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Utility Fog

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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.

Sunday, 29th of December, 2019

Playlist 29.12.19 - Best of 2019 Part 1 (8:03 pm)

Here it is! Part 1 of my selections for best of this crazy, fucked-up year. There's really been a lot of amazing music across so many different genres and from so many different corners of the world. Even over 2 shows I'll only be able to reflect a small part of what I've really dug.

LISTEN AGAIN because best is best. Podcast over here, stream on demand from FBi.

Billy Woods / Kenny Segal - spongebob [Backwoodz Studioz/Bandcamp]
Billy Woods / Kenny Segal - spider hole [Backwoodz Studioz/Bandcamp]
This emphatically odd underground hip-hop gear comes from two really important players in the hip-hop scenes on the two sides of the US. Billy Woods grew up in Africa & the West Indies but has now become part of the New York hip-hop scene, with his duo Armand Hammer with Elucid and his solo work, released on his own Backwoodz Studioz. Kenny Segal started out as a drum'n'bass DJ and has been an oft-sighted producer in the LA leftfield hip-hop scene for many years. Their styles fit perfectly together, with Woods' speed-of-thought commentary on the fucked-up state of America & the world knocked about by Segal's warped samples and beats that recall early Anticon from a contemporary perspective. Ever since I first heard it I've known it would hold first place in this best of. I've been returning to it all year.
It should be noted that Woods also released another album this year, Terror Management, which is very fine too.

Moor Mother - The Myth Hold Weight [Don Giovanni Records/Bandcamp]
Zonal - In A Cage ft. Moor Mother [Relapse/Bandcamp]
Camae Ayewa aka Moor Mother has had an amazing year. She'd been appearing all over the place lately, including cameos with NYC hardcore band Show Me The Body and Eartheater. Her new album Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes is a masterpiece of noise, beauty, poetry and politics. Unlike 2016's entirely self-produced Fetish Bones, an onslaught of power electronics, weird beats and afro-futurist raps, this new album is crammed full of collaborations, including various producers – King Britt is responsible for the moody track we heard tonight. Moor Mother's own art transcends even these great collaborators though – she is a unique and powerful force in contemporary art.
Ayewa's gruff voice and incisive lyrics also grace the entire first side of the new album from Zonal, the reincarnation of Justin K Broadrick & Kevin Martin's Techno Animal. It's a welcome return to full-on collaboration for these two producers, both of whom are hugely beloved of this show.

Saul Williams - Before the War [Pirates Blend Records]
Saul Williams guests on Moor Mother's album, a brilliant track I almost chose tonight. His own 2019 album Encrypted & Vulnerable is a continuation of the MartyrLoserKing project which his recent Kickstarter project Neptune Frost also relates to – a "meta-character" who's a hacker I believe. The album draws broadly from the music of the African diaspora, including thumb pianos and jazz, with some beautifuly guest playing from jazz trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah on one track. It's as dense and difficult and catchy as Williams always is.

clipping. - All In Your Head (feat. Counterfeit Madison & Robyn Hood) [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
Who knew that noise artist William Hutson and breakcore artist Jonathan Snipes would in the last half decade be making some of the most vital hip-hop ever? It helps that the half-Jewish, half-African American frontman Daveed Diggs is an incredible rapper and lyricist who throws references around with ease, even when rapping at supersonic speed, negotiating that fine line between absurdity and profundity. Their deep knowledge of science fiction (and Afrofuturism) came out in the amazing concept album Splendor & Misery in 2016, so it's no surprise that 2019's There Existed An Addiction To Blood, finds them focusing on horror movies (and the short-lived horrorcore rap subgenre) – referencing both the exploitative use of African and African-American themes in the "classic" horror genre and Jordan Peele's recent turning of the tables with Get Out and Us. It's pure genius, of course. This collaboration with two women is a disquieting highlight – Robyn Hood's manic raps and Counterfeit Madison's passionate singing as the song crescendos into distortion.

Grup Ses w/ Ethnique Punch - Miskinatlar (Vox) [Souk Records/Bandcamp]
Two Turkish musicians join together for this fantastic, dark, twisted album on Souk Records. Istanbul's Grup Ses has been making sample-based hip-hop cut-ups for around 12 years now, while the Anatolian Ethnique Punch aka Ali Eksan has a number of instrumental and rap albums under his belt. On the A side, these punchy (yes) hip-hop tracks with "ethnic" samples are driven by the gravelly voice of Eksan, while on the B side they appear as instrumentals. It's great to hear these beats unadorned, and it works in a really different way – you can nod along and have it in the background easily – but I do prefer them with the guttural and super fun raps on the first side...

Uniform & The Body - Patron Saint of Regret (feat. SRSQ) [Sacred Bones/Bandcamp]
the body - Hallow Hollow (remixed by Lingua Ignota) [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Inveterate collaborators and longtime Utility Fog favourites the body have always tempered their black metal screams and riffs with foreign elements such as choirs, beautiful female vocals, and increasingly lots of electronics; Uniform's brand of industrial metal sits well with their sound. This year came their second mini-album collaboration Everything That Dies Comes Back, which was collected with the first on a CD edition as well. The hardcore of "Patron Saint of Regret" builds gothically until the eerie vocals of SRSQ enter along with a bass-driven beat – a remarkable track.
Meanwhile, the body also released a brilliant remix album this year. Kristin Hayter featured on a recent album, and on Remixed she appears reworking a track as Lingua Ignota. Here the noise is mostly kept in check, replaced by plangent piano and Hayter's classically-trained vocals. By the way, on her own album Caligula this year, Hayter tackled some dark topics with intensity and aplomb.

Wreck and Reference - Dumb Forest [The Flenser/Bandcamp]
So this... this is not exactly black metal either. OK, Wreck and Reference were never conventional – always eschewing guitars for keyboards and drum machines. But here there's very little anguished screaming either (you're probably thanking your lucky stars). Their 2019 album Absolute Still Life is their most emo/new-romantic, and also the most blatantly electronic, with glitchy beats and samples and synths, and existentialist, despairing lyrics as ever. I think it's absolute genius.

fire! orchestra - (beneath) the edge of life [Rune Grammofon]
Sweden's Fire! are a remarkable trio of jazz musicians who have worked across post-rock, noise and myriad other genres. They're comprised of Mats Gustafsson on saxophone (known for his massive sound and also his work with The Thing, who've notably collaborated with Neneh Cherry), bassist Johan Berthling (of many ensembles including post-rock/folk pioneers Tape, and his legendary Häpna label) and drummer Andreas Werliin. The latter is perhaps best known for his duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums with his partner Mariam Wallentin, whose extraordinary vocal interpretations and arrangements are so central to the expanded ensemble's work as Fire! Orchestra. In the past they've been a kind of free jazz big band, with massed horns alongside the driving, grooving bass (and often sax) riffage and ecstatic vocals. Every album of the orchestra has been in my top of the year. Here there are scraped and swooped strings, keys and of course the bassline riffs and wonderful vocals – with Wallentin joined by another luminary of the Swedish experimental / jazz scene, Sofia Jernberg. This is compulsive, compulsory listening, as we've learned to expect from this ensemble.

Sote - Pipe Dreams [Diagonal Records/Bandcamp]
This year I was incredibly fortunate to get to interview Ata Ebtekar aka Sote on this here show, and then see him play live and meet him at the excellent 3rd edition of Soft Centre in Casula in September. With a background in breakcore/hardcore from when he was studying abroad in the early 2000s, Ebtekar has by now put out a number of releases drawing on and interrogating the rich musical history of Iran. 2017's Sacred Horror in Design took the sounds of traditional Persian instruments and embedded them in electronics, heavily processing the sounds and re-composing and re-contextualising the compositions. That is taken further on the new album Parallel Persia, released by Diagonal Records. Alongside instruments like the santour and tar are vocal harmonies, and of course lots of electronic processing and synthesised sounds as well. At times the music is choreographed into some kind of 4/4 beats, but more often it's free, as if played by live musicians. It's quite extraordinarily beautiful.

Carl Gari & Abdullah Miniawy - B'aj بعاج [Whities]
The ever-evolving UK label Whities had another great year of varied music. Whities 023 is the second album in which German trio Carl Gari collaborate with French-based Egyptian poet & singer Abdullah Miniawy. It's an extraordinary work entitled The Act of Falling from the 8th Floor. The centrepiece is "B'aj بعاج", in which Miniawy narrates a poem told from the point of view of a man who has jumped from the 8th floor, and describes the activities on the balconies as he falls – a dark reflection of modern Egyptian society with a gorgeous bass-heavy soundscape of an accompaniment.

Sarathy Korwar feat. Zia Ahmed & Aditya Prakash - Bol [The Leaf Label/Bandcamp]
2019 brought us the second album from the Indian jazz musician Sarathy Korwar, now London-based, but US-born and raised in Ahmedabad and Chennai. He learned tabla and Indian classical music, but also played the Western drum kit, and moved to London to continue bringing these two worlds together. His first album was released on Ninja Tune in 2016, and this new one comes via The Leaf Label. Here his crossover of Indian classical and jazz is further augmented with rappers & singers from Mumbai and New Delhi. The epic "Bol" has it all – Indian harmonium drone, spoken word from London-based poet Zia Ahmed, scatting and soaring vocals from Aditya Prakash, a hip-hop/dub style groove and jazz soloing. The album tackled Brexit Britain by amplifying brown voices and championing multiculturalism – it's fantastic.
Noting also that the first single took this further, with Indian bass/hip-hop crew Bandish Projekt's 7/8 drum'n'bass remix of the excellent single Mumbai featuring MC Malawi's ponderings on colonialism (bouncing between "Mumbai" and "Bombay").

Daniel Carter, Tobias Wilner, Djibril Toure, Federico Ughi - Canal Street [577 Records/Bandcamp]
I discovered this teaming up of great NYC musicians through The Wire's cover CD The Wire Tapper earlier this year, which featured an excerpt of this track. The album New York United combines brilliant jazz musicians Daniel Carter and Federico Ughi with electronic soundtrack musician Tobias Wilner and versatile bassist Djibril Toure (who's played with The Wu-Tang Clan). It's an album of jazzscapes, dub/hip-hop grooves and experimentation. This particular quartet may be new, but they've played together in various sub-groupings before, and that shows in an album that matches the avant-garde aspects with remarkable cohesion.

Black To Comm - Lethe [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Another release which I've known since it came out would appear on this list. I'd been aware of Marc Richter's work as Black To Comm before, and I know he never tends to do exactly the same thing on each album, but it was only when he adopted the moniker Jemh Circs for a couple of releases a few years ago that I really paid attention. Those releases, sampling voices and pop music from YouTube, were an interesting detour into vaporwave, a little more hyperactive and day-glo than his Black To Comm work, which has itself taken on many forms in the past, sometimes minimalism & drone, often collage-based constructions. Seven Horses For Seven Kings is a rather dark and heavy affair, well suited to Thrill Jockey's current sound, and I found it absolutely absorbing. Drawing from collage and sampling techniques across the board from tape experiments, hip-hop instrumentals through to glitchscapes, it's a mature and accomplished release. Mid-year, he released a mini-album follow-up called Before After, on very much the same themes.

Carl Stone - Xé May [Unseen Worlds/Bandcamp]
In 2018, Unseen Worlds released two compilations of the work of US musician Carl Stone, who's been called the "King of Sampling" for his pioneering work with hardware samplers in the 1980s, including working with home computers from the mid-'80s.
On two NEW albums for 2019 Stone recreates his time-slicing technique of stretching and rearranging musical works through microsampling in a modern way using Max/MSP. Actually the track I played tonight, from Baroo, uses an Elektron Octatrack sampler, but all the pieces from this and the album Himalaya show Stone enjoying the flexibility of new technologies in extending techniques he's been developing and perfecting for decades.

Machinefabriek - II (with Chantal Acda) [Western Vinyl/Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
As usual 2019 saw a considerable number of new releases from Dutch sound artist and frequent UFog feature artist Machinefabriek. Released on none other than Western Vinyl, With Voices is just what it says on the tin: Zuydervelt asked 8 people to contribute vocal takes, some spoken, some sung, and reconstructed them into tracks in his own special way. Other contributors include Richard Youngs, Peter Broderick and a beautiful 11-minute closer with Marissa Nadler. As with Nadler, here Chantal Acda's voice ventures into melodic sections at times, while elsewhere it's chopped up and rearranged.

Alexandra Spence - bodies in place [Room40]
When her wonderful album came out earlier this year, I interviewed Sydney sound-artist Alexandra Spence on this very show, which you can listen to over here. Despite Waking, She Heard The Fluttering being her debut album, she has worked with many great names around the globe – in Toronto & Vancouver studying music, sound art & field recording, then with Francisco Lopez on a residency in South Africa, and with David Toop, Chris Watson and Jez riley French in the UK. All these influences, along with her experience as an improviser on clarinet and other instruments (she's part of the Splinter Orchestra) form a background for her very idiomatic work on record, which is an intuitive approach to constructing engrossing sound worlds. Live, she unveils the process, creating her sounds from unexpected objects, or objects used unexpectedly.

Listen again — ~201MB

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Sunday, 22nd of December, 2019

Playlist 22.12.19 (8:11 pm)

Worldbeat, unsettling soundtracks, sound-art, techno and more tonight, for the last Utility Fog of new music for the year! Mostly still music released in the last few weeks...

LISTEN AGAIN, there'll be a quiz later. Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Michel Banabila - Illicit Acquirement [Tapu Records]
Earlier this year I had the privilege of appearing on an album of music from the great Dutch experimental electronic/world music composer & producer Michel Banabila, someone whose music I’ve admired for ages and who’s worked extensively with another great Dutch experimentalist, Machinefabriek among many others. The album called Uprooted engaged a group of musicians on mostly classical instruments to record layers of music for him, which he then rebuilt into complex compositions. One of those pieces was then stretched out to almost 20 minutes’ duration for a modern dance work by choreographer Yin Yue and the Pennsylvania Ballet, and it now appears alongside almost a decade of Banabila’s music for dance on a double vinyl release, Movements (music for dance). This gorgeous album demonstrates the breadth of Banabila’s music, including sound design, studio-moderated composition and rhythmic music that nods to African percussion, dub and techno. Tonight I’m playing about 2/3 of another long work, created this year for Patrick O’Brien at the CUNY Dance Initiative.

Richard Pike - Antifasc Darkjazz [Samon Universe Soundtracks]
Richard Pike - Nazi Hell [Samon Universe Soundtracks]
Sydney musician Richard Pike and his brother Laurence Pike are best known for their shapeshifting band PVT (once Pivot). Richard is nowadays helming an ambient electronic label called Salmon Universe, and releasing his own ambient stuff as DEEP LEARNING, but he’s also made a mark as a soundtrack composer. His work for the TV series Romper Stomper conveys the turmoil and darkness of a study of true blue Australian neo-Nazis, a topic that was admittedly a little too close to home for me to push myself into watching (and the false equivalence it tries to draw between neo-Nazis and antifascists is more than a little on the nose). Pike’s excellent soundtrack is a mixture of orchestral cues, burbling synths, live drums and snarling electronics, not far at all from the soundtrack stuff Ben Frost has been doing of late. Even if you avoided the show, I highly recommend giving this a listen.

The Humble Bee & Benoît Pioulard - Per [Dauw]
The Humble Bee & Benoît Pioulard - In the anodyne brisk [Dauw]
An unexpected collaboration that makes a lot of sense – Craig Tattersall’s humble catalogue stretches back to his part in Leeds’ greatest postrock/indie band Hood, and his half of the great electronic minimalists The Remote Viewer/The Famous Boyfriend, as well as similarly murky electronic/indie outfit The Boats. Montréal’s Benoît Pioulard is equally beloved in the ambient/lo-fi world for his strummy guitars and grainy tape textures. Like both artists’ work this duo album can be hard to bring into focus, yet it lingers and rewards repeat listens.

Matmos - Raven Gate [Matmos Bandcamp]
Matmos - Skate Bounce [Matmos Bandcamp]
A surprise second 2019 album from Matmos, who earlier this year celebrated their “plastic” 25th anniversary both as a duo and a couple with one of their best albums in ages. This Bandcamp release documents a residency at Chalkwell Park in Southend on Sea in 2016, and was originally experienced as a site-specific app. It’s therefore their typical style of manipulated field recordings turned into weird sound-art and idm, with a bit of arch narration thrown in. So great.

Stephen Vitiello & Molly Berg - Mental Radio [IIKKI/Bandcamp]
Steve Roden x Stephen Vitiello - All The Greens [Champion Version/Bandcamp]
Stephen Vitiello - Simple Interference [Champion Version/Bandcamp]
I have been meaning to showcase some more of the music of New York sound artist Stephen Vitiello for ages, as I’m a huge admirer of his work, which is immensely thoughtful and immensely approachable. He’s recorded three duo albums now with Molly Berg, the third one just now released through French label/publisher IIKKI, who paired them up with photographer Jake Michaels for a book and CD or vinyl release. Their usual style continues here, with folky Americana instruments stretched out into ambient/post-something textures. Earlier this year, Vitiello released a series of four 7”s with fellow sound-art legend Steve Roden for the Champion Version label, each entitled I Always Wanted A Standing Cat, and Vitiello also produced a solo 7” for the same label. Field recordings, shimmering instruments, occasional tumbling drums (on both the solo release and the Molly Berg collaboration these are provided by Justin Alexander).

exael - calico [exael Bandcamp]
exael - composure [exael Bandcamp]
Berlin-based US producer exael has previously released music on Beer on the Rug and Lillerne Tapes, among others. His latest EP appeared on his Bandcamp just in time for this last new playlist of the year, featuring some vaporwavey ambient flickering and a little bit of blissful jungle.

Shed - Menschen und Mauern [Ostgut Ton/Bandcamp]
HOOVER1 - HOOVER1-3A [nOWTRecordings/Bandcamp]
Shed - Trauernde Weiden [Ostgut Ton/Bandcamp]
René Pawlowitz has been busy lately releasing a pile of recent 12”s under various monikers through his NOWT label, including the drum’n’bass-loving HOOVER1. The new Shed album from the great Berlin techno producer is a hymn to some beloved East German countryside, but sonically it’s very much techno-oriented, albeit with lots of breakbeats and syncopation. There’s always been a little bit of idm to Shed’s sound, and I think we hear quite a bit here. It’s like slipping on a familiar overcoat and walking out to a remote Teutonic rave, only to find yourself at Berghain.

Liam Robertson - Wrestling Halfbeak Fighting Taxa [Redstone Press]
Clouds - Peder Skram [Opal Tapes]
Scottish producer Liam Robertson is one half of the duo Clouds who’ve been around the post-dubstep/industrial techno axis for a while (not to be confused with the probably-now-defunct Finnish dubstep duo). Here we have bass-driven percussive, breaky techno with distorted vocal samples for a freaky dancefloor experience. His duo’s track from Opal Tapes’ 2017 compilation Contemporary Dance seems to mine similar terrain, but with a nice line in off-beat chords giving it a strange skank.

Giant Swan - 50 Year Old Daughter [KECK]
Giant Swan - 'I' As Proof [KECK]
A year and a bit ago, Bristol duo Giant Swan appeared at Adelaide’s (sadly last) Unsound Festival. Their stage show is something to be witnessed – punk energy, sweaty blokes with shirts off, distorted vocals shouted into the mic while the beats vary from relentless techno to mutated, twisted electronic sounds. It’s hard to capture this on record, but there are times on their self-titled, self-released album when they succeed. I’ve chosen two of the less relentless 4/4 techno selections, for what it’s worth, but there’s plenty of vocal intensity here, among broken beats and basslines.

Bec Plexus - hypernormalization (original by Igor C Silva feat. Bec Plexus) [New Amsterdam Records/Bandcamp]
Excellent New York contemporary classical/experimental label New Amsterdam Records here are releasing music from the original Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Bec Plexus is an extremely versatile singer, working in the classical world and also with full-throated experimental rock & electronics with a track by originally by Igor C Silva, with lyrics Laura Nygren, and already angularly rhythmic and electronically messed-with before we get to the three remixes. All highly recommended, and looking forward to next year's album.

Bremer McCoy - Højder (Carl Stone Remix) [Luaka Bop]
Finishing up with something really special made by the brilliant laptop artist Carl Stone, who put out two wonderful new releases this year, after a couple of career-spanning compilations highlighting his pioneering work with live PC processing since the 1980s. Like much of the music under his own name, here he uses granular processing to scan through a track, inch-by-inch, gobbling up and spitting out fragments of the original audio to stretch and pulse and reconfigure it into something new. The original music here is from Danish duo Bremer McCoy, released on David Byrne’s internationalist Luaka Bop label. The coda, the last 2 and a bit minutes, reaches a melodic point which, drawn out by Stone's software, finds a trascendent, static yet motion-filled state of gorgeous grace.

Listen again — ~274MB

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Sunday, 15th of December, 2019

Playlist 15.12.19 (8:08 pm)

Drum'n'bass continuum tonight... whether dubstep, grime, techno or idm, that's where we're at. RIP UK.

LISTEN AGAIN and dance like a mad bastard... stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

I played a new track from dubstep don Loefah a few weeks ago, as he’s started dropping tunes on his Bandcamp. This one came out the day after the utterly dire UK election, and its artwork is a distorted picture of Boris Johnson’s face. “I LITERALLY HATE YOUR FACE SO MUCH” doesn’t mince words, and the military bleeps’n’bass along with almost-audible angry crowd noise are an appropriately dark response to dark times.

JXTPS - Become Nothing [Voodoo Down Records]
Melbourne producer Luc P is JXTPS, pronounced “Juxtapose”. As well as Juxtapose, he can be found releasing music as Wu Kush, JDJX, and Sjazd, ranging from house & electro to techno, breaks and more experimental styles. You won’t hear his jazz training on this track, but the bass-heavy techno keeps on chopping into jungle breaks, which is a pretty strong hint for what’s to come on a lot of tonight’s show! Also halfway through some gorgeous uplifting pads slowly crescendo over the next few minutes and take the track out – quite a beautiful rave ascent.

Raime - Ripli [Raime Records]
Raime - Stammer [Blackest Ever Black]
Yally - Dread Risk [Diagonal Records]
Raime - Belly [Raime Records]
Anyway, that’s enough joy. London duo Raime have mined postpunk, psych, grime and drum’n’bass to create their very idiosyncratic, minimalist sound. For years their music was one of the key definers of Blackest Ever Black’s sound, but recent releases have been on their own label. Their latest EP sees them extending into footwork’s scrabbling beat structures, with jungle & grime’s bassweight and their signature vocal irruptions well and truly in place.
As we have jungle/drum’n’bass rolling through much of tonight’s playlist, I dropped their most junglist, and least disjointed, tune in the middle, from a 12” released in 2017 under the pseudonym Yally.

Sunken Foal - Craikwerk [Countersunk]
Sunken Foal - Schwefelhaus [Countersunk]
Dublin musician Dunk Murphy’s music has been a fixture on Utility Fog playlists for many years. His first solo EP as Sunken Foal came out on Planet µ in 2008, but his duo Ambulance released a legendary album on the same label the year UFog started, 2003. The µ connection could indicate idm, and it does, but it’s a very emotive approach to complex electronic programming and stunning melodies, with very unusual, jazz & folk-derived harmonic progressions alongside incredible skill at granular processing and all forms of electronic synthesis, alongside acoustic guitar, piano and other “real” instrumentation, and along the way plenty of vocals. Last week and this week he released two albums’ worth of music created on the titular Nord Modular G1 (the title is punning French for The Sweet North), with a few extra outboard effects. The glitchy textures, beats and melodic content (and a parping acid funk) are all there.

Quirke - Fluorescent Phlegm [Whities/Bandcamp]
Quirke - Se Seven 75 [Whities/Bandcamp]
Quirke - e1x [Quirke Bandcamp]
London producer Josh Quirke has a few EPs to his name over the last 5 years, and a bunch of cool tracks up on his Bandcamp, including a few from this year which went up in the lead-up to his excellent debut album proper which just dropped on the versatile, excellent Whities label. The easiest touchpoint is idm – there’s plenty of drill’n’bassy madness here, and a la Aphex Twin and Clark there’s also a few lovely piano numbers – I really like how the pretty pianisms are subsumed under creepy slow-growing noise in the delightfully titled “Fluorescent Phlegm”. The beat-based numbers have floating melodies that definitely draw on the '90s heritage of Aphex, Autechre, Boards of Canada et al. In any case, definitely a producer to watch! (As is anybody Whities release, it must be said).

dgoHn - Lost and Found [Astrophonica]
dgoHn - Dolorous Dick'ead [Astrophonica]
John Cunnane’s moniker dgoHn is meant to be produced like his first name, and that weird quirk is exemplary of the kind of music he likes to make. Although there are connections to idm – his duo with fellow producer Macc was released on Rephlex some years ago – he leans a bit closer to the dancefloor as a main proponent of the “drumfunk” subgenre which pulled the experimental end of jungle/drum’n’bass away from breakcore’s testosterone into a more jazzy, syncopated approach to drum programming. It’s really nice seeing his latest EP released by Fracture’s Astrophonica label. Junglist 4 lyfe!

J Majik - The Lost Tribe [fabric records]
For about 6-7 years now Houndstooth has operated their label out of London’s Fabric nightclub, releasing a range of club musics and idm styles. In 2016 when the club was threatened with closure they released the #saveFabric compilation. Now the club itself is turning 20, and they have released their 20 years of fabric compilation on their own Fabric Records, which has also released their much-loved DJ mix series among other things. As expected for a club which is gregarious in what it hosts, there’s a range of club styles across its 2 CDs, but there’s a nice drum’n’bass segment in there including an exclusive track from jungle legend (still at it today) J Majik – typical mashed breaks, bass drops and a lightness of touch that’s very much his signature.

L U C Y - About Her [Illegal Data]
AYA - I Will Not Come At Your Beck And Call I Am At Home Preemptively Mashing Up The Dance That Is Where I Am [Illegal Data]
Another nightclub compilation. Bristol nightclub Illegal Data is co-run by Ne$$ and Giant Swan member Mun Sing. Their new compilation is about half experimental r’n’b / electronic pop and half deconstructed club music from Bristol and further afield. L U C Y is not the male Italian techno producer who uses the female pseudonym (with no spaces); she produces bass and techno, but here is in fine lightfooted jungle form. Manchester artist AYA Sinclair has previously appeared on this show under the name LOFT, and has an attachment to jungle breaks in amongst her deconstructed everything. Both artists deliver in spades.

Rognvald - Xwife (Flexy) [Love Love Records]
Rognvald - Shadowphlex [Love Love Records]
Scottish producer Richard Wilson also releases acid under the questionable alias Beatwife, but as Rognvald has taken the acid tendencies into splattered drill'n'bass territory for Love Love Records. Latest album Xwife is his best expression of the junglist persona yet, and like one of his recent EPs has some interesting abstract takes on post-junglism too, such as "Shadowphlex", whic removes the beats and leaves the throbbing bass and floating pads, somehow retaining the menace...

Tony Dupé - leave [Tony Dupé Bandcamp]
Tony Dupé - move [Tony Dupé Bandcamp]
Australian producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Tony Dupé has shaped an impressive range of Australian music over the past couple of decades, including indie artists like Jamie Hutchings, Holly Throsby and others. His solo albums as Saddleback, on Preservation, are beloved for their unusual approach to postrock or something like folktronica – studio-constructed, with organic, live instruments and lots of humanity. Full disclosure, I played cello on the Saddleback albums and lots of his other productions while he lived in Sydney and the South Coast, but he's been in Melbourne for some time now. He always loved leaving the window open and letting the birds and nature sounds accompany the music, and here this has become an integral part of the music. A few years ago he spent nearly a week alone at an old stone church near the desert in rural Victoria. He mic'd up the space inside and out, and birds and air accompanied his fitful, judicious playing. It's calming, beautiful stuff.

Listen again — ~196MB

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Sunday, 8th of December, 2019

Playlist 08.12.19 (7:56 pm)

From folk to electronic, with some weird improv and post-classical oddments along the way...? It's Utility Fog.

You should LISTEN AGAIN because you just should. You can stream on demand at FBi, or podcast here.

Richard Youngs & Raül Refree - Nil By Mind [Soft Abuse/Bandcamp]
Glasgow musician Richard Youngs is one of those incredibly versatile people who is known as a pioneer in the noise & experimental music scene for solo & collaborative albums stretching back to the ’80s, but also for a stunning run of vocal albums that explore the English folk tradition, electronic pop and more through a very idiosyncratic lens. He has a lovely, light, yearning voice that can’t help but imbue his song-based music with emotion. Here he’s working for the first time with Barcelona musician Raül Refree across four wonderful tracks that augment Youngs’ usual repetitive, exploratory techniques with a host of instruments including warm, melodic, agile double bass, piano and interlocking acoustic guitar patterns.

Stick In The Wheel - down in yon forest [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]
Stick In The Wheel - the over (feat. lisa knapp) [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]
Stick In The Wheel - nine herbs charm [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]
Let’s continue immersing ourselves in English folk music, albeit again from a very strange perspective. Members of Stick In The Wheel were involved in London’s electronic music scene, contributing to 12”s from Various Production among other things, but formed Stick In The Wheel and their From Here Records as a vehicle for exploring centuries of the English folk music tradition. Many of their releases treat this mission with the utmost respect and authenticity, with extraordinary raw vocals and acoustic instrumentation, but alongside this they have released two “mixtapes” which allow them to play faster & looser with their approach. So we have electronic beats, sound design, spoken word mixed in – yet the ultimate result is still a rootsy, folky oeuvre.

Ninoosh - Voice X [Synth Babes/Ninoosh Bandcamp]
Ninoosh - To Play [Synth Babes/Ninoosh Bandcamp]
Melbourne-born Anya Trybala, now based in Sweden, is the founder of Synth Babes, a collective for female & non-binary electronic musicians. She also makes music as Ninoosh, and her new album Floodgates has just come out. It manages to balance itself between more club-oriented techno tendencies, glitchy broken-down soundscapes and songs, and I particularly enjoy when these three combine, with shuddering stretched vocals crescendoing into 4/4 beats, or the beats themselves crunched into acid snow.

Gail Priest - Orographic Lift live 07-03-2019 [Subsequence Radio]
Millie Watson - Improvisation and Interference live 07-02-2019 [Subsequence Radio]
For some years, great Canberran experimental musician Reuben Ingall has presented Subsequence Radio on Canberra’s community station 2XXFM. Along with Chris Finnigan, he also curates a monthly performance night called Sounscapes at Smith's Alternative, and the latest annual compilation from Subsequence showcases a number of recordings from these nights. It’s varied, challenging and beautiful. Tonight we’re hearing from Sydney (now Blue Mountains) sound-art master Gail Priest, with a typically rapturous piece of electronic beats and vocals, and Canberran musician Millie Watson (now based in London) with a brilliant piano improvisation accompanied by field recordings.

Masonik - The Dolt [Masonik Bandcamp (soon?)]
Perth collective Masonik have now been around for over 13 years, with a dozen releases under their belt. Current lineup is Basil Psanoudakis on bass, electronics & video, Wheldon Thornley on keyboards & electronics, Alia-Enor Bath on cello and Patrick Bindon on electric cello, but I'm sure I still hear Pax Andrews on saxophone in there too. Although there is a clear jazz influence to some of the work, their music is surprisingly hard to pin down, with aspects of weird psych, postrock and industrial electronic fuckery involved. Their new album is their first to be pressed to vinyl, out now although not quite up on their Bandcamp yet.

Ot to, not to - Apaxionado [New Info/Ot to, not to Bandcamp]
Ot to, not to - Harpist [ACR Bandcamp/Ot to, not to Bandcamp]
Ot to, not to - Apaxionado (Machinefabriek Remix) [New Info/Ot to, not to Bandcamp]
Ot to, not to - Blanc [New Info/Ot to, not to Bandcamp]
A late discovery for the year, which I was reminded of because Machinefabriek did a remix for him, but it slipped my mind at the time! This is ridiculous because if I’d checked I would have realised that Ian Mugerwa, the main character behind Ot to, not to, frequently harnesses his cello in amongst the artfully mislaid samples, instruments and vocal melisma of his mysterious lo-fi-hi-tech deconstructed r'n'b. His first album came out on Nicolas Jaar’s Other People label in 2016, but I’m only going back to 2017’s these movements i & ii cassette released on London’s ACR. Despite the UK & Irish labels, Mugerwa and bandmate Noah Smith are from Virginia in the USA. I can only think of Lucky Dragons and The Books as precursors to the unorthodox structures and seemingly-accidental arrangements here, but the r’n’b element brings it closer to Micachu or Tirzah.

Clark - Diamond Body [Deutsche Grammophon]
Clark - I'm Pulling My Face Off [Deutsche Grammophon]
Clark - Volatile [Deutsche Grammophon]
Chris Clark is a real oddity in the Warp stable, starting out as a young artist extremely beholden to the greats of early ‘90s idm – Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada et al – and like Richard D James, mixing piano with acid techno at will. Clark’s musicality has always been evident, and his interest in the classical end of the spectrum means that he’s taken naturally to soundtrack work. The previous soundtracks have been a little too toned down and straightforward for me, but his work for new psychological horror movie Daniel Isn’t Real, ironically his first released on classical label Deutsche Grammophon, welds his bass-heavy electronic productions back on to the creepy piano and orchestrations. It’s not just a collection of cues – it works well as a more classically-inclined Clark album, and is all the better for it.

Bersarin Quartett - 2287 [Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]
Bersarin Quartett - St. Petersburg [Lidar/Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]
Jean-Michel - Hello Narita [onpa)))))]
Bersarin Quartett - Alles ist ein Wunder [Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]
Bersarin Quartett - Ist es das was Du willst [Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]
Bersarin Quartett - Das Prinzip der Entsprechung [Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]
Thomas Bücker started off making downtempo, breaks and idm under various monikers in the 1990s, but really broke through when he evoked the austerity and romanticism of classical music with his Bersarin Quartett moniker, starting in 2008. Although it's not a quartet, let alone say a string quartet, and it's not your familiar post-classical piano & "subtle electronics", it nevertheless manages to conjure up the feeling of the concert hall, with cleverly manipulated and designed orchestral samples and a just-so atmosphere, despite its willingness to still drop glitchy beats and deep bass. It's too beat-heavy in my opinion to be ambient music, but it works as such for fans of the genre too. But dig that doomy first chord on "2287" – this is not your average anything music! We went back to the first Bersarin album, and then heard a fun bit of drill'n'bass from his Jean-Michel alias's last album Tons Of Fun, and some more dark electronics from 2012's II and 2015's III. It's been 4 years since that last album, and Methoden und Maschinen is a very welcome return.

Listen again — ~193MB

Comments Off on Playlist 08.12.19

Sunday, 1st of December, 2019

Playlist 01.12.19 (8:08 pm)

Electronics, strings, glitches, noises, pop songwriting and abstract sound-art... all of that.

LISTEN AGAIN, it's a good habit to get into. Stream on demand the FBi way, podcast here.

Aphir - Your Heroine [Provenance/Aphir Bandcamp]
Melbourne’s Becki Whitton, now actively involved with co-running and promoting the Provenance label setup by FBi alumnus Stu Buchanan, likes to slip out EPs and singles of her off-beat electronic pop as Aphir – hence her latest 2-tracker, out next week just before the end-of-the-year shutdown. On the face of it, “Your Heroine” is one of her more pop-oriented tracks, with an emotional vocal about unrequited love – at least until the distorted beats come in halfway through. The song has an unusual history too, having originally been handed to her friend Tim Pearce, who recorded a garage rock-style version (under the title “Katie”) with his band The Wrst.

Aasthma - Army of Love (feat. Penelope Trappes) [Aasthma]
Pär Grindvik and Peder Mannerfelt have been intrinsic members of the Swedish electronic music scene for the last decade or more – Grindvik runs the Stockholm LTD label, the latter his eponymous Peder Mannerfelt Produktion, as well as being part of the experimental duo Roll The Dice and a frequent collaborator with Fever Ray (Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife). This year they have released three 12”s under the name Aasthma, delving into club genres of various types and also ambient club-adjacent sounds. Earlier this year the duo also remixed London-resident Aussie Penelope Trappes for her remix album on Houndstooth, and she now returns the favour with some subtle vocals on the breaky, ravey A side of their new 12”.

Sig Nu Gris - Butter Soft [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]
After her October EP of “Fixations”, Melbourne producer Sig Nu Gris aka Erin Hyde returns with a two-track single of dense electronic productions. The sounds here are warped & mangled beyond recognition, with nice choppy drums and plenty of bottom end action. Oh, and Becki Whitton did the final mixes. Looking forward to more from her next year!

the little hand of the faithful - All the combs are standing on their teeth [Mound of Sound]
the little hand of the faithful - And then [Mound of Sound]
Moving now from Melbourne to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, where we join Mitch Jones, a stalwart of Sydney’s experimental music scene since the 1980s, when he was a central member of post-punk/proto-industrial band Scattered Order. It’s wrong to talk of them in the past – in fact, the aforementioned Provenance are releasing a new Scattered Order album next year! Meanwhile this is the second album (third if you count a split cassette release with his excellent partner Drusilla Jones) of his solo act the little hand of the faithful, named after his very faithful stuffed bear, who for this album Bears Gifts. The music, as ever, is built from manipulated samples, synths and deftly programmed beats. His musical history is evident, but this music – with frequent film samples and a hypnagogic quality – fits neatly into the post-vaporwave present.

Alva Noto & Anne-James Chaton - A-BU -> BUG -> BU-CR [Noton]
Alva Noto & Anne-James Chaton - QU-SO [Noton]
Two minimalists come together for the first time as a duo. The surreal, disciplined poet Anne-James Chaton has worked closely with experimental guitarist Andy Moor for many years, releasing bizarre minimalist wonders of wordplay, cut-ups and rhythmic underpinnings. More recently, the duo also worked with Thurston Moore on a conceptual album about Heretics. Meanwhile, Chaton has also appeared on a number of releases from Carsten Nicolai aka Alva Noto, head honcho of the “Noton” half of Raster-Noton, these last few years split back into two labels – and Nicolai was involved in at least one of Chaton's solo albums. So here we have Chaton’s vision of words split from their meanings, lyrics reduced to 0s and 1s or numbers & letters, shorn of referents. Alva Noto’s pure electronic beats, bass and floating pads provide the perfect foundation for these dangling signifiers.

Croatian Amor & Varg2TM - Body of Carbon [Posh Isolation/Bandcamp]
Loke Rahbek aka Croatian Amor is a longtime part of the noise scene and also deeply involved in supporting the Danish experimental music scene through his Posh Isolation label. Even his more recent productions shy away from explicit beats & club references, but here with his second collaboration with Jonas Rönnberg aka Varg2TM (previously Varg until the metal band told him to stop) we have a selection of real club bangers – only now and then leaning on the “deconstructed” side even. It’s intense and really great rave material.

Roman Jungblut - Detox - Retox [Roman Jungblut Bandcamp]
We hear enormous amounts of music from Berlin these days – admittedly a lot of it not from German artists – but Cologne has for decades been a hotspot for techno & other adventurous music. Roman Jungblut has a history in bands and sound design for film, games and installations, so Back to where it never started is a sardonic name for his solo debut. It’s surprisingly varied, but the synth melody that grows out of the sparse bass thumps in this track creates a beautiful & eerie opening for this excellent work.

Oto Hiax - Overcurve [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
Oto Hiax - Plates [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
The second release from Seefeel’s Mark Clifford and Loops Haunt’s Scott Gordon suits their home of Editions Mego – it’s got an alien nature which blends acoustic sounds with spectral synthesis, with an icy splendour when you open yourself to it.

Anne Müller - being anne [Erased Tapes/Bandcamp]
Anne Müller - drifting circles [Erased Tapes/Bandcamp]
I first encountered Berlin cellist Anne Müller on her 2010 collaboration with Nils Frahm – one of his most electronic releases, combined with Müller’s gorgeous string arrangements. She has appeared on a number of his albums, and has contributed solo tracks to a few collaborative projects & compilations, but Heliopause is her first solo album proper, and it shows that her abilities as composer & producer are top notch too. Making use of the cello’s percussive qualities, and its lowest & highest tones, Müller creates a music which draws on classical heritage but also references contemporary electronica and composition.

Annelyse Gelman & Jason Grier - Maxes [Fonograf Editions]
Annelyse Gelman & Jason Grier - Rain [Fonograf Editions]
The opening track of Annelyse Gelman & Jason Grier’s debut About Repulsion (a two-track 7” with 6 digital tracks) segues nicely from Anne Müller courtesy of the guest cello from Clare Monfredo – a creative arrangement with harmonics, a plucked ostinato and bowed countermelodies. Eventually Gelman’s vocals & the cello are subsumed & caught up in Grier’s electronic manipulations before breaking free. Gelman, a poet herself, has assembled samples from various contemporary poets on the record as well – Max Ritvo features on the “Maxes”. On “Rain”, multiple versions of Gelman’s singing competes with more & less recognizable field recordings. For all the alienating techniques, it’s incredibly emotive music.

Kirk Barley - Trickle [33-33/Bandcamp]
Kirk Barley - Cradle [33-33/Bandcamp]
Yorkshire musician Kirk Barley has previously released music as Bambooman and Grouphums. This first release under his own name, Landscapes finds him released on Thirty Three Thirty Three for the first time, layering processed guitars, synths and sounds of nature, and joined by Matt Davies’ drums on a few tracks. It’s evocative and peaceful music for turbulent times.

Listen again — ~196MB

Comments Off on Playlist 01.12.19

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