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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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Sunday, 23rd of November, 2014

Playlist 23.11.14 (8:04 pm)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen again — ~106MB

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