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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, 31st of January, 2021

Playlist 31.01.21 (9:15 pm)

Anti-colonial doom, displaced junglism, canonical indietronica, jazzy dubstep and field recording processing tonight, but starting with the iconic SOPHIE, who very tragically passed away yesterday.

LISTEN AGAIN, and take me with you... stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

SOPHIE - Faceshopping [MSMSMSM/future classic/Transgressive]
SOPHIE - UNISIL [Numbers/Bandcamp]
As I started putting together the selections for tonight's show, I already was planning to play SOPHIE, whose early single BIPP has just been remixed by Autechre, and the b-side UNISIL is an excellent unreleased IDM-ish track from the same era. But then yesterday, unimaginably awful news started to come out, eventually confirmed by those close to the artist: when climbing on to the roof her house in Greece to watch the full moon, SOPHIE slipped and fell to her death. Such a sudden and meaningless death is hard to process, and SOPHIE is very important to many people - as a pioneer of glossy, glitchy hyperpop, and importantly as an out trans woman. My heart goes out to all who are hit badly by the loss of a lovely talented soul.

Gooooose - Ion [Super Hexagon]
Christoph De Babalon - The Legendary Sleep [Super Hexagon]
Leeds-based music night and record label Super Hexagon start 2021 with a compilation called Rondogs Vol. 1, collecting experimental electronic artists from near & far ranging from ambient to idm, acid to jungle, and passing on all profits to the Winchester-based Key Changes Music Therapy, using music to help the most vulnerable. Among some corkers, Shanghai's Gooooose contributes beautiful layered classical music samples and pulsating synths, while Berlin's Christoph De Babalon brings his classic digital hardcore stylings with an exclusive cut of his signature dark classical samples and heavy-duty jungle/drum'n'bass.

Gallery S - The Junglist [Gallery S/MoMA Ready Bandcamp]
Gallery S - Heavens Gate [Gallery S/MoMA Ready Bandcamp]
Wyatt D. Stevens releases music both as MoMA READY and Gallery S, as well as running the HAUS of ALTR label. He's instrumental in New York's underground dance music scene, and joyfully mashes up influences from classic house & techno, idm and healthy slabs of classic jungle. In the past, releases have mixed everything up, but of late he's seemingly separating the genres somewhat - meaning that the latest Gallery S album The Many Hands of God is pure jungle goodness of an early '90s nature, free-flowing breaks, bass drops and vocal snippets at the ready. It's a true delight.

Manslaughter 777 - ARC [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
the body - Eschatological Imperative [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
the body - A Lament [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
So here's a strange segue. From jungle to doom metal in one fell swoop. For a long time, the blackened doom metal of Chip King & Lee Buford's the body has been tempered & amplified by electronics - sub-bass, crunches & glitches, drum machines and so on. Amen breaks even appeared on a 2018 track from their collaboration with Uniform, and on last year's phenomenal collaboration with MSC (previously aka Braveyoung) I Don't Ever Want To Be Alone. Now in March, the body's Lee Buford and MSC's Zac Jones team up as Manslaughter 777 for an album that makes explicit the jungle, dub & hip-hop influences, World Vision Perfect Harmony, while remaining dark as heck. But a preview of that aside, it's the new body album I've Seen All I Need To See that's the focus tonight. Here the duo strip back to the essentials - no vocals from Chrissy Wolpert & the Assembly of Light Choir or other frequent collaborators, no electronics except the studio magic of Seth Manchester from Machines With Magnets, who ensures that the guitar & drums are distorted to within an inch of their lives. This is the music of decay, with King's usual high-pitched, gargled shrieks mixed back within the grotesque sounds, which occasionally crash so intensely into the tapes that the entire mix stutters into oblivion (or so they've arranged it). I feared that this album would lose some of the creative magic the band have exhibited over the last 5-10 years, but it's the perfect complement to and culmination of this adventure. Long may they horrify us.

Divide and Dissolve - Oblique [Invada/Bandcamp]
Divide and Dissolve - Mental Gymnastics [Invada/Bandcamp]
Using doom metal as the energy for political change is what Divide and Dissolve are all about. The duo of Takiaya Reed (of Black/Cherokee background) & Sylvie Nehill (of Māori background) aim to dismantle white supremacy, and spread their message through righteously heavy music. As heard at times on their previous albums, as well as the downtuned guitar noise, Takiaya Reed plays a beautiful saxophone, and her dimished intervals and minor-key melodies grace the opening & closing of many tracks on their stunning breakthrough third album Gas Lit, released internationally through Invada. There's also spoken word from Minori Sanchiz-Fung, and "Mental Gymnastics" abandons the noise almost entirely for saxophone and threads of feedback. It's early in 2021, but this album is going echo through the whole year.

Party Dozen - The Worker [GRUPO/Bandcamp]
Speaking of righteous saxophone and drums, here's the latest single from Kirsty Tickle, shouting & singing into her blasting saxophone, and Jonathan Boulet as Party Dozen. They seem to be taking it a single track at a time at the moment, and this one comes with a kickass video too.

The Notwist - Al Sur feat. Juana Molina [Morr Music/Bandcamp]
The Notwist - Moron [Big Store]
The Notwist - This Room [City Slang/Domino/Bandcamp]
13&god - janu are [Alien Transistor/Anticon/Bandcamp]
The Notwist - Al Norte [Morr Music/Bandcamp]
The Notwist - Into Love / Stars [Morr Music/Bandcamp]
The Notwist - Exit Strategy To Myself [Morr Music/Bandcamp]
It's impossible to overstate how important The Notwist are to me and to this show. While their origins are in a kind of clean-voiced punk, within a couple of albums influences from jazz, postrock and electronic music filtered in. They're central players in one branch of indietronica, and various members' work runs into IDM, dub and jazzy postrock. In fact the second track I played, from 1998's Shrink, is a lovely piece of postrocky jazz in (to me) a classic German fashion, foreshadowing some of the members' work in Tied & Tickled Trio; meanwhile from the classic, important 2003 album Neon Golden we heard a piece of drum'n'bass-meets-indie rock... And in the '00s the members also collaborated with core Anticon members doseone and Jel for that indietronica/indie-hip-hop crossover we absolutely needed.
So here they are in 2021 with a new album, Vertigo Days, showing they haven't lost any of their energy and creativity. It draws a lot on the extended modular/krautrocky jams of their live shows over the last few years, and I finished up with the segue of the first three tracks on the album. There are also many collaborations, and the track with the wonderful Juana Molina could easily be one of her own songs, but it's lovely hearing the two iconic artists working together! An absolute joy.

Silkie - What You Want [Deep Medi/Bandcamp]
Silkie - Beauty [Deep Medi/Bandcamp]
Silkie - Taxi Mi Get [Deep Medi/Bandcamp]
Silkie - Cascada [Anarchostar/Bandcamp]
Silkie - Leave It [Deep Medi/Bandcamp]
Dubstep has been important to Utility Fog for a long time too, and one of the greatest musicians in the dubstep sphere is undoubtedly Silkie, whose brings a lush jazz sensibility to his chord sequences and melodies, even at the most "core dubstep", and easily slips into the jazz-funk stratosphere at times too. His 2015 album Fractals was the only one not released on the great Deep Medi (who released the great City Limits Volumes 1 & 2 and various 12"s as well) - it came out on Distal's Anarchostar and often leaves dubstep's waters altogether for purple funk & fusion - but with Panorama and some 12"s preceding it, he's back with Deep Medi for head-nods, skanks and delicious jazz soul.

Ai Yamamoto - Late morning - Remote learning and house chores, remote working (washing machine, vacuum cleaner, printing, typing, clicking, pencil, paper, cup, glass bottle) [Room40/Bandcamp]
Ai Yamamoto - Gigi's lullaby (cat purr and melody with wine bottle) [Room40/Bandcamp]
Nobody could quite have pulled off the iso album with the same delicacy and panache as Melbourne-based Ai Yamamoto has with her Pan De Sonic - Iso, released on Room40's Someone Good imprint this week. All the sounds come from field recordings taken in her family home during Melbourne's marathon lockdown last year, and they mostly evoke a peaceful intimacy, and a creative spirit doing its very finest with what it's been given. The source sounds are delightfully documented for each track, which Yamamoto adroitly maneuvres between direct reproduction and field recordings processed & arranged into rhythms and touching melodies. Despite the podcast excerpt at the very start, it's not gimmicky at all, but rather a very human piece of life-as-art.

Listen again — ~210MB


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