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experimental electronica
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Utility Fog

Your weekly fix of postfolkrocktronica, dronenoise, power ambient, post-everything improv... and more?
Sunday nights from 9 to 11pm on FBi Radio, 94.5 FM in Sydney, Australia.

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Sunday, 10th of January, 2021

Playlist 10.01.21 (6:54 pm)

Here we are in 2021, and things are weird. But then, it's a weird ol' world! So here's some weird ol' music for it.

LISTEN AGAIN before you gotta keep up! Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

downy - adaptation [Rhenium Records/Bandcamp]
downy - 酩酊フリーク (Meitei Furi) [Felicity]
downy - 時雨前 (Before Shiguremae) Taigen Kawabe remix [Felicity]
downy - 角砂糖 (Sugar Cube) [Rhenium Records/Bandcamp]
I've been a fan of the uncategorisable Japanese band (a common refrain!) downy for some time, but I think the way I discovered them and eventually sourced their back catalogue on CD meant that I haven't played them here before. They have roots in a kind of angular hardcore, but are also quite postrock/math rock, and have increasingly incorporated electronic elements into their music - especially after they reformed in 2013 after a long break. In 2014 they released a remix album, from which we heard a track reworked by Bo Ningen's Taigen Kawabe. Singer Robin Aoki sounds strangely like Thom Yorke, and sometimes sings in English, but often evoking a strange sensation of hearing English but not understanding it. His brother Yutaka Aoki, the band's guitarist, tragically passed away 2 years ago from cancer. In 2020 they released their 7th album (as usual named 無題, i.e. "Untitled"), with a familiar mix of interlocking riffs, punk-funk basslines, weird rhythmic samples and textural elements.

vvhy - Interstellar Sync [The Collection Artaud/Bandcamp]
The latest release on Berlin-based Yu Miyashita (aka Yaporigami)'s label The Collection Artaud is in some ways the usual idm-influenced jittery electronic music, but it also incorporates vocals. With little info to go on, I'm assuming vvhy is a female Japanese producer - or it could be a duo. Both tracks are really nice anyway.

deftones - RX Queen (Salva remix) [Reprise Records]
deftones - Pink Maggit (Squarepusher remix) [Reprise Records]
Who would've thought that I'd be playing the deftones on Utility Fog? Not me, but then again they're actually great. Still, with the 20th anniversary of their excellent White Pony album comes a remix album, Black Stallion. Apparently back in the day they'd wanted DJ Shadow to remix the whole thing, but if never came to pass. Shadow is indeed on here, along with artists old & new - it's great to see Clams Casino turn up, noisemeister Blanck Mass, and major deftones influence and self-remixer Robert Smith of The Cure. But I found Paul Salva Jr's remix one of the standouts, with heavy beats and all sounds majorly messed with. And then there's ol' buddy Squarepusher, remixing my favourite track. At first it's like, is this a remix at all? And then the vocals are glitched and then everything stutters for a while, and we get some fine Jenkinsonian drill'n'bassism, followed by nearly 3 minutes of blissed outro. This is good, very good.

Skeletons - THE EDGE [Shinkoyo]
Skeletons and the Kings of All Cities - Hay W'Happns? [Ghostly International/Skeletons Bandcamp]
Skeletons - L'il Rich [Shinkoyo/Crammed]
Uumans - When U Coming Out? [Shinkoyo/Uumans Bandcamp]
Skeletons - World Famous Original [Shinkoyo]
It's lovely to welcome back Skeletons to Utility Fog's playlists. Mostly the work of Matt Mehlan, it's a project that's morphed over the years in various ways, sometimes as Skeletons & the Girl-Faced Boys, or Skeletons and the Kings of All Cities - but always around weird, epic, ramshackle songwriting from Mehlan, with arrangements ranging from freak folk and indie to quite electronic, especially with the fantastic side project Uumans around 2014. There was a Skeletons album in 2016, and a soloish Mehlan album recently too, but then in late 2020 came If The Cat Come Back, in which Mehlan weaves strange songs around the homemade instruments of Shinkoyo-label associate Peter Blasser, particular the Shtar, an electronically-augmented Persian tar. Hence the strange tunings - it's based around a 17-tone equal temperament scale, which makes for awkward listening at times, but Skeletons have never been ones for compromise. There's a lot of brilliance all through the back catalogue!

Alister Spence Trio with Ed Kuepper - And Set the Sun [Alister Spence Bandcamp]
Alister Spence Trio with Ed Kuepper - Not a Leaf in Any Forest [Alister Spence Bandcamp]
Such an interesting combination here - Alister Spence Trio features not just the great jazz pianist Spence but also fantastic drummer Toby Hall and the one & only Lloyd Swanton (The Necks) on bass. Hearing them team up with Ed Kuepper on guitar is not as surprising as it might seem - Kuepper's career has spanned punk, post-punk and indie rock, but there's been a lot of jazz throughout, whether the raucous energy of the Laughing Clowns or the expansiveness of a lot of his solo work (sometimes joined by The Necks' Chris Abrahams). The music on this new double CD Asteroid Ekosystem has the melodic magic of Spence's writing, some great basslines, and drones and riffs. It melds together in a very satisfying way.

Candlesnuffer - Opal Walls, Pumice Chin [Room40/Bandcamp]
David Brown is an essential member of Melbourne's experimental scene, whether under his own name in various combinations, or in his unique guitar mangling as Candlesnuffer. This recent album Eggs from a Varnished Chest on Room40 was recorded with Melbourne producer Myles Mumford, whose touch can heard throughout, but still the solo sounds coaxed and layered from his guitar are quite astounding across the various tracks on this release.

Gregory Paul Mineeff - On Beginnings [Cosmicleaf Records]
2020 was a big year for Wollongong pianist Gregory Paul Mineeff, with an album of synth & tape manipulations and various singles of post-classical piano and electronics. He finished the year with this single track, "On Beginnings", very pretty musings on where he's gotten to, and promises another electronic album soon I believe.

Mondrian Forgery - The Wind And The Noise [4-4-2 Music]
Mondrian Forgery - That Dream Celebration In Your Eyes [4-4-2 Music]
This cheeky music is the second from the artist calling himself Mondrian Forgery - actually the very real visual artist Adrian Elmer, also boss of 4-4-2 Music and a core member of the great Sydney indie/folktronica band Telafonica. As Mondrian Forgery he joyfully plunders a century of jazz music - previously into 4/4 house patterns, but here it's hip-hop, from old school trip-hop to more contemporary-sounding skittery 808 beats. On the first track tonight Chet Baker bumps up against Public Enemy & Anthrax, while the second has a stack of samples including Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Madlib and more.

Muqata'a - Dirasat 'Ulya دِراسات عُليا [Hundebiss Records/Muqata'a Bandcamp]
Palestinian producer Muqata'a is part of the Ramallah Underground Collective and member of the multimedia group Tashweesh, and his beats are fantastic glitchy concoctions of Arabic samples and electronics. His new album Kamil Manqus is coming out in February on Italian label Hundebiss, including a limited vinyl edition, and uses the voices of his ancestors through the Arabic alchemical science of Simya'. The title hints at the idea of perfection through imperfection. Can't wait for the rest of the tracks!

3Phaz - babababababawar [Nashazphone/Bandcamp]
From December 2020, Egyptian label Nashazphone released a fantastic, noisy compilation called This is Cairo Not The Screamers in which the cream of Cairo electronic musicians (There's Nadah El-Shazly! And ZULI!) remix Egyptian Shaabi tracks in full-on fashion. It's really great - here I'm showcasing 3Phaz, who I've encountered on a few compilations - heavy, crunchy bass overdrive.

Raed Yassin - The Cyber Oracle [Akuphone/Bandcamp]
In strangely similar fashion, here's the Raed Yassin, a key figure in the Lebanese musical underground, creating new music from old on his album Archeophony. Here the source material is old ethnomusicology recordings made by Westerners between the '50s and '80s, a sincere but colonialist endeavour divorcing the music from its cultural setting, and its creators from their own work... Yassin is in a way reclaiming this music, albeit while further anonymising the source material, and adding his own performances on top on double bass, zither, synths and turntables. It's hallucinatory, noisy at times, and beautiful.

Listen again — ~209MB

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