut-up beats, quite maxminimalist, and particularly on the "More" side of the new Less/More 12" it tumbles into jungle whenever the beats are allowed to go more than a couple of bars without being chopped off. A super artificial dancehall & hip-hop influenced digi-funk.

Loraine James - Random2 [early reflex]
Sonia Calico - Revenge of Tinker Bell [early reflex]
Hence Therefore - Maladapt [early reflex]
Courtesy of Hence Therefore I've received early access to the debut compilation from new Turin-based label Early Reflex. The label will focus on experimental club music, and while there's a distinct UK bass feel, it's truly international, with artists from Croatia, two from Taiwan, Sydney's Hence Therefore (with typical deconstructed breaky house feels) and various from the UK including genius Loraine James, who throws in some throbbing bass and fidgety beats. Taipei's Sonia Calico is a highlight, with head-nodding bass, percussive, propulsive beats and arpeggiated synths lending a kind of MIDI-classical melodic aspect.

Thug - rhino song [Aural Industries/Tim Koch Bandcamp]
Isolated Gate - Rubber Brain (Splice an Emu mix) [Isolated Gate Bandcamp]
Big Beautiful Bluebottle - Words in steam are heard and seen ... [Big Beautiful Bluebottle Bandcamp]
Here's an Aussie IDM classic from Adelaide's Tim Koch, whose earliest work was released under the moniker Thug. Released in 1999, this was one of the earliest Aussie electronic releases that seemed to me to really get the feel of IDM - melodic, emotive synths with crunchy beats. Tim is a bit of an international legend (and a singularly self-effacing dude), with broad tastes, and it's exciting to see he's collaborating with another self-effacing legend, Ian Masters of shoegazers Pale Saints. Masters has long been into experimental electronic music and general weirdness, but this new duo Isolated Gate is pretty out there - drill'n'bass-level weirdo beats and fragmented vocals, yet honestly kind of catchy! This release, Horologium Demos E.P. is pretty clearly early versions, but hella promising.
I was also super pleased to discover Masters' collaboration with Terako Terao under the name Big Beautiful Bluebottle. The Please Come Away From the Edge album deserves a full listen, starting with nearly 10 minutes of minimalist improvised piano from Masters, which is then live-processed by Terao for a similar length of time, after which the two improvise increasingly messed-up versions with vocals and even some beats. We heard the third iteration, finishing up tonight's show.

Listen again — ~199MB


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