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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.

Wednesday, 18th of January, 2023

Playlist 15.01.23 (12:35 am)

Tonight we reach into the more experimental depths of sound-art. There's jungle-influenced beats but they're deformed and mutated, heard from a misaligned alternate dimension or reinterpreted by aliens. There's post/neo-classical of a sort, and post-jazz of a sort, but also both post- and sideways. Come sail the slideways with us!

LISTEN AGAIN to the flipside... Stream on demand @ FBi, podcast right here.

Teether & Kuya Neil - RENO [Chapter Music/Bandcamp]
The second mixtape/minialbum on Chapter Music from the brilliant Melbourne underground hip-hop duo of Teether & Kuya Neil is out on the 3rd of February. Single "RENO" is a perfect intro: lackadaisical, comfortably melodic rapping over contemporary bass beats, with jungle breaks inserted througout. You just know this will be a huge release. Meanwhile you can catch up on two releases from 2021.

Brandon Juhans - Tree Chops [Brandon Juhans Bandcamp]
Brandon Juhans - What Else is New? [Brandon Juhans Bandcamp]
Brandon Juhans - Only Net [Brandon Juhans Bandcamp]
Around 2018, the sadly now-lost Tri-Angle label introduced us to Hanz, the alias of Brandon Juhans. His music in fact goes back to 2012, as you can find on his Bandcamp, but those Tri-Angle EPs found Juhans' music fully formed in the mode that he's continued under his own name over the last few years. It's very much beat-driven, but in a way that doesn't conform to the usual expectations: hip-hop beats crammed into drum'n'bass tempos, beats stuttering and chopped up in ways that defy the grid, or that stop & start in sputtering ways, while other samples collide rhythmically. It reminds me of the early work of Bisk (see the four albums here), which felt like drum'n'bass with the roles of the samples all mixed up. In any case, Brandon Juhans' music is a glorious mess - the kind of mess that can only be achieved through careful construction.

Ourobonic Plague - Elementals [Ourobonic Plague Bandcamp]
DOOM DATA - NUMBER NINE [Ourobonic Plague Bandcamp]
Melbourne entity Ourobonic Plague makes strange dark psychedelic electronic music, mixing drone and noise with industrial beats and weird occult references. But last year they released an album called Stepping It Lightly Towards the Abyss which combined jungle & drum'n'bass influences with their usual tendencies. I'm playing them now because of the launch of a new project called DOOM DATA in which Ourobonic Plague collaborates with US songwriter & vocalist James Quentin Devine. On their debut single, Devine brings a post-apocalyptic post-punk aura to the proceedings, with crunchy beats provided by Mr Plague.

inaud1bl3 - Stars are Falling [generate and test/Bandcamp]
inaud1bl3 - %/$ [generate and test/Bandcamp]
Christian „Gigi“ Haudej uses the inaud1bl3 moniker to release music of just about any nature - from ambient loops to glitchnoise, breakcore to strummy guitar songs. He's somehow connected to farmersmanual - perhaps because he's Austrian, albeit now based in Berlin - and has now released four albums through their generate and test imprint. He was also half of breakcore duo Übergang with the legendary Christoph de Babalon aka Jan-Christoph Walter. There's not much breakcore on new album Hydrogen, but there are glitchy, sometimes frenetic beats, and there are songs of sorts as well as short bursts of abstract noise. Charmingly odd.

crimeboys - trippin' [3 X L]
crimeboys - holodeck blue [3 X L]
Here's one of those team-ups of peeps associated with West Mineral Ltd, connected with folks like exael and Ben Bondy. Specifically, crimeboys is Special Guest DJ and Pontiac Streator, bringing cyberpunk-infused rave memories - ambient jungle, dub techno and breakbeats of all sorts floating in & out of ambient wetness. Lovely.

Kl.ne - Drinking Up the Ocean [Kl.ne Bandcamp]
Kl.ne - TV Tower [Kl.ne Bandcamp]
Berlin-based producer Philipp Rhensius co-runs the Arcane Patterns label, DJs on Noods Radio and elsewhere... Last year he released his debut album under the Alienationist alias, but the Kl.ne name has been around a little longer (I get the feeling it's meant to be pronounced "clone") and covers similar ground to Alienationist. Rhensius is inspired by '90s jungle and trip-hop, UK bass music of all sorts. The Rewind the Century EP presents these influences at the relatively stately tempo of 130pm, and much like crimeboys above it's the memory of a rave through rain-soaked window.

Saving Kaiser - Mellow Mint [Feral Note]
Saving Kaiser - Lush [Feral Note]
Here's something altogether stranger, but still hinting and jungle and IDM. Saving Kaiser is the duo of jazz drummer Thomas Wörle and jazz/classically-trained pianist Roman Rofalski, but on their debut EP Digital Snowflake, released on Kaan Bulak's Feral Note label, there are no acoustic instruments. Instead it's all electronic beats & sounds, but arranged in ways that sound organic, in fact deliberately messy. It's all improvised music, and the musicianship is clearly felt in this very alien work.

Yannis Kyriakides - Cottonstone [Unsounds/Bandcamp]
Yannis Kyriakides - Enaerios [Unsounds/Bandcamp]
Greek composer Yannis Kyriakides is co-founder of the Unsounds label with Scottish guitarist Andy Moor - both of whom are Netherlands-based - and Brussels-based designer Isabelle Vigier. Kyriakides has released a number of wonderful duo albums with Moor as well as substantial works for classical instrumentation, often also involving electronics. His latest album Amiandos is resolutely solo, however, and highly personal. The album is named for the asbestos mine in the south of Cyprus, where his grandfather worked and his father was born. The electronic tracks here chronicle the effects of the mining industry on the land and the people. "Cottonstone" is a literal translation of the ancient Greek word for asbestos (in modern Greek it's αμίαντο - yes, "amianto"), and the track uses processed drum machines and processed field recordings to create an imposing noisescape. On "Enaerios", Kyriakides follows the 36km cable car from the mine down to the port of Limassol, and we sit with his grandfather in a cafe by the dock where he would play backgammon, drink and listen to cassettes of '50s Greek music; the decontextualised, pitch-shifted voices of Trio Kitara appear throughout this track to stunning effect. Kyriakides is a formidable composer and collaborator, and this entirely solo work is a wonder.

Gail Priest - indeciphers [Metal Bitch Recordings]
Gail Priest - clone drone [Metal Bitch Recordings]
Now Katoomba-based, Gail Priest has long been a master of conceptually-based electronic works. paravox finds her focusing on the interface between voice and machine over 5 tracks (available both in stereo and binaural mixes). Three of these pieces were created during a residency at M.E.S.S., and on the gloopy "indeciphers" we hear the effects of voice driving the signal chain of a Doepfer modular system. Meanwhile opening track "clone drone" explains itself - it's an artificial voice based on Priest's own voice, and is about as creepy (and engrossing) as you'd expect.

Ryuichi Sakamoto - Choral No.1 (Devonté Hynes Remodel) [Milan Records]
Ryuichi Sakamoto - The Sheltering Sky (Alva Noto Remodel) [Milan Records]
Legendary Japanese composer & electronic musician Ryuichi Sakamoto has been diagnosed with cancer for the second time, and appears to be near the end of his life. (Tragically, his Yellow Magic Orchestra compadre Yukihiro Takahashi passed away last week). Very soon there'll be a new album of piano & synthesiser works from Sakamoto entitled 12, but in December last year To The Moon And Back, a compilation of "remodels" by friends & fellow travellers, was released. It's impressively broad-ranging, including frequent collaborators like David Sylvian & Fennesz alongside Icelandic cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir (a fellow soundtrack composer), the great experimentalist Otomo Yoshihide and polymath Thundercat. Another polymath, Devonté Hynes, contributes a chamber arrangement of the originally solo piano piece "Choral No.1", while another longtime Sakamoto collaborator Alva Noto takes the beautiful "The Sheltering Sky" and pulls it apart into pulses of strings and piano.

Chris Abrahams - New Kind Of Border [Room40/Bandcamp]
For his many albums for Room40, Chris Abrahams has often felt comfortable to veer away from the piano into sound-works for Yamaha DX-7, or collage works; but the piano is never far away from Chris's composing ear, and so the four works on his 2022 album Follower find his various characteristic Chris Abrahams piano gestures creeping around sound-worlds made from synthesisers or organs and scattered, jangling percussion reminiscent of some more recent sounds from his Necks colleague Tony Buck. Of course Abrahams' solo piano is more than capable of speaking for itself, but here it acts as one part of a whole, less lead instrument, more textural.

C. Spencer Yeh - A Few Things Can Be Happening at the Same Time [Bocian]
Anla Courtis - DTRPNKL [Bocian]
Two tracks from a big compilation of noise & experimental artists (31 tracks!) by Polish label Bocian called The Border. In this case it's the border between Belarus and Poland, where refugees from mostly Middle Eastern & Central Asian countries are attempting to make their way into Europe, and are either trapped in a no-man's land between two countries which are both hostile to their human rights or experience violence on one side or other of the border. The Border Group, who this compilation supports, is an unofficial organisation of local residents, volunteers and some NGOs dedicated to providing aid to those caught in this humanitarian crisis, and it seems to me they definitely need all the funds they can get. But that aside, this is a great compilation with lots of big names in experimental & noise music - at least two Australians (Robert Curgenven and Mike Majkowski), Mats Gustafsson, Maja Ratkje, Martin Brandlmayr & Martin Siewert (both of Radian et al), Ben Vida, and, well, heaps more. I was really excited to see C. Spencer Yeh there, as a massive Burning Star Core fan, and also this is neither a solo violin nor solo voice track, but rather a free noise kind of thing. And Anla Courtis (aka Alan Courtis, a founder of Reynols and incredibly prolific & important Argentine musician) contributes a beautiful subdued piece of bass guitar thrums.

Ilia Belorukov - High Shrubs Forming a Thicket [Crónica/Bandcamp]
The latest cassette from the always-splendid Portuguese internationalist experimental label Crónica comes from Russian sound-artist, saxophonist and writer Ilia Belorukov. Composed during the pandemic lockdowns in 2020-21, it features field recordings melded with percussion sounds, modular synthesis and various instruments. The idea was to take these many inputs along with some computer-generated responses to the sounds, and find a way to create something coherent, consonant, harmonious even - and thus we have beautiful works of composed sound, where the sounds could come from nature, or a human, or a computer. It takes a human to pull it all together though, and Belorukov has done so with great panache.

Nika Son - Trinsar puddle [Below The Radar 41, with The Wire issue 467]
Hamburg musician Nika Breithaupt aka Nika Son makes music for film, art, DJs and more ("owl" is rather enigmatically included on her website bio). Her solo music seems to draw equally from techno, industrial, synthwave etc and musique concrète & other early electronic music. One of the many perks of subscribing to The Wire is the bonus compilations that come with a good 2/3 of the issues, and from last month's edition of the download comp Below The Radar, we get an otherwise-unreleased track from Nika Son, with burbling electronics and percussion eventually joined by a voice speaking in French. It's slightly spooky and lovely.

Listen again — ~209MB


Sunday, 8th of January, 2023

Playlist 08.01.23 (11:00 pm)

It's the second Sunday of January, 2023, and I'm already playing 2023 music! But I am also looking back to December 2022 and some earlier 2022 music I missed. Some. But time moves on and the music world these days STOPS FOR NOONE. Not even me ?

LISTEN AGAIN to keep up! Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Machinefabriek - + Berlinde Deman [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Machinefabriek - + Jeremy Young [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Machinefabriek - + Christine Ott [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Machinefabriek - + Leo Chadburn [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Machinefabriek - + Michel Banabila [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Machinefabriek - + Giovanni Di Domenico [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
The first release for 2023 from Machinefabriek is comprised of 52 tracks, each derived from a 1-minute improvisation contributed by a different musical friend of the artist. It's a solution to Rutger Zuydervelt's circumstances in the latter part of 2022, having become a father for the first time, trying to work out how to balance his time with making music, design work and parenting. Creating a collection of short works seemed like the ticket, and the result is the monumental album simply titled +, which will be released on CD & digital on Feb 17th - although the even-numbered tracks are already available for streaming & download on Bandcamp. As you'd expect, Zudervelt's collaborators range from acoustic instrumentalists to electronic experimentalists. Tonight we started with jazz musician Berlinde Deman, who as well as playing tuba & euphonium is a specialist in the serpent, an ancient bass brass instrument; she's followed by Canadian tape manipulator and sound-artist Jeremy Young, who contributes the sine waves and radio that he's been using lately, and then we hear from Christine Ott and her signature ondes martenot. Ott's track is a good example of how Zuydervelt absorbs and reworks the sounds of his collaborators, with jungle's amen breaks buried somewhere in the analogue sounds. Our second batch brings spoken word and field recordings from Leo Chadburn (who you may know as Simon Bookish), a piece with longtime collaborator Michel Banabila, and Fender Rhodes from prolific jazz/experimental pianist Giovanni Di Domenico.

bracken - .... [Bracken Bandcamp]
bracken - ... [Bracken Bandcamp]
On December 21st, Chris Adams dropped a surprise bracken album on his Bandcamp with no notice. Raking Light is a lot more ambient than previous Bracken material, give or take (I played the one track with beats tonight). As per Adams' work over the years with Hood, there's a hard-to-define hazy mix of indie and electronic here, with some muffled vocals at times, some dub delays, and patented Chris Adams angst. I'll take anything new from Chris, whether Bracken, Downpour or something else, with the full veneration it requires.

part timer - one [part timer Bandcamp]
Another December release, after a stellar year of albums and EPs, part timer's 2022 extras gifts us with four more unreleased tracks, with folktronic glitches & shuffly beats and post-classical prettiness as only John McCaffrey can do.

William Ryan Fritch - Storm [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
William Ryan Fritch - Excavate [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
The very prolific Oakland-based composer & multi-instrumentalist William Ryan Fritch had a quiet year last year - but that's about to end, with a three album series begun this month, each of which will focus on the water crises faced by communities around the globe. Much of the music on Polarity, which is released this Friday, came out of soundtrack work William did for the stunning documentary Newtok, about an Alaskan community being displaced by climate change. This album sees Fritch expanding his sonic pallette, adding to the acoustic instruments (many of them homemade) that he's used for many years. Synthesized electronic sounds are brought into the physical world via modified speakers, hydrophones, solenoids and so on, captured by ceramic PZM mics and contact mics. The physicality of the sound here is palpable, and allows Fritch to bring mutant techno pulses and electronic drones & surges into his acoustic soundworld.

Putrika - Monologue [self-released]
Born in Jakarta, Putrika is now based in Sydney, and her first single "Rain On Tuesday" led to her being made Independent Artist of the Week on our very own FBi Radio back in March 2022. That song is now on her Silmara EP, which I'm only just catching up with now. It's four tracks of soul-infused minimal house, to my ears very Matthew Herbert. It's entirely self-produced and super well done.

Lint - Fruit Bat Nite Club [Mound of Sound]
Lint - Fluff [Mound of Sound]
Dru & Mitch Jones are low-key Sydney experimental music royalty, with Mitchell being a founding member of postpunk/proto-industrial shapeshifters Scattered Order, and Drusilla having been involved from early on too. The two are based in Mount Victoria these days, just outside of Sydney in the Blue Mountains, where they continue to create wonky art that doesn't quite belong to any particular genre or scene, but somehow picks up flavours of the zeitgeist whenever it glancingly intersects with it. Mitch still plays with the latest incarnation of Scattered Order, and both are also solo artists, but they also team up together as Lint, under which alias they released Reggae Nuns In Paradise late last year. Mitch plays guitar through laptop effects and creates variegated beats, and Dru provides manipulated samples on, I believe, an iPad. It's psychedelically disorienting and deeply enjoyable.

Simona Zamboli - Underworld [Mille Plateaux]
Simona Zamboli - Movement [Mille Plateaux]
A Laugh Will Bury You is Milan-based sound engineer Simona Zamboli's second album for Mille Plateaux. Like the excellent Ethernity from 2021, it takes a sideways view of the industrial, hard techno that she makes in other contexts, melting it down to its elements and mixing in plenty of dust, creating murky textures and rhythms well-suited to history of Mille Plateaux. In amongst the dark electronics and noise are discorporate vocal loops which only add to the general sense of disturbance.

Slikback x Blackhaine - SLKBLKH FREESTYLE [Slikback Bandcamp]
Not only does Kenyan experimental producer Slikback drop tracks, EPs, albums on his Bandcamp just about every month, he frequently comes up with brilliant collaborations with the cream of the crop. Thus, 2013 began with this slice of perfection landing on that Bandcamp - Slikback's trap-influenced overdriven beats with the Northern drill poet of bleakness, Blackhaine. What more to say? It needed to exist, it exists.

LeTo - Gin Nothing [[re]sources]
Lyon producer LeTo, a founder of the bass-loving True Lyon Crew and Leftover Dubs, joins the excellent Parisian bass label [re]sources with Automatisms. It's a 3-track EP of UK bass-infused 130 tunes, with nods to dancehall as well as garage & grime, all three catchy and dancefloor-ready.

Lila Tirando a Violeta & Nicola Cruz - Cuerpo que Flota [N.A.A.F.I/Lila Tirando a Violeta Bandcamp]
Lila Tirando a Violeta & Loris & Nick León - transmute [Lila Tirando a Violeta Bandcamp]
Lila Tirando a Violeta - Brief Glimpses of Happiness [N.A.A.F.I/Lila Tirando a Violeta Bandcamp]
Camila Domínguez is a Uruguayan electronic musician, DJ, performer, label owner and event organiser, whose solo music as Lila Tirando a Violeta is lately exploring Latin influences with bass and hard dance styles. She's also one half of queer pop duo A.M.I.G.A, and collaborations - generally with other Latin American musicians - are strewn through her work, including 7 out of the 10 tracks on her latest album, Desire Path. In between two tracks from that album, I played a track in which she teams up with Mexican-Palestinian producer Loris and Miami-based Nick León. Meanwhile, Ecuadorian star Nicola Cruz appears on the opening track, but on the closing track (one of the truly solo pieces), Domínguez samples a forlorn, monotone voice. It's a hell of a quote, and accompanied by a simple percussion loop and arid drone it's a hell of an album closer.

The Flashbulb - Uphill Manual (Live PA) [The Flashbulb Bandcamp]
Benn Jordan is a genius - a longtime breakcore & drill'n'bass producer from wayback who has built a very successful YouTube channel around his talent for explaining things clearly & creatively - and a real journalistic flair, it has to be said. Check out his recent video on Why Spotify Will Ultimately Fail - it'll make your blood boil. At the end of 2022 he snuck out a mixtape of music from 2022 called Kirlian Tapes v1.0 (a callback to his classic genre-bending album of genius Kirlian Selections), with little fanfare other than the release emails on Bandcamp. He apologised that it's "mostly jazz", and he's rather good at jazzy noodling on keyboards and bass; but there's a fair bit of that characteristic drill'n'bassy drum programming, at least on the first few tracks.

PinkPantheress - Take Me Home [Warner Music]
Nobody represents the TikTok generation's surprising turn to jungle & drum'n'bass as much as the 22yo English pop singer PinkPantheress. Her incisive, concise songs frequently draw on mid-'90s beats, and it's a really sweet, if odd, thing. Early last year a bunch of folks remixed songs from her debut album, but near the close of the year she put out a three-track EP, the title track of which is another of those nice jungle-pop songs.

Parallel & Tim Reaper - Experiments In Motion [Future Retro]
UK junglist extraordinaire Tim Reaper aka Ed Alloh took time off from his collaborative series Meeting of the Minds last year to release a bunch of other stuff (because he never sleeps!), but he's right back into it in 2023 with two more volumes. Both are excellent, as usual each featuring two tracks a side with a jungle or hardcore producer collaborating with Alloh, and from Meeting of the Minds Vol. 10 we heard some classic dark jungle with Parallel, an artist Reaper worked a lot with in earlier days.

Arcane - Curse of the Pharaohs [Rua Sound/Bandcamp]
Another of the newer generation of junglists, Bristol's Arcane returns to Irish label Rua Sound, and specifically their jungle-focused imprint Foxy Jangle, with two tracks of hi-fi beats & basslines, with a distinct melodic sensibility.

Calm Stiege - Zipper [Third Degree]
Moving to Perth label Third Degree, who released the excellent hardcore/breakbeat/jungle album HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials Vol. 0002) late last year. It may be a Western Australian label, but Calm Stiege is a London-based artist, whose main focus is UK Garage & Funky, but here turns in some very nice accelerated breaks, jungle-stylee.

Laxenanchaos - Cluster Amaryllis (Edit) [☯ anybody universe ☯]
It's something of a tradition for ☯ anybody universe ☯, the label of Japanese drill'n'bass/breakcore producer Laxenanchaos, to put out a release at Christmas each year. For their 7th anniversary, it's new EP Cluster Amaryllis from Laxenanchaos with lovely breakneck IDM stuff, including two quite different versions of the title track.

Obelisk - Illidan Bass (Ptwiggs Remix) [PAYNOMINDTOUS/Bandcamp]
Obelisk - Echoburst [PAYNOMINDTOUS/Bandcamp]
Keeping it jungle/hardcore-continuum, albeit considerably broken-down and noise-laden, the Turin-based PAYNOMINDTOUS label brings us the debut EP from Eora/Sydney's Obelisk, who organises the Nexus events and works closely with FBi all-round legend Krishtie aka Index. I played Obelisk earlier in 2022 from Deep Scan's Solid State Drive 2 compilation, and here are three more dark and dangerous tracks, backed with two great remixes. Jungle & IDM have always featured in Phoebe Ptwiggs' DNA, and her remix here explodes with a beefed-up hardcore techno racket.

Skee Mask - Steamer (Early Mix) [SCNTST/Skee Mask Bandcamp]
Ilian Tape mainstay Skee Mask released two EPs on the Munich label last year, but he also put out two albums, just titled A and B, on the Bandcamp of his early SCNTST alias, both collecting unreleased, unmastered Skee Mask tracks from the last 5 years or so. There are many gems to be found, including plenty of representation of his love for melding jungle & d'n'b tropes (and IDM) with his minimalist techno.

Listen again — ~208MB


Sunday, 1st of January, 2023

Playlist 01.01.23 - Best of 2022, Part 3!!! (6:50 pm)

And so we make it 2023, and the third & final part of Utility Fog's Best of 2022 - it's the beats. This is a 2hr seamless DJ mix, which on-air and on podcast has me talking at points throughout. If you're reading this, you can also directly download the mix itself with no talking here.

CS + Kreme - Would You Like A Vampire (feat. Bridget St. John) [The Trilogy Tapes/Bandcamp]
The work of Conrad Standish and Sam Karmel as CS + Kreme seems representative of a certain segment of the Melbourne experimental music scene, with Karmel's history in bands like Bum Creek, while Standish (brother of HTRK's Jonnine) has inhabited the indie rock sphere for a couple of decades. The CS + Kreme duo has seemed to relish a kind of shapelessness, from smooth lo-fi electro-pop on their early EPs through to gradually more jagged edges and post-punk/dub aesthetics from the much-loved Snoopy LP a couple of years ago. Now comes Orange, an even greater departure into post-punk experimentalism, with bubbling drum machine patterns, disembodied vocal samples, a little spooky cocktail jazz piano (maybe that's a stretch) and a side-long drone, distortion & drum machine opus with help from James Rushford on various keyboard instruments. For my money, this is by far their best effort and a 2022 essential.

DJ Sports & Tim Reaper - Wormhole [Future Retro]
Tim Reaper continues his Meeting of the Minds series on his Future Retro label with volumes 7 & 8, each featuring 4 collaborations. Here Reaper and Danish producer Milan Zaks aka DJ Sports do their best to mash up breaks as comprehensively as possible, whooshing cymbals forward & backwards and stopping and starting in fine junglist fashion. 2022 was another big year for Tim Reaper, but I mistakenly played this track from late 2021, hope you can forgive...

Ryoji Ikeda - ultratronics 11 [Noton/Codex]
If you've engaged with the art world in the last few years, the world of installations and the interface where performance and installation work meet, you'd be hard pressed to have avoided Ryoji Ikeda. Back in the mid-to-late '90s when his early digital cut-up and glitch works were emerging, primarily on the Touch label, he seemed like a futuristic, very experimental and deliciously obscure artist, whose work bridged cerebral concept-art and experimental electronic dance music. Indeed, his razor-sharp cutting techniques and rhythmic complexity meant that he somehow crossed between the accelerated syncopations of jungle and IDM and the austereness of minimal techno. In recent years, Ikeda has become a giant of the art world, with exhibitions ranging from towers of light outside MONA in Tasmania and next to the Houses of Parliament in London to precise flickering light installations to walk through, under and around, seen in London, at Carriageworks in Sydney, and all around the world... and further, to intense multi-screen data visualisation works such as the one (inside) at MONA and one involving a performance aspect, shown among other places also at Carriageworks. These are often monumental works, and it's pleasing that their size, power and audience-friendliness mean that people are, knowingly or not, consuming his wonderful, complex minimal/maximal glitch music as well. In his audio work - within the installations and on record - Ikeda keeps the masses of data and finely chopped sounds within a rhythmic grid - albeit heavily syncopated. There's a purity to much of the sound: even though he has composed for string quartets and percussion ensembles, much of his work is entirely electronic, and mostly created within the digital realm. Some earlier works concern themselves with sine waves and interference patterns, but I would venture that it's the dense, rhythmic stuff that is most characteristically Ikeda. Ultratronics is his latest album, following almost a decade after Supercodex. It explores the same themes that have been present for ages - big data from genetics, quantum physics and astronomy, rendered into propulsive digital audio. Ikeda understands that this kind of aural reification requires movement, and light shows with big soundsystems in enclosed rooms can't help but evoke dance clubs. On Ultratronics he reminds of this with voice samples, croaking speech synthesis and even chunky breakbeats. It was wonderful in 2022 to have a new recording from such an iconoclastic figure - and I played two rather different tracks tonight.

PETBRICK - Lysergic Aura (Feat. Lord Goat & Truck Jewelz) [Rocket Recordings/Bandcamp]
The interface between breakcore and metal has always been eldritch thin. Here's a perfect example: one half of PETBRICK is Wayne Adams, who made breakcore for years as Ladyscraper, but has also been in hardcore bands like Death Pedals, and party noise rock band Big Lad. Adams' foil in PETBRICK is none other than Igor Cavalera, founding drummer in Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura, but also electronic music producer and touring drummer with Soulwax. I first discovered PETBRICK through their incredible collaboration with Brazilian punk/experimental/noise group Deafkids, DEAFBRICK. It's hard to pin down what's producing the noises on PETBRICK's second album Liminal - there are metal/industrial riffs that could be synths, drones that could be guitars, beats that could be live drumming but are often clearly sampled and programmed. It's at times intense and rhythmic, at other times sparse or doomy. Hardcore/metal vocalists guest as well as underground rappers. As a response to a world falling apart, it's quite visceral and yet also pretty fun. Also of note, back in May they released the Ayan EP, with four versions of the eponymous track, including remixes from techno veteran Surgeon and ex-breakcore veteran Cardopusher, and their own "Bubblelogue" remix, which despite the reference to Aphex Twin's Analogue Bubblebath releases is more in line with the anagrammatic Hangable Auto Bulb EPs, drill'n'bass madness.

They Hate Change - Who Next [Jagjaguwar/Bandcamp]
Discovering the jungle-loving rap duo They Hate Change was one of the great moments of 2020. Dre and Vonne grew up in Florida's Tampa Bay, and courtesy of the internet became immersed in UK club music, especially jungle & grime. Their rapping is as American as it comes, with Vonne's gender fluidity an important part of the mix. Despite their non-conforming status, it was still surprising to find them signed to indie/experimental label Jagjaguwar last year, after EPs on smaller labels like godmode, but all power to them, and in 2022 we received their debut full length Finally, New, with their signature sound intact. Bigups!

Stefan Goldmann - Oyotung [Macro Records]
Berlin techno producer Stefan Goldmann does 4/4 with the best of them, but also has a sideline in experimental beats and sound-art (his father was the composer & conductor Friedrich Goldmann), and for the 12" Vector Rituals on his Macro label he deconstructs the beats and barlines into strange polyrhythms, sometimes frenetic and sometimes calm, always flowing with liquid grace. This is pure electronic music, although the melodic and textural elements tend towards gamelan-like bells and tuned percussion. It's engrossing music for mind & body.

pale sketcher - golden skin [GIVE/TAKE/Bandcamp]
It's been many years since we've heard from Pale Sketcher, the IDM project of Justin K Broadrick. It's a long way from the pioneering grindcore of Napalm Death, the industrial metal of Godflesh, or even the shoegaze metal of Jesu, but in fact the origins of Pale Sketcher come from a set of deconstructed ambient/electronic remixes Broadrick made of his 2007 Jesu album Pale Sketches. The tunes on new album golden skin were created a little after this, up until 2013, and were originally going to be released on Aphex Twin's Rephlex Records before the label shut down. They've now finally found a home on US label GIVE/TAKE, which is a blessing because this stuff is just so good. It's got a bit of the shoegazey outlook of the Jesu origins, but with those wordless vocal snippets playing the same role they do on the recent µ-Ziq work, and among the crunchy beats are plenty of accelerated drill'n'bass funtimes to be had. JKB has hinted that there will be more actually-new Pale Sketcher material coming too - can't wait!

Marco Zenker - Resistance [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Oooh and here's a real one. Marco Zenker is one of the Zenkers wot run the excellent Munich label Ilian Tape. And his new solo album Channel Balance was a beautifully realised example of most of what the label does oh so well - dub aesthetics cutting through genres from lugubrious ambient through breakbeat-loving techno up to (on the second half) jungle and drum'n'bass. The brothers came to techno and 4/4 electronics via a love of hip-hop and Jamaican styles, and somehow that really shows too. But it's the consistency of quality production and emotional depth across the ostensible genre changes through this album that make it such a highlight. Not to be missed.

Ahm - Antisocial [Anterograde/Bandcamp]
Naarm/Melbourne producer Andrew Huhtanen McEwan aka Ahm returned in 2022 with their third EP for Anterograde, and Ansible is all sci-fi all jungle all the time. An ansible is a faster-than-light or near-instantaneous communication device, invented by the great Ursula K Le Guin, and McEwan was attracted to the idea during Covid lockdowns, where formerly short distances could feel intergalactic. It's a collection of rich, dark drum'n'bass tunes, and includes also a first class remix from Hextape aka Bridget Chappell.

Other People's Children - Skywave [Observable Universe Recordings]
Ahead of Nice Music's release of a NEW album from his beloved duo Pretty Boy Crossover with Cailan Burns, Adelaide's Jason Sweeney spent much of 2022 compiling a slew of archival releases - in fact starting last year with the Decades (2001-2021) collection of soundtrack work as Panoptique Electrical. They appeared on his Observable Universe Recordings Bandcamp, including the massive 5-hour, 84-track Disappointment Archives 1986-2016 - and before you run away from this acknowledged (but justified) excess, maybe you could start with the more manageable Selective Memory 1998-2003 collection from Jason's indietronica band Other People's Children? I first became a dedicated fan of Jason's work when I was handed an advance copy of the aforementioned Pretty Boy Crossover's album the building and formation around 1999 - a phenomenal collection of IDM tunes, melodic, minimalist, with tweaked drum machines and lo-fi synths that's never stopped being deeply evocative. It's lovely hearing those lo-fi sounds married with Jason's indie songwriting - his melancholy vocals, with guitar or keyboards - on songs old and new. Jason's been involved with many projects over the years, including scuzzy indie rock, post-classical and ambient, IDM, indietronica and more. Such an important, versatile Australian musician.

µ-Ziq - Metabidiminished Icosahedron [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
To my ears the Hello EP from Mike Paradinas aka µ-Ziq featured some of the best material from his yearlong revival of the melodic, experimental tribute to jungle that was his 1997 album Lunatic Harness, re-released as a double album with many contemporary tracks in the middle of the year. Meanwhile we've had the Goodbye EP earlier in the year, the Magic Pony Ride album alongside the Lunatic Harness reissue, and finally the completion of the series with Hello (collected on CD along with the Goodbye EP tracks). In general there's a darker quality to the tracks on this EP, but Mike's irrepressible melodic sense still shines through, and it's got some of the most tricksy yet danceable beats. Yes! Hello!! Yes!!!

Yunzero - Blowing O-s [West Mineral Ltd/Bandcamp]
Next up, from Naarm/Melbourne is our man Yunzero, with his most high-profile release yet, Butterfly DNA, out on Huerco S's West Mineral Ltd. It's honestly so good seeing new people getting hip to the unique madness of Yunzero's sound, drawing on beats from trip-hop & jungle to dubstep & footwork, doing "deconstructed club" in very much his own way, and equally doing the ambient/illbient of vaporwave/dreamgaze in his own woozy way. Utterly brilliant.

Julmud جُلْمود - Falnukmel فلنكمل [Bilna'es/Bandcamp]
From Ramallah, Palestine comes an album from hip-hop producer, rapper and percussionist Julmud جُلْمود. The Bilna'es label is co-run by Muqata'a, and some of his glitchy tendencies and love of breakbeats can be heard here - and of course the theme of oppression, unavoidable when living under Israeli apartheid in the occupied territories. Here Julmud crafts varied tracks from chopped & screwed Arabic samples, drum breaks, percussion and more - truly unique and brilliant (I played two tracks tonight!) - don't let this one slip through the cracks.

clipping. and ZULI - Make Them Dead (ZULI's Life After Death Remix) [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
Over four weeks, clipping. released a series of 4 (FOUR) REMXNG 2.x EPs. There were lots of lovely junglist versions, noise and experimental sound of all sorts (I played a beatless but madcap version from Cooling Prongs on Part 2 of my Best of last week), but I'm not going to pass up the opportunity to play Cairo's ZULI, here mashing the amen breaks at hip-hop tempo and somehow scrambling Daveed Diggs' vocals in amongst the rhythmic stuff.

Rutger Zuydervelt - Hinkelstap 3 [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
I was very lucky to get a pre-release copy of Rutger Machinefabriek Zuydervelt's EP Hinkelstap - in fact, I got to preview it before it was finished. Here Zuydervelt is taking a rare plunge into an unusual space for him - entirely electronic music, complete with basslines and beats. It owes more than a little to the IDM we both grew up with in the '90s, and the hardcore/drum'n'bass continuum - melodic synths, slow repetitive basslines and jittery, head-nodding beats. It's always great to hear a musician pushing themself outside of their comfort zone - if Machinefabriek can be said to have a comfort zone. I thorougly enjoyed these tracks, which were premiered here back in July.

Keita Sano - Inner Hall [ROW Records/Bandcamp]
Always love new discoveries. Keita Sano is by no means a new artist, but by and large his focus has been on house and disco, so I've not encountered him until recently. His second EP on ROW Records just dropped (he spent some time in Berlin before moving back to Okayama) and Legacy From Leyton brings a nice mix of head-nodding techno, IDM influences and even a bit of jungle, along with a classy garage/dubstep remix from Tokyo-based Dayzero. Sano also has his own Bandcamp, which had a massive amount of archival material uploaded, in a huge range of styles. 2021's Keep The Party Going On seems to take on a different dance music genre on just about every track, with low-slung beats abiding, distorted snares, b-boy drum machines, even a bit of drum'n'bass. A lot of the other stuff has now gone, but I was lucky enough to grab junglist versions of dub tracks, IDM-style beatworks and even some proper d'n'b, some very lovely grainy distorted slow techno a la Andy Stott, and lots more. Still well worth exploring in depth!

Forest Drive West - Break [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
UK artist Forest Drive West has one of the most intruging careers, successful both with bass-heavy techno and jungle. That's perfect for the great Ilian Tape, where for his debut on the label he starts with the weight somewhat on the techno side, but leans heavily on jungle & d'n'b for most, including a superb rolling track in 7/4.

Mister Shifter - Murder One [Straight Up Breakbeat/Bandcamp]
Finland is a surprising home to an enthusiastic drum'n'bass & jungle scene, with figures like Fanu and Resound only the tip of the iceberg. A few years ago the Straight Up Breakbeat label popped up in Helsinki with a well-curated modern take on classic jungle & drum'n'bass sounds. A special Bandcamp edition, Zero Two, came out early in the year, with many Finnish artists such as Fanu, Resound and Mineral - who we heard tonight with a track that accelerates and skitters away throughout - and international artists like US producer Mister Shifter, who gives us fierce dark breaks.

R-T-FAX - Circuit Breakaa [Deep Scan]
Early in 2022, Bandcamp had an article about "the internet's" breakcore revival, with some pretty good commentary on where breakcore came from in the '90s and what it's become today. As a side-note, it was interesting to read Alex Petridis talking about drum'n'bass becoming cool for the TikTok generation in the Guardian this week (full disclosure: I hate almost all the music referenced in the article, but my taste is irrelevant for TikTok pop trends and I'm really glad this stuff exists). Anyway, I was particularly pleased to read the breakcore article because it's been a while since breakcore was a core genre for Utility Fog (it was for years), and just in time for that Bandcamp article, Sydney-based Deep Scan released their second compilation, Solid State Drive 2, focused on breakcore both local and international. It's a fantastic comp, showcasing excellent music which understands breakcore and jungle's history and comfortably situates them in current-day musical trends. Erin Nortje, aka R-T-FAX, is one half of Deep Scan with Tom Vanderzeil. Her track splices junglist breaks into a half-time, stop-start, bass-heavy monster. Brilliant.

JK Flesh - Crawler [Pressure]
If you know me at all, you know that Justin K Broadrick is one of my heroes. So it makes sense that he appears twice tonight - first as Pale Sketcher above, and now as JK Flesh. Initially the alias was used for a kind of mutant dubstep thing, but for some years now has been an outlet for harsh and dirty industrial techno, often veering into surprisingly high tempos. But for the superb Sewer Bait album for Kevin Martin's own Pressure label the tempo slows right down to super scuzzy, pummelling but somehow, dare I say... comforting? Put this on in a dark room with a bunch of like-minded folk and joyfully wallow in the negative vibes.

billy woods - Wharves [Backwoodz Studioz/Bandcamp]
It feels like billy woods albums come thick & fast, whether or not we include Armand Hammer (who are visiting our shores in a couple of months!) In 2022 we got TWO solo albums from woods, with the Messiah Musik-produced Church later in the year, and near the start Aethiopes, with Preservation. Aethiopes is almost as good as woods' album Hiding Places with Kenny Segal (one of the best albums full stop of the last 5+ years), and it's notable that there's a continuity of sound with all woods' work, regardless of who's behind the keyboard, knobs and faders. The movie samples are there, the tone is grimy, the beats stumble off into free jazz at times (love the piano chaos in "Haarlem"!) and the lyrics concern themselves with the horrors of the world today. Nobody carries this off better than woods and his 'woodz cohorts.

Saint Abdullah & Eomac - In One Corner The Male Relatives [Other People/Bandcamp]
Here's a surprising but perfect collaboration between Ian McDonnell aka Eomac (one half of Lakker) and NY-based Iranian brothers Mohammad & Mehdi aka Saint Abdullah. With Saint Abdullah, the brothers explore various aspects of their culture and the way it's filtered and twisted in the "Western" context, melding field recordings and samples of Iranian music with dub and IDM-inspired beats and ambiences, free jazz and noise. McDonnell too has brought traditional Irish music into his techno and experimental electronics, and the artists were able to find parallels between the ways religious traditions in their cultures have been used to oppress their peoples. The album runs like many Saint Abdullah albums, with crackling samples from Iran & the Middle East and further afield, and abstractions of various types of dance music. If you like this awesome work, be sure to follow up their many previous releases.

Algiers feat. billy woods & Backxwash - Bite Back [Matador/Bandcamp]
When I first heard about Algiers, the idea of gospel-influenced vocals mixed with punk sounded decidedly unattractive. Yet the band makes it work, and the way they draw on politically-charged music of all sorts - particularly black musics like house & rap - means it's even hader to pin them down to any style. That's at the forefront of their return with new single "Bite Back" in which they're joined by two of the greatest unerground rappers the moment, the low-key, experimental billy woods and the high-energy, metal-and-postrock-influenced Zambian-Canadian Backxwash. "Punk" hardly fits at all here, with a marching synth bassline, orchestral stab-style samples, and skittering hi-hats, and halfway through a righteous DJ Shadow-style beat. Electrifying.

Aquarian - Dead Whale [Dekmantel/Bandcamp]
In 2022 the Berlin-based, Canadian-born Aquarian released two excellent Mutations EPs on the Dekmantel label. His solo productions and tracks with Deapmash as AQXDM are bass-heavy techno and jungle, dancefloor-oriented IDM etc. All the tracks were ace, but this closer from Mutations I: Death, Taxes & Hanger is completely insane, with a 13/8 beat (6+7), increasingly frenetic drum breaks and beautiful sub-bass drops.

ALXZNDR - M4 [DEEP MEDi/Bandcamp]
London-based Alex Frosell is also classically-trained, and his melodic talents show on his latest EP as ALXZNDR, his debut on the great dubstep label DEEP MEDi. 140bpm music, whether dubstep or grime, lends itself to a certain kind of harmonic movement, and Frosell understands how to move those interrelated chords around a slow, syncopated bassline with plenty of dub-derived space.

700 Bliss - Sixteen [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
Moor Mother & DJ Haram's debut album as 700 Bliss, Nothing To Declare, arrived from Hyperdub in May 2022 after much anticipation. The Philadelphia musicians are a great pairing. Moor Mother is comfortable in her usually gruff raps with hip-hop, punk, free jazz, metal and no doubt more; DJ Haram merges her Middle Eastern roots into club sounds, lo-fi hip-hop, noise and whatever else takes her fancy, and raps as well at times. Across the album there are guests adding r'n'b tinges, angelic autotuned melodies and glitched breakbeats - but the talents of the duo are such that there's hardly any repetition here, and no slackening of pace or interest, even in the tongue-in-cheek skits.

Commodo - Living Bones [Black Acre/Bandcamp]
In 2020 Commodo put out three EPs of dingy TV show soundtrack vibes mixed up with dubstep swagger. This year he started out with a three-track EP on Black Acre entitled Deft 1s, which broke the mold once again. The closest I can think of is some of Distance's old stuff fusing distorted metal riffs with dubstep, but here's it's nimble postpunk basslines and riffs. It was phenomenal, and was followed up with two EPs on his own Mysterious Trax which went further down this new path.

Phelimuncasi - I don't feel my legs (prod DJ Nhlekzin) [Nyege Nyege Tapes/Bandcamp]
More cause for celebration: A whole new album from Durban gqom crew Phelimuncasi, following 2020's 2013-2019 collection. Here the beats come from various locals including frequent collaborator DJ Scoturn, some bouncy productions from DJ MP3, and newcomer DJ Nhlekzin as well, while the three members (two men and one woman) rap & sing in isiZulu and English.

ronan - Geodesis [On Loop/Bandcamp]
Interdépendence was four tracks from French producer ronan, who runs the Eternal Ocean label (see Tristan Arp et al). Released by London label On Loop, the EP features four lovely dubby techno tracks to get your head nodding and/or your legs shuffling.

First Circle (feat Don Sinini) - Sad Day (Ghost Phone Remix) [All Centre]
In August, London's All Centre released First Circle's song "Sad Day" (feat. Don Sinini, and followed it up a few weeks later with this Ghost Phone remix which I like even more - it's sparse and haunted, with bass and skittery hats floating in and out with the vocals, like the best UK drill.

part timer - Unflow [part timer Bandcamp]
Bandcamp affords artists an unparalleled workflow from creation to publication. John Part Timer sent me a preview of the two tracks on Unflow/Utopia in July, and within minutes of my telling him they need to be released, they were up on Bandcamp. It helps that he's been producing scads of uncanny faux-instrument faux-artwork using AI tools lately. These two electronic tunes harken back to the folktronic & IDM origins of Part Timer, always a delight, along with some nice sub bass action.

Ryoji Ikeda - ultratronics 07 [Noton/Codex]
(see above for discussion)

Gunjack - Lacrimogena [Gunjack Bandcamp]
Gunjack - Scorpio [Gunjack Bandcamp]
Gunjack - Winterlude [Gunjack Bandcamp]
Brian Gunjack is a US artist with very eclectic styles. In September he released the Hyperjazz Volume 1 EP, which found him in drill'n'bass/breakcore mode but with a jazz core. A few months later the promised second volume arrived, subtitled The Social Music. Again it's manic drill'n'bass with moody jazz keys and samples, super well done. In between these releases, Gunjack dropped house, acid, techno, whatever takes his fancy - also notable was the superb album-length '90s-"ambient" style mix Substance Abuse which veers between ambient, trip-hop, acid, dub and even a bit of drill'n'bass. It's very Future Sound of London or The Orb, obviously too long to play here but well worth your time.

Wordcolour - Babble [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
Young UK artist Wordcolour wrote music for TV & film before releasing his sound design-oriented club tunes, starting with Tell Me Something for Lapsus in 2020. In fact one of the more "ambient" tracks on his incredible album The trees were buzzing, and the grass. featured in last week's Best of 2022 Part 2. The producer is highly adept at UK club forms of all sorts - Djrum's presence as remixer on the Bluster single is a good indicator - and so we get jungle-influenced tunes, hints of dubstep and deep house, and always IDM, but also crystalline ambient passages with distinct classical and jazz influences and crazy glitch interjections a la Japanese figures like Kashiwa Daisuke. Spoken word throughout adds to the pleasant sense of mystery and gives additional depth to a thought-provoking album, one I returned to a lot through the year.

dgoHn - Ninnyhammer (Djrum Remix) [Love Love Records/Bandcamp]
And speaking of Djrum... UK jungle/drumfunk master dgoHn released one of the best albums of 2020 with Undesignated Proximate. For 2022, every track on the album has received the remix treatment by many of the cream of the contemporary junglist crop. There are very few who have the talent for insane beat science of Djrum, who somehow combines that with top-notch compositional chops as well. Among many others, also notable was Skee Mask, creating something typically... untypical. The only shame - and it's a big one - is that there's not one female artist featured here. It shouldn't be hard.

Vaal - Song Zero [Bedouin Records/Bandcamp]
Eliot Sumner has been producing electronic music as Vaal for around a decade, but only started releasing it relatively recently. They are also known as a singer & songwriter under their own name, both for punk/post-punk and electro-pop, as well as an actor - and if you recognize the surname, that's because they are indeed the child of Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting, with actress Trudie Styler. As a vocalist, in December they appeared in collaboration with Ben Frost covering Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit". The name Vaal was taken as a way of being anonymous, and even though "Eliot Sumner" is connected with this album, the family connection goes unnoted. And while I have to admit that the Police and Sting's early solo music were among the first rock & pop I became a fan of as a schoolkid, there's near-zero connection with this particular music at all - it's just really fucking good. Unlike Nosferatu, their 2019 album that was much more along techno lines, this album incorporates breakbeats galore, from drum'n'bass and drill'n'bass (see "4th Generation Smart Phone") to more trip-hop like stylings, along with noisy but cinematic guitars and electronics. It's really very Bedouin Records, which is always a drawcard.

Rita Revell - Anabolic Window [Rita Revell Bandcamp]
Melbourne's Rita Revell debuted with the cassette I Had a Very Bad Time! in 2014, followed by the multimedia Zastani from the much-missed This Thing (was it in fact their last release?) Five years later we get the brilliant self-released Depozit. This is genreless music, timeless too, hardware-based études that can be lo-fi techno or woozy ambient loops, harsh and pretty.

Purelink - Spirit & Sport [Lillerne Tapes]
The great Chicago label Lillerne Tapes brings us the debut album from Chicago trio Purelink - although it's not their first release, with a brilliant pair of tracks available from last year on their Bandcamp, one of which is Basic Channel-style minimal dub techno, and the other LTJ Bukem-style ambient jungle. For their Lillerne Tapes release, it's Puredub - dubby beats of a very '90s nature, hinting at that Basic Channel fizz but mostly more on an ambient breakbeats tip, head-nodding and pure pleasure.

Carl Stone - Sumiya [Unseen Worlds/Bandcamp]
Like clipping. and Wordcolour above, LA/Japan-based computer music pioneer Carl Stone featured in our Best of 2022 Part 2 (the mostly-instrumental, mostly-beatless edition). As noted then, he has seen a renaissance since the Unseen Worlds label released two archival albums of his a few years ago. Active since the mid-1980s, Stone developed a technique to time-slice through existing recordings using granular synthesis to produce garbled yet musical live remixes & mashups. We had an embarrassment of riches from Stone this year, with the album Wat Dong Moon Lek, an album of reworks of Finnish label We Jazz, and indeed a remix of clipping. along the way - as well as the Gall Tones, a typically punning title. The latter was an EP produced on laptop & headphones in hospital following a gall stone operation, with the subject of his rhythmic chop-and-shuffle being pop music of some sort, hence the appearance of this rhythmically bamboozling piece of, hm... r'n'b? Pop?

Metal Preyers feat Lord Tusk - Metal Mans Revolt [Nyege Nyege Tapes]
London musician Jesse Hackett and Chicago-based visual artist Mariano Chavez have worked together since 2018 as Teeth Agency, but as an offshoot or alias they have been releasing music via mixtapes and albums for the last couple of years as Metal Preyers on the Kampala-based Nyege Nyege Tapes label. Understanding it as an art project is in some ways helpful in unravelling the dense, polysemous, mysterious music (and I should mention that the visuals are awesome). Often, the provenance of the music seems to be an arcane reconstruction of British folk, or some 20th-century European classical composition - or that intersection-of-weird where proto-industrial and musique concrète meet. As often as not, though, the music does veer into a more contemporary beat-crafting or sound-editing realm, particularly emphasised with collaborators like Lord Tusk. Intriguing and rewarding.

Ani Klang - distorted thots, juni 2019 [New Scenery]
This second last track is a bit of a misdirect. The self-titled album from Californian artist Ani Klang, released by UK label New Scenery, was very much focused on rave madness - machine-gun beats and glitchy samples evoking the early-to-mid '90s on the whole. But then there's the last track. The exquisitely named "distorted thots, juni 2019" brings us queasy piano, glitching drones and processed vocals, a thing of unsettling beauty that I couldn't help playing at the end of this dancefloor music mix.

Julmud جُلْمود - Saree' el thawaban سريع الذوبان [Bilna'es/Bandcamp]
And we finish with another cut from the brilliant Palestinian producer Julmud جُلْمود (see above for discussion) - woozy loops of Arabic music to take us into 2023.

Listen again — ~209MB


Comments Off on Playlist 01.01.23 - Best of 2022, Part 3!!!

Sunday, 25th of December, 2022

Playlist 25.12.22 - Best of 2022 Part 2!! (12:50 pm)

It's really been another monster year for new music, and so much so that after last week's "songs" episode, this is now part 2 of 3 (THREE). Next week is all beats, a 2hr mix. Tonight is a "mix" too, of mostly non-beats music, mostly non-vocal. Neither of these rules are hard & fast, but this is experimental music that's not "songs" and not for the dancefloor.

LISTEN AGAIN to more of the best of the best! Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling, Andreas Werliin - II [Drag City/Bandcamp]
This year saw the release of a brilliant new solo album from Oren Ambarchi, Shebang, released on Drag City and featuring a horde of great collaborators. From his origins in free noise, extreme minimalism and drone/doom metal, about 10 years ago Oren Ambarchi found himself a minimalist, evolving experimental rock groove with the remarkable Audience of One, and has since then embellished and refined this style over a number of releases. Shebang follows in that sequence, and deservedly headed up a lot of people's best-of-the-year selections. However, I'm going for the other album, his trio work with Johan Berthling & Andreas Werliin titled Ghosted. On groove-based, kraut-jazz jams you'd be hard-pressed to find a better trio than these three. His collaborators here are established members of the Swedish experimental scene, both members of the legendary *ahem* postfolkrocktronic band Tape, and the two also make up the incredible rhythm section of the free jazz/psych ensemble Fire! with Mats Gustafsson. The stoic, dubby, krauty basslines Berthling lays down in Fire! are here, as are the freewheeling rhythms of Werliin (probably best known for his duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums with his brilliant wife and Fire! Orchestra member Mariam Wallentin). It was clear before it even came out that Drag City were on to a winner here, and it easily lived up to expectations. Track II is particularly blissed out. You won't regret spending 40 minutes with this music.

clipping. and Cooling Prongs - Down [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
This year clipping. followed up their 2016 RMXNG collection with FOUR sizeable RMXNG 2 12"s - that's four EPs each with 7 tracks, totalling over 2 hours of music reworking tracks from their last two albums of "horrorcore" rap. Each EP featured an impressive lineup, and we'll be hearing from them again in next week's best of 2022 part 3 with some jungle/breakcore mayhem. But their noise/drone roots also surface, with French-Ghanayan ambient/glitch maestro Aho Ssan managing to preserve the energy of Daveed Diggs' performance without any beats to speak of, and on tonight's selection, frequent clipping. collaborator Christopher Fleeger as Cooling Prongs combines field recordings with the glitched vocals of Daveed Diggs and barbershop quartet-style harmonies - it's got to be heard to be believed.

Loom & Thread - O**ne* [Macro/Bandcamp]
Leipzig/Berlin band Loom & Thread aim to turn the traditional jazz piano trio inside-out, much like pianist Tom Schneider's other band KUF do to dance-pop. Tobi Fröhlich on double bass and Daniel Klein on drums are immaculate jazz players, and Schneider is a great jazz pianist, but his nimble playing is also fed back into the trio improvisations by way of his sampler: sped up, stuttered into static clouds of notes, shifted in time. We're told this happens in real-time but if so, he's masterfully controlling the sampler simultaneously with his keyboard gymnastics... I feel like there are digital re-edits of the jazz improvs, but in any case this is a brilliant and unique take on post-jazz, with moments of true beauty and dazzling sections of both instrumental prowess and technological creativity.

Carl Stone - Wat Dong Moon Lek [Unseen Worlds/Bandcamp]
LA/Japan-based computer music pioneer Carl Stone has seen a renaissance since the Unseen Worlds label released two archival albums of his a few years ago. Active since the mid-1980s, Stone developed a technique to time-slice through existing recordings using granular synthesis to produce garbled yet musical live remixes & mashups. On his last couple of albums this has resulted in strangely rhythmic stuff that's like dance music as interpreted by 19th century robots(?) - and on the title track of his latest, Wat Dong Moon Lek (all his titles come from the names of Asian restaurants), a Vietnamese or Thai lounge jazz track is the source, smeared and sliced for 5 minutes, while the intro and coda are charmingly left untouched. We had an embarrassment of riches from Stone this year, with EP Gall Tones (just as good as this album), an album of reworks of Finnish label We Jazz, and indeed a remix of clipping. too!

Machinefabriek with Anne Bakker - Speling [Machinefabriek Bandcamp/Anne Bakker Bandcamp]
Dutch violist Anne Bakker has collaborated with Rutger Machinefabriek Zuydervelt for some years now - the earliest work I can find is from 2007, with Greg Haines included. Wisps is their third duo album together, based around a selection of violin, viola and vocal improvisations Bakker recorded and passed on to Zuydervelt. The short tracks range from folky sounding strings to rather abstract sound works, all quite bewitching. Oh, and listen out for the Don Cherry samples!

Lueenas - Witches Brew [Barkhausen Recordings]
Copenhagen duo Ida Duelund (double bass, drum machine, Moog bass and "pedals") and Maria Jagd (violin and pedals) create improvised and composed soundscapes as well as music for soundtracks and installations with their amplified instruments, voices and effects as Lueenas. Their self-titled debut album proper came out this year on Barkhausen Recordings, after a series of soundtracks and shorter works. The string instruments are the core, but some of the best material comes when the violin is screeching through distortion and the double bass is producing thundering drones. There are also tracks on the more subdued side, including a gorgeous piece of almost-jazz featuring a touching vocal from Emma Acs (whose current band is Evil House Party). Through the album there are filmic violin swells, drones, thudding rhythms from the instruments' bodies, and groaning noise drones as well as beautiful pizzicato lines and delicate string interactions. Very special stuff. Also notable, Duelund was based for a time in Melbourne - always nice to have an Oz connection.

Florent Ghys - Véranda [Cantaloupe/Bandcamp]
French musician Florent Ghys is a composer, double bassist, electronic musician and video artist. He's a longtime Bang on a Can collaborator, so it's no surprise to find his latest album released on the New York collective's Cantaloupe label. It's two albums, Ritournelles released on CD and the accompanying digital Mosaïques (tracks from both were collected on a special vinyl edition at the end of the year too). The former album focuses on double bass and other instruments, but they're often sampled and edited into complex tapestries, while the latter is more electronic, with Ghys' penchant for sampled speech coming to the fore, but there's also plenty of double bass on that album too. They're cut from the same cloth, and are well taken together. Fans of The Books will love what they find here - a wonderful revelation.

part timer - freeway [part timer Bandcamp]
It feels silly to still be banging on about the "return" of John McCaffrey to making music as part timer, given this recent phase started about 3 years ago in 2019. But every new drop brings much joy, and self-released new album Interiority Complex is a magnificent synthesis of the sensitive, poised post-classical piano & string arrangements he's produced of late with the glitchy, head-noddy beats and samples of his early folktronica, which featured nearly every week on Utility Fog for years, back when. If you haven't gotten behind the new part timer phase then shame on you, but for $10 AUD on Bandcamp, Interiority Complex is the perfect place to start.

Mabe Fratti - Desde el cielo [Unheard Of Hope/Bandcamp]
Based for some time now in Mexico City, Guatemalan cellist Mabe Fratti has created her own form of experimental song from her raw cello playing, often filtered through multiple effects, along with arrays of electronics and her delicate voice - her ear for melody is remarkable, with melodic lines rising up over scratchy riffs and drones. Although this album is deliberately sparser in orchestration than her last few releases, her usual collaborative process remains, with guitar, percussion and many other sounds contributed by fellow travellers in Mexico and also Rotterdam. Nevertheless, this is a creative vision that could come from noone other than Fratti, and I'm proud that she's a fellow cellist!

Lia Kohl - First Picture of the Weather Pattern [Shinkoyo/Bandcamp]
Indeed, it's always a pleasure to discover another cellist taking their instrument into uncharted territory, so I'm thankful to Matt Mehlan of Skeletons' label/collective/thing Shinkoyo/Artist Pool for introducing me to Chicago cellist/sound-artist/performer Lia Kohl. Her album Too Small to be a Plain is a stunning concoction of acoustic cello loops, mournful/calm synths, field recordings and voice. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Dominic Voz - Dan Ryan [Accidental Records/Bandcamp/Beacon Sound/Bandcamp]
Sound-art and social justice are at the heart of the work of Chicago-via Portland artist Dominic Voz. His Portland origins connect him with the adventurous Beacon Sound, who co-released his album Right To The City with Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records. The title "Right To The City" references Voz' dedication to fair housing and contestation within urban settings, but also more generally his love of cities (something I very much share). Instruments and voices of friends are found throughout, often disarmingly casually dropped into the recordings, and ruthlessly sliced digitally, along with Voz's own instrumentation (is that him on cello?) and his folktronic, deconstructed production techniques. It's a beautiful combination of early-'00s style folktronic acoustic manipulation, '90s early jazz-fusion postrock and contemporary sound-art ambient. This track was a highlight, named for Dan Ryan Jr, who helped construction of expressways around Chicago including the Dan Ryan Expressway, opened shortly after Ryan's death. The track combines all the album's characteristics, from sliding synths supported by classical instruments to urban field recordings and glitched rhythms.

Tegh & Adel Poursamadi - Ijaad ایجاد [Injazero Records/Bandcamp]
Istanbul/London label Injazero Records this year released the first in a new series from Tehran's Tegh working with acoustic instrumentalists. On Ima ایما fellow Iranian violinist Adel Poursamadi draws from Persian classical music as well as drone, arranged by Tegh along with his signature rumbling bass and stretched, glitched electronic processing. It's powerful stuff - that we're promised a whole series of this is something to be excited about.

Bridget Ferrill & Áslaug Magnúsdóttir - Tapestry [Subtext Recordings/Bandcamp]
US-born sound-artist and engineer Bridget Ferrill - now based in Berlin - and Icelandic musician Áslaug Magnúsdóttir, clarinettist in Icelandic electronic pop group Samaris and now based in Denmark, met in Reykjavik while Ferrill was living there. Much of Ferrill's recent work involves processed classical instruments and works, including collaborations with viola da gamba player Liam Byrne; and Magnúsdóttir has a classical background too. Nevertheless their new duo work Woodwind Quintet is not a quintet and doesn't feature woodwind in any obvious way, which perfectly encapsulates the artists' strategy here. The album uses classical signs and sounds (possibly including viola da gamba, harp and choral samples from Ferrill's previous work) while avoiding classical forms. Sounds are glitched and granular processed, obfuscated from their origins but recognizable enough. The cover photo - by Liam Byrne - depicts a beautiful zither splattered with concrete and dropped into a half-filled bath. Apposite!

Deepchild - Songs You'll Never Hear [A Strangely Isolated Place/Bandcamp]
Sydney prodigal son Rick Bull aka Deepchild was a regular on 2ser and FBi for many years who started making beats around the same I did in the late '90s, and was comfortably ensconsed in the Berlin club scene, playing at the likes of Berghain for years. He released his stunning Fathersong on Mille Plateaux earlier this year - a tribute to his late father, who passed away from dementia-related complications during the pandemic - and its follow-up Mycological Patterns then came out on ambient/idm blog-turned-label A Strangely Isolated Place, hitting high spots in the ambient & electronic charts - a much-deserved success for Rick! It's a one-two punch of ambient techno bliss from an artist of great depth who found immense success among a small cadre of music-makers and connoisseurs but struggled to break out in the way he deserved. Some of the half-forgotten club and pop sounds filtered through grainy delays and drones from Fathersong are echoed here, but this fungal-themed album also harnesses Holly Herndon's Holly+ voice model on two tracks, and sneaks into beatless techno territory on some more uplifting compositions. Wonderful stuff.

Arve Henriksen & Kjetil Husebø - Slow Fragments [Smalltown Supersound/Bandcamp]
Two big figures in the Nordic jazz and experimental scene get together for some blissful electronics and jazz here. Arve Henriksen is a purveyor of gorgeous, melodic & mellow trumpet, often electronically treated, as well as otherworldly vocals - especially in the extraordinary Supersilent. Kjetil Husebø is a classical & jazz-trained pianist with a particular interest in combining live piano with live electronics. Although the music is highly informed by jazz and improvisation, it was recorded separately, Henriksen in Gothenburg, Sweden (although he is originally from Norway) and Husebø in Oslo, Norway. Both musicians employ clouds of electronics as well, creating big textured drones on some pieces, while Husebø is inclined more towards melody on his piano than chordal harmonies - even on the one track where Henriksen sings (not in his usual falsetto), where sampled, reversed and treated piano nevertheless moves as a single bass counter-melody to Henriksen's singing, with further decoration from mostly-untreated piano and trumpet. Booming and shuddering sounds from the physicality of the piano are sampled for reverberant or percussive effect, as are breaths through the trumpet and patterns of prepared piano. This is a striking pairing of musicianship with technology at every level, and a striking pairing of two musicians who long admired each other.

Madeleine Cocolas - Resonance [Room40/Bandcamp]
Brisbane musician Madeleine Cocolas returned to Australia a couple of years ago after time in Vancouver and New York. The gorgeous Spectral finds Cocolas weathering the Covid lockdown in her own way, collecting the sounds of her neighbourhood on daily walks, which are woven into a musical narrative, expressing deep emotions through the sounds of industrial machinery, swarms of crickets and huge storms, combined with Cocolas' sensitive keyboards and piano. In the middle of the album, eight-minute track "And Then I Watch It Fall Apart" is a harrowing crescendo of tension, which wondrously releases in the following track "Resonance", heard tonight.

Sylvain Chauveau - DC [Sub Rosa/Bandcamp]
Pierre-Yves Macé - More Gloom and the Light of That Gloom [Sub Rosa/Bandcamp]
Here's an unusual project. French polymath Sylvain Chauveau created a collection of small pieces of audio, composition ideas, snippets of vocals and so on, and sent them to his friend Pierre-Yves Macé, another French composer & producer, with whom he has collaborated frequently in the past. This time it's not really a collaboration - both artists have taken Chauveau's initial ideas and created a full album from them. Cult Belgian label Sub Rosa has released both under the title L'Effet Rebond (The Rebound Effect), with Macé's subtitled "Version Iridium" and Chauveau's "Version Silicium". The source material and the artists' similar aesthetics mean that the two works fit together very well, but they have certainly put their own spin on the proceedings. Each album consists mostly of short studies, with Macé finding space to craft beautiful melodic vignettes on piano, strings, woodwinds and other acoustic instruments, but the composer also inserts glitchy crackles and edits. His half ends with a beautifully subtle 18-minute piece of minimalism, with tiny piano samples slowly burbling away, harmonies gradually expanding and shifting. Chauveau meanwhile begins his half with a 17-minute work with cyclical guitar, clarinet and piano, but it's not made from studio edits - although much of the rest of his album is small pieces, often just single phrases. Both composers have enlisted various colleagues to join them, with Peter Broderick & others on backing vocals with Chauveau, and our friend Rutger "Machinefabriek" Zuydervelt contributing electronics (he also did the gorgeous layouts & design). Conceptual elements aside, this is very enjoyable listening and right on point for Utility Fog's liminal genre-agnosticism.

To Move - Mirroring [Sonic Pieces/Bandcamp]
We last heard from Welsh pianist Anna Rose Carter and her partner, musician & sound-artist Ed Hamilton when they released a wonderful album as Dead Light back in 2016. Earlier still, Carter had a legendary duo called Moon Ate The Dark which combined her always attractive neo-classical piano with Christopher Bailey's tape effects, synths and other electronics (and also violin from Carter). Hamilton also loves tape manipulation and drones, and the pair made some powerful cinematic music as Dead Light for Village Green. Their latest project To Move finds them back on Monique Recknagel's Sonic Pieces (who released the Moon Ate The Dark albums), for a set of recordings made with fellow pianist, film composer and filmmaker Alex Kozobolis. Whenever Kozobolis visited Carter & Hamilton's home in the English countryside, the two pianists would improvise together (four hand piano, with one player on the bass end and one at the treble), full of the characteristic heart-pulling musicality of Carter that's clearly shared by Kozobolis, while the sounds are degraded and crumbled by tape and other analogue effects. It's as gorgeous as you'd expect if you know their previous work, and worth getting in one of the boutique physical editions if you can afford it!

Robbie Lee & Lea Bertucci - Twine and Tape [Telegraph Harp]
I initially knew NYC composer Lea Bertucci from her exploration of site-specific acoustic phenomena (e.g. the brilliant Acoustic Shadows), work with computer, and her own playing on clarinet, sax, flute and other instruments. On Winds Bells Falls however, she's working tape and effects in realtime while fellow New Yorker plays Robbie Lee plays celeste, flutes, gemshorn, contrabass recorder and orchestral chimes. These different instruments each interact in beautiful and strange ways with their tape-manipulated shadows, warping in pitch and flickering in and out alongside their real counterparts. A little bit of magic.

Ben Vida + Lea Bertucci - Murmurations [Cibachrome Editions]
A couple of months after Bertucci's work with Robbie Lee, she released a second duo, this time with veteran US experimental musician Ben Vida (who released three beautiful albums as Bird Show on Kranky some years ago). Here Bertucci brings her wind instruments to the studio - sax, clarinet, flute - as well as the tape manipulation that made her Robbie Lee collaboration so special, and both her voice and Vida's are divorced of meaning in cut-ups alongside the acoustic textures and the rumbles and gurgles of Vida's synths. Compellingly off-beat stuff.

Ben Frost - Wirus Sie Rozprzestrzenia [Invada/Bandcamp]
Following his excellent soundtracks for the three seasons of Netflix's German science fiction series Dark, Iceland-based Aussie composer Ben Frost is continuing to work with the makers of Dark, soundtracking their new series 1899. This is a truly excellent soundtrack, up there with Ben's studio albums, with full orchestra, various vocal contributions, and a plethora of electronics as well. Ben's typical bass-heavy surges do make appearances, along with beautiful pitch-bent synth melodies and shuddering, stuttering studio effects. And although there are segments of the music you could claim are scene-setting soundtrack stuff, it's mostly anything but: there are creepy and eldritch vocal pieces, moving orchestral & synth compositions, and even thundering percussion. Don't ignore it.

Christina Vantzou - Greeting [kranky/Bandcamp]
This album was something of a surprise to me. I know Christina Vantzou as a composer of highly minimalist music, right from her earliest work as one half of The Dead Texan with Stars Of The Lid's Adam Wiltzie. It's not that No. 5 isn't quiet and minimalist, but it's nevertheless full of movement and variation, constructed in a collage-like way from 17 musicians' performances. It's not quite the ADHD channel-flipping of certain contemporary artists, but the odd juxtapositions and shifts are very enjoyable, as are the intrusions of different sonic spaces, presumably derived both from the disjoint recordings and from post-processing. It's beautiful music that places classical vignettes in a sound-art setting.

Natalie Beridze - Salt [ROOM40/Bandcamp]
Georgian musician & DJ Natalie Beridze has a long & illustrious career both in her native Georgia and in Berlin, with recordings ranging from techno to IDM and ambient across many notable labels, both under her own name and as TBA or TBA Empty. Her album for ROOM40 this year, Of Which One Knows, and its accompanying EP In Front Of You, find her in mostly contemplative mode, collecting unreleased studies and pieces which never made it on to other recordings. Despite this provenance, the material is highly cohesive, a real journey through drones, sparse piano and strings, vocal snippets, glitches and field recordings. Don't let that make it sound more nebulous or half-formed than it actually is though - this is beautiful and assured music that deserves multiple listens. And everything on the EP is as good as the album proper - the noise loops, ambient pads and pitch-shifted vocals here are gorgeous.

Christophe Bailleau & Friends - Prologue / Mère Nature [Optical Sound/Bandcamp]
French label Optical Sound specialises in French sound-art from cross-disciplinary artists, although from further away, Simon Fisher Turner, Robin Guthrie and others have turned up there on occasion. On new album Shooting Stars Can Last, Belgian "free musician" Christophe Bailleau decided to bring some community to lockdown life by inviting friends to provide field recordings, electronic programming, instrumental soundscapes and the like for this hybrid album. The result is a work that rejects easy classification, at times offering up glitchily-edited folktronica, at times post-classical pastiche, at times gothic chanson-dub. Whatever it is, it's compelling listening, and a little window into the francophone sound-art scene.

Wordcolour - Crescent [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
Young UK artist Wordcolour wrote music for TV & film before releasing his sound design-oriented club tunes, starting with the incredible Tell Me Something for Lapsus in 2020. The producer is highly adept at UK club forms of all sorts - Djrum's presence as remixer on the recent Bluster single is a good indicator - and so we get jungle-influenced tunes, hints of dubstep and deep house, and always IDM, but also crystalline ambient passages with distinct classical and jazz influences and crazy glitch interjections a la Japanese figures like Kashiwa Daisuke. Spoken word throughout adds to the pleasant sense of mystery and gives additional depth to a thought-provoking album, and because of the wide range on this brilliant work, it gets to feature on both parts 2 & 3 of this year's best of celebration!

Alexandra Spence - Air Pockets [Room40/Bandcamp]
Some quietly stunning sound-art from Sydney's Alexandra Spence. Her latest album for Room40 is Blue waves, Green waves, an exploration of bodies of/and water, and particularly the Pacific Ocean. As usual with Spence's work, concrete sounds produced from specific objects merge with musical elements and at times spoken word. The glooping, sliding "Air Pockets" are a particular highlight. Not long after, Spence released A Veil, The Sea on the Mappa label, further exploring these themes.

Felicity Mangan - Dolphin Tricks [Warm Winters, Ltd./Bandcamp]
Nobody else is making music quite like that of Felicity Mangan, Berlin-based Australian sound artist. Her music's foundation is flora & fauna - many of her releases feature raw field recordings of the wondrous sounds of nature. But among her recent releases are works which take nature's creativity and notch it up a few levels. Insectile rhythms become electronic beats, flows of water are reversed, cut up and overlaid in unnatural patterns, and the "pedosphere" (the upper layer of the Earth's crust) is mined (pun intended) for sound. Wet On Wet was originally to be released by Russian label Klammklang, but Putin's lunacy caused the label to indefinitely stop operations, so Warm Winters, Ltd. stepped in to release it. While the album's main focus is on soil and its inhabitants, we also have the repurposed polyrhythms of dolphin sounds on tonight's selection.

Machinefabriek - Texturalis 4 [Cassauna/Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Here's Rutger again! Via Important Records' cassette imprint Cassauna, Texturalis was a litte gem, featuring 18 two-minute vignettes, each concerned with one particular sonic texture, many surprisingly rhythmic. Lovely.

Hüma Utku - Continuing Bonds [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
I was transfixed by the work of Berlin-based, Istanbul-born Hüma Utku since her first EP (as R.A.N.) in 2018 on Karlrecords. An album followed in 2019, and she was then given the high accolade of signing to the great Editions Mego - but tragically, the label's Peter Rehberg died of a heart attack in mid-2021. Lucky for us, everything slated for release is still being put out by the various artists & others associated with the label, so we get Utku's magnificent album The Psychologist, released as it should be on Editions Mego. The title is a reference to Utku's qualifications in psychology, but also to the album's focus on psychological phenomena, and the human element of Utku's own voice, albeit often pitch-shifted and processed. Aside from this, the album continues her use of industrial ambiences and textures, repetitive beats and samples, but also introduces creative string arrangements. All this lifts The Psychologist to a new level in an already gripping career.

Other People's Children - Swallow Glitch [Observable Universe Recordings]
Ahead of Nice Music's release of a NEW album from his beloved duo Pretty Boy Crossover with Cailan Burns, Adelaide's Jason Sweeney spent much of 2022 compiling a slew of archival releases - in fact starting last year with the Decades (2001-2021) collection of soundtrack work as Panoptique Electrical. They appeared on his Observable Universe Recordings Bandcamp, including the massive 5-hour, 84-track Disappointment Archives 1986-2016 - and before you run away from this acknowledged (but justified) excess, maybe you could start with the more manageable Selective Memory 1998-2003 collection from Jason's indietronica band Other People's Children? I first became a dedicated fan of Jason's work when I was handed an advance copy of the aforementioned Pretty Boy Crossover's album the building and formation around 1999 - a phenomenal collection of IDM tunes, melodic, minimalist, with tweaked drum machines and lo-fi synths that's never stopped being deeply evocative. It's lovely hearing those lo-fi sounds married with Jason's indie songwriting - his melancholy vocals, with guitar or keyboards - on songs old and new. Jason's been involved with many projects over the years, including scuzzy indie rock, post-classical and ambient, IDM, indietronica and more. Such an important, versatile Australian musician.

Ayala and Zac Picker - wet cat - old bark - deep breaths [Ayala Bandcamp]
Based on a story by Zac Picker called "Bessamim" published in Soft Stir Vol 2, this stunning work combines Zac's spoken word with music and sound design from Ayala aka Donny Janks. Picker is in fact a physicist, but his talent for that very mathematical of sciences is balanced by a talent for very evocative prose, generating nostalgia via all the senses in a story about being (almost) 13, training for bar mitzvah. Picker's lush, wry storytelling is carried here by the sensitive setting by Ayala, allowing the spoken prose to float in a bed of electronic tones, occasionally subtly processing the vocals. I left out the core section of the story here deliberately - I can't recommend enough that you listen to the whole thing from start to finish.

Listen again — ~209MB


Comments Off on Playlist 25.12.22 - Best of 2022 Part 2!!

Sunday, 18th of December, 2022

Playlist 18.12.22 - Best of 2022 Part 1! (10:49 pm)

Helluva year once again, folks! So many good musics.
Tonight is about the songs. It may feel like Utility Fog is an instrumental music show, but I do play a lot of experimental song, and so tonight is mostly vocal music, across all genres.

LISTEN AGAIN because it's a real humdinger. Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Ellen Arkbro & Johan Graden - Other side [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
If you know the work of Swedish musician Ellen Arkbro, it's probably as a composer of super-minimalist works for organ or horns or guitar, with strange chords ringing out one by one. Thus her stunning new collaboration with fellow Swede Johan Graden, a free jazz pianist & arranger, might come as a surprise. Yes, it's minimalist, but the deceptively simple arrangements for multiple bass clarinets, tuba, contrabass and piano, as well as occasional sparse drums, trumpet and other instruments, underscore Arkbro's fragile, candidly melodic voice. The opening track is a beauty, but "Other side" stands out from an already stand-out album with its unusual harmonies (each piano chord includes two notes a tone or semitone apart), the all-bass orchestration (bass clarinet, tuba and contrabass join the piano's left-hand in the second half), and the gorgeous, subtle vocal loop that carries through the last phrases. No sign of Chet Baker among these originals, but I Get Along Without You Very Well achieves all the subdued emotion of the jazz standard it's named after, with even fewer ingredients.

June McDoom - The City [Temporary Residence/Bandcamp]
I was blown away by the first released track "The City" from new Temporary Residence signing June McDoom. When her debut self-titled EP was released later in the year, this song was not included - although the five new tracks take a similar approach. McDoom plays all instruments and sings the soft vocals. She draws from her Jamaican heritage as well as her love of classic folk artists, classic r'n'b and reggae - I can't help thinking of early-to-mid period Grizzly Bear. There's a hazy analogue sheen to these songs, with instruments all melding together so that you hardly notice the beats in the mix even as you're nodding your head. McDoom has a keen ear for melody and harmony, making these the most gently catchy songs you're likely to hear this year.

Lucrecia Dalt - Enviada [RVNG Intl/Bandcamp]
I've followed Lucrecia Dalt through her early hazy, increasingly experimental indie works (including a gorgeous early collaboration with Canberra's Spartak - find her as Lucrecia Perez on "Second-Half Clouded" here), then to her extraordinary genre-free electronic experiments, where her voice was used as just one more instrument or sound-source... and recently her brilliant, disturbing soundtrack work, as well as her inspired duo with Aaron Dilloway, Lucy & Aaron. Here she comes full circle - having been based in Europe for many years now (first Barcelona, then Berlin), Dalt originally comes from Colombia, and thus her return to song also finds her returning to South & Central American rhythms, harmonies, basslines and melodies. The lyrics, co-written with Miguel Prado, are in Spanish, and if you're not paying attention you may think it's a traditional latin band (and indeed it is, beautifully orchestrated) - until you hear the edits, détournements, smudges, the processed sounds melding with the real. It's a beautiful headfuck, emphasis on beautiful. Unmissable.
Also don't miss her soundtrack to the HBO series The Baby, released earlier in the year.

Jockstrap - Debra [Rough Trade/Bandcamp]
So here it is. After a couple of brilliant singles, following the two extraordinary EPs released on Warp in 2020, and their debut EP on Kaya Kaya Records in 2018, UK duo Jockstrap's first full album I Love You, Jennifer B was finally released this year on Rough Trade. The songs and sumptuous string arrangements of Georgia Ellery (also of Black Country, New Road), with the shiny-but-experimental production of Taylor Skye, make Jockstrap a unique and joyful experience. Part of Jockstrap's brilliance is the juxtapositions: irreverant humour with deep emotion, luscious jazz harmonies & progressions with glitched programmed beats, intensely catchy pop sensibility with experimentalism. The album covers all the ground of their previous EPs, including frequent references to "the city", and tracks named after women's names. And that pop sensibility is unquestionable.

Aoife O'Donovan - B61 (Olga Bell Remix) [Yep Roc Records/Bandcamp]
Back in 2011, the great, restless cellist Yo-Yo Ma teamed up with some of the top bluegrass musicians in the world - banjo player Stuart Duncan, bassist Edgar Meyer and certified genius Chris Thile of the Punch Brothers on mandolin & vocals - for The Goat Rodeo Sessions. On a couple of tracks the band were joined by Irish-American singer Aoife O'Donovan, and her song with Thile, "No One But You", is gorgeously heart-pulling, and so I always notice her name when it comes up. The lovely track "B61" from her recent album Age of Apathy was remixed this year by Russian-American producer/composer/musician Olga Bell, turning the gentle folk-pop into a transportive piece of minimal techno. It's beautifully unexpected.

Borja Flames - Nuevo medievo [Murailles Music/Bandcamp/Les Disques du Festival Permanent/Bandcamp]
Originally from Spain but based in France for many years, Borja Flames has been plying his unique electronic folk weirdness for some time. He's frequently worked with Marion Cousin, a singer with a deep interest in sidelined folk musics of the Iberian Peninsula - their duo June et Jim has recently transformed into Catalina Matorral. Borja Flames' last two albums were released through Les Disques du Festival Permanent, the label run by cellist Gaspar Claus (who is French, but his father Pedro Soler is a highly respected flamenco guitarist), although the latest is co-released with booking agency Murailles Music. Nuevo Medievo is indeed titled in Spanish - it's "New Medieval", a very nice description of the contents. Along with Cousin again, Rachel Langlais also joins on synths and vocals, and Paul Loiseau lends additional percussion. It's part of a wave of highly idiosyncratic, groundbreaking music from France, highly recommended.

Claudia Molitor - Change [Nonclassical/Bandcamp]
Utterly idiosyncratic is the work of English-German composer & sound-artist Claudia Molitor. Well-versed in composing for orchestra, chamber groups or solo instruments as well as creating installation works and other sound-art, here Molitor is working at song length, often indeed writing songs - but with field recordings or abstract drones at their base, contemporary poetry sometimes forming the lyrics, and avant-garde composition rubbing up against songwriting. A must for connoisseurs of strange music.

Fatäk, Romance Relic, Tettix Hexer - To The Beauty Of Being [Eastern Nurseries/Bandcamp]
Eastern Nurseries is a Portuguese label that releases experimental music seemingly of any nature, including plenty of noise and drone. There's something of that on this collaborative track, as well as contemporary sound design, and a sensual poem by Aude Barras which turns sinister courtesy of the production. Spoken word aside, it's the work of two Danish producers - Fatäk and Tettix Hexer - and the Finnish Romance Relic, all associated with Copenhagen label Janushoved. As best I can work out. In any case, it's great.

Brian Eno - who gives a thought [Opal/UMC]
It's strangely surprising that foreverandevernomore is the first Brian Eno album of songs in a long time. "It's not an ambient album!" claim all the stories, but... it kind of is? There are no beats, there are beautiful glacial keyboards. Eno is hardly known only for his pioneering ambient music (and for coining the term). Alongside producing huge bands across many musical eras, he has a rich heritage of songwriting himself, and no surprise, there are some beautifully moving songs here - appropriately for the subject matter, which is a kind of elegy for the world that might have been. Yes, Eno continues to urge humanity to do better - on climate change, on sociopolitics - but the muted, wistful tone here is not exactly a call to arms. It's also not an entirely solo album as I expected - yes, there are Eno children singing on a couple of tracks, but also a number of his other well-known collaborators, including his brother Roger Eno, the excellent experimental guitarist & producer Leo Abrahams, and good ol' Jon Hopkins, who in fact composed one of the loveliest tracks on the album, sung by experimental folk singer Clodagh Simonds. The beautiful "who gives a thought" only features Abrahams, adding soft drones to Eno's ode to the dispossessed - it struck me as something like Dead Can Dance's Brendan Perry, or David Sylvian or even Scott Walker, although Eno's voice is not as rich as any of those. In any case, it's an immensely affecting album.

Randi Pontoppidan & Povl Kristian - Juno & Eros [Chant Records/Bandcamp]
Danish singer Randi Pontoppidan is powerhouse of vocal creativity - not just vocal techniques, but also the use of technology with her voice. She is also an accomplished improviser, and it's perhaps more surprising to find that her collaborator here, the film composer Povl Kristian, interacts so instinctively with her on the piano in this wonderful album of spontaneous compositions, Life In Life. There's little to indicate that these aren't contemporary compositions, with ambiguous tonal centres and quiveringly evocative discords, and beautiful extra-musical touches from Pontoppidan's electronics. It's an antidote to the glut of "neo-classical" prettiness - any "subtle electronics" here are employed in a context of an unsettling and deeply satisfying lack of compromise.

LSN & Roger Robinson - Pray [Artikal Music/Bandcamp]
If there's one lesson I've learnt from 2022, it's that trip-hop is back, baby! Dubsteppers are particularly enjoying bringing the trip-hop vibes, and who better for LSN to invite than the poet Roger Robinson of King Midas Sound and more. There's more than a little of Massive Attack circa Mezzanine on these four tracks, with heavy ponderous riffage sweeping in at times, but there's also the influence of dubstep and grime. References aside, this is deeply evocative stuff, deserving of a wide audience.

Blackhaine - Stained Materials [Fixed Abode/Bandcamp]
Named in part after the incendiary French movie La Haine, Lancashire rapper Blackhaine makes the bleakest and angriest drill I've heard, with cohort Rainy Miller and more recently Croww underlining and entwining his anguished howls and poetry with industrial menace. Meanwhile Blackhaine himself, aka Tom Heyes, accompanies his vocals with astonishing and moving contemporary dance - check his insane choreography for Flohio's Unveiled (and some intense behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage). Intensity is the name of the game with his work, whether unsettling calm or massive distorted waves of sound that at times overwhelm his voice. He gives visceral voice to the depressing realities of working class life in post-Brexit England.

Chad Dubz ft. Riko Dan - In The Red [Deep Medi/Bandcamp]
New on Deep Medi is a minialbum of heavyweight dubstep from Chad Dubz, Bristol founder of Foundation Audio. The vocal tracks are heaviest of all, with grime collabs and intense productions like this one, with snarling riffs a la Distance or The Bug, and indeed Riko Dan has worked with The Bug before. Here he spits lines about all the ways his enemies will get, well, fucked up.

The Bug - Your Laws Aint Free ft Jaimie Branch [Pressure Records]
Kevin Martin was asked to provide a remix for post-metal/sludge superground Absent In Body (a group whose future is in doubt now that Scott Kelly (ex-Neurosis) has been outed as an abuser). The first thing he sent them was rejected as not heavy enough(!) and so instead it became the Absent Riddim, a versatile instrumental that, dancehall/dub style, he shared with a whole slew of collaborators to create versions ranging from ethereal song to hard-hitting rap. This technique is something Martin's used in the past, with b-sides of tracks like "Poison Dart" and others featuring alternate versions with different MCs. The riddim is sludge-slow and covered in sooty static, very clearly The Bug, and his choices of collaborator range from Jamaican and grime MCs, US underground rappers, to metal vocalists, indie singers and jazz musicians - including at least a couple of Australians. Two of the artists tragically passed away very recently - one is Jamaican MC Nazamba, who died of a heart attack, and who contributes a hellish set of verses titled "Satan". Very close to our heart here @ Utility Fog Towers was incendiary jazz trumpeter Jaimie Branch, whose death two weeks ago at age 39 came as a massive shock. Her version features both her evocative, politically-conscious singing and her trumpet playing. It's a hell of a collaboration and all the more tragic that she's gone.

Keeley Forsyth - Land Animal (Ben Frost Remix) [The Leaf Label/Bandcamp]
The unique voice of British actor-turned-musician Keeley Forsyth often invites comparisons with Scott Walker and Talk Talk. Her second album Limbs was remixed this year by four beautifully-chosen artists - the others are industrial royalty Cosey Fanni Tutti, post-classical don Yann Tiersen, and sound-art genius Simon Fisher Turner - but the most brilliant to my ears was Iceland-based Aussie Ben Frost, whose throbbing low-end growls and compositional sensibility are ideal to enhance the emotive, androgynous range of Forsyth.

Boris - (not) Last song [Relapse Records/Bandcamp]
When Boris are on, they're on (it's most of the time), and so not long after the brilliant W came Heavy Rocks, their third album to be bestowed that name (and indeed their second of THREE albums to be released in 2022!). They do rock, heavily, most of the time, and this album is dedicated to heavy rock in all its heavy rockiness. Nevertheless, Boris are not to be pigeonholed, and this album was again produced by the brilliant suGar Yoshinaha of Buffalo Daughter. On the last track, *ahem* "(not) Last song", we get a piano refrain with periodic glitches, crackling noises, guitar feedback, and pained vocals from Atsuo. It's typically atypical for Boris, and just rad.

Joe Rainey - no chants [37d03d/Bandcamp]
Released by 37d03d, this was the first single from the astonishing album Niineta by Ojibwe singer Joe Rainey, who has collected and made recordings of Pow Wows from his Native American culture for many years. The album features his powerfully moving vocals combined with heavily distorted and edited percussion and other sound from Rainey's archives, produced by the great Andrew Broder, whose production has moved aeons on since the (excellent) early lo-fi days of Fog. The songs here draw on a musical tradition that has been banned by the US government, and is central to Rainey's culture, but to protect the sacred art (I believe), the songs are all Rainey's. It's absolutely devastating and essential.

Chat Pile - Slaughterhouse [The Flenser/Bandcamp]
Keeping with the heavy bands for just a moment longer, here's Oklahoma's Chat Pile, whose album on The Flenser has been eagerly awaited. Their combination of hardcore punk, noise rock and sludge/doom metal is unapologetically political - in a recent interview they said the album is an attempt to "capture the anxiety and fear of seeing the world fall apart". There's a surprising amount of clean vocals, rendering the lyrics comprehensible, and there are plenty of catchy riffs and basslines. The menacing opening track is a visceral conjuring of the haunted space that is a Slaughterhouse.
“And all the blood
All the blood
And the fuckin sound, man
You never forget their eyes”

Wu-Lu - Night Pills Feat Asha [Warp/Bandcamp]
Brixton's Miles Romans-Hopcraft has been making hip-hop as Wu-Lu since 2015, but for his new album Loggerhead, his debut on Warp, he's gotten angry and political, and backs up the rapping with a mix of grungy punk and even drum'n'bass beats at times. It puts him in the company of the likes of Tampa Bay's They Hate Change on the one hand, and fellow Londoners Bob Vylan on the other. Wu-Lu doesn't really sounds like either, let alone the '90s intergalactic punk-rock hip-hop of Pop Will Eat Itself or anyone else. And sounding exactly like oneself is a great place to be, especially at a time like this.

Coco Em - Winyo Nungo Feat. MC Sharon & Wuod Baba [InFiné Music/Bandcamp]
Emma Nzioka is a filmmaker and an electronic producer as Coco Em. She's a leading light in the fantastic electronic scene from Nairobi, Kenya, taking many African styles including kuduro, lingala and ampiano and mixing them with worldwide electronic dance styles. That's resulted in a truly exciting listen on her Kilumi EP with French label InFiné Music, with various vocalists joining her along the way.

Sijya - Another Thing [Accidental Records/Bandcamp]
The latest release in a busy year from Accidental Records is the debut EP, entitled Young Hate, from young New Delhi graphic designer Sijya. Her understated songs sit comfortably in the context of Matthew Herbert's label, the soft vocals and wistful textures recalling the minimalist r'n'b of Tirzah, or the trip-hop references of Sevdaliza, but all self-produced. No hate here - these are touching little pieces, and this is another EP I exhort you not to let pass you by.

Crewdson & Cevanne - Drinking Song [Accidental Records/Bandcamp]
I discovered UK folktronic producer Crewdson via his 2017 album Toys on Slowfoot, full of his homemade instruments and electronic processing. Looking back at the credits, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian was there playing harp, but their duo as Crewdson & Cevanne sees the latter's talents as composer, orchestrator and singer come to the fore. It's not surprise to find this duo on Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records - it's just their natural home really. New EP Rites For Crossing Water imagines a new folk music around the idea of 21st century waterways, with a capella song, Cevanne's harp, string arrangements and occasional glitchy rhythms.

Leyla McCalla - Fort Dimanche [Anti-/Bandcamp]
It's only been 3 years since the last album by Leyla McCalla, but it's great to have her back, and in bluegrass-tinged Haitian folk mode to boot. McCalla is a brilliant cellist (and multi-instrumentalist) and singer who draws on her Haitian heritage, singing in both French-derived Haitian Creole and English, as well as the rich musical heritage of New Orleans. Her first album set the words of African-American poet Langston Hughes to music, and the second followed the musical template of bluegrass and Haitian folk, often played with strummed and bowed cello, sometimes in more traditional settings. A more recent album moved into more of a blues setting, but Breaking The Thermometer, her first for the ANTI- label, takes her back to Haitian folk territory, with a suite of songs derived from her stage work Breaking The Thermometer To Hide The Fever. This work saw her researching Radio Haiti, and the tragic, criminal colonial history of her homeland, and samples from interviews on that radio station as well as field recordings are interspersed through the album. This song is about the political prison Fort Dimanche run by the oppressive Duvalier regime, including excerpts from an interview from Radio Haiti with a political prisoner about the torture he was subjected to in the prison.

Julia Sabra and Fadi Tabbal - Still Life [Beacon Sound/Bandcamp/Ruptured Music/Bandcamp]
The beautiful album Snakeskin from Lebanese duo Julia Sabra and Fadi Tabbal was co-released by excellent Portland label Beacon Sound and great Beirut label Ruptured Music. Sabra is one third of dream pop trio Postcards, all of whose releases have been produced by Tabbal. Inevitably it's deeply influenced by the massive Beirut port explosion of August 2020 that left hundreds dead, thousands injured, and destroyed countless people's homes, but it also references other events from the region: the Palestinian uprising and Israeli crackdown in Sheikh Jarrah, and Azerbaijan's invasion of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Armenia. Sabra's soft voice expresses tragedy and loss, and the duo bring glitches and drones along with dubby Arabic percussion at times, all embedded in reverb. At times the more aggressive aspects of Postcards' shoegazey rock emerge, but mostly it's more quietly compelling. Don't sleep on it.

Jane Sheldon - Put my eyes out: I can see you [Jane Sheldon Bandcamp]
Australian soprano Jane Sheldon may be best known to Utility Fog and indeed FBi listeners as the singer in the brilliant early 2000s genre-crushing ensemble Gauche, but like many of the band's members, she has forged a phenomenal career, hers in contemporary vocal music. Her incredible new solo album I am a tree, I am a mouth draws its lyrics from the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke in his Book of Hours, a collection of pantheistic odes to God. Sheldon's compositions call for two voices (both sung by her) that harmonise and separate over the eerie, enveloping sound of gong resonances, distended, re-pitched and edited into dronescapes. At times crackling, glitchy textures bubble to the surface - the technology used to produce these pieces is integral to the final works, even though Sheldon's settings of the German lyrics, her compositions and her exquisite vocal technique recall classical & romantic Lieder. You won't hear any other music quite like this anywhere else, and you shouldn't miss this!

Marina Herlop - abans abans [PAN/Bandcamp]
Barcelona-based singer and pianist Marina Herlop is classically trained, and lists Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Béla Bartok and Aram Khachaturian among her influences. But then you notice Holly Herndon, Venetian Snares and Plaid in there too and you start to see how her latest album was released by PAN. Aided by James Ginzburg on the mix, the songs here shift and scatter with technological interventions, while retaining the classically-trained vocal precision and pianistic technique. Piano lines are glitched and stuttered while experimental beats drop in & out, and Herlop's vocal style draws from Southern Indian Carnatic traditions, Jewish cantorial singing, Eastern European folk choirs and of course r'n'b and pop as well as classical. There's a lot of joy in this work, a lot of emotion and a lot of that acoustic/digital slipperiness that Utility Fog loves so much.

Kee Avil - I too, bury [Constellation/Bandcamp]
Montréal's Vicky Mettler co-founded Concrete Sound Studio, and curates an online live series there as well as producing music. She's played with many musicians in the Montréal experimental music scene, including Sam Shalabi's Land of Kush, and her production skills and experimental credentials all feed into her solo work as Kee Avil. The songs on this album are very hard to pin down - often strangely amelodic, but also strangely compelling, with timbres and orchestrations that sometimes seem like postpunk or indie, sometimes like freak folk. Programmed beats coincide with queasy piano or wheezy accordion. It's an album that deserves multiple listens to really unravel what's going on.

John Zorn - Air [Tzadik]
Finishing the first "best of" for 2022 with a non-vocal track - an idiosyncratic take on the classic jazz piano trio form from longtime master John Zorn. Zorn has composed for string quartets and ensembles of all sorts as well as playing raucous punk and hardcore and seemingly everything in between, as well as running his massively influential downtown New York label Tzadik and for many years earlier the Japan-based Avant label. Despite his reputation as an enfant terrible back in the '80s and '90s, there's plenty of beautiful melodic work in his repertoire too, inspired by Jewish liturgical music, klezmer, and his hero Ornette Coleman among many others. For this incredible new Suite for Piano, he looks to the entire history of piano music, naming pieces after early classical forms - but it's still avant-garde jazz, with upright basslines anchoring the rhythm section, and composed heads which are then embellished with soloing before returning to the head. There are of course some Zorn-standard fast-moving bebop doggerel tracks that I can never get my head around, but there are also head-nodders in lopsided time signatures and pieces of incredible beauty. The compositions are supported by brilliant playing from Brian Marsella on piano with Jorge Roeder on bass and Ches Smith on drums. "Air" is exquisitely lyrical, and the trio's performance couldn't be sweeter (while still utterly virtuosic).

Listen again — ~203MB


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