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Utility Fog

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Sunday, 19th of April, 2015

Playlist 19.04.15 (9:11 pm)

OK, so yesterday was Record Store Day. It's a silly thing really. Record stores are awesome - in fact they're just about my favourite thing in the entire world, along with book & comic stores - but RSD just makes their lives very difficult for one day of the year while making money for big labels with mostly dumb reissues. Of course there are some special releases which are awesome and just need to come out on CD as well, c'mon. Here's a great in-depth article on how RSD affects smaller stores...

LISTEN AGAIN because your ears need a workout, podcast over here, stream on demand over there!

From a special touring/RSD-related 7" single, we start with a gorgeous Sufjan Stevens track, folky electric piano-based like much of the new album, but with much more electronic production.

Then some tracks from Robotic Empire's new Nirvana tribute compilation - it's Nevermind covers from awesome metal & noisy artists, to match last year's In Utero one. So many tempting treats, including a nice heavy (but faithful) cover from Torche and a big excitable one from the wonderful Cave In. Tonight, though, we start with contemporary shoegaze band Nothing, who draw from My Bloody Valentine and Jesu, but have also recently covered Low, and take the quietest song from the album and tone it down another notch with piano and feedback.
From last year, Thou take on "Milk It" with a surprising amount of clean vocals among the black metal screaming. As with a lot of their music, it's strangely moving - see later for more!
And back to Nevermind, the reliable Boris twist "Lithium" into something their own, keeping the structure but making it heavier and more strung out. It's kind of stunning.

The covers continue with inveterate po-mo prankster Drew Daniel of Matmos, aka The Soft Pink Truth. Over 10 years ago, his second album featured house covers of anarcho-punk songs, but on 2014's Why Do The Heathen Rage? he takes on classic black metal. Rather than the disco/house music I was expecting, this stuff sounds more like the idm/electronica Daniel grew up with in Matmos, albeit with some tracks featuring a contemporary r'n'b spin, some suggesting rave or even vaguely Alec Empire style digital hardcore/junglisms. It's all good fun despite (or because of?) the intended queer deconstruction of a music that has played host to some very ugly politics in its history.

Greg Fox takes us on a little detour away from "black metal", although as drummer in Brooklyn's Liturgy he's indelibly part of the scene, for better or worse... But as a solo artist he's put out a couple of releases using tuned percussion and mallet instruments along with electronics to create some beautiful sparkling textures. As well as some amusing chopped-up metal riffs in there...

So, Liturgy are an interesting prospect. Frontman Hunter Hunt Hendrix attracted a lot of vitriol a few year ago by barracking for "transcendental black metal" in a florid manifesto which is offensive as much for being heavy on Lacanian bullshit terminology as it is for implying that black metal lacks the features of transcendence and adventurousness Hendrix was asking for. In any case, he & Liturgy have become figures of variously suspicion, scorn or at least controversy in the metal world.
Nevertheless, at their best they do create inspiring and exciting music which may transcend black metal only by leaving the genre behind, but whether it's doom/sludge riffs they're playing, chants and half-spoken singing, or the familiar blast beats of black metal, there's a lot that's great in their music.

We heard New Orleans doom/black metal group Thou earlier covering Nirvana. With deconstructionist black metallers The Body they released a mini-album and EP last year, collected together by Thrill Jockey in the USA and Daymare in Japan. Much of the music is a haze of intense guitar noise and typical black metal screetching. But there are moments of expansive sound work and even some more natural vocals in there. No question, you need to be in the right frame of mind to listen to very much of this stuff, but moments like the ones I chose tonight are everything that metal should be and more.

Now a swift 90° turnaround into neoclassical postrock courtesy of Brisbane's Nonsemble, self-described as an "indie chamber ensemble". Although they play other contemporary music live, they're centred around the compositions of Chris Perren, who we heard featured on the show a few weeks back with his folktronic/electronic solo music and his postrock band Mr Maps. Postrock and math rock are very audible in his compositions, along with clear influences from minimalist and other contemporary composers.
Both their albums feature long compositions broken into (still quite long) movements. Perren's compositional vision and arrangements remain clear, but the performances (and to some extent the compositions) seem more assured on the new album, due out from English classical crossover label bigo & twigetti soon. It's lushly produced, accurately & emotively played stuff which should gain them some more traction in this sphere of post-classical, genrefluid music which is quite bustling overseas, particularly in Europe. More power to them!

Sufjan Stevens - Exploding Whale [Asthmatic Kitty]
Nothing - Something In The Way [Robotic Empire]
Thou - Milk It [Robotic Empire]
Boris - Lithium [Robotic Empire]
The Soft Pink Truth - Maniac (originally by Hellhammer) [Thrill Jockey]
The Soft Pink Truth - Ready To Fuck (originally by Sarcófago, feat. Jenn Wasner & M.C. Schmidt) [Thrill Jockey]
Greg Fox - Homoplasmates [Rail Cables]
Greg Fox - Adversary [Rail Cables]
Greg Fox - Lamb [Rail Cables]
Liturgy - Father Vorizen [Thrill Jockey/Daymare]
Liturgy - (untitled bonus for Japan from Aesthethica, also I think available on a split LP with Oval) [Thrill Jockey/Daymare]
Liturgy - Veins Of God [Thrill Jockey/Daymare]
Liturgy - Vitriol (The Soft Pink Truth remix) [Thrill Jockey/Daymare]
The Body & Thou - He Returns to the Place of His Iniquity [Thrill Jockey/Daymare]
The Body & Thou - Lurking Fear [Thrill Jockey/Daymare]
Nonsemble - Practical Mechanics Movement I - The Great Awakening [Nonsemble Bandcamp]
Nonsemble - Practical Mechanics Movement II (MeekSounds Remix) [bigo & twigetti]
Nonsemble - Go Seigen vs. Fujisawa Kuranosuke (Movement II) [bigo & twigetti]

Listen again — ~106MB

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