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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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Playlists are listed with artist name first, then track title and (remixer), then [record label]. Enjoy the links.

Sunday, 26th of April, 2020

Playlist 26.04.20 (5:26 pm)

And so we cycle back to beats this week - we've got some jungle and some techno and some idm, and also some things that don't really fit so well into them boxes.

LISTEN AGAIN for the pulse of the moment (lol)... Stream on demand from FBi, podcast right 'ere.

The Declining Winter - Nothing Is Stopping Us Yet (Distance Version) [Signal Records]
A New Line (Bracken) - Ermmm [Signal Records]
Starting with something I have a part in... Recently I took part in a compilation that was put together with amazing speed by Richard Adams from the great UK band Hood, to raise money for PPE for NHS workers (the absurdity of crowdfunding such a basic requirement is another story entirely...)
The idea was to get artists to create distance collaborations while in self-isolation/lockdown - hence Music Over Distance. So I got to work with the brilliant, creative experimental flautist (and cellist!) Katie English aka IsnajDui. The compilation features various alumni of Hood, including Richard's own The Declining Winter, his brother Chris aka Bracken, Andrew Johnson aka a new line, related, Craig Tattersall in various aliases and various others. Richard also has a thing with Aussie legend Jason Sweeney called Great Panoptique Winter which appears here, and plenty of other musicians feature like Benoît Pioulard, The Leaf Library, Cédric Pin & Glenn Johnson of Piano Magic and many others... So we started with a trio lineup of The Declining Winter, all in their own households, and then Andrew Johnson and Chris Adams teaming up for a techno stomper with a kid shouting "Thank you NHS!"

dgoHn - Invisible Sandwich [Love Love Records/Bandcamp]
dgoHn - Puppet [Love Love Records/Bandcamp]
John Cunnane’s moniker dgoHn is meant to be pronounced like his first name, and that particularly oddity feels like it places him right away into the company of the great weirdos of English music. Although there are connections to idm – his duo with fellow producer Macc was released on Rephlex over a decade 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. After an EP released Fracture’s Astrophonica label last year, he returns to Love Love Records for a full album of outrageously brilliant beat juggling. Yes, the beats might be show-offy, but they flow with a real musicality, and they are accompanied by musical and melodic synth pads and funky stabs, and some half-time and ambient passages to break things up. I could listen to this all day.

Yak - Esper [3024/Bandcamp]
Sticking in the UK, Yak is a producer who comfortably jumps around genres, house and all sorts of UK bass and often junglist elements, like on this track from a new 12" on Martyn's 3024 label. There's some pretty ridiculously adept drum programming in here.

Atom™ - # [Raster/Bandcamp]
Atom™ - AC Boy/DC Girl [Raster/Bandcamp]
It's not unreasonable to say that the music of Atom™ from the mid-'90s to the early '00s was a massive influence on what I wanted to do with Utility Fog. Inhabiting an intensely digital realm, even when creating ersatz jazz and funk with Bernd Friedmann as Flanger, he was way ahead of the game with precisely chopped digital cut-ups and re-contextualised cultural signifiers, even outside of the Señor Coconut material - just one project using the music of his adopted home of Chile. Recently he's been re-releasing old techno cuts from the early '90s on his Bandcamp, mostly released under the name Atom Heart. But his new album <3 (heart emoji), released on Raster, is a return to the digital cuts & culture-jamming, ostensibly a collaboration with X1N, "an entity for generating human voice and natural language content", contributing idoru-pop vocals... About half the album has beats accelerated into drill'n'bass territory. It's super-fun and very arch.

Andrea - LG_Amb [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Andrea - Outlines [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Andrea - Liquid [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Andrea - Drumzzy [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Turin's Andrea, staple of Munich's Ilian Tape label, has just released his first album after a series of excellent 12"s. The big, hard techno beats and lush pads of his earlier work - check "Outlines" from 2015 - have been augmented over a few releases with skittery, idm-inspired beats which lean towards jungle and UK bass styles, and that really comes to the fore on the wonderful album Ritorno. His talent for melodic synth pads in the vein of Shed is still very much there, but the beats flutter and sizzle as much as they thump. It's inspired and exciting - massively recommended, but don't ignore those earlier EPs either!

&nbsp - More [The Collection Artaud/Bandcamp]
We featured some drill'n'bass from versatile Berlin-based producer Yu Miyashita aka Yaporigami a couple of weeks ago on the show. He runs The Collection Artaud label and has just released the second EP for this year from the mysterious &nbsp - an artist that sounds like it could be another alter of Miyashita, but may not be. It's super glitchy/cut-up beats, quite maxminimalist, and particularly on the "More" side of the new Less/More 12" it tumbles into jungle whenever the beats are allowed to go more than a couple of bars without being chopped off. A super artificial dancehall & hip-hop influenced digi-funk.

Loraine James - Random2 [early reflex]
Sonia Calico - Revenge of Tinker Bell [early reflex]
Hence Therefore - Maladapt [early reflex]
Courtesy of Hence Therefore I've received early access to the debut compilation from new Turin-based label Early Reflex. The label will focus on experimental club music, and while there's a distinct UK bass feel, it's truly international, with artists from Croatia, two from Taiwan, Sydney's Hence Therefore (with typical deconstructed breaky house feels) and various from the UK including genius Loraine James, who throws in some throbbing bass and fidgety beats. Taipei's Sonia Calico is a highlight, with head-nodding bass, percussive, propulsive beats and arpeggiated synths lending a kind of MIDI-classical melodic aspect.

Thug - rhino song [Aural Industries/Tim Koch Bandcamp]
Isolated Gate - Rubber Brain (Splice an Emu mix) [Isolated Gate Bandcamp]
Big Beautiful Bluebottle - Words in steam are heard and seen ... [Big Beautiful Bluebottle Bandcamp]
Here's an Aussie IDM classic from Adelaide's Tim Koch, whose earliest work was released under the moniker Thug. Released in 1999, this was one of the earliest Aussie electronic releases that seemed to me to really get the feel of IDM - melodic, emotive synths with crunchy beats. Tim is a bit of an international legend (and a singularly self-effacing dude), with broad tastes, and it's exciting to see he's collaborating with another self-effacing legend, Ian Masters of shoegazers Pale Saints. Masters has long been into experimental electronic music and general weirdness, but this new duo Isolated Gate is pretty out there - drill'n'bass-level weirdo beats and fragmented vocals, yet honestly kind of catchy! This release, Horologium Demos E.P. is pretty clearly early versions, but hella promising.
I was also super pleased to discover Masters' collaboration with Terako Terao under the name Big Beautiful Bluebottle. The Please Come Away From the Edge album deserves a full listen, starting with nearly 10 minutes of minimalist improvised piano from Masters, which is then live-processed by Terao for a similar length of time, after which the two improvise increasingly messed-up versions with vocals and even some beats. We heard the third iteration, finishing up tonight's show.

Listen again — ~199MB


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Sunday, 19th of April, 2020

Playlist 19.04.20 (6:24 pm)

Onwards we go... minimalist classical and jazz mix with avant-garde indiepop and electronics tonight!

LISTEN AGAIN for all your non-genre-typical needs... Stream on demand from FBi or podcast right here.

Wim Mertens - Struggle For Pleasure [Les Disques Du Crépuscule]
Quite a few great musicians have died this week, including free jazz double bassist Henry Grimes. But the death that resonated the most for me was not a musician, and was not due to COVID-19: Brian Dennehy passed away from natural causes. I know him best from his brilliant performance in Peter Greenaway's The Belly of an Architect, a movie I saw at a pretty young age, and I discovered it through it soundtrack. Rather than Michael Nyman, this movie makes use of Flemish composer Wim Mertens' music, plus a few disturbing drones from Glenn Branca. Mertens' soundtrack is of a piece with Nyman, Philip Glass etc, but if anything it's got more of an emotional core - especially the well-known piece I played here.

Alister Spence - (back)water [Alister Spence Music, available through Birdland]
Alister Spence - (en)folded [Alister Spence Music, available through Birdland]
Sydney pianist Alister Spence has featured on this show frequently through the years, primarily with his trio, which features in-demand drummer Toby Hall and The Necks' Lloyd Swanton on bass. Whirlpool is his first solo album after decades as a pianist. Over 2CDs of studio improvisations, he coaxes beautiful impressionist works, percussive chaos, otherworldly moans, creaks and shimmers from his piano.

Tilman Robinson - Yours, Deer Heart [Hobbledehoy Records/Bandcamp]
Tilman Robinson - Clathrate Gun [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
Tilman Robinson - Bartholomew, Growing [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
Tilman Robinson - The Word for World is Forest [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
I first discovered Perth composer Tilman Robinson (now based in Melbourne) via a fellow Western Australian friend who thought I should check out his first album of contemporary composed jazz & electronics. It was indeed very good, but gave no warning of the work he would create a few years later after spending an extended time at Valgeir Sigurðsson's studio in Reykjavik. Deer Heart, the album that came out of that time, bears some resemblance to Icelandic artists from that circle, as well as the work of ex-pat Aussie Ben Frost, but was released through local Melbourne label Hobbledehoy. It's great to see Valgeir's collective Bedroom Community put their support behind his follow-up, Culturecide. The album sets the whole modern malaise in its sights - the scourge of colonialism, late-stage capitalism & neo-liberalism, and its end-game climate change. As fits an album on Bedroom Community, the album pits crackling electronics and field recordings against impeccably-orchestrated piano, percussion and strings (including some bewitching viola da gamba, a baroque-period cousin of the cello, on "The Word for World is Forest", played by Laura Moore). A soundtrack for our times, and frankly essential listening.

On Diamond - Crying For It (Maria Moles Remix) [On Diamond Bandcamp]
On Diamond - The Ocean Floor (Jules Pascoe Remix) [On Diamond Bandcamp]
Melbourne indie band On Diamond already has a solid experimental & genre-crossing pedigree through their members, fronted by dream-folk singer Lisa Salvo, and featuring experimental drummer/sound-artist Maria Moles on drums, jazz saxophonist Scott McConnachie on (avant-garde) guitar, fellow adventurous folkie Hannah Cameron on guitar & backing vocals, and Tinpan Orange's Jules Pascoe on bass. Following last year's excellent debut album, they've just released a four-track remix EP, in which bandmembers Salvo, Moles and Pascoe emphasise the experimental aspects of their songs, along with friend of UFog Shoeb Ahmad. I could happily have played any of the tracks, but tonight we hear Moles' ambient head-nodder and Pascoe's dubbed-out sub-aquaticism.
Oh, and all profits go to Pay The Rent, so no excuse not to buy it!

Herner Vertzog - Aisling Railways [Bandcamp]
One bass player to another - we heard from Josh Ahearn's Herner Vertzog just last week with Boards of Canada-style electronica. This one's not a million miles from that, but it feels like it has a little of his prog background in it too. There's some gnarly, if subdued, bass riffage and a guitar melody, when the change finally comes - but mostly it's a pulsating synth refrain that wouldn't be amiss in an early Icehouse track, over some subtle loops and field recordings.

Kate Carr - Where to begin (excerpt) [Kate Carr Bandcamp]
Field recordings may be used in amongst the musical instruments in Tilman Robinson's work, but few are able to incorporate field recordings into their music as effectively as ex-pat Aussie Kate Carr. Her latest work, Where to begin, was originally created for the BBC; various people were enlisted to read out love letters, and around these fragmentary texts are laid foley sounds (crumpled paper, scritching pens etc) and musical elements that draw out the theme of loneliness - scurrying detuned chords & sub-bass tones fed through slow delays. It's abstract but highly compelling sound art.

Nick Storring - My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell [Orange Milk Records/Nick Storring Bandcamp]
Nick Storring - poised [Nick Storring Bandcamp]
Nick Storring - Qualms I (excerpt) [Never Anything Records]
Nick Storring - Now Neither One Of Us Is Breaking [Orange Milk Records/Nick Storring Bandcamp]
I've admired Toronto cellist Nick Storring for some years, and not just because he's a cellist; he's one of those versatile musicians who's made everything from extreme glitchy electronics (see the second track tonight), unfettered folk, dark indie with Picastro, and sumptuously orchestrated contemporary classical & sound-art (see the excerpt from Qualms I), such as his last few works. His new album My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell is released through the great Orange Milk Records (check that Seth Graham artwork!) and it's exquisite. He presents it as an homage to Roberta Flack, although the music is all original, but you'll find the connection in the emotiveness, the lush jazz voicings, and some lyrical references in track titles. Like last year's Qualms and 2014's Gardens, Storring plays all the bewildering array of instruments, building up an orchestra, a house band, and whatever else he needs for these pieces. These magic dreams are still utterly spellbinding, and well worth your time.

Passepartout Duo - Vis-à-Vis (Sections 1 & 2) [Passepartout Duo Bandcamp]
Passepartout Duo - Vis-à-Vis (Section 4) [Passepartout Duo Bandcamp]
After a collaborative release late in 2018, the debut album from Passepartout Duo was conceived and debuted on a series of train trips that took them from Geneva, Switzerland all the way to Shanghai, China. Due to these circumstances, for thie project the duo, made up of pianist Nicoletta Favari and percussionist Christopher Salvito, play handmade portable percussion instruments and electronic keyboards (see some examples here), and the sensations of motion and displacement can be felt through the rhythmic techniques and harmonies. They are now artists-in-residence at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai.

Philipp Rumsch Ensemble - a4 [Denovali]
Philipp Rumsch Ensemble - d3 [Denovali]
Philipp Rumsch Ensemble - a5 [Denovali]
Continuing the theme of classical musicians crossing over into electronics, postrock and avant-pop we have the second album from Philipp Rumsch Ensemble on Denovali. The album is called µ - of Anxiety x Discernment, is split into "a" (anxiety) track and "d" tracks (discernment), reflects complex, layered emotional states through a combination of processed vocals and sounds, minimalist classical ensemble arrangements (piano, strings, horns, percussion) and occasional postrock-ish outbursts. It's all great, but I had to finish with the lush pitch-shifted, harmonised electronic choir of "a5".

Listen again — ~192MB


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Sunday, 12th of April, 2020

Playlist 12.04.20 (7:35 pm)

Tonight we've got a big chunk of drum'n'bass and jungle, and stay firmly in the electronic space, through glitches, trip-hop and breaky techno.

LISTEN AGAIN and party in your house... stream on demand from FBi, or podcast here.

Dom & Roland - A Broken Heart [Dom & Roland Productions]
Dom & Roland - Industry [Moving Shadow]
Dom & Roland - Trauma [Renegade Hardware/Dom & Roland Bandcamp]
Dom & Roland - Can't Punish Me [Moving Shadow/Dom & Roland Bandcamp]
Dom & Roland - Ethnicity [Moving Shadow]
Dom & Roland - Beach Bum [Dom & Roland Productions]
Dom & Roland - State of the Art [Dom & Roland Productions]
So, we start tonight with a tribute to the brilliant drum'n'bass producer Dominic Angas aka Dom & Roland. His trusty partner was the Roland S760 sampler, with which he crafted a sound which would resonate through generations of drum'n'bass. He has razor-sharp technique with chopping breaks and drum machines into perfectly-focused beats, underpinned by massive sub-bass, sci-fi movie samples, well-judged orchestral samples, synth pads etc. It's all orchestrated to create simple but powerful tracks for the dancefloor, but he's a dance music artist who's also dedicated himself to full albums, starting with the superb Industry in 1998, an album that's accompanied me on many a late-night highway drive. Despite coming up out of the insane beat-juggling of jungle into the darker, simpler era of tech step, Dom's rhythms rarely settle on expected, well-worn patterns, so we hear the bizarre rumbling triplets in the first track tonight, or the martial rhythms and drum fills of "Industry". Then there's the off-beat funk of "Can't Punish Me", with its adapted synth stabs from Bowie's "Let's Dance", and the intense bassline of 2004's "Ethnicity", flowing into joyous, summery "Beach Bum" from last year, whose sampled guitar lines somehow make me think of early Amon Tobin. New album Lost In The Moment is intended to draw the listener in through simple tracks, but as usual it's the production detail that keeps you there. Final selection "State of the Art" has a stripped-down syncopated beat, sci-fi synths, and skittery hi-hats and pitched-up toms.

Special Request - I Wish Time Didn't Matter [Special Request Bandcamp]
Here's a special new isolation track from Paul Woolford's Special Request alias, with classic jungle vibes and a nostalgic (uncredited) female vocals. Woolford is a master at creating a facsimile of '90s rave, just slightly off from the original. The break juggling here is first class, and the r'n'b-inflected song is a lovely bit of pop.

Yaporigami - Music Makers [Virgin Babylon/Bandcamp]
Yaporigami - With Organs [Virgin Babylon/Bandcamp]
And the break juggling intensity increases... Yu Mashita aka Yaporigami has released a substantial number of albums & EPs on his own Collection Artaud label, the recreated Mille Plateaux, Detroit Underground and more. He comes to World's End Girlfriend's Virgin Babylon label with some appropriately mashed breaks and melodies a la classic idm - a delight to listen to and unravel.

Cryptobitch - Emotet (d.Monica) [exael Bandcamp]
exael & Ben Bondy - Aphelion Lash [West Mineral Ltd./Bandcamp]
Ben Bondy - Meridian [West Mineral Ltd./Bandcamp]
US artist exael (aka Naemi), now based in Berlin, first appeared on my radar probably 5 years ago now, courtesy of the mysterious Kansas-based vaporwave label Beer on the Rug. An album on the great Lillerne Tapes cemented him as a talented artist, and he also released an album on Huerco S's West Mineral Ltd., to whom he has just returned with a collaborative album with another experimental electronic artist, Ben Bondy. Exael also has a trio project with partner Shy/uon and Huerco S called Ghostride The Drift if the cyberpunk imagery isn't enough yet, but on his own Bandcamp Exael has just unveiled a new project which brings the jungle influences in his work very much to the fore - Cryptobitch. Even here it feels like we're hearing rave nostalgia through YouTube copies of VHS tapes - filters of filters. I feel like that's the point. But with visual artist Ben Bondy, exael's new album (or EP?) on West Mineral Ltd. buries the beats mostly behind beautiful, glitchy synthscapes. It's like a nature documentary for another planet, being explored a century into the future. There are collaborative tracks and also solo tracks from each artist - Bondy's featured here combines the smooth with the crunchy in fine form.

Telefon Tel Aviv - The Means Whereby Lovers Are Waylaid [Lapsus/Bandcamp]
Chevel - Slip [Lapsus/Bandcamp]
Two tracks here off the 15th anniversary compilation from Spanish label Lapsus, entitled Quinze (meaning fifteen in Catalan, just like the French word but pronounced entirely differently). You can look at this playlist from last year to see how much Telefon Tel Aviv's return means to me. Josh Eustis' shuddering electronics and spare vocals here are a perfect little piece of TTA material. Also featured from the comp is Italian producer Chevel, whose track bathes us in lush synths, only to interject with hammering bass and percussion before calming down again...

Marcus Whale - A Ghost [Forthcoming self-released(?)]
Although we got an excellent Collarbones album last year, it's been four years since the last solo effort from Sydney's own Marcus Whale (give or take some individual tracks, including his "Marcus (not singing)" alter ego). "A Ghost" is the second single from the forthcoming Lucifer, which recasts the Morningstar as a gay icon and patron saint of the forsaken. Quite the subject matter, and here Marcus' emotive pop vocals are accompanied by warm sub-bass, searing synth pads and sparse but tough drum breaks. Bring on the album!

Low End Activist - Cannibal [Seagrave/Bandcamp]
Low End Activist - Game Theory ft. Flowdan [Seagrave/Bandcamp]
Patrick Conway debuted Low End Activist in 2017 with a single featuring grime MC Trim. Last year's Low End Activism album on Sneaker Social Club merged UK bass styles from hardcore through jungle & drum'n'bass to grime & dubstep, in an investigation of class divisions in Oxford. Here he teams up with another MC from the original grime crew Roll Deep - the one & only Flowdan. There's plenty of activity (if less activism perhaps) in the low end, and "Cannibal" also brings the jungle breaks.

Sevdaliza - Lamp Lady [Sevdaliza Bandcamp]
Sevdaliza - Oh My God [Sevdaliza Bandcamp]
I was very pleased to discover the work of Dutch-Iranian artist Sevdaliza a few years ago - a hybrid of trip-hop, electronic pop, and glitchy breakbeat. Sevdaliza delights in turning herself into a kind of pop cyborg, and that mix of experimental electronics and catchy songwriting suits this show to a tee. So I'm not sure how I missed the new single "Oh My God" in January - manipulated vocals and twitch hip-hop beats. "Lamp Lady" just came out this month, and brings in those sweeping string lines which seem to connect her Western influences with Middle Eastern song.

Jan St. Werner feat. Mark E. Smith - Back To Animals [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
More shuddering low-end on this particular track, part of a set of very strange works from Mouse on Mars' Jan St. Werner. The main event on the Molocular Meditation EP uses the recorded voice of the late Mark E. Smith, with whom Mouse on Mars released an album in 2007 under the name Von Südenfed. Smith's voice also emerges through the messed-up quasi-rhythms of this track. It's bewildering stuff, but a rewarding release worth giving full attention.

Moa Pillar - Gaze [Moa Pillar]
Moscow-based Fedor Pereverzev aka Moa Pillar has been making music since his teens, starting in more idm/folktronica territory, but for the last few years it's been euphoric, epic club music. For March 20's Bandcamp day he put up an unreleased EP from 2019 of Distorted Reality to help us through this here distorted reality, and I'm loving the breakbeat techno vibes. It's pay what you like, so support the artist if you can!

Herner Vertzog - Copied [Bandcamp]
Sydney's Josh Ahearn should be known to us as a bassist in bands like The Sticks, and prog/postrock madness such as the brilliant Squat Club from days of yore. But this is the first solo electronica I've heard from him, and it has a nice Boards of Canada or early Autechre vibe to its simple beat and blissful synth strains. Maybe this ol' Spoonerised alter ego can get some more outings!

Listen again — ~199MB


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Sunday, 5th of April, 2020

Playlist 05.04.20 (7:11 pm)

Tonight's Utility Fog focuses on contemporary/post-classical, drone, noise and some experimental rock. It's always interesting how these come together - next week will be heavily weighted to drum'n'bass/jungle/idm again. It's all music innit!

LISTEN AGAIN and again, you're at home, you can listen to whatever you like! Stream on demand @ FBi, or podcast right here.

Thor Harris - Room40 Dub (with Lawrence English) [Thor Harris Bandcamp]
Thor Harris - Halloween Kaka (with Ben Frost) [Thor Harris Bandcamp]
Drummer/percussionist Thor Harris is a beloved member of the indie music scene, working as much with the extreme dynamics and sonic assault of Swans and the melodicism of Shearwater (to name only two of dozens of bands and appearances). His two solo "and Friends" albums have both been surprisingly gentle, almost folky albums based around pitched percussion (marimba, xyolophone etc), but here, released for Bandcamp's revenue-share-free day (but clearly planned ahead) is his amazing Doom Dub collaborative project. While you might think of "doom" here being the heavy, sluggish form of metal (which I love), Thor is thinking more about the precarious position humanity finds itself in at this moment in history - the beginning of the end of the anthropocene? And dub, well, it's one of the greatest, most influential, never-out-of-style musical genres. Thor has done it proud here, with a selection of fantastic co-conspirators. Here I've chosen TWO Australians. Lawrence English's is named after his label (haha!) and has incredible spatialisation - deep bass, mid-range drones, flickering wobbly percussion, all pretty freaky. And longtime Iceland-resident, Swans fan and recent recruit Ben Frost helps out on a piece of percussive almost-minimal-techno. Oh, and the voice of Yoko Ono can be heard on "Room40 Dub"!

Nine Inch Nails - Run Like Hell [NIN Store]
So much of what I play on UFog, especially recently it seems, is influenced by the long history of industrial music. I often refer to "industrial techno", which is a term which goes back well before the current crop of Berlin, UK & US artists working in that space. Arguably noise came as an outcropping from industrial's earliest roots in artists like Throbbing Gristle, and even Aussies like SPK. It's funny that Nine Inch Nails represented "industrial" to so many people (probably including me) in the '90s, and maybe even today, but Trent Reznor never pretended to be an original as such - much though he's a great talent and draws great musicians around him. These days NIN is pretty much Trent and Atticus Ross, who is also his partner in his many great film & TV scores. They're so busy with that soundtrack work that NIN can take a back seat, so it's interesting to see them release two new volumes of instrumental music under the Ghosts umbrella - Ghosts V & VI, some 12 years after the first four volumes were released, en masse, also as free or pay-what-you-want downloads. There's some of the organic, Aphex-influenced ambient work here, but the second volume is tougher and more dramatic. This track, unrelated to the Pink Floyd song of the same name, embodies some of the paranoia & anxiety they're invoking here. It's really great - if you've slept on it, just download them.

Deadly Cradle Death - Modern People Hate Old Psychedelic Song [Maybe Mars]
Deadly Cradle Death - Deadly Keithyeetal [Maybe Mars]
COVID-19 is a global phenomenon, and having originated in China, it affected the same cultures there - music very much included - ahead of the rest of the world. So when "Bandcamp day" happened on March 20th, there was plenty of Chinese music on Bandcamp to support. I found this great article recommending recent Chinese music, and from there found the amazing noise/psych rock album Disconnection on legendary Chinese label Maybe Mars. He Fan of Deadly Cradle Death is an ex-member of the great indie band Carsick Cars, and also jangly indie/shoegazers Birdstriking, but the music here is somewhat more uncompromising than both of those. I love the crunchy drums, the riffs, and the vocal delivery. I'd say there's a bit of industrial in-your-faceness here too.

KCIN, Marina Elderton & Alicia Jane Turner - ODB 20.4 [Trestle Records/Bandcamp]
KCIN, Marina Elderton & Alicia Jane Turner - ODB 20.5 [Trestle Records/Bandcamp]
Over the last few years, London label Trestle Records has released a lot of interesting avant-garde music, but they've also been responsible for a fairly extravagant series of "One Day Band" projects gathering musicians from around the globe for one day of fevered creativity. More about what's come of that in the next segment, but here we have two of the pieces from a session involving Sydney's own Nicholas Meredith aka KCIN. He was flown all the way to London to work with two English musicians - soundtrack composer & guitarist Marina Elderton and violinist, sound-artist & performance artist Alicia Jane Turner. These pieces are pretty heavy & doom-laden! The two women produce droney soundscapes full of foreboding, through which Nick's drums skitter & patter, or lay down tough, ever-changing, hypnotic patterns.

Leo Abrahams, Sølyst & Simon Fisher Turner - From Isolation 1 02 [Trestle Records/Bandcamp]
So what are you gonna do with the One Day Band idea in the age of COVID-19 isolation? Certainly not flying musicians around the world. So Trestle's new series is From Isolation (and yes, there will be a billion "Isolation" records coming out of this catastrophe) - groups of musicians collaborating via file sharing. Starting on the right foot, they've got guitarist Leo Abrahams (who easily straddles experimental & pop, working with the likes of Brian Eno and Jon Hopkins among others), Dusseldorf drummer & electronic musician Thomas Klein aka Sølyst, and and the great sound artist Simon Fisher Turner ('70s pop star turned postpunk experimentalist, actor, director, composer - but genius sound artist from all of this). This middle piece in particular is both bright and dark, open and introverted. Quite lovely.

Machinefabriek - Amalgaam I [Machinefabriek]
In this unpredictable times it's good to know that we can rely on the fact that there'll always be at least one Machinefabriek release around the corner. For this album, Rutger Zuydervelt has set himself up with his version of a tabletop noise/drone setup - tone generators, effects pedals, dictaphone etc. From these humble sources he creates as usual an engrossing set of long (if not his old-style drone epics long) works under the title Amalgaam. He describes these pieces as raw & unpolished, but if anything that's part of why they work so well - they're performed pieces, performed by someone with a strong sense of sound & structure, and they carry you along through discordant noise, patient, lumbering rhythms & pulses, and passages of beauty. It's one of the most compelling recent works even from an artist who always has a lot to offer.

FUJI||||||||||TA - keshiki [Hallow Ground/Bandcamp]
FUJI||||||||||TA - sukima (excerpt) [Hallow Ground/Bandcamp]
Over to another masterful sound artist, FUJITA Yosuke aka FUJI||||||||||TA (I'm not sure how to pronounce this on air!), whose new album for Swiss label Hallow Ground, entitled iki simply explores the wheezing, clunking sound of his handmade, pump-driven pipe organ. It's mind-blowingly beautiful, calming, organic work. The pushing of the pump creates a sometimes-rhythmic percussive sound while Fujita entices slow-moving chordal changes from the organ - sometimes peaceful major-key progressions, sometimes discords producing overlaid beat frequencies. It's exquisite. On the second selection, the slow drones are replaced with short bursts of blown chords while the pump clatters and creaks and the machine's own breaths are heard - so it's less of a warm ebb & flow, but no less of a delight. Conceptually, this would be amazing enough, but Fujita is enough of an artist to ensure that the music coming out of his creation is lovely too.

Nils Frahm - First Defeat [Erased Tapes/Bandcamp]
In the chaos of obsessive COVID-19 updates and failed attempts to find normalcy, it was easy to forget that March 28th (in this leap year) is the 88th day of the year, so Piano Day came round again. But Piano Day's faithful inaugurator Nils Frahm had not forgotten, and to follow Fujita's pipe organ we have some exquisitely quiet piano music - even for the connoisseur of "felt" himself. The aching "First Defeat" is a highlight from Empty, a companion piece to his earlier Screws (which was recorded after breaking his thumb). It's reflective, touching music from an artist whose profile can possibly obscure the fact that he's an immensely talented & sensitive composer & performer.

Clarice Jensen - Final [130701/Bandcamp]
Clarice Jensen - For this from what will be filled (a) [Miasmah/Bandcamp]
Clarice Jensen - Metastable [130701/Bandcamp]
Contemporary classical & avant-garde cellist Clarice Jensen's debut album came out from Miasmah, the label run by experimental cellist & acoustic doom maestro Erik K Skodvin. Her droney, minimalist, deeply evocative works perfectly suited that label, but it's lovely to see her second album picked up by Fat Cat's post/neo-classical subsiduary 130701. Jensen is both an accomplished interpreter of contemporary classical composition - including with her American Contemporary Music Ensemble (sporting the great acronym ACME) - and also a performer outside the classical world with artists such as Björk, Dirty Projectors, Blonde Redhead etc. Her solo work is mostly centred around cello layered and looped and effected, and I never tired of the different ways that cellists around the world make use of these techniques. Jensen can build massive tectonic drones, but also - as with the section from her debut release on Miasmah - might construct shimmering waves of broken bowed chords and emphatic pizzicato notes. Here, as with some of the works on new album The Experience of Repetition as Death, the cello can be embedded in chorusing effects that make it sound like an organ. At other times, the pure acoustic cello sound is layered through reverb for a kind of smeared-out, slowed down baroque music.

Seabuckthorn - Through a Vulnerable Occur (feat. Gareth Davis) [Iikki/Bandcamp]
Seabuckthorn - Other Other [Iikki/Bandcamp]
Finishing up with new work from UK guitarist Andy Cartwright, who has recorded for some years now as Seabuckthorn. He's a master at fingerstyle guitar - dazzling folk & blues fingerpicking - but he's always loved also creating shoegazey numbers, and even more droney works, as found here. He's playing the Persian saz here and the South American charango as well as guitar, but mostly all the instruments are drawn out in ways where you could be forgiven for confusing it with the cello sounds we heard previously. On the title track of new album Through A Vulnerable Occur he's joined by the excellent Dutch clarinettist Gareth Davis as well - but actually the whole album is a different kind of collaboration, as with everything released by Iikki - they are all audiovisual in their complete form, with CD & vinyl editions also released with an art book. This time the artwork comes from Melbourne photographer Sophie Gabrielle, and it looks to be an evocative partnering with the music.

Listen again — ~189MB


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