a wholly owned subsiduary of
Frogworth Corp
experimental electronica
electric string quartet

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.

Monday, 24th of January, 2022

Playlist 23.01.22 (6:58 pm)

Today's theme is "pop", although this being Utility Fog, it's pretty twisted. With a couple of exceptions, the music is mostly song-based, but either through an experimental lens, or coming from more esoteric genres, or merged, sampled, mulched through other genres. We also have a substantial special at the end on a genre-crossing low-key Aus musical hero.

LISTEN AGAIN to the popular sounds. Stream on demand @ FBi, podcast here.

Boris - Drowning by Numbers [Sacred Bones/Bandcamp]
Boris - I Want to Go to the Side Where You Can Touch… [Sacred Bones/Bandcamp]
An ever-reliable fixture in the Japanese heavy music scene and the world over, Boris have never settled into one particular style over their 2½ decades of existence. So their new album W doesn't come as a huge surprise - but nevertheless, after 2020's raucous NO, its counterpart (the two albums together form NOW) is particularly ethereal in comparison. Produced by, and featuring, suGar Yoshinaha of Buffalo Daughter, it incorporates a lot of the electronics of that band's indie-dance aesthetic, but in a shoegaze miasma. There are massive walls of guitar noise at times, and alternatively there are minimalist dubbed out drum machines, all with the gentle vocals of Wata. I love Boris in all incarnations, but this is one that will appeal even to most the metal-averse.

Beneather - Dreamgaze [Where It's At Is Where You Are/Bandcamp]
London's The Leaf Library are much loved by this show, combining a melodic sensibility with krautrock pulse, and frequently delving into into ambient and electronic side-quests. Beneather is one such side project, from their drummer Lewis Young, who plays all sorts of synths and electronics, joined by Melinda Bronstein on vocals. The first single from the forthcoming self-titled album describes itself in its title, "Dreamgaze". It's a psychedelic, pulsating electronic shoegaze concoction and bodes well for the rest of their material.

Mücha - Begin [Frequency Domain/Bandcamp]
Mücha - Fall [Frequency Domain/Bandcamp]
"Electronic shoegaze" isn't an inaccurate description of the music of Mücha on her new album Fall, but like "indietronica" it doesn't quite capture what it is. Amanda Butterworth, the DJ and multi-instrumentalist behind Mücha, layers vocals in dreamy songs that are housed comfortably in IDM-inspired productions, ranging from drum'n'bass/jungle to dub techno, with plenty of jittery drum'n'bass-adjacent IDM techno in between. It's absolutely lovely, familiar and new at the same time, just what the doctor ordered.

Tune-Yards - Hypnotized (DJ C Remix) [Mashit Bandcamp]
I didn't realise there was a new Tune-Yards album, but I'm glad to have found out from Jake Trussell aka DJ C, who's done a delightful breakbeat-heavy, head-noddy remix of "Hypnotized" now, replete with sub-heavy downbeats and Merrill Garbus' talent for twisty melodies and riffs.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Black Hot Soup (DJ Shadow “My Own Reality” Re-Write) [KGLW/Bandcamp]
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Ya Love [KGLW/Bandcamp]
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Butterfly 3000 [KGLW/Bandcamp]
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Shanghai (Deaton Chris Anthony Remix) [KGLW/Bandcamp]
Last year, Melbourne psych rock larrikins King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard took a sharp left turn into synth-pop with Butterfly 3000, retaining the tricksy time signatures and proggy structures. Thematic material recurs throughout the album, and I particularly love the joyful last 2 tracks. Now they've asked a varied bunch of artists from around the world to remix the album, with the resultant Butterfly 3001 ending up well over twice as long. You may have seen the video of the DJ Shadow remix - and if you haven't go watch it now, with John Safran as a washed up old raver. Among the other highlights is a surprise from rising bedroom r'n'b star Deaton Chris Anthony, taking "Shanghai" into dub and then amen break jungle freakout territory.

woulg - The Lurch [woulg Bandcamp]
woulg - Sedna When [woulg Bandcamp]
woulg - Sernylan [woulg Bandcamp]
Continuing the "pop" theme, Greg Debicki aka woulg declared that his late 2021 album Bubblegum was his interpretation of "pop music on PCP" - hence bubblegum vocals and beats twisted inside out and fragmented, disorienting and disquieting. It's not that much of a stretch for woulg, mind you, whose IDM productions have always leaned towards chaos over danceability, and who has been curating a series of "hyperglitch" releases for Mille Plateaux - e.g. this great Seskamol one. Thanks to John Part Timer for alerting me to this release!

Pugilist - Jade [Pure Space]
LOIF - In Flux [Pure Space]
Two tracks from FBi's current album of the week, the brilliant PROXIMITY II compilation from Pure Space, the label of the FBi radio show from Andy Garvey. There's a plethora of advanced sounds here, from the extraordinary ambient piano on the opening track by Grace Ferguson, through synth ambient, bass-heavy techno, drum'n'bass influences of various sorts, dubstep hybrids, electro and more. It's a great showcase of brilliantly-produced electronic music from around Australia. Melbourne's Pugilist has releases on many international labels under his belt, including AD 93 (when they were Whiti.es), Navy Cut and now Banoffee Pies Records. His percussion-driven stepper pushes the subs to their limit. Also from Melbourne, LOIF turns in a dubby piece of jittery techno.

Sweeney - Solitear [Sound In Silence Records]
Sweeney - Child Star (1988) [Observable Universe Recordings]
Sweeney - It's Always Raining In My Room (1995) [Observable Universe Recordings]
pretty boy crossover - x-3 fader [Surgery Records]
Other People's Children - Swallow Glitch [Observable Universe Recordings]
Other People's Children - Skywave [Observable Universe Recordings]
Other People's Children - Sun and eucalyptus [555 Recordings]
Sweeney - Song For The Last Of The Attention Seekers (2008) [Observable Universe Recordings]
Panoptique Electrical - Hope [Midira Records/Bandcamp]
The last section of the show is entirely dedicated to the music of Adelaide's Jason Sweeney, who's helped us along in this celebration recently with a slew of archival releases - starting last year with the Decades (2001-2021) collection of soundtrack work as Panoptique Electrical. A few others have now appeared on his Observable Universe Recordings Bandcamp, including the massive 5-hour, 84-track Disappointment Archives 1986-2016 - and before you go running 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 when I was handed an advance copy of his duo (with Cailan Burns) 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. Last year under Sweeney he released a short album of dramatic songs, with piano and vocals offset by intense electronics, called Misery Peaks - this gave us the first track from tonight's special. And released just now on Midira Records is an album of drone and ambient works created from classical instruments and field recordings, called Picturesque Ruins. Such an important, versatile Australian musician.

Listen again — ~206MB

Monday, 17th of January, 2022

Playlist 16.01.22 (2:14 pm)

Ambient percussion, unusual instrumental combinations, dubby electronics, glitches, odd beats and generative tunes...

LISTEN AGAIN because you deserve it. FBi website has the stream on demand, or podcast right here.

Maria Moles - River Bend [Room40/Bandcamp]
Melbourne drummer Maria Moles plays in myriad bands of different types, including the wonderful experimental indie band On Diamond, but her solo music has tended to emphasise tuned percussion and ambient synths over beats. For her incredible new release on Room40 For Leolanda - dedicated to her mother - she draws inspiration from Kulintang music of her Filipina heritage, translating harmonies and rhythms into the synths, tuned percussion, tape manipulation and drum kit. These pieces move from rhythmic to lush to sparse with little regard for expected structure, and make for immersive, evocative listening.

Martha Skye Murphy & Maxwell Sterling - 86 km [American Dreams/Bandcamp]
For those who know the work of either of these UK artists, this duo seems like a departure. Vocalist Martha Skye Murphy makes experimental songs that recall Kate Bush at her most experimental, through a modern electronic lens; double bassist Maxwell Sterling's latest album is full of experimental beats & compositions on AD93. Their duo together, initiated on this release Distance On Ground, is borne of freeform improvisations, with realtime processing of voice and instrument lending an otherworldly sensibility. Their theme of travel and distance - and the associated yearning that so many of us have had in our locked down state - comes through strongly in the wordless vocals and transformed double bass.

The Declining Winter - First Picture [The Declining Winter Bandcamp]
Interestingly, Hood is one of the bands called out as "RIYL" for the duo above. Just this week I received a 3" CD and photo zine released by Hood's Richard Adams in his The Declining Winter guise late last year. Hazy guitar strumming, field recordings and odd collages are found on the EP, including this excellent vignette of guitarscapes and buried drums.

Franck Vigroux - Perdu [Aesthetical]
Franck Vigroux - Capaupire [Aesthetical]
Franck Vigroux - Desarticulé [Aesthetical]
I first discovered French musician Franck Vigroux in a duo with the late Mika Vainio. His solo music is of a piece with those industrial electronics, albeit perhaps more structured. Last year he released a very raster-noton album on raster-media, but now he's back on his own Aethestical. There are the bleeps and glitches and tones of raster style electronics, and distortions and dramatic synths of industrial techno. It's a familiar sound that I find easily enjoyable, and Vigroux gets the tone just right - if you like Pan Sonic, Ben Frost, emptyset et al - or even instrumental Nine Inch Nails - you'll likely find this right up your street.

PLESS - La grenouille volante [Everest Records/Bandcamp]
Swiss duo PLESS also hint at industrial in their dark sound - dark downtempo, dub-infused electronic beats and ambiences. Philipp Thöni and Leo Matkovic evoke fictional spaces on their debut album, merging the futuristic and fantastical for an evocative journey.

Ö - AFK [PC Music]
Nicolas Petitfrère is the latest signing to PC Music, and very fitting for the collective. Previously known as Nömak, he's now switched to just Ö. He's produced tunes with Charli XX and Christine and the Queens, and so in true PC Music style there's fragmented shiny pop hiding in the experimental, glitchy electronics of this debut single "AFK" ("away from keyboard"). A.G. Cook provides extra production, and the IDM influences of his 7CD set from 2020 are found here too. Pretty crazy stuff.

Distance - Untouchable VIP [Distance Bandcamp]
A year or so ago, veteran dubstep producer (DJ) Distance released a collection of tracks from circa 2007, when his brilliant My Demons album was released. Now we're finally treated to a new EP, three tracks of dark'n'heavy bass riffs as only he can make them. It has the cyberpunk noir feel of classic jungle & drum'n'bass, with classic dubstep's inversion of the roles of bass and beats and judicious dub effects. Don't sleep.

Vromm - Bees (Original) [Over/Shadow/Bandcamp]
Vromm - For The New Dawn (feat. Agama) [Cosmic Bridge/Bandcamp]
Vromm - Bees (B-Key Remix) [Over/Shadow/Bandcamp]
Spanish producer Vromm aka Alvaro Martinez has always been an outlier in the drum'n'bass scene, infusing influences from jazz and funk into ambitious productions. It's interesting finding him on the Over/Shadow imprint, which up to now has concentrated on core drum'n'bass and UK hardcore as per their predecessor Moving Shadow. It's not that Vromm doesn't fit - his break juggling is top class - but it's slower than you'd expect, at least until original junglist B-Key drops his darkside remix on the flip. Back in 2018, Vromm released a superb, surprising 12" on Om Unit's Cosmic Bridge, the title track a gorgeous piece of proggy, jazzy d'n'b pop with Agama on vocals. It's great to have him back.

Cypha - Cy-1er [e-quarium]
Cypha - Bound By The Not Yet [e-quarium]
In 2020 the Naarm/Melbourne label .jpeg Artefacts introduced new Melbourne artist Cypha, with dark yet colourful electronic beats melding techno, drum'n'bass and post-dubstep sounds with an experimental bent. In December I was sent his follow-up, Cymatics/Ghost Money by Gadigal/Sydney label e-quarium. It was originally due out in last December, but has been pushed back to late January now, so you're the first to hear these two tracks - bearing those same influences, and again impeccably produced. Keep an eye out on the label's Bandcamp and social media for this superb extended release!

Tristan Arp - Oddkin [Human Pitch/Bandcamp]
Tristan Arp - Instinct [Human Pitch/Bandcamp]
Tristan Arp - Curved Space [Eternal Ocean/Bandcamp]
Mexico-based musician Tristan Arp was a new discovery for me in 2021, with creative beats stretching back a few years now. He had a massive year last year, with a number of EPs as well as a full album released late in the year. I was very pleased to discover his sound, particularly the more upbeat works - he's a master of ambient and beatless productions as well, solo and with trio Asa Tone along with Indonesian musician Melati Malay and New York-based Kaazi, but I love the interplay between the syncopated house/techno/bass beats, tuned percussion and bass on productions going back a few years, on his Human Pitch label and others such as Eternal Ocean. A producer to watch.

Tristan Arp - Shell [Mubert/Bandcamp]
Berke Can Özcan - Sorrow is nothing but worn-out joy [Mubert/Bandcamp]
Tristan Arp also appears on a new compilation called Infinite Limits: A Generative Music Compilation, put together by the people behind a generative music platform called Mubert. Mubert seems to use "AI" to generate music for creatives and businesses to use, but it also allows its AI algorithms to "collaborate" with musicians - hence the 25 tracks on this PWYC compilation, ranging from ambient to IDM to jungle to noise, including experimental artists like Richard Youngs, Astral Social Club and Senyawa, and electronic artists like Jay Glass Dubs, Etch and Haco, as well as those known from the generative music world like Helena Celle. Tonight I also played some downtempo beats and fuzzy textures from Turkish musician Berke Can Özcan. It's a very varied collection, although if you listen carefully you can see the tracks are mostly made up of small recombined musical cells. Well worth checking out and following.

Gareth Davis - In Vivo III (feat. Steven R Smith) [IIKKI/Bandcamp]
Gareth Davis - In Vivo I (feat. Robin Rimbaud) [IIKKI/Bandcamp]
Dutch clarinettist Gareth Davis has turned up all over the place since I discovered him collaborating with Machinefabriek some years ago. He's capable as a jazz improviser, classical interpreter and collaborator in psych-rock bands like Oiseaux-Tempête, but his solo music has always tended towards the minimalist, and so it is on his latest album, In Vivo, released as is the fashion for IIKKI as a CD or vinyl record along with an art book - here photographer Klavdij Sluban. Davis' patient swells on his clarinet, along with electronics and field recordings, are joined on various tracks by the aforementioned Machinefabriek, the multi-instrumentalist (and instrument maker!) Steven R Smith, and sound-artist extraordinaire Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner. Beautiful, subtle stuff.

Listen again — ~203MB

Sunday, 9th of January, 2022

Playlist 09.01.22 (10:59 pm)

It's the second week of January, I'm a year older, and it's time for new music again! I'm catching up on things missed in 2021 (mostly released late in the year) and there's even a 2022 release in there...

LISTEN AGAIN to catch up, that's what it's about. Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Bradbury - Cheap Wagnerian Dynamics [Dual Plover/Bradbury Bandcamp]
This weekend we learned that Sydney experimental music icon Garry Bradbury died - announced on Twitter by Tom Ellard, with whom Bradbury played in Severed Heads in the very early days. Bradbury was a spiky, sometimes difficult fellow, but brilliant, funny and well-loved. He leaves us too soon, at only 61, and I think many people don't realise what an important impact he had on the Sydney scene, from postpunk days through proto-industrial tape manipulation and experimental electronic excursions of all sorts. When I found out at the last minute, I wanted to drop in a track from one of his two brilliant CDs released in the early '00s on Dual Plover. RIP Garry, you're missed.

Aquaserge - Un grand sommeil noir [Crammed Discs/Bandcamp]
Aquaserge - Nuit Altérée (à György Ligeti) [Crammed Discs/Bandcamp]
Much of tonight is me catching up on 2021 music, either released too late in the year to have played before my Best of 2021 shows, or discovered via other people's best of lists! This is a bit of both - I'm a keen follower of the Belgian label Crammed Discs, home of everything from postpunk to electronic to gypsy music to music from all over Africa and more. For a long time they had a "composers' series" of mostly instrumental and ambient music called Made To Measure, and I had not realised that they reactivated it in 2021 - so the very unusual album The Possibility of a New Work for Aquaserge by French psych-pop band Aquaserge initially passed me by as I thought it was a reissue. The band combine psych and krautrock with pop sensibilities as well as classical instrumentation for an album which serves as a tribute to four idiosyncratic 20th century composers: Giacinto Scelsi, György Ligeti, Edgard Varése and Morton Feldman. These are not your typical choices for a band like this, and the result is a suite of songs with live grooves and chanson-inflected melodies orchestrated with close-knit harmonic discords, mysterious classical avantgardism and free-jazz improv segments. It's not nearly as chaotic as it sounds - fans of experimental pop will find a lot to love, even with the "covers" of their chosen composers.

Minus Pilots with friends - To A God Unknown (with Gareth Davis, Stephen Vitiello & Machinefabriek) [PLAYNEUTRAL/Bandcamp]
Minus Pilots with friends - A Dreamer, A Dreamer (with Yellow6, Gareth Davis, Scanner & Machinefabriek) [PLAYNEUTRAL/Bandcamp]
I discovered UK duo Minus Pilots via some collaborations with Machinefabriek a few years ago. Bass player Adam Barringer and drummer Matt Pittori both contribute samples and electronics, with an aesthetic of pronounced minimalism - post-classical melded with postrock. Their collaborative impulse has once again come to the fore for their new EP for the new experimental label PLAYNEUTRAL, each track featuring multiple contributors. Across tonight's two selections, which range from ambient to skittery to noisy, we have clarinettist Gareth Davis, sound-artists Stephen Vitiello & Machinefabriek, ambient guitarist Yellow6 and legendary electronic musician Scanner. Credited to Minus Pilots with friends, these tracks are compelling and cohesive due to the astute musicality of the core artists; recommended.

Ordnance Survey - Vico Road June 1984 [Scintilla Recordings]
Ordnance Survey - Belfield May 1985 [Scintilla Recordings]
From the UK to Ireland - Neil O'Connor used to be Somadrone, but renamed himself after Ireland's Ordnance Survey, appropriately for music that bases itself so much in field recordings. Nevertheless, those site-specific audio pieces find themselves buried in amongst woozy manipulations of tape loops and blissful grooves. The beats could come from a 1990s Ninja Tune release, but they too are buried in the mix. I was expecting something quite ambient but instead I found a rather enveloping sound, evocative of a particular countryside which I've not visited for decades - an unexpected pleasure.

Holopeak - Golden Walk [People Sound]
Released in November on Jaques Emery's People Sound was this excellent album of jazzy postrock (or post-rocky jazz?) from Sydney three-piece Holopeak, made up of drummer Chloe Kim, guitarist Nick Mielczarek, and bassist Harry Birch. It's really nice hearing this kind of postrock, which I associate with Tortoise, as well as Mice Parade et al, turning up again now after years & years of the genre being identified with post-Mogwai/Explosions in the Sky style quiet-LOUD-quiet pomposity. The three musicians here are top-class players, and this music was created through improvising, collaborative edited and overdubbing, with the results feeling very organic and live. Truly lovely.

Corin - Ghost Dance [Heavy Machinery/Bandcamp]
The last album from Australian-Filipina artist Corin Ileto, Enantiodromia, only came out in mid-2021 from Lee Gamble's great UIQ label, so it was a nice surprise to find a contrasting follow-up released in the last month of 2021 from Heavy Machinery. Araw finds Corin in ambient mode, losing the industrial, rave-influenced beats but with all the great sound design and rhythmic intelligence still intact. It's beautiful stuff.

Bernard Parmegiani - Strio [Mode Records/Bandcamp]
Bernard Parmegiani - E Pericoloso Sporgersi (élément) - 1991 [Transversales Disques/Bandcamp]
I've been on a Bernard Parmegiani trip lately - I've had the 12CD collection for ages and slowly worked my way through it, but there have been some recent additions from his archives. Parmegiani was a pioneer of electro-acoustic or acousmatic music, going from early tape-based edits and analogue synths through to digital techniques at Ina-GRM in Paris until his death in 2013. Tonight we heard two things released in 2021. "Strio" is the shortest of three movements of Stries, a sort of electronic distillation of an earlier work called Violostries, for violin and electronics. This work involves a pre-prepared tape plus synthesisers performed live by three performers, and the 2021 release by Mode Records finds a contemporary trio re-creating this work, sourcing instruments as close the originals as possible, wiring them up according to notes from the original performances etc. The liner notes (also found as PDFs in the Bandcamp download) provide fascinating insight into the challenges in rendering a work like this decades after it was originally created - the hardware is in no way stable and predictable, so there's a lot of interpretation involved. Tonight's track sees two of the musicians appearing in the left and right speaker, modulating the sounds on the tape, while a third synth contributes the little high melodic hints. Meanwhile, "E Pericoloso Sporgersi" is a fragment from 1991 which is surprisingly rhythmic; uncovered as part of the second volume of Mémoire Magnétique from Transversales Disques, collecting short works from Parmegiani's archives of radiophonic and film works. Years (decades?) ago someone told me that Parmegiani was doing Autechre decades before them, which piqued my interest at the time, but I dismissed the claim itself as hyperbole. It's been surreal how many times I've had Parmegiani's collected works on in the background and thought "Hm, is that Autechre or something Mego or...? oh that's right!" A pioneer indeed.

Mitchell Elliott - The Belly of the Beast [unreleased]
Newcastle musician Mitchell Elliott belongs in a proud tradition of noise music from Sydney's northern neighbour. This new composition is the first to emerge from his soundtrack to a contemporary dance piece called "Belly of the Beast", choreographed and performed by Monique Humphreys, which is due to be performed as part of the Newcastle Fringe Festival in March 2022. In the current climate, we can only hope it goes ahead. Elliott's music is audacious as an accompaniment to modern dance, with passages of harsh static alongside booming subs.

Sow Discord - Opportunist [AR53/Bandcamp]
Melbourne's Sow Discord is David Coen, also found in sludge/doom/grind/noise band Whitehorse among others. As Sow Discord, he remixed The Body back in 2019. His new two-track release for AR53 is dark, doomy dubstep, just what the end of 2021 needed.

s280f - (untitled) [Bandcamp]
This very disquieting track technically has an empty title and artist name, but the Bandcamp name s280false points to it being the work of the mysterious s280f. The combination of contemporary classical elements with twisted glitch-r'n'b and eldritch black metal is the perfect distillation of now. As weird and fucked up as the artwork.

Silkie - West Man [Navy Cut]
Silkie - 51 times Stronger [Silkie Bandcamp]
I have an abiding love for the melodic, jazz-inflected core dubstep of Solomon Rose aka Silkie. His City Limits albums and string of 12"s for Deep Medi are untouchable - dark like chocolate, with head-nodding beats and perfect basslines, shot through at times with purple jazz phrasing... And he continues, with a lovely three-tracker on Navy Cut last year, but I only discovered late in the piece last year that he's been using his own Bandcamp to trickle out archival cuts and new tracks at a surprising rate. For the second track, the "51 times stronger" quote comes from Samuel L Jackson in the movie Formula 51.

Wheez-ie - Pressure (Aura T-09 x Cardopusher Rmx) [Evar Records]
Wheez-ie - Horizons (Tim Reaper Rmx) [Evar Records]
LA-based rave artist Wheez-ie released an EP on fellow LA label Evar Records last year, and this coming Friday comes a superb remix EP. First up tonight, Aura T-09 is the Italian-born, LA-based Marci Pinna, who co-runs Evar Records with John Frusciante (Red Hot Chilli Pepper and rave/IDM-enthusiast). She reworks "Pressure" alongside Barcelona's Cardopusher, who used to appear in many playlists in the halcyon breakcore days of Utility Fog, and also produced some tasty dubstep before switching to lucrative club house climes - so it's nice hearing the breakcore/hardcore influence here (and that awesome vocal sample which I'd love to know the provenance of!) Meanwhile the hardworking Tim Reaper brings a classic junglist rush of subby basslines and rolling amens - first class.

Aria Rostami - Bolbol (Sote Rework) [Shaytoon Records/Bandcamp]
Aria Rostami - Endless [Shaytoon Records/Bandcamp]
New York-based Iranian artist Aria Rostami finishes tonight with his new Bolbol EP released by fellow Persian electronic artist Sepehr on his Shaytoon Records. The title track is remixed not only by the label head but also by the one & only Ata Ebtekar aka Sote, each taking the ravey breaks in different directions; but Rostami's a past master at sound design too, and the lengthy "Endless" is a highlight of the EP, with a slowed-down vocal sample, drones, and a percussive beat that slowly grows fiercer until it dissipates back into ambien-fueled confusion.

Listen again — ~208MB

Saturday, 1st of January, 2022

Utility Fog - 02.01.22 - Peter's birthday mix (9:27 pm)

It's a new year, and it's also my birthday! So I've put together this special birthday mix - mostly jungle & drum'n'bass, tunes from back in the '90s through to 2021, many favourites. Enjoy!

LISTEN as much as you like via stream on demand @ FBi, podcast here or you can download "just the mix" without my chatter.

Icarus - Moth [Hydrogen Dukebox/Bandcamp]
Andy Odysee - Ruthless (In Purpose):Insidious (In Design) [Odysee Recordings/Bandcamp]
The Truper - Volume 2 A [Street Beats]
Dillinja - The Angels Fell [Metalheadz/Bandcamp]
Alex Reece - Feel The Sunshine (DJ Pulse remix) [4th & Broadway]
Klute - Phone Call (Matrix remix) [Certificate 18]
dgoHn - Invisible Sandwich [Love Love Records/Bandcamp]
Björk - I Miss You (Photek Mix) [One Little Indian]
Dom & Roland - Time [Moving Shadow]
Machinedrum - Gunshotta [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
Boymerang - Mind Control [Regal/Astralwerks]
Paradox - Soviet [Paradox Music]
ASC - Artificial Life [Auxiliary]
Amon Tobin - One Day in My Garden [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
DJ Shadow - What Does Your Soul Look Like (DJ Die Remix) [Mo' Wax/Island]
Exile - Silicon Chop (feat. Sub Focus) [Planet µ]
Bernard Parmegiani - Dedans-dehors (en phase / hors phase) (1977) [Ina-GRM]
Sam Binga - AYO feat. Redders [Critical Presents: Modulations]
Chimpo - Big Ed (Generation X Mix) [Box N Lock]
Hedex & Bou - Pub Grub VIP [Dubz Audio]
Double O feat. Sheba Q - God Is A Woman (Coco Bryce remix) [Western Lore]
Sully - 5ives [Over/Shadow/Bandcamp]
µ-Ziq - Sketty [Analogical Force]
ZULI - Where Do You Go [UIQ/Bandcamp]
Muqata'a - Bilharf Alwahad بالحَرف الواحَد [Hundebiss Records/Muqata'a Bandcamp]
Atrice - Hatara [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Lana del Rey - Rise (Special Request remix) [Houndstooth]
Lanark Artefax - Touch Absence [Whities]

Listen again — ~208MB

Sunday, 19th of December, 2021

Playlist 19.12.21 - Best of 2021 Part 2! (6:39 pm)

We've somehow made it to the end of the year. I'm taking next Sunday off, and on the 2nd we'll have some kind of special before returning to new music in the new year.
In the meantime, following last week's focus on vaguely song-related stuff and some post-classical, tonight we're mostly split between beats and sound-art.

So give it a LISTEN AGAIN, via stream on demand from FBi or podcast here.

Aesop Rock x Blockhead - Difficult [Rhymesayers/Bandcamp]
We've gotten used to Aesop Rock producing his own beats over the last few albums. He's a master beat-maker, almost as much as he is a wordsmith (and indeed an artist!), recently producing an entire EP for his buddy Homeboy Sandman - but many of Aes's greatest tunes from his early days through to his 2012 return were produced by his close college friend Blockhead. So when Aes was finding creativity hard, in lockdown, following the tragic death of a close friend, he turned to Blockhead to provide some beats for him to write rhymes to. And these two do just gel so well - they seem to understand each other's creativity instinctively - so enough tunes flowed that they ended up with a full album, with the utterly Aesop Rock title Garbology. With Aes's usual self-deprecating observations and metaphor-laden vocabularianism, it's deeply enjoyable, like putting on an old jacket and finding it fits better than it ever did. Both artists are better at their game than ever.

Mick Harris - Devonshire drive [Mick Harris Bandcamp]
The legendary Mick Harris is a hardworking musician from Birmingham who's had a huge impact on a number of musical scenes - starting with popularising, if not inventing, blast beats as an originator of grindcore as drummer in the original lineup of Napalm Death. His involvement with extreme metal didn't end there, but he soon became fascinated with samplers, looping and dub music, and formed Scorn with Nik Bullen, also ex-Napalm Death. Bullen left fairly early on, but Scorn continued to leave its mark with incredibly heavy, pared down industrial dub, and a strange sideways precursor to dubstep. Harris also made drum'n'bass as Quoit, among many other pseudonyms and collaborations. Harris released an excellent Scorn album this year, but he's also revived another project, the HedNod sessions, to showcase pared-down dubby hip-hop. It's not that far from the Scorn material, but a little more casual, and a pleasure to listen to. He was broadcasting studio sessions on Twitter from last year, and has reliably churned out material on the Mick Harris Bandcamp, with HedNods starting from Five, as well as a short but great Scorn radio/live session from the mid-'90s.

SIMM - Gqom Squbulo (featuring Phelimuncasi) [Ohm Resistance]
The industrial dub sounds of Eraldo Bernocchi go back to the '90s, alongside dark ambient and sound-art work and film soundtrack recordings. An inveterate collaborator, Bernocchi worked extensively with Mick Harris of Scorn, including also their project with Bill Laswell as Equations of Eternity. SIMM has been one of his main aliases for the dub beats, and it's easy to hear the cross-pollination of his mate Mick Harris, whose mid-'90s Scorn work prefigures dubstep a decade before it coalesced in the East/South London scene. Bernocchi's new SIMM album Too Late To Dream, for the great Ohm Resistance (also responsible for some years for Scorn's recent output), finds him treading similar ground to The Bug or Harris, with dubstep & grime-adjacent bass music (often menacing, sometimes peaceful), and MCs on about half the tracks. Grime master Flowdan appears on a number of tracks here, and there's also a brilliant collaboration with South African gqom legends Phelimuncasi.

Loraine James - Self Doubt (Leaving the Club Early) [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
Like many, I was blown away by Loraine James' debut album for Hyperdub in 2019, For You And I. I'd already heard the glitchy breaks of Button Mashing earlier that year on New York Haunted, and Sydney's Hence Therefore had alerted me to her talents when he remixed her "+44-Thinking-Of-You" the previous year. She's an anomaly and a product of the times - a young London-based queer black woman, who grew up listening to IDM and didn't quite fit into any scene. Her music blends IDM's experimentation and boundary-pushing with contemporary club sounds, r'n'b, jazz and more, and doesn't avoid directly addressing the personal toll of being queer and black. She also continues to collaborate widely, bringing in Antion alumnus Baths for some melodic indie vocals, as well as singing & speaking on a number of tracks herself.

Leo - death is quite clearly not what it used to be [YOUTH]
A member of Manchester collective Manteq in which Iranian refugees work with bass producers, Leo has produced some futuristic grime cuts for MC Tardast (rapping in Farsi) as well as DJing in various bass styles in that northern city. Leo's second album was released by Manchester's YOUTH, and as typical of that label, it refuses to sit still long enough to pin down the genres or themes - like a mixtape, showcasing this young producer's skill, whether it's crazily chopped breaks, instrumental grime or drill, mutated with strange distortions.

Blawan - Blika [XL Recordings/Bandcamp]
Berlin-based UK mainstay Blawan takes a break from his usual 4/4 fare with more bass-oriented syncopation here for XL Recordings, on the excellently-titled Woke Up Right-Handed. A restless beat and a distorted vocal that seeps into the subs make the opening track an instant freakish classic.

CORIN - Enantiodromia [UIQ/Bandcamp]
Filipina-Australian artist CORIN, once from Sydney and now based in Melbourne, goes from strength to strenth with international recognition courtesy of Bedouin Records' 2019 release of Manifest now extended to Lee Gamble's incredible UIQ records, who released her Enantiodromia album in 2021 - I think her best yet. The dark, cyberpunk-inspired sounds of the previous album are further exercised with propulsive beats and eerie ambient tracks exploring the idea of impermanence, the observation of things gradually turning into their opposites. An album for the times, and another great step for this talented producer.

Hiro Kone - Mundus Patet [Dais Records/Bandcamp]
Silvercoat the throng, the latest album from New York producer Nicky Mao aka Hiro Kone, sees her stretch her wings out from the techno focus of her last few brilliant releases into industrial ambient and sound-painting of various sorts, with various guests including an extraordinary spoken piece from travis of ONO, the hypnotic beat batterns of DeForrest Brown, Jr aka Speaker Music, and glitchy samples and cut-up beats from Palestinian producer Muqata'a (who's been heard a lot on this show). "Mundus Patet" strikes me as the most similar to Mao's earlier releaes.

Meemo Comma - Neon Genesis: Title Sequence [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
Lara Rix-Martin formed Heterotic with husband Mike Paradinas (head honcho of Planet µ and of course aka µ-Ziq) in 2013, and released a few albums as Lux E Tenebris and more recently Meemo Comma (a name bestowed by their daughter). Rix-Martin also runs the Objects Limited label, formed to promote the music of musicians of under-represented genders. Rix-Martin's recent solo work sees them drawing on their Jewish heritage, melding their exploration of Jewish mysticism (the kabbalah and the "Merkabah" of our first track) with cyberpunk ideas from anime and gaming. Notable on this release is not only Rix-Martin's command of their hardware & software, but also the use of voice throughout - at times drawing on Jewish liturgical song, but also casting a wider net. It's a really interesting release, worthy of all the attention it's seen.

Muqata'a - Bilharf Alwahad بالحَرف الواحَد [Hundebiss Records/Muqata'a Bandcamp]
I've been looking forward to the new album from Ramallah, Palestine producer Muqata'a for a few months, and it's as superb as expected - glitchy hip-hop informed by an Arabic numerological science that invokes the voices of Muqata'a's ancestors. The title Kamil Manqus كَامِل مَنْقوص refers to the perfection of imperfection - the glitchy sound is to be seen not as errors per se, but as "possible breaks in an otherwise closed system", poignant imagery from an artist in the occupied territory of Palestine.

MSC - This 1 For The Scum [First Terrace Records/Bandcamp]
Manslaughter 777 - No Man Curse [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Brothers Isaac and Zachary Jones have formed many bands over the past decade and a half, starting with hardcore punk acts like GIANT and then Braveyoung, which gradually morphed into the postrock-informed sounds of their later period, with orchestral influences as well as tape manipulation alongside the hardcore and doom metal trappings. As Braveyoung they collaborated with ever-morphing beauty/noise proponents the body, and Zachary Jones is a longtime touring member of that band too. Braveyoung eventually was disbanded and replaced by their equally-uncategorizable soundsystem identity MSC, and alongside their incredible second collab with the body from last year called I Don't Ever Want To Be Alone, they have been exploring the power of junglist breaks and dub bass, still emphasising the catharsis of noise and the emotiveness of classical music-referencing samples and drones. It's no surprise that their new album What You Say Of Power is baffling and inspiring.
Earlier this year came the debut album from Manslaughter 777, which feels like something that's been a long time coming - the work of the body drummer Lee Buford and Zac Jones of MSC, it's stripped entirely of the metal trappings, focusing on live and manipulated beats & samples, drawing on their love of dub, hip-hop and drum'n'bass/jungle. Working with engineer Seth Manchester at Machines With Magnets, they created something that's dark but less harsh than their usual work, perfect for those who find harsh vocals a bit much to deal with.

ZULI - Tany [UIQ/Bandcamp]
Cairo producer Ahmed El Ghazoly makes incredibly forward-thinking beats as ZULI (All Caps, as his new EP reminds us). Since 2016's Bionic Ahmed his releases have been compulsory for me, and this was only intensified with the jungle-leaning Trigger Finger in 2018. Cruelly, after the Terminal album was released in 2018, his laptop was stolen with an almost-completed follow-up along with his whole setup & sound library, forcing him to rebuild. Finally om March came the substantial new EP All Caps, with two absolutely mangled jungle tunes and mashed beats of all sorts. Also checkl the final track "Bro! (Love it)", which satirises western fans & critics' ugly tendency to filter all expectations through the lens of his ethnicity.

Sully - 5ives [Over/Shadow/Bandcamp]
Nobody has the flittering, dazzling rhythms of jungle down pat like Sully these days. His shift from grime to jungle & drum'n'bass in 2014 was inspired, and if anything he's only gotten better. 5ives/Sliding comes courtesy of Over/Shadow, whose usual playing field is mid-to-late-'90s style drum'n'bass, but the Moving Shadow connection goes right back to the early days, and Sully here makes the drum breaks not just dance but sing. A masterclass.

Grey Code - Opal [Metalheadz/Bandcamp]
Speaking of classical, young drum'n'bass producer Grey Code likes to mix up all sorts of influences with his drum'n'bass productions, and while his new single "Opal" for Metalheadz is meant to be inspired by his love of guitar music, it's quite unusual in a number of ways. Until the beats drop, it's effectively in 12/8 time (triplets), and throughout there's more harmonic movement (beautifully done) than your usual club tracks. There's a fair bit of this kind of invention through Grey Code's catalogue so far, but this is super impressive and hopefully indicative of what next January's album has in store.

Enfuse - Orchestrate [onesevenfour Records]
Speaking of classical-leaning jungle, Aus drum'n'bass label onesevenfour Records passed on some promos in October, and this beauty from Brisbane's Enfuse instantly grabbed my attention - flowing drum'n'bass with a clarinet melody and lush pads, and some nice surprises in the harmonic changes.

Bell Orchestre - All the Time [Erased Tapes/Envision/Bandcamp]
Massive highlight from earlier in the year here, from a Toronto troupe who we haven't heard from for over 10 years. Bell Orchestre formed during the recording of the first Arcade Fire album, and feature that band's Richard Reed Parry on double bass (among other things), and of course the wonderful Sarah Neufeld on violin, who has played on their albums and toured with them since the beginning. To these instruments add the excellent drummer Stefan Schneider (not the German musician!), trumpeter Kaveh Nabatian, French horn player Pietro Amato and pedal steel guitarist Michael Feuerstack (all of whom play other instruments, contribute electronics, and occasionally sing) and you have this marvellous ensemble, who straddle postrock and a kind of post-classical folk tendency, while drawing also on electronica, dub and much more - check the Aphex Twin cover on their second album! 12 years after that second album came House Music - recorded in every part of Sarah Neufeld's house in rural Vermont during lockdown, it really is a maturation of their original sound, an absorbing, single long work broken into separate tracks, tightly edited but preserving the spontaneity and joy of the 2-week recording session. The electronic influences can be heard in the overdriven bass drum and clattering beats, or the motorik ostinati provided by violin or guitar, while Parry's warm double bass notes ring out under expansive horn parts. A delight.

Machinefabriek - SA AJ ET (with Shane Aspegren, Anja Jacobsen, Eric Thielemans) [Esc.rec/Bandcamp/Bandcamp]
The remarkable new album from Rutger Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek, With Drums, could be seen as a successor to his 2019 album With Voices, or conversely of his self-performed Drum Solos. Mostly, though, it's an unexpected extension of his large ouevre of sound art, and his penchant for collaboration - 24 short tracks, each collaged from contributed recordings from three drummers (a total of 42 drummers are featured, with many recognizable names appearing). This is not predominantly rhythmic music - some contributions feature tuned percussion, or bowed percussion, some are free jazz flourishes, and some do coalesce into grooves. Zuydervelt's command of sound and space is such that these disparate contributed recordings are sculpted into 37 minutes of music that flows as a single work, which is never less than gripping, and charming.

Kcin - Moon (Part 2) [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]
Listeners to UFog over the last few years will have become familiar with Nick Meredith aka Kcin's dark sound, that melds percussion, found sounds and electronics in a way both familiar and unique. Back in April, it was a pleasure to finally get to interview Nick on the occasion of his extraordinary debut album proper, Decade Zero, released via Spirit Level. Listening to this album, it's clear why it's given this special status - it's not just cohesive in sound, but a deeply accomplished work, compulsory listening for anyone with an interest in deconstructed club sounds, industrial techno, Ben Frost's sonic destruction and Utility Fog-style sounds in general. In our conversation, Nick outlined his workflow, in which sounds are sourced and created, built up in the digital world, blasted through vibrating air and re-recorded, further deconstructed and rebuilt. Check it.

Eli Keszler - The Accident [LuckyMe/Bandcamp]
On new album Icons, New York percussionist Eli Keszler strays even further from the avant-garde world with an album that strangely fits well with the Glasgow label LuckyMe who are releasing it. The album makes a little more sense when you note that Keszler's worked with Oneohtrix Point Never's Daniel Lopatin on a few projects lately - there's a hazy neon street sheen to some of the ambience here. There are some of the skittery beats that made 2019's Stadium so incredible, but there are also nods at downtempo as well as free jazz. It's not an album that welcomes a single interpretation, but it's always fascinating.

Gilded - Alden [Fluid Audio/Facture Bandcamp]
The 2012 album Terrane by Perth duo Gilded is one I hold close to my heart. The peaceful electroacoustic sounds centre on piano and guitar, with skittery percussion from a cut-down kit point at the postrock of Radian or indeed late Talk Talk. It's the work of Matt Rösner (who's released music on 12k, Room40, hellosQuare and elsewhere) and Adam Trainer (who played in the great indie/postrock band Radarmaker, released solo music on hellosQuare and has a long association with community radio), and it always seemed like the album was a one-off. So it was particularly great to hear from both members earlier this year that this second album was coming. Mostly recorded closely following the original album, it got caught in a series of life changes and took its sweet time to get it together. The piano is gone, replaced by synthesizers alongside the guitar, field recordings, and those flittering hi-hats. There's a strong sense of place, the marshlands and evaporated salt lake around Rösner's hometown of Myalup, and it's just gorgeous. There's promise of more to come from the reunited duo, and they'd better hold to their promise...

l'ocelle mare - Piano, Banjo, Orgue, Métronome... [Shelter Press/Murailles Music/Bandcamp]
Thomas Bonvalet has some decades of experience playing guitar in indie rock bands, and as a multi-instrumentalist playing with many French artists, but his solo project l'ocelle mare is quite a different approach to making music - he claims, “I don’t write music, it’s an assemblage of gestural memories”. Certainly Bonvalet uses the "real" instruments - guitar, piano, banjo, organ, drum skins etc - in much the same way as the telephone, amps, metronomes and so on. It's all sound, and although it's frequently rhythmical, it's not often arranged into melodies or harmonic movements. Extended techniques on the guitar & banjo, and this "organised sound" approach, make for mostly acoustic or out-of-the-box music that sounds sequenced or cut up - or at least, I think so. In any case, it fits in that highly-sought-after category of music I don't entirely understand, and therefore listen to repeatedly. A welcome discovery!

Ai Yamamoto - Late morning - Remote learning and house chores, remote working (washing machine, vacuum cleaner, printing, typing, clicking, pencil, paper, cup, glass bottle) [Room40/Bandcamp]
Nobody could quite have pulled off the iso album with the same delicacy and panache as Melbourne-based Ai Yamamoto has with her Pan De Sonic - Iso, released on Room40's Someone Good imprint at the beginning of the year. All the sounds come from field recordings taken in her family home during Melbourne's marathon 2020 lockdown, and they mostly evoke a peaceful intimacy, and a creative spirit doing its very finest with what it's been given. The source sounds are delightfully documented for each track, which Yamamoto adroitly maneuvres between direct reproduction and field recordings processed & arranged into rhythms and touching melodies. Despite the podcast excerpt at the very start, it's not gimmicky at all, but rather a very human piece of life-as-art.

Takuma Watanabe - Tactile [Constructive/Bandcamp]
Last Afternoon is the gorgeous 2021 album from film composer and David Sylvian associate Takuma Watanabe, featuring a string ensemble, tech wizardry from Akira Rabelais and the great avant-garde singer Joan La Barbara (on a track not featured tonight mind you). I discovered Watanabe via a release on Japanese label Inpairtment last year, featuring contributions from Rabelais and also Félicia Atkinson, all of which should give you a flavour of what you'll find here: delicate neo-classical composition of a high order (nothing derivative here!), shot through with the hiss & crackle of analogue & digital detritus. Also note the Delay x Takuma 12" released recently, in which Vladislav Delay reinterprets tracks from this album in heavy digital style.

Jeremy Young - Electricity Over Mirabel (with Pauline Kim Harris) [Thirsty Leaves Music/Jeremy Young Bandcamp]
I'd come across Montréal sound-artist Jeremy Young on a number of collaborations, but had failed to investigate his solo work until this year, when he released a remix EP, Amaro Extensions, in which tracks from his earlier 2021 album Amaro were reworked by some wonderful musicians from Montréal and beyond, including Constellation artist T. Gowdy and a familiar face 'round here, Machinefabriek. The album itself is also a set of collaborations, in which Young uses a custom-made set of three hand-tuned oscillators plus found objects and surfaces as rhythmic foundations, tapes and signal processing, while his guests sometimes contribute voices or traditional instruments (tonight, gorgeous violin from Pauline Kim Harris), and sometimes what you might call "featured found sounds".

Megan Alice Clune - Gentle Smile [Room40/Bandcamp]
The album If You Do from Sydney's Megan Alice Clune, leader of the non-Alaskan non-orchestra Alaska Orchestra is a masterpiece of understatement. Borne from a dream about writing an opera, it's built instead from the minutiae of stay-at-home existence imposed by lockdowns, captive to quixotic technologies and alienated from social or musical interaction. A vocal drone runs through it, overlaid with different approaches to layering and mutating sound - here, swooping synthesizers recall Alice Coltrane's spiritualist solo works; there, different vocal layers cut in & out with subtle swells of clarinet; and over here, the vocals end up cut into small pieces, pulsing in & out like a faltering radio. One for repeated listens in quiet spaces.

Australian Art Orchestra | Daniel Wilfred | Sunny Kim - Star Song [Australian Art Orchestra Bandcamp]
One of a number of projects from the Melbourne-based Australian Art Orchestra in 2021, Hand to Earth comes out of a residency by AAO members in the remote highlands of Tasmania with Yolŋu songman Daniel Wilfred and his brother, yidaki player David Wilfred. Across these tracks, ancient songlines intersect with the trumpet & electronics of Peter Knight, Daniel Wilfred's voice floats in a sea of Korean artist Sunny Kim's voice & electronics (the beautiful piece chosen for tonight's best of show), and David Wilfred's yidaki (a variant of the didgeridoo) merges wonderfully with the clarinets of Aviva Endean. I so also want to mention the 12" the Australian Art Orchestra released with Hospital Hill, featuring compositions by Peter Knight. "Diomira" is an extraordinary tribute to one of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, in which voice and chamber jazz orchestra interact with turntables, drumkit via reel-to-reel tape machine, and live laptop processing. Too long to fit in tonight, so listen & buy!

Mindy Meng Wang - Stirring Flower 搅花 with Daniel Jenatsch [Heavy Machinery Records/Music In Exile/Bandcamp]
As well as a wonderful EP with beats from Tim Shiel, 2021 saw a new full album from Chinese-Australia guzheng specialist Mindy Meng Wang. Phoenix Rising is co-released by Heavy Machinery Records & Music In Exile and finds Mindy explicitly expanding the millennia-old Chinese zither into many different areas, working with musicians from jazz, contemporary classical, experimental & electronic circles. The allbum features a masterful piece with pianist Paul Grabowsky, there's classical percussionist Claire Edwardes of Ensemble Offspring and others. For the best of show, I played the skittery drums & processing of Brisbane experimental instrumentalist & sound-artist Daniel Jenatsch. It's a pretty stunning album, at the centre of which is Mindy Meng Wang's mastery of the guzheng.

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