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experimental electronica
electric string quartet

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 November, 2020

Playlist 29.11.20 (5:33 pm)

From delicate free jazz songs through glitched easy listening and soundscapes to various forms of bass'n'beats, it's your Utility Fog for the week!

LISTEN AGAIN to the sounds of the past, the sounds of the present, the sounds of the future! Stream on demand @ FBi, podcast here...

Ashley Paul - Light Inside My Skin [Slip/Bandcamp]
Ashley Paul - Bounce Bounce [Slip/Bandcamp]
Ashley Paul - Lost Memories [Slip/Bandcamp]
London-based American multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Ashley Paul creates very strange, beautiful songs with ensembles of free improvisers, which somehow feel simultaneously free and composed - like Tom Waits' right-in-their-wrongness arrangements. She's released albums on many interesting labels including Important Records and Orange Milk, but as Slip have just released her new one, Ray, tonight we hear 2 songs from that album, plus an instrumental from her 2018 record on the same label, Lost In Shadows. Derek Bailey can be heard in her scrabbling guitar, Ornette Coleman in the screaming saxophone and clarinet swiftly switching into queasy or sweet harmonies - but the fusion of these techniques with affecting songwriting with fragile vocals is absolutely her own. This can be challenging to get a grip on, but listen in the right frame of mind and it will touch you.

curd duca - california [Magazine/Bandcamp]
curd duca - touch [Mille Plateaux/Bandcamp]
curd duca - nancy [Mille Plateaux/Bandcamp]
curd duca - quiet nights intro [Mille Plateaux/Bandcamp]
curd duca - quiet nights (feat. carin feldschmid) [Mille Plateaux/Bandcamp]
curd duca - avant org [Magazine/Bandcamp]
curd duca - oui [Magazine/Bandcamp]
Give or take a couple of odd appearances, it's been the better part of 2 decades since we last heard from Austrian glitch musician curd duca. He released in the '90s two different series of minimalist, simple, yet evocative cut-up music (all now available again at his Bandcamp): first a series of 5 easy listening albums, and then the 3 wonderful elevator albums through Mille Plateaux. Particularly on elevator 2 and elevator 3 (from which I played two tracks each tonight) he strikes an uneasy balance in his "digitalanalogue" "cut-up easy-listening" works, not quite trip-hoppy electro-lounge cheesiness, nor quite the austere, conceptual computer music Mille Plateaux could lean towards. I particularly adored the stuttering granular vocal processing on elevator 2's "touch" in 1999 - more revolutionary-sounding back then than it would be now. Now he has another series of releases coming, the first out now, the two early and late 2021. Called waves, the three albums are released through Cologne label Magazine - for some reason vinyl + CD together - maybe I can get the collection of three just on CD when they're all released? In any case, it's a delightful continuation of the elevator sound, including some new renderings of old pieces ("touch" gets revised in fact). As before, the cut-ups and shimmering granulation transform the sometimes-mundane source material into magical alternate worlds if you let them. I for one couldn't be happier that we have this with more to come!

Jasmine Guffond - Ausland, 19th November, 2016 [Music Company/Bandcamp]
Matthew Hayes - Plein de Nuages [Music Company/Bandcamp]
Gail Priest - Stuttered unutterables [Music Company/Bandcamp]
Only a few months after their first Vector Fields compilation, this Friday Dec 4th sees Melbourne's Music Company release Vector Fields 2, once again mixing up contemporary composition with various forms of electronic production. It's a phenomenally strong collection of music, with plenty of great representation from women and non-binary artists too - aside from the people I played tonight, there's excellent work from Madeleine Cocolas, Alexandra Spence, Shoeb Ahmad, Aarti Jadu (heard below), Lily Tait and many others. Following on from the return of curd duca, Sydney's Jasmine Guffond has been mining glitch since her late '90s and early '00s releases with Minit. In the vein of her music from the last few years, her track here builds a vibrating sound space from granular samples of voice, violin, percussion and electronics. Melbourne jazz musician Matthew Hayes combines the processed residue of jazz drums with piano, guitar, strings and drones, into a thing of cinematic, folktronic beauty. And the fabulous Gail Priest, now based in the Blue Mountains, delivers as always with an evolving piece made of cut-up vocals, glitches and beats.

Minced Oath - Prison Issue Pillow [Countersunk Bandcamp]
Minced Oath is Dunk Murphy, best known perhaps as Sunken Foal, and half of Planet µ duo Ambulance. Over many years, Sunken Foal has been a reliable favourite at Utility Fog, with exquisitely surprising harmonic movements under melodic lines and intricate idm beats. With Minced Oath, he tones things down a notch: first album Supercede was pure floating ambience, but the just-released Supervene does incorporate minimal percussion and melodies, albeit at a more glacial pace than Sunken Foal.

Jakoby - Gate [Health/Jakoby Bandcamp]
Jakoby - Leine [Health/Jakoby Bandcamp]
UK-born, Berlin-based electronic musician Lee Bowden is Jakoby, returning this Friday with his second release on the Health label, run by Kirk Barley aka Church Andrews aka Bambooman. Generative rhythms, crunching bass, and little melodies combine in strange ways which seem well-suited to whatever the Health aesthetic is - maybe it's only because I'm hearing it in the context of their last release, Barley as Church Andrews with the complex percussion of Matt Davies, but this music seems equally idiosyncratic, difficult to pin down, yet oddly zeitgeisty.

HAND - note to self [Elli Records/Bandcamp]
Sascha Bachmann's new album as HAND brins us some quite wonderful processed cassette loops and found sounds, processed on computer. There are skittering half-remembered jungle breakbeats at times, but also drones and pulses, distant sub-bass thuds, spluttering drum machines and warbling klaxons. Really recommend grabbing a listen, especially as right now it's Pay What You Can (with no minimum!) - from excellent French label Elli Records.

Hextape - Yubaba [Anterograde/Bandcamp]
Hextape - How To Walk Away From Something That's Hurting You (Aarti Jadu Remix) [Anterograde/Bandcamp]
Hextape - Etude For Sword [Anterograde/Bandcamp]
Having recently heard from Melbourne musician Bridget Chappell under her own name, we're now treated to her rave-nostalgia cut-up electronic alias Hextape, as Anterograde are re-releasing her excellent 2 Fast 2 Furious album from last year, remastered and with bonus remixes. On "Yubaba", alongside chopoped-up vocals and beats we hear her cello near the end; "Etude For Sword" on the other hand swiftly crescendoes into jungle chaos. Fellow Melburnian Aarti Jadu brings out a glitchscape of vocals with flittering synths, bass drones and snatches of drum breaks.

Barking - Sham Paradise [Barking Bandcamp]
Sydney's Gareth Psaltis made a brilliant EP with Hannah Lockwood as phile in 2017, and has released music as Barking for a few years. Currently based in Berlin, he put a few tracks out this year, and this latest draws on drum'n'bass and industrial in reflection of the personal & political.

E-Saggila - Cellygrin [Hospital Productions/Bandcamp]
E-Saggila - Slowland [Hospital Productions/Bandcamp]
The latest album for Iraq-born, Toronto-based musician Rita Mikhael aka E-Saggila comes from Prurient's Hospital Productions label, which mixes in techno, ambient and more straightforwardly industrial music alongside the noise. All of this makes it quite an inspired home for an E-Saggila release, with her influences ranging from techno and jungle through forms of industrial and noise. Corporate Cross is impressively varied, and surprisingly not all dark either - "Slowland" sits at a dubsteppy tempo and its murky synth melodies echo the prettiest of '90s Aphex Twin or early Autechre.

Commodo - Loan Shark [Black Acre/Bandcamp]
Commodo - Stakeout [Black Acre/Bandcamp]
Commodo - Procession [Deep Medi/Bandcamp]
It's great to hear UK dubstep artist Commodo back on Deep Medi, nearly 10 years after his first release with them. We're hearing the title tracks of all three 2020 releases - the first two were through Black Acre, each with a kind of cop/crime show vibe; now Procession finds him imagining a detective investigating some kind of Lovecraftian paranormal shenanigans. Commodo's really good at this kind of thing, melding core dubstep bass-led dancefloor beats with evocative TV soundtrack vibes.

GILA - Energy Demonstration [Lex Records/Bandcamp]
GILA - Rider 1 (Darq Windows) [Lex Records/Bandcamp]
GILA - Aloe Drip [Lex Records/Bandcamp]
Having first encountered him in 2016, it was awesome to rediscover Kyle Reid's GILA a few months ago, and now finally his debut album proper, Energy Demonstration is with us! It's all about the low-slung bass and slippery, sparse, syncopated beats. Reid is from Denver, and as much as you can hear the influence of UK styles like dubstep and grime, it's clear that trap and US hip-hop production is a big part of his music, as much as his own background as a drummer before his live career was hindered by rheumatoid arthritis. I absolutely love the head-nodding, deep yet sharp sounds here.

Listen again — ~202MB

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Sunday, 22nd of November, 2020

Playlist 22.11.20 (9:57 pm)

Starts with narco-dancehall, goes to drum'n'bass, post-classical, glitch and industrial, ends with strings? That's UFog!

LISTEN AGAIN to all the Utility Fogginess you can fit into two hours! Stream on demand from FBi or podcast here.

The Bug ft. Dis Fig - Take [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
Dis Fig - Alive [Purple Tape Pedigree/Bandcamp]
The Bug - Politicians & Paedophiles feat. Daddy Freddy [Rephlex/Bandcamp]
The Bug ft. Dis Fig - Destroy Me [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
Early last year I discovered the work of jazz-trained vocalist Felicia Chen as Dis Fig via her debut album released by Purple Tape Pedigree, entitled Purge. Drawing from her jazz and classical training as well as industrial and noise, it was broad-ranging and quite disturbing at times. So it's quite excellent to find her now collaborating with one of my favourite artists, The Bug, with a full album of what's described as "narco-dancehall", combining Kevin Martin's earlier dancehall distortions with his more recent dubstep/grime and the spaced-out dub & trip-hop of his King Midas Sound project. Dis Fig is only the latest in a string of female singers Martin has worked with, but this full album is an impressive collaboration, with Chen's vocals leaning towards the melodic, trip-hop end of the spectrum, but injecting plenty of emotion and musical texture to the proceedings.

ASC - Intensity [Samurai Music/Bandcamp]
ASC - Cautionary Tales [Samurai Music/Bandcamp]
James Clements has been making drum'n'bass as ASC for over 20 years, as well as techno and other styles. He's been strongly associated with the "autonomic" strain of dub-techno-infused d'n'b, and other more ambient stylings for a while, and it's very exciting that Samurai Music have lured him back into hard-hitting jungle/d'n'b for an EP and now the Isolated Systems album this year - apparently with another release in this vein coming out early in 2021! Storming beats with complex programming recalling the legendary Arcon 2 (I said on air that he wasn't on Bandcamp, but that's recently changed - fuck yeah!) as well as the heyday of Photek, Paradox et al. What's notable to me is that it's not just nonstop beatfuckery and sub-bass - Clements pays attention to the need for harmonic movement, with falling synth pads that add just enough soulfulness to the proceedings, something which a lot of the harder & more complex jungle programmers today tend to not care about. Highly recommended!

Earl Grey - French Exit [Inperspective]
Earl Grey - Infinite Loop [Western Lore]
Jim Ehlinger has been making jungle as Earl Grey for just over a decade, mostly inhabiting that "drumfunk" subgenre which is somewhere between the idm kids' drill'n'bass and the original jungle. His last 2 EPs feature here, both with the title tracks - for Inperspective it's dark and jazzy, and for Western Lore it's an unusual number which starts dubby and then gets carried by a 4/4 kick with jungle breaks, not quite jungle techno I think, but its own thing - a really cool feel.

Drexler - Ashes (Ruckspin Remix) [Rhodium Publishing/Bandcamp]
Drexler - Ghosts Have Arrived (DEEP LEARNING Remix I) [Rhodium Publishing/Bandcamp]
We heard some tracks from Drexler's debut album Handles earlier this year. The work of Adrian Leung, who's Sydney-born, London-based, of Hong Kong Chinese background, and has spent time in Japan as well, all of which feeds into his creative take on the post-classical genre, with piano, strings, even choral vocals, touched with various electronic treatments. Those electronics come to the fore now with Handles Remixed (released later this week), which invites friends from Sydney and London to rework tracks from the album. London producer Ruckspin mixes breakbeats and basslines in with choral and string elements; meanwhile London-resident Sydney legend Richard Pike contributes 2 remixes under his DEEP LEARNING alias - I chose the beatless one with lovely glitchy treatments on the piano.

Vitor Joaquim - Stem [Vitor Joaquim Bandcamp]
Vitor Joaquim - End [Vitor Joaquim Bandcamp]
Granular processing is at the heart of the work of venerable Portuguese producer Vitor Joaquim. After a number of excellent releases on Portuguese label Crónica, new album The Construction of Time seems to be self-released. It's as evocative and interesting as ever, with processed trumpet samples from João Silva and vocal snippets sourced from the periods of the two invasions of Iraq... The theme of perception, memory, transience and interpretation carries through these beautiful pieces.

Several Wives - An Intermission [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
Several Wives - Mai Swarmer [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
Memory and perception also thread through the music of mysterious UK(?) producer Several Wives, whose industrial-influenced collages fit in the darker end of the spectrum for the Lost Tribe Sound label. These tracks are apparently sourced from the artist's archives, and while there's a lot of difference between murky drones, floating acoustic guitar or occasional minimal beats, it all holds together surprisingly well as an intriguing, slightly disturbing album.

Gregory Paul Mineeff - Alone And Thinking Of You [Cosmic Leaf Records/Bandcamp]
Here's another single from Wollongong composer Gregory Paul Mineeff - his emotive piano is tracked by billowing electronics as is often his style. Looking forward to another full album from him soon.

Ian William Craig & Daniel Lentz - Tasteful Gloss [RVNG Intl/Bandcamp]
Ian William Craig & Daniel Lentz - Fragrance [RVNG Intl/Bandcamp]
RVNG Intl's FRKWYS series brings musicians together in unique combinations. Their latest combines the angelic vocals and tape manipulation of Ian William Craig with the piano of American composer Daniel Lentz. Lentz's piano is at times more straightforward than Craig's usual style, but responds well to the saturated distortions, drop-outs and pitch-bends of IWC's tape machines. I believe these pieces were recorded in real-time, and some real tenebrous beauty arose from the sessions.

Keeley Forsyth - Unravelling [Leaf/Bandcamp]
Keeley Forsyth - Stab [Leaf/Bandcamp]
Working with Trestle Records' Ross Downes as well as pianist and arranger Matthew Bourne has allowed English actor, writer & singer Keeley Forsyth to realise her Scott Walker ambitions in hideous, striking fashion on the Photograph EP. No other singer at the moment has quite the emotional depth or, dare I say, ambition to carry this off quite as well as Forsyth. Incredible.

Joana Guerra - Lume [Miasmah/Bandcamp]
Back to Portugal, cellist Joana Guerra debuts on Miasmah, the label run by another cellist of the "acoustic doom" persuasion, Erik K Skodvin. Other than a certain queasiness, there's no great similarity with Skodvin's work here though - Guerra works her cello into arrangements with violin, vocals and percussion, where peaceful pizzicato gives way to sawing sul pont bowing, see-sawing glissandi, dramatic vocals and more. It's an idiosyncratic blend of contemporary techniques with traditional & non-traditional song. Another great unusual cellist to add to the list!

Vilde&Inga - Disc 1 III [Sofa music/Bandcamp]
Vilde&Inga - Disc 2 V [Sofa music/Bandcamp]
Vilde Sandve Alnæs and Inga Margrete Aas are two still-young Norwegian string players, who have now released three albums as Vilde&Inga on the Norwegian experimental label Sofa music. Their combination of violin and double bass results in surprising sonorities, with that gap between high & low becoming part of their character. New double album How Forests Think mixes in sylvan field recordings with extended techniques and melodic playing, for a magical tour of wood and catgut.

Toàn - ∞ [IIKKI/Bandcamp]
On Volta No Vento, UK-based French producer Anthony Elfort (aka Toàn, and previously Qiwu) combines field recordings, sampled recordings and various instruments into a mysterious sound-world. On a number of tracks cello can be heard, twisted & distorted through processing.

Elsen Price - BED 8 - I - NOW [Ripparecordings/Bandcamp]
Back to double bass for our last track of the evening, courtesy of Sydney mainstay Elsen Price, who as well as playing in bands like Eishan Ensemble and Ephemera, can be found performing contemporary compositions on double bass and also looping himself in creative solo performances. His new album sees his bass unadorned, in a series of live improvisations including this airy piece, which despite being for electric bass is more classical than jazz.

Listen again — ~199MB

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Sunday, 15th of November, 2020

Playlist 15.11.20 (5:51 pm)

A flood of jungle/drum'n'bass-related releases in the last 2 weeks make this a very bass/beats oriented show. You know it makes sense.

LISTEN AGAIN to the beat of the drum... via FBi's stream on demand, or podcast here.

Pa Salieu - Informa (feat. M1llionz) [Warner]
Pa Salieu - Dem A Lie [Warner]
Pa Salieu - Bang Out [Warner]
Pa Salieu - Frontline [Warner]
2020 has been huge for Coventry-based UK rapper Pa Salieu. It's UK drill, but a lot could easily sit as grime. Salieu's voice is incredbily strong, bearing signs of his Gambian heritage as well as the British-Jamaican influence of the music, and his lyrics speak of the violence of systemic racism and the UK's long-established class system. Of course for me the music itself is a huge drawcard, and I was introduced to him through the b-side of his massive single "Betty" - on "Bang Out" he samples liberally from the ever-influential "Ghosts" by Japan, with David Sylvian's voice and the equally-identifiable synths weaving in and out of the rolling bassline and Salieu's raps.

Gantz - Janky [Gantz Bandcamp]
Gantz - Hinges Creak [Gantz Bandcamp]
Istanbul-based producer Emi Rongun seems to sit just on the outside of dubstep's mainstream, sometimes leaning into trip-hop influenced sounds, even joining in with the SoundCloud "jungle warz" years back. He's been released on many labels including frequently on Deep Medi through the years, but his latest Krokodil EP just dropped on his own Bandcamp. There's often something delicate & sensitive about his music, even when the beats and bass are heavy - always an artist to look out for in my book.

Krust - Space Oddity [Crosstown Rebels/Bandcamp]
Krust - Last Day [Full Cycle]
Krust - Coded Language (feat. Saul Williams) [Talkin' Loud]
Krust - How To Mutate feat. Trudi Mosiamo [Full Cycle]
Krust - Hegel Dialect [Crosstown Rebels/Bandcamp]
Kirk Thompson is an absolutely central figure in jungle and drum'n'bass, from when the sound percolated out of East London into Bristol, home of so much bass-oriented UK music. Thompson, as DJ Krust, was part of Reprazent along with Roni Size, DJ Die, SUV and others, and while Roni Size was the big name out front, Krust's production, orchestration, and sonic storytelling is next to none. His new album The Edge of Everything comes 14 years after the previous, and while there've been some really nice 12"s, remixes and such in the meantime, it's wonderful to have his music at album length, with sumptuous 12-minute epics and weird little skits. Crosstown Rebels isn't typically a drum'n'bass label, but while there's bits of halftime and bits of ambient in there, it's definitely all drum'n'bass at its roots, with some fiery break choppery and skittering drum machine programming, and plenty of punchy basslines. Krust's debut album Coded Language, released in 1999 on Talkin' Loud, was named after the groundbreaking song featuring Saul Williams (which incidentally appeared in identical form on Williams' own debut album Amethyst Rock Star) - heavy techstep beats and hard-hitting spoken word about the black roots of rap and beat-splicing. In 2006 Krust released his second album Hidden Knowledge on Full Cycle Records, the label he co-runs with Roni Size and Chris Lewis, and a bonus disc collected a bunch of older tunes, including "The Last Day" from 1996; and the album features the drum'n'bass-funk of "How To Mutate" with Trudi Mosiamo on vocals. There's no singing on Krust's new one, but still plenty of fascination with philosophy, politics and art. It's thought-provoking and body-moving in equal measures.

Origin Unknown - Valley Of The Shadows (Chase & Status Remix) [fabric/Bandcamp]
Hedex & Bou - Pub Grub VIP [Dubz Audio]
Also just recently released is the massive RTRN II Fabric mix from stadium drum'n'bass duo Chase & Status. It's actually a lovely tribute to jungle and drum'n'bass, with classics going right back to the early '90s, and updates like their own remix of Origin Unknown's beyond-classic "Valley Of The Shadows", which they treat with much respect, updating the beats and leaving the original samples basically intact. Among the new tunes is one by Hedex & Bou, updating a tune from Hedex's From The Rave album from last year - "Pub Grub VIP" tightens up the bassline and adds a little more junglist crunchy bits. I've had it on repeat all week.

Harmony - I Can't Stop [Deep Jungle]
Lee Bogush's Deep Jungle label has continued to release archival jungle tunes from many heroes this year, as well as a whole slew of stuff from the man himself as Harmony. After a fantastic album, here's two more delights, with vocal snippets and rolling breaks.

Chimpo - Focused [Box N Lock]
Chimpo - Burn [Box N Lock]
Chimpo - Big Ed (Generation X Mix) [Box N Lock]
I've been meaning to play Manchester's Chimpo for a little while - his HIA LP from earlier this year is a gem of songs and toasting over UK bass music of all sorts. Chimpo's been comfortable in many different genres for ages, but does love his drum'n'bass, as evidenced in the second of his Now That's What I Call Boxed N Locked collections that he's got on his Box N Lock Bandcamp for a mere £5. After HIA was released he also put out an EP of Club Mixes from the album, which are quite literally tributes to various well-loved Manchester clubs. There's drum'n'bass and also reggae and more.

Appleblim - Limbic Riddim [Sneaker Social Club]
Laurie Osborne aka Appleblim started off bringing dubstep and house/techno together, co-running the Skull Disco label with Shackleton (incidentally the two big Skull Disco compilations are now available on Bandcamp). There was quite a jungle influence on Appleblim's solo album from 2018, and it's nice hearing that come out again on a track from the second half of Sneaker Social Club's Evident Ware compilation, in which contemporary artists revisit the sounds of UK hardcore as it was just mutating into jungle and drum'n'bass.

65daysofstatic - Renoiser [Light Entries]
In the early days of 65daysofstatic, they were compared to Squarepusher and breakcore artists as much as postrock, and the big yearlong collection of EPs they put out last year & this had a solid electronic bent. This new track comes from a compilation of "algorave" music called Compassion Through Algorithms II, raising funds for Young Minds Together, and organisation in Rotherham, UK, supporting young black girls with music & dance.

Speaker Music - Our Unfinished Sonic Revolution––Amiri Baraka's Afro-American Lyric [Purple Tape Pedigree/Bandcamp]
Another EP from DeForrest Brown, Jr under his Speaker Music guise, mixing complex percussive electronics with hard-hitting words. Here we hear the late African-American poet Amiri Baraka - and speaking of words, purchasing this EP gets you a copy of Brown's own essential essay for Mixmag, published in October this year, called "How the Dance Music Industry Failed Black Artists".

Sig Nu Gris - Section 5 [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]
This week also saw the release of the new EP from Melbourne's Erin Hyde aka Sig Nu Gris. SALIVA is her tribute to rave music, and while she's veered towards jungle beats in the past, this is more high energy techno ravers, all in her special shimmery style.

Murphy - Solitary Pleasures [Gravy Murphy Bandcamp]
It's been a while since heard from UK ex-pat Jon Murphy on this show. Originally under the name Gravy Murphy, he was found in Perth and now Melbourne drawing on acid and idm templates, and his latest album pares it down to synths and some drum machines - but still very melodic. Even the quite distorted and drone opener I played here has something rather bright & breezy about it.

r hunter - he looks at the liver [.jpeg Artefacts]
r hunter - in retrospect (ft. ubu boi) [.jpeg Artefacts]
After previous releases on Nice Music and Prague's Genot Centre, Melbourne musician R Hunter (aka Asher Elazary) has unleashed his latest slab of post-club unsettling ambient soundscaping via .jpeg Artefacts. It feels like this music's time has come, a sound that hints at the body-moving sub-bass and rhythm of club music rather than unleashing it - the post-apocalyptic music of haunted dancehalls, augmented with the piano of fellow post-beatmaker Ubu Boi on a couple of tracks. The label are doing a limited CD edition, and whichever way you go, 100% of proceeds will be sent to the Djab Wurrung Protectors Fund.

Listen again — ~201MB

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Sunday, 8th of November, 2020

Playlist 08.11.20 (6:30 pm)

On one of the best days of 2020, we have folktronic musings on death, poppy experimental jazz, jazzy postrock, juddering electro-acoustic drone and quiet experimentalism from all round the world.

LISTEN AGAIN with more than a little relief, by streaming on demand at FBi, or podcasting right here.

Tunng - Eating the Dead (feat. AC Grayling) [Full Time Hobby/Bandcamp]
Tunng - Three Birds [Full Time Hobby/Bandcamp]
It was fantastic to find original Tunng singer & songwriter Sam Genders rejoining the band alongside producer Mike Lindsay in 2018. Genders & Lindsay's original duo incarnation of Tunng - and the following couple of albums at least - were hugely important to Utility Fog's early years, after I discovered their first single well before their debut album was released; arcane, authentic-feeling English folk rubbing up against glitchy electronic production and club memories. Following the 2018 reformation, they're back with a concept album of sorts for 2020, Tunng presents... DEAD CLUB, in which they interrogate death and grief, inspired by Max Porter's novel Grief is the Thing With Feathers. Porter (the brother of the great post-dubstep/power ambient producer Roly Porter) appears on the album reading two poignant, beautifully-written short stories, "Man" and "Woman", which I recommend checking out - but I've gone for two songs which are very much vintage Tunng in sound. The first features a snippet of a conversation Genders had with the philosopher AC Grayling.

Mary Halvorson's Code Girl - Bigger Flames (feat. Robert Wyatt) [Firehouse 12/Bandcamp]
Robert Wyatt - The United States of Amnesia [Rough Trade/Hannibal/Domino]
Mary Halvorson & John Dieterich - vega's array [New Amsterdam/Bandcamp]
Mary Halvorson's Code Girl - Artlessly Falling [Firehouse 12/Bandcamp]
I've played American jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson before on this show as part of cellist Tomeka Reid's quartet. Her skillful playing is instantly recognizable whenever she twists her melodies with the whammy bar. Halvorson is so talented and idiosyncratic that she was recognized last year with a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship. Following that comes her second "Code Girl" album, Artlessly Falling, for which she wrote all the lyrics as well as music, and she's joined by jazz singer Amirtha Kidambi on most tracks, but she pulled off the remarkable feat of luring the mostly-retired Robert Wyatt to sing on three of the tracks. Wyatt is one of my favourite singers & musicians, so I headed to 1986's Old Rottenhat for a song about America's destructive colonial history. Also in the middle there, an extraordinary track from Halvorson's 2019 collaboration with Deerhoof guitarist John Dieterich, featuring that distinctive sharp-edged shine of Halvorson's melodic playing.

Voice & Strings & Timpani - Escargot [Hubro/Bandcamp]
Strings & Timpani - Umpf Collection [Hubro/Bandcamp]
Voice & Strings & Timpani - Talk Tick Talk [Hubro/Bandcamp]
Prolific guitarist Stephan Meidell and drummer Øyvind Hegg-Lunde together are Strings & Timpani, whose first album Hyphen was full of wonderful acoustic postrock crescendos and jazz dexterity. For Voice & Strings & Timpani they are joined by Mari Kvien Brunvoll (who plays with Hegg-Lunde in post-jazz/folk trio Building Instrument and brings electronics as well as vocals to the ensemble) and Eva Pfitzenmaier (aka By the Waterhole, playing flute & keyboards as well as vocals) - and they also get extra drumming from Kim Åge Furuhaug. It's a big sound, again full of jazz and postrock dynamics - a typical Norwegian, shimmering joy, the kind of stuff Hubro excels in.

Susanna Gartmayer & Christof Kurzmann - Little Rage [Klanggalerie/Bandcamp]
Austrian electronic musician Christof Kurzmann bridges the divide between experimental improvised music and electronica, with many projects over a decades-long career. He has a wonderful indietronic/jazz ensemble The Magic I.D. with experimental singer/songwriter Margareth Kammerer and two avant-garde clarinettists, but this new project finds him working with bass clarinettist Susanna Gartmayer, who uses extended techniques to create drones and overtones as well as melodies (and I note plays with The Vegetable Orchestra with Ulrich Troyer, among others), in combination with Kurzmann's loops, samples, processing and voice. Their album Smaller Sad as beautiful as it is challenging, really something else.

Phaeton - Silverback [Oxtail Recordings]
Following clarinet with oboe, played here by Luke Gallagher alongside his brother Matthew on synthesizer for their project Phaeton on Oxtail Recordings. Oboe is not always the most forgiving instrument, but in these siblings' hands it's the perfect melodic instrument for these slow-moving, bubbling, kosmische electronic pieces inspired as much by ecology and evolutionary biology as they are by the usual new age concepts of ambient music.

Erland Dahlen - Desert [Hubro/Bandcamp]
Erland Dahlen - Monkey [Hubro/Bandcamp]
Erland Dahlen - Bones [Hubro/Bandcamp]
Back to Norway and Hubro, with some more jazz-inspired postrock (or is it the other way round?) from the excellent drummer Erland Dahlen. His four albums all cover similar territory to the latest, Bones - expansive and percussive, with melodies from the whistling musical saw and countless other musical instruments and found objects, along with drum machines and electronic production. It's stirring and cinematic, an abundant sound created by one guy.

Kcin - Global South [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]
Sydney drummer & live electronic musician Nick Meredith has been promising the debut album proper from Kcin for a while now, and it's coming out from Spirit Level... soon? We now have the first single "Global South" from Decade Zero, a thumping number drawing on the revolutionary, much-needed politics of Naomi Klein.

Xani - Injured Animal [Xani Bandcamp]
Xani - Fragmented [Xani Bandcamp]
Melbourne violinist Xani Kolac has made her mark on Melbourne's indie and folk music scene as part of The Twoks and playing with many other musicians, and has released three albums of excellent instrumental music. Her new album for 2020, From the Bottom of the Well sees her finding her songwriting & singing voice, but for Utility Fog I'm drawn again to the instrumental tracks. We've had quite a percussive show and "Injured Animal" features the drumming of Brooke Custerson along with lots of lovely violin effects and processing; "Fragmented" is a whispy piece with Erica Tucceri's flute joining Xani's violin.

Gregory Paul Mineeff - Dimanche [Cosmicleaf Records]
After a few mostly piano-based tracks from Wollongong musician Gregory Paul Mineeff, his new single "Dimanche" is a little bit of blissful Sunday synth work. A talented artist floating mostly under the radar - you can find a lot of singles and an album or two on Cosmicleaf's Bandcamp.

Subespai - City Circles (excerpt) [chemical imbalance]
Here's an excerpt from a new work composed by Sydney musician Mauri Edo aka Subespai for the 2020 Australasian Computer Music Conference. Released by chemical imbalance, City Circles buries evocative field recordings of an unnamed city with pure, enveloping, pulsating drones.

part timer - donut day for victoria [part timer bandcamp]
part timer - quiet streets after 9 [part timer bandcamp]
The return of part timer in 2020, the folktronic/ambient project of UK-born, Melbourne-based John McCaffrey, was sudden but unrelenting. It's like the mid-2000s again, when John would send me music every week or so, and I'd faithfully play glitchy pieces of sampled acoustic instruments and clunky beats. Now he's taken to the piano, playing exquisite little études alongside his subtle, scratchy electronics. He's quite unfairly talented, but who can deny the pleasure of a Melbourne musician celebrating the end of their gruelling lockdown? These Satie-inspired pieces are enchanting.

Listen again — ~204MB

Comments Off on Playlist 08.11.20

Sunday, 1st of November, 2020

Playlist 01.11.20 (10:24 pm)

Trying to fit everything in tonight, whether it's creepy collage, contemporary classical, idm, bass-led dancefloor sounds, or various forms of songwriting.

LISTEN AGAIN to everything, whether stream on demand from FBi, or podcast right here.

Black To Comm - Oocyte Oil [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Black To Comm - Cheap Trick [Dekorder/Cellule 75]
Black To Comm - 39 [Dekorder/Cellule 75]
Mouchoir Étanche - Argent de rêve [Dekorder/Bandcamp]
Black To Comm - Rataplan, Rataplan, Rataplan (Arms and Legs Flying in the Air) [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
As Black To Comm, Hamburg-based sound-artiist Marc Richter released one of the albums of 2019 with Seven Horses For Seven Kings, the culmination of over a decade of great hallucinatory releases on labels like Type, Dekorder and De Stijl. The work is now followed by Oocyte Oil and Stolen Androgens, an album that comes with little contextualisation but once again works as high art music and low culture, spun from collaged samples and unsettling ambiences. I love how the piano follows the spoken word in the last track. Meanwhile, as usual Richter is so busy that he's overflowing into other places. A few years ago, Black To Comm was supplemented by the You Tube-sampling vaporwavey project Jemh Circs. Now comes Mouchoir Étanche, which translates as "waterproof handkerchief". I'm not sure how much this music differs from core Black To Comm - but simultaneously with the Mouchoir Étanche album Une fille pétrifiée comes another BTC album, A C of M. Both play up the more absurdist, surrealist aspects of Richter's work, and as a set, all three albums are highly rewarding.

Bridget Chappell - Birrarung Marr [Heavy Machinery Records/Bandcamp]
Bridget Chappell - Freshwater Falls [Heavy Machinery Records/Bandcamp]
Last time we heard Naarm/Melbourne artist Bridget Chappell on the show it was for the ute-sampling deconstructed jungle breaks of "Toyota", under their Hextape alias. Now their new project Undertow is released under their own name on adventurous Melbourne label Heavy Machinery Records. This work was commissioned by the City of Melbourne and uses their Open Data Platform to sonify contemporary & historical data about water management, along with manipulated samples of the Federation Bells in Birrarung Marr Park. The location of the Federation Bells was once underwater, and the colonial aspects of water management can't be ignored, as well as the environmental aspects. Colonialism and climate change are central to Chappell's practice, and it's great hearing these come out alongside Chappell's cello playing and love of rave & industrial beats.

Autechre - DekDre Scap B [Warp]
Autechre - marhide [Warp]
Everyone knows that Autechre albums need to be followed by a second album (even if it's sometimes called an EP), and after a period of weird sprawling non-album creations (which I thought were excellent), here we have PLUS following hot on the heels of SIGN. It's been a while since Ae's stuff was genuinely surprising, and nothing here or on SIGN sounds that different from anything they've done 10 years really - but they were so far ahead of the curve for so long that that hardly matters. There's head-nodding beats, gritty textures, beautiful meandering melodies, and to me there's a bit more edge to this than the other album. I'm happy!

tsx x psygod - silberringe swud [generate + test]
I've mentioned recently that those pioneers of '90s glitch Farmers Manual have of late taken to Bandcamp with a vengeance, sticking up archival works galore and making creative use of the digital platform - something not unforeign to them, as they infamously loosed days' worth of live recordings on the web decades ago. Releasing other people's music is not foreign to them either, and generate + test is the latest venture. Here we have tsx, which is a solo incarnation of FM's Oswald Berthold, creating glitchy drum machine tunes created solely on mobile, with various collaborators. I have no info on "psygod", but this is a nice bit of quasi-glitch-hop.

Mutant Joe - Masquerading as Matter [Mutant Joe Bandcamp]
Mutant Joe - Boom, Drop [Natural Sciences]
Mutant Joe - Atrophy [Mutant Joe Bandcamp]
Only just twigging to the work of Brisbane's Mutant Joe, who now has a few releases on international labels, at the ripe old age of 20. It's awesome that there's an Aussie producer, not from Sydney or Melbourne (or Perth), doing absolutely on-point leftfield dancefloor music, and it's a super interesting mix too. Bass music is at the core, whether it's southern US-style hip-hop or jungle/dubstep/garage mutations. A new EP, Cortisol just dropped on his Bandcamp, and earlier this year Manchester label Natural Sciences released the album Vagrant.

ETCH - Naitsri Complex [Seagrave/Bandcamp]
UK producer ETCH loves the UK bass music continuum, as does the ever-reliable Seagrave Records, and they've teamed up for ETCH's latest album, Strange Days, which covers breakbeats at all tempos. "Naitsri Complex" is the most jungle-like, but there's much slower and everything in between.

Smurphy - Instinct [Bokeh Versions/Bandcamp]
UPGRAYEDD SMURPHY - I love you [Smurphy Bandcamp]
Smurphy - Intellect [Bokeh Versions/Bandcamp]
Under the name Smurphy, Mexican producer Jessica García has been making psychedelic, dub-influenced sounds for some time. She moved to LA for a time, moved back to Mexico in 2017, changed the name to UPGRAYEDD SMURPHY for a time and then back, and has been absorbing and recombining the sounds of UK bass/dancefloor music, juke, and techno over the last few years. Along with net releases like Sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you, in 2018 she created the 20-minute rave journey #InterDimensionalMagic for Sydney's Longform Editions, which I strongly recommend grabbing too. Her newest EP is released by Bristol dub/not-dub label Bokeh Versions and draws significantly from juke among her various interests. Label proceeds will be donated to Eden Reforestation Projects, who work with impoverished people to address global deforestation.

exael - Circle (Squishy Mix) [Berlin Atonal/Bandcamp]
Aho Ssan + Exzald S - Wondertomb [Berlin Atonal/Bandcamp]
In this age of no clubs, Berlin Atonal have re-ignited their record label with a massive 5x12" compilation called More Light. I understand that it's big and supports the club (and artists), but the digital is still insanely expensive on Bandcamp - but I noticed it's considerably cheaper at Boomkat for some reason. It's a helluva selection of artists, worth a good look over. While I wasn't that excited about a few contributions from generally great artists, there's some brilliant stuff all the same, such as the bumpy bass number from exael. Teaming up with French sound-artist Aho Ssan, whose Simulacrum on Subtext Recordings was an early 2020 highlight, is Exzald S, French singer who used to be known as Fawkes. Their track is like a more abstract Kate Bush through a deconstructed club lens...

Lack The Low - Know What It's Like [Provenance/Bandcamp]
Kat Hunter aka Lack The Low has just gone through Melbourne's extended, life-sapping lockdown - an incredibly successful feat at squashing a scary second wave, but one that took a huge toll on the citizens. "Know What It's Like" is a one-off song that Provenance are releasing next week, in which Hunter layers and layers her violin under an emotional vocal about human connection.

shoeb ahmad - hipless [Shoeb Ahmad Bandcamp]
shoeb ahmad - bloodwork [Shoeb Ahmad Bandcamp]
This coming Friday also sees the release of Shoeb Ahmad's follow-up album to her acclaimed 2018 album "quiver". Unlike "quiver"'s pared-back indie-punk production (as pared-back as Sia will get), a body full of tears brings the full arsenal of distortion, industrial beats, processed guitars and misused keyboards, to underscore (and overwhelm) songs about about identity. It's possible to identify her love of artists as wide as Hood, Fennesz, Primal Scream and Andy Stott in here, but it's deeply personal work that reflects a musical history that's all her own.

epic45 - Rainstorm Breaks [Wayside & Woodland/Bandcamp]
epic45 - Buildings Aren't Haunted, People Are [Wayside & Woodland/Bandcamp]
The second album for 2020 from UK's epic45 sees them returning to the indietronica-meets-postrock-meets-electronica of their England Fallen Over era - a little more upbeat than they've been of late, partially due to the full membership of drummer James Yates (who's worked with The Declining Winter among others). The Hood influence looms large, with the twisted junglism of "Rainstorm Breaks" reminiscent of Hood's Chris Adams' early work as Downpour - but elsewhere there's that melodic sensibility which makes epic45 a favourite among many indie types. A very strong album.

Sam Amidon - Reuben [Nonesuch/Bandcamp]
Nico Muhly - The Only Tune III (feat. Sam Amidon) [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
Sam Amidon - How Come That Blood [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
Sam Amidon - Walkin' Boss [Nonesuch/Bandcamp]
Sam Amidon - Warren [Nonesuch/Bandcamp]
Sam Amidon - Maggie [Nonesuch/Bandcamp]
In 2007, Sam Amidon released his first album on Icelandic label Bedroom Community - at the time a seeming anomaly of (wonderful) American/Appalachian folk music on this classical/experimental electronic label. But it wasn't long until the relationship made a lot of sense: he appeared on Bedroom Community composer Nico Muhly's second album, with a stunning piece mixing a fragmented folk tune with minimalist composition and glitchy collage techniques; and Muhly's orchestrations joined Shahzad Ismaily's instrumentation and Valgeir Sigurðsson's production on the stunning second album I see the sign. Even as he's moved to the Nonesuch label and at times leaned more on the traditional folk/country/folk-rock arrangements, experimentation hasn't been far from Amidon's work. So with his self-titled new album, he again takes a set of traditional American tunes and underscores them with subtle electronics or hypes up the weirdness. It helps that he's a tremendously talented singer and musician - now with a fantastic body of work.

Listen again — ~207MB

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