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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, 30th of August, 2015

Playlist 30.08.15 (8:59 pm)

That's not just the name of the first track tonight - it's also the age of FBi Radio, and this very show! Happy birthday to us!

LISTEN AGAIN because nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia! Stream on demand in stereo, podcast here.

This week, Aaron Funk aka Venetian Snares put out a somewhat mysterious call on his social media, claiming that he was suddenly experiencing rather serious financial difficulties, and was hoping his fans would purchase something from his Bandcamp to help him get through. He's got a heap of older out-of-print EPs and a couple of releases there which are unique to the Bandcamp. Within a day or so, every spot in the Bandcamp top 10 was VSnares, showing that he's got some seriously dedicated fans. Nice work!
Tonight's Pointer Sisters / Sesame Street sampling track was originally released in 2004 but is available from the Bandcamp. (Click on the Sesame Street link and watch that now!)

Melbourne breakcore artist binliner wrote to me today to announce his new album. He was listening to UFog back in '03-'04 in Sydney, when I was playing a lot more breakcore, and it's nice that tonight, with Snares and the big feature coming up next, I'm actually playing a fair bit of breakcore and drill'n'bass! This album is very well-produced and fun stuff, recommended.

So tonight we're also celebrating another big anniversary: 20 years of Planet µ, a label which was very important to me from the beginning but has only increased in significance in the electronic music scene, particularly over the last 10 years. Started as an imprint of Virgin Records, to whom Mike Paradinas was signed as µ-Ziq, it was an outlet for him to release his own music as well as other like-minded artists. Paradinas had been friends with Aphex Twin since student days, along with the well-loved Jega who ended up being responsible for the first "real" Planet µ 12" when it became an independent label. But in 1997 Paradinas put out the first of many Planet µ compilations, Mealtime, still as a Virgin imprint, featuring many of the idm/drill'n'bass heroes like Aphex Twin, Luke Vibert as Plug, Plaid, MDK and others... and the wonderful Animals on Wheels, who ended up releasing on Ninja Tune and Thrill Jockey among others.
Also in 1997, µ-Ziq's extraordinary Lunatic Harness album came out, as his first real foray into "drill'n'bass" - beautiful melodies, completely fucked-up junglist beats. It's still one of my favourite electronic albums and never fails to bring a smile to my face.
Paradinas was extremely keen to put out some music from across the pond by the jungle/breakcore/noise genius from Cambridge, Mass named Hrvatski (well, he was and is named Keith Fullerton Whitman, although those days he had a myriad of other aliases which were only loosely linked to him). Various legal issues and other stuff delayed things somewhat, so that the 7" with this particular track came out years after the music was written - and I'd heard both tracks and most of the ensuing album by the time they came out. Nevertheless, it was exciting to have Keith on Planet µ. Of course he then abandoned breakcore and drum programming on the whole for self-programmed Max/MSP drones, kraut/post-rock excursions and esoteric explorations of modular synthesis.
Meanwhile, Planet µ was gradually expanding out of its experimental electronic roots and making a welcome home for the more exploratory end of dancefloor drum'n'bass, as well as ferocious breakcore - including becoming the more frequent home for the 7/8 beat-juggling horror movie madness of Venetian Snares. On the d'n'b front, Paradinas signed Tim Exile, who'd had a good deal of success with some singles on mainstream drum'n'bass labels, but from outset on µ set out to expand the drum'n'bass of the time in insanely complex directions - and since then has slipped sideways into a kind of jungle/electro-cabaret pop, and built amazingly powerful interfaces for performing electronic music live (in particular with Native Instruments in Berlin).
For Planet µ, Venetian Snares has released countless (lol, not quite) albums and EPs, including one of the most inspired albums of the 2000s, his 20th century classical / Eastern European folk / jazz / breakcore masterpiece Rossz Csillag Allat Született. As well as Billie Holliday, he samples Bartók, Hindemith, Elgar and others and splices them seamlessly into his breakcore productions (all in 7/8 time mind you!). While his occasional violin scrapings and piano overdubs stand out a little, the hard-as-nails beats are splattered around the more subtle jazz drums and the rest in a surprisingly sensitive manner. It's a tour de force and one of the pinnacles of the first 10 years of Planet µ (well, it appears right at the end of that decade).
The second decade is characterised within a year or two by Paradinas' swift adoption of dubstep, as the form gained shape and popularity. It was something of a surprise to see a compilation from BBC superstar DJ Mary-Ann Hobbes in 2006, but her interests in the forefront of electronic music (er, electronic dance music but let's not use that acronym) made Planet µ the perfect fit, and her first comp Warrior Dubz mixed grime and dubstep when dubstep was still very underground. Loefah, one of the originators, appears with a VIP of one of his vinyl-only DMZ 12" tracks, so there's essential dubstep history right there.
Paradinas was also responsible for getting out some single-artist dubstep albums from early on, and two albums appeared from grime producer and dubstep pioneer MRK1 - some of the earliest dubstep stuff I latched on to, leading me to the other originators and so much more.
µ has never lost sight of the original experimental electronica roots either, and real idm & glitchy beats still appears on the label. Early on they released an incredible album by Dublin duo Ambulance (who appear with a live track on 20th anniversary comp), and in 2008 they dropped an EP and album of lush, melodic, crunchy electronics from Dunk Murphy, one half of Ambulance, as Sunken Foal. Anyone who's listened much to the show knows that Sunken Foal's pure gold, and while he's taken to releasing his stuff on his own Countersunk imprint through Bandcamp now, there's no doubt most of us wouldn't know about him if not for Planet µ.
While µ is a UK outfit, they've increasingly reached across the world (as we'll see soon with their next phase), and in 2008-2009 San Francisco/Bay Area producer Eskmo was making an impact with his dubstep and wonky productions. While he ended up on Ninja Tune for an album or two, he put out a lovely piece of bouncy, tricky beats on Planet µ in 2009.
And then Mike discovered a unique and exciting genre of dancefloor music in Chicago known as juke, or footwork - in which mind-bogglingly talented dancers shuffled their feet in double-time to sped-up hip-hop beats, sort of like breakdancing on fast-forward. It was like an alternate-world version of jungle, something which producers outside of Chicago latched onto quite quickly, and eventually the originators picked up on too. It's pretty clear that Planet µ is what took this music out of the dance clubs of Chicago, where it was produced for specific dance crews and rarely released in any format, and brought it to the rest of the world. It's now been hybridised with dubstep, trap and other forms of bass music, along with jungle and its weird & wonderful contemporary forms like slow/fast and autonomic, but µ has also released a lot of the original material in its unadulterated form.
Planet µ also anticipated the current jungle revival by some years, releasing retrospectives of Bizzy B and Remarc. Machinedrum put out his first footwork-inspired albums on Planet µ before moving to Ninja Tune for his tour de force of footwork/junglist productions, and appears on the µ20 comp with a brilliant junglist track..., while footwork original Traxman provides a 2015 version of one of his tunes, highlighting the hip-hop and soul roots and only switching into double-time near the end.
Finally, a classic piece of micro-edited madness from Milanese, connected with Various Production early on, melding dubstep and grime with jungle and hefty doses of idm. One of my favourite Planet µ producers, less famous than he should be, dammit.

And lastly, one track from a great album of electronica from Perth's Liminal Drifter, from whom we'll hear more next week. He's been releasing music for some time under various aliases, and appears now courtesy of Perth's musical powerhouse Hidden Shoal.

Venetian Snares - Twelve [Coredump Records/Venetian Snares Bandcamp]
binliner - nihilistic filler [binliner Bandcamp]
binliner - dread sequence [binliner Bandcamp]
Jega - 103 [Planet µ]
µ-Ziq - Hasty Boom Alert [Planet µ/Virgin]
Animals on Wheels - Sved Buttock [Planet µ/Virgin]
Hrvatski - Insect Digestion Melancholy [Planet µ]
Exile - Silicon Chop (feat. Sub Focus) [Planet µ]
Venetian Snares - Hajnal [Planet µ]
Loefah feat. Sgt Pokes - Mud VIP [Planet µ]
MRK1 - Devils & Angels [Planet µ]
Sunken Foal - Dutch Elm [Planet µ]
Eskmo - Let Them Sing [Planet µ]
Remarc - Thunderclap (Dubplate Mix) [Planet µ]
Machinedrum - Le Ol Skool [Planet µ]
Traxman - Nothing Stays Tha Same (Funk Bomb 2015 Remixx) [Planet µ]
Milanese - 1Up [Planet µ]
Liminal Drifter - A Love Song For Ghosts [Hidden Shoal]

Listen again — ~111MB

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