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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, 28th of February, 2021

Playlist 28.02.21 (9:40 pm)

Dark, heavy, rhythmic is the flavour of the day tonight - not necessarily all three at the same time, but that's mostly where we're at.

LISTEN AGAIN to the river of dread... Stream on demand from FBi or podcast here.

Senyawa - Menuju Muara [a whole host of labels]
Senyawa - Alkisah II [a whole host of labels]
Senyawa - Menuju Muara (Zaliva-D Remix) [MOUHOI/Qiii Snacks/WV Sorcerer Productions]
Senyawa - Alkisah II (Jad Atoui Remix) [Annihaya/Ruptured]
Senyawa - Kabau (1800s Internet Remix) [Drowned By Locals]
Indonesian duo Senyawa's new album Alkisah comes with the motto "DECENTRALIZATION SHOULD BE THE FUTURE". The album has just been released across the whole world with the collaboration of something like 44 different labels - including among those I didn't end up playing tonight, Melbourne's Silent Army Records and Bristol's Avon Terror Corps. Many of the editions come with locally-produced remixes, some are released in cassette, vinyl or CD editions, some are digital-only. The album proper is phenomenal. Rully Shabara's vocals are imposing and thrilling, and Wukir Suryadi's homemade instruments and noise-makers produce a fantastic doomy racket - all of which lends plenty of stirring material for people across the globe to get their teeth into. "Once Upon A Time" is the rough translation, a story of impending doom and what comes next... Part of what comes next is this decentralized, democratic distribution system Senyawa have devised, with the enthusiasm of creatives all round the world. There's even collaboration at the release level - the "CN Edition" is released by three labels in conjunction: on cassette from Hong Kong's MOUHOI, digitally through Qiii Snacks, and vinyl plus remix CD through WV Sorcerer Productions. Familiar & unfamiliar names from the Chinese electronic & noise scenes are here, and Zaliva-D keep surprisingly true to the original song's spirit while adding industrial techno momentum. The "Beirut Edition" meanwhile comes from two great experimental Lebanese labels - Annihaya & Ruptured - and is again consistenly excellent. Jad Atoui's remix is a kind of minimalist skittery idm piece. And not far away in Ammar, Jordan, is Drowned By Locals, whose "DBL Edition" brings artists from Jordan, Egypt and other nearby locales, here represented by 1800s Internet - both these editions draw interesting comparisons between Senyawa's Indonesian traditions and these labels' regions.

dirty pictures - peeling off [Mille Plateaux]
dirty pictures - linn [Mille Plateaux]
Russian musician Lëps Dubasov has a background in punk/industrial bands. With Dirty Pictures he debuts with Segregation for the Mille Plateaux label. It starts off as if it's going to be doom or drone metal, but within a few tracks it turns out that's a slight misdirect, as we start to hear stretched-out piano, fluttery synth sequences and flittering acoustic sounds. There's surprising beauty in here among the "Ultrablackness" the label copy touts.

Tomoko Mukaiyama / Yannis Kyriakides - Ito Rumba [Tomoko/Yannis Kyriakides Bandcamp]
I've been a longtime fan of the Netherlands-based Greek Cypriot composer Yannis Kyriakides, whose contemporary composition for orchestras, choirs and smaller ensembles is often augmented and disturbed by electronic processsing and sampling. He also has a longtime duo with the brilliant guitarist Andy Moor of The Ex, with whom he co-runs the Unsounds label. This new work, La Mode, was conceived of and commissioned by the Dutch-Japanese pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama, originally as a multimedia performance. The work juxtaposes the closed world of classically-composed piano with the rhythmic dance music often found in fashion shows - the beats are particularly prominent in this track, with the piano mostly a source of distorted, splintered sound. I would have loved to fit in a longer piece with more piano, but you'll just have to check it out yourself.

Mouse On Mars - The Latent Space [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Mouse On Mars - Artificial Authentic [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
The new album from veteran German electronic duo Mouse On Mars (over 25 years now!) is not that surprising musically, with familiar squelchy MoM synths and melodies at times, along with lots of skittery beats. What makes it different is the theme of "Anarchic Artificial Intelligence" (the titular AAI), which turns up in various disembodied voices which are actually artificially generated, discussing the development of AIs into the future, as they learn conscience, empathy, and become "anarchic", in the sense of being unpredictable. It's a lot to take in - but it's also pretty fun music if you just want to enjoy it on that level.

Fire! - Each Millimeter of the Toad, Part 1 [Rune Grammofon]
Fire! - Each Millimeter of the Toad, Part 2 [Rune Grammofon]
Every album by the Swedish free jazz ensemble Fire! is different - although all have the core of Jonas Berthling's basslines, Andreas Werliin's steady and free-flowing drums, and the noisemaking of saxophonist Mats Gustafsson. On their latest, Defeat, the cathartic crescendos of the linked Fire! Orchestra are tamped down mostly, with only a couple of guest horn players used sparingly. Gustafsson often plays flute rather than sax - a revelation - as well as his electronic noisemakers. But the payoffs are plenty. "Free jazz" it may be, but Fire! is one of the most easily pleasing of Gustafsson's projects, and this is a wonderful addition to their catalogue.

Tim Koch - Estranger [Central Processing Unit]
Adelaide's greatest musical export (don't quote me on this) is IDM hero Tim Koch, still going strong after over 2 decades. Here he appears on the now somewhat legendary Sheffield label Central Processing Unit for an EP of beat-heavy tracks called Tourbillon, very different from the recent granular processing of Scordatura, but displaying his talent for melody and emotion amongst the drum machines.

Dale Cornish - Reconstruct (Blademir's Is This Masculinity? Remix) [Vanity Publishing]
Dale Cornish - Suomi (Grischa Lichtenberger 0520_12_dale q7_recs_-6db Remix) [Vanity Publishing]
Lifetime Croydon resident Dale Cornish released his electroclash/club/masculinity-recontextualising album Thug Ambient last year as another left turn in a strange career ranging from the art pop of No Bra to very abstract, conceptual electronic works. The direction of Thug Ambient is now taken further with the Thug Ambient Remixes - to be clear, this isn't ambient music, on the whole. It's experimental beat stuff. That said, Happa leads the pack with his more experimental alias Blademir, with roaring drones and chopped vocal outbursts - not likely to hear this on the dancefloor. Later, Grischa Lichtenberger takes things into jungle/drill'n'bass tempo, and again nobody's gonna dance to this, except in their heads maybe. My brain cells enjoyed it thoroughly!

ASC - Forever [Auxiliary]
ASC - Cautionary Tales [Samurai Music]
Lichtenberger leads us into some real jungle & drum'n'bass now. ASC continues his forays into complex junglist breaks with the Ideasthesia EP, featuring four flowing, high-intensity tracks. As a reminder, we heard something from last year's Isolated Systems, masterful beat-juggling and slamming basslines, pure dark energy.

Holsten - Projectiles [DROOGS]
For a while now the techno/drum'n'bass crossover label UVB-76 has taken to their DROOGS sub-label for more dancefloor-oriented drum'n'bass and jungle. Holsten has appeared a few times before, and now gets his own EP, four tracks of tough beats and head-nodding basslines. Timeless quality.

Subreachers - Rev [Ruff Cutz]
Finally on the drum'n'bass tip, Manchester label Ruff Cutz brings us breakbeat madness from Belgian bass producer Subreachers, who moved from dubstep origins into drum'n'bass, and really chops & shuffles these breaks, while keeping it held down in the sub-bass region.

Whisper Room - Lunokhod03 [Midira Records/Bandcamp]
Aidan Baker can be relied on to pump out releases every year, and whether it's the doomy slo-mo metal of Nadja, or any of his other ambient/flittery/postrock/electronic projects, it will all be high quality. I do have a particular fondness for Whisper Room though, with sound-artist Neil Wieirnik on bass and brilliant drummer Jakob Thiesen bringing a skittery krautrock energy. All three also contribute electronics, and on Lunokhod they're joined by Robin Buckley on additional percussion, and Scott Deathe on additional electronics. Despite the number of members, the sound remains surprisingly sparse, with Baker's drones and Thiesen's drumming (mixed quite far back) still the main focus. Dreamy half-focused whispery music.

Listen again — ~201MB

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Sunday, 21st of February, 2021

Playlist 21.02.21 (11:11 pm)

Electronic craziness galore tonight - from broken-down club sounds, ambient glitch & idm through musique concrète and acousmatic music, and folktronica.

LISTEN AGAIN to the electronically reproduced sound... Stream on demand with FBi, podcast here.

266sx - UN VELETA [Ascetic House/Bandcamp]
266sx - chino burbank van nuys [Ascetic House/Bandcamp]
We're starting tonight with a few selections from the 2020 batch of releases from Ascetic House, the brilliant Tempe, AZ-based label which puts out batches of releases each year that can be anything from punk to techno to idm & glitch, always with a fantastic visual aesthetic and always forward-thinking musically. Their Twitter account, run by J.S. Aurelius, reinforces this aesthetic with on-point anti-fascist & anarchist politics. All the 2020 releases appeared on the 31st of December, strangely enough. So, first up tonight we have the work of the fairly anonymous Lázaro Común as 266sx. SOMOS TU ÚLTIMA ESPERANZA ("We are your last hope") is an all-out psychic attack of glitching ambience & beats, and even some cut-up guitar and vocals. The first track here, "UN VELETA" translates as "one candle", while the second, perhaps a clue to the artist's provenance, lists a few neighbourhoods of LA.

Baby Blue - Human [Ascetic House/Bandcamp]
Baby Blue - Tear Soaked Stone [Ascetic House/Bandcamp]
Also released on Ascetic House on December 31st is the very emotive, yet equally glitchy and electronic Death of Euphoria from Baby Blue. There's gorgeous glitched ambient textures here, and some bass & beats in the mix, along with disqueting sampled video game dialogue and more. Fantastic work from this Vancouver-based artist. More technoid, computer gamey material can be found on her own Bandcamp.

Free The Land - Permafrost Loss and bacillus anthracis outbreak in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug [Ascetic House/Bandcamp]
Our third selection from Ascetic House's end-of-2020 drop is from Free The Land, which may not seem familiar, but is in fact the work of Frederikke Hoffmeier (aka Puce Mary) and partner Jess Sanes, who have also recorded together as JH1.FS3. Under this name, their music veers a little away from their industrial/noise roots, with a suite of tracks about climate change in the far north, with field recordings and lush electronics, albeit still appropriately heavy and dark.

sunnk - weaving ritual [Mille Plateaux]
sunnk - a broken hand [Mille Plateaux]
Not too far off the sounds we've just heard is the album weaving ritual from sunnk, the third in a series of so-called "hyperglitch" releases from the new incarnation of Mille Plateaux. I'm always up for some stuttery granular electronics and what the original version of this label called "clicks & cuts", but what raises this album above the generic in this space is the piano that forms the basis of much of the chopped-up sound, and grounds the hyperactivity. There are some segments of real beauty amidst the madness.

Pierre-Luc Lecours - Impacts discrets (2014) [empreintes DIGITALes]
Now some new acousmatic, electro-acoustic work - not quite new, but not decades old either - from Montréal composer Pierre-Luc Lecours. A new album from the French label empreintes DIGITALes, dedicated to the electroacoustic, acousmatic and musique concrète forms, collects a series of four Éclats (shards) plus the work we heard tonight, "Impacts discrets", in which an artificial physical space is created, drawing from the composer's recording of snow & ice hitting the roofs of Old Quebec. In amongst the contemporary composition and academic techniques on this album appear sub-bass and percussive hits (shards?) that could be informed by the dance music strand of the last few decades of electronic music.

Bernard Parmegiani - Ponomatopées (1970) [Ina-GRM]
OK, but here's a little something from the great ground-breaking acousmatic composer Bernard Parmegiani, born in 1927. From 1970, "Ponomatopées" features garbled, cut-up liturgical voices, swathes of feedback and what sounds like a looped riff from a rock band. Forward-thinking electronic music indeed.

Patrick Charbonnier & Lionel Marchetti - Je suis gong [Lionel Marchetti Bandcamp]
And now something from the excellent contemporary composer of acousmatic & concrète works, Lionel Marchetti, along with fellow experimental musician Patrick Charbonnier. The two play a variety of instruments including clarinet, trombone, percussion, kora and other instruments from around the world, along with amplified found objects, synthesisers, tape machines and plenty of electronic treatments. The slow repetition and gradual build of this track is particularly compelling, but it's a great, immersive album.

Grasscut - Edges Of Night [Lo Recordings/Bandcamp]
Grasscut - The Tin Man [Ninja Tune]
Grasscut - Reservoir [Lo Recordings]
Grasscut - Radar [Lo Recordings/Bandcamp]
Grasscut - Coprolite Tip [Lo Recordings/Bandcamp]
It's wonderful to have a new album from English duo Grasscut. Their first album 1 inch: ½ mile came out through Ninja Tune in 2010 and sits alongside Tunng's best as perfectly poised English folktronica. They've since released 3 albums on Lo Recordings, each with evocative songwriting drawing on an English sense of place, with gorgeous orchestrations and detailed but un-showy electronics. It's primarily the work of BAFTA-nominated, Emmy-winning composer Andrew Phillips, while manager Marcus O'Dair also plays double bass and synth. All description aside, Phillips creates melodies and harmonic progressions that tug at the soul, while pulling together arrangements that use technology to hold them outside of time.

Scanner, Allen Ginsberg - Elegy for Neal Cassady (feat. Allen Ginsberg) [Allen Ginsberg Estate]
Lee Ranaldo, Thurston Moore, Allen Ginsberg - Hum Bom! (feat. Allen Ginsberg) [Allen Ginsberg Estate]
Out now digitally, with CD & vinyl editions coming on June 4th, is Allen Ginsberg's The Fall of America - a 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute, which finds a very varied cast of musicians setting Ginsberg's important suite of poems to music. The collection is dedicated to the late Hal Willner, whose brilliant curation of eclectic tribute albums no doubt inspired the artistic selections here. There are songs written to some of the poems, by the likes of Andrew Bird, Devendra Banhardt and Angelique Kidjo, but a large proportion choose to use the wonderful recordings of Ginsberg reading his own poems, interpolating his very musical spoken word into their pieces, whether it's the Americana of Bill Frisell or the electronica of Howie B with Gavin Friday, or an ambient soundscape in their recent vein by Yo La Tengo... The collection opens with a beautiful minimalist work by Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner, and later there's angular jabs from ex-Sonic Youths Lee Ranaldo, Thurston Moore. Ginsberg's poems if nothing else show that in half a century America has only progressed further in its fall...

OnominO - Masza [echogene]
From new Melbourne label echogene comes a collection of improvisations for percussion (Niko Schäuble) and modular electronics (Jon Tarry). Starting with some quite sparse pieces, the album gradually works up to dense works like "Masza", with low-end drones and burbles, and motorik drumming.

still cloud - CIRCLES [still cloud Bandcamp]
The first release from new Melbourne trio still cloud is a meditative piece for percussion, synths and guitars called "CIRCLES". Guitarist & percussionist Seth Rees is a veteran of various postrock & indie acts as well as an experimental solo artist, and here he's joined by fellow musicians Clalla and Rosa. All sing and play various instruments - hopefully more to come soon!

Sebastian Field - Yellow Hearts [Provenance Records/Bandcamp]
Taken from Provenance Records's Textures, which we also featured a couple of weeks ago, is a gorgeous piece from Canberra's Sebastian Field in which his voice and guitar are smeared into, yes, lovely textures. Seb is a lovely songwriter, but I'd gladly hear an album in this style.

part timer - time just spent staring at a monitor [part timer Bandcamp]
And finally, another EP of sad piano from Melbourne's John McCaffrey aka part timer, beautiful contemplative work with sad sampled strings adding extra colour. A lot of us can identify with the opening track, "time just spent staring at a monitor".

Listen again — ~199MB

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Sunday, 14th of February, 2021

Playlist 14.02.21 (7:42 pm)

Out-rock, punk & metal rub up with experimental electronics of various sorts tonight, along with some displaced classical instrumentation.

LISTEN AGAIN to the sounds of the collapse... Stream on demand @ FBi, podcast here.

Kevin Micka - Everybody [Kevin Micka Bandcamp]
Kevin Micka - Palate Cleanser [Kevin Micka Bandcamp]
Kevin Micka - In the Spring [Kevin Micka Bandcamp]
Better known, perhaps, as Animal Hospital, Kevin Micka has made music that's fascinated me for over a decade now - his album Memory lingers (ha) with me after almost 12 years, with glitched ambient passages and dark doomy deconstructed riffs and occasional overdriven drums. Last year Animal Hospital reappeared with the phenomenal Fatigue, as abstract-catchy as ever, but this here release is kind of same-same-but-different, as you can see from its being under his own name. There are vocals in there hinting at some kind of indie band trapped in the malfunctioning machines, but by and large it's the familiar musical ingredients from before, producing a glorious maelstrom of weirdness.

DEAFKIDS - Ato Mecânico [Deafkids Bandcamp]
DEAFKIDS - Vírus da Imagem do Ser [Neurot Recordings/Deafkids Bandcamp]
DEAFKIDS - Estímulos Alucinatórios Verbauditivos II [Neurot Recordings/Deafkids Bandcamp]
DEAFKIDS - Propaganda [Deafkids Bandcamp]
Brazilian hardcore punk/doom/electronic band DEAFKIDS have a kind of unique style, in which their heavy guitars and roaring vocals are constantly fed through glitched stuttering machines and delays in a way that's totally integrated with their songwriting and performances. This was evident on the incredible 2019 album Metaprogramação, released by the mighty Neurot Recordings - but it's super cool to see this process pulled apart for all to hear on their pandemic era EP series Ritos do Colapso. Now up to Vol III, the series showcases extended jams of processed percussion and other strange snippets of sound, as if the COVID-19-induced collapse (felt very keenly in Brazil) has directly infected their music-making.

Crass - Feeding Off The Sweat (Maral Remix) [One Little Independent Records/Crass Bandcamp]
Maral - Let the Distortion Sing [Leaving Records/Maral Bandcamp]
Maral - Lita's Song [Leaving Records/Maral Bandcamp]
The remix 7"s from legendary anarcho-punks Crass continue, and Normal Never Was IV again has two great tributes to the band's influence. One is from Paul Jamrozy of somewhat contemporaneous political industrial heads Test Dept. - but the other is from the young Iranian-American producer Maral, and it's superb in not only its collaging of Crass samples & interviews, but also its connection to her history with the band. Growing up, her parents didn't really approve of her listening to punk, so while she listened in secret in her room, the sounds of Iranian music seeped in, and that mixture of cultures is reproduced on her offering. I only discovered Maral late in 2020, so I also played a couple of tracks from her October release on Stones Throw subdivision Leaving Records.
The album Push features Maral incorporating her performances on the Iranian stringed instrument the setar into her experimental noise & dubscapes. It's fantastic.

exael - Boneheaded [Soda Gong/Bandcamp]
exael - Fig Jelly [Soda Gong/Bandcamp]
Cryptobitch - Emotet (d.Monica) [exael Bandcamp]
Naemi, known as exael and occasionally other names, has lived in Berlin for some time and floated between vaporwaveish ambient and various forms of electronic dance music. New album Flowered Knife Shadows, released by Soda Gong, leans more towards the techno and broken beats but still features haunted cyperscapes a plenty.
To lead into the next few tracks, we also heard their alter ego Cryptobitch from 2020, with some junglistic rave memories...

Double O feat. Sheba Q - God Is A Woman (Coco Bryce remix) [Western Lore]
Out last week for Bandcamp Friday was the Blunted Breaks Vol 2 LP Sampler from Dead Man's Chest's Western Lore. That mouthful implies the existence of an entire Blunted Breaks Vol 2 compilation to come, but for now we have four tracks of hardcore/jungle sounds, including this gem from Rupture London co-founder Double O and vocalist Sheba Q, remixed by Dutch producer Coco Bryce, who's been on a jungle tip of late.

Dj Scam - Sodium Pentothal [Psycho Bummer/DJ Scam Bandcamp]
The Seattle d'n'b scene is one of the stronger in the USA, and Brandon Ivers' Dj Scam is pushing the classic jungle sound with panache. Here he's inaugurating the brilliantly-named Psycho Bummer with his equally-ridiculously-named Darkside Geezer EP, channeling the hardcore-to-jungle period circa '93, from nearly 3 decades, a continent and an ocean away from its origins. It's super well done, no complaints from me!

skipism - Hammer on the table [skipism Bandcamp/the little hand of the faithful Bandcamp]
the little hand of the faithful - Aaahh much better [skipism Bandcamp/the little hand of the faithful Bandcamp]
the little hand of the faithful - Isle of Man [skipism Bandcamp/the little hand of the faithful Bandcamp]
The nicest husband & wife duo in Oz experimental music, Dru & Mitch Jones have a long association with Sydney post-industrial & electronic music through Scattered Order. Although Dru is not currently a member, her artwork has been seen since the early '80s, and her collaged approach to music easily matches Mitch's. At times the two release music as Lint, but they've also released some double solo releases such as this new one, Works Outing To Withybush, which is literally two entire full-length albums released together (which is just too sweet really!). Mitch makes the beats these days for the current trio incarnation of Scattered Order, and his deftness with sampled breaks and drum machines is evident here - in fact the second track is one of a few which seem like his take on dubstep, even boasting lovely jazzy pads and a funky disposition not that far from the sound of Silkie, who we heard a couple of weeks back. But clearly Dru's beatmaking chops are excellent too, as we hear in the rather drum'n'bassy skittery beats of "Hammer on the table".

Heliochrysum - Apex [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
L A N D - End Zone [Important Records/Bandcamp]
Heliochrysum - Forbidden Structures [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
In 2012 L A N D released their first album of industrial & jazz-tinged postrock quite reminiscent of late-period Talk Talk. Their second album came out in 2015 and was entirely the work of Daniel Lea (we heard a track tonight), and some years later Lea has now appeared as one half of Heliochrysum alongside composer Michael Deragon, who debut here with an EP on Bedroom Community. Stylistically, the rumbling bass and textures of Ben Frost (who mixed the EP and also mixed both L A N D albums) is a good reference. I'm interested to hear what comes next.

Erlend Apneseth Trio - Lokk [Hubro/Bandcamp]
Alongside Hardanger fiddle player Apneseth himself, the Norwegian Erlend Apneseth Trio feature the excellent drummer Øyvind Hegg-Lunde (quite recently found in these playlists) and sound artist & guitarist Stephan Meidell. They're one of the most interesting groups on the consistently great Hubro label, bridging the divide between folk, postrock and electronics, as can be heard on this new single which combines sampled vocal chants, electronic percussion and expansive folk melodies. Can't wait for the rest of the album.

Bell Orchestre - V Movement [Erased Tapes/Bandcamp]
Speaking of can't wait for the album, here's one I've been excited about since it was announced. Still a month or so away, Bell Orchestre's House Music sees the Toronto post-classical/postrock troupe (closely associated with the Arcade Fire) move to Erased Tapes for a long work recorded in lockdown in safe social distancing, all in one, yes, house. The excerpts so far have been stunning.

Michael Peter Olsen - MoonMist [Hand Drawn Dracula/Bandcamp]
Coincidentally sticking in Toronto, the Hand Drawn Dracula label bring us the first solo album from Toronto cellist Michael Peter Olsen, who sports the most disturbing artist photo ever, and whose passion for electric cello and cello processing is second to none (see his delightful Instagram for many examples). Michael has performed and recorded with many artists (including the Arcade Fire), but it's great to hear what he creates on his own - classically-informed, sure, with elements of drone and noise, but I've found whenever I put these tracks on they move in surprising directions every time I turn away for a second. He has a talent for sound-sculpting and also for orchestrated musical turns. I sadly didn't have time for the track "Cloud Parade" featuring the angelic vocals of Toronto singer Anna Horvath aka Merival - check out the album though.

Gareth Skinner - Subliminals [Gareth Skinner Bandcamp]
And finishing up with another cellist, this time from Melbourne. Gareth Skinner released a couple of albums and EPs with the magnificent Melbourne indie rock band bZARK in the '90s, which I will need to revisit when this album proper comes out - but since then he's produced some stunning indie rock tracks entirely performed on multi-tracked cello. After a series of soundtrack works, I'm excited that he's returning to songwriting, and although "Subliminals" apparently won't appear on the new album, it's an example of the approach. I love 2009's Looking For Vertical album and I'm so pleased there's more coming.

Listen again — ~203MB

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Sunday, 7th of February, 2021

Playlist 07.02.21 (11:33 pm)

Amazingly, it's already the second month of 2021. We're already seeing some of the most important albums of the year starting to appear - there's some gems tonight, from Palestinian glitch-hop to English postpunk postrock... and coming after another dizzying assault from the first Bandcamp Friday of the year. Strap in!

LISTEN AGAIN on roads new & old... Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Black Country, New Road - Track X [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
Jockstrap - The City [Warp/Bandcamp]
Black Country, New Road - Sunglasses [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
The debut album For the first time from English seven-piece Black Country, New Road is on everyone's lips at the moment - and it's certainly my album of the week. Melding elements of postpunk, postrock, krautrock, jazz and even klezmer, its core still rests in the sardonic songwriting and riffing of Isaac Wood. But from the angular, pent-up aggression (they've been compared to Slint enough that it's referred to in one of their songs) they weave colourful horn and string orchestrations of interlocking melodic patterns or crescendoing dischords, and songs switch on a dime between their various stylistic proclivities. There's no doubt that Wood's referential lyrics are a huge drawcard ("I am invincible in these sunglasses / I am 'modern Scott Walker' / I am a surprisingly smooth talker / And I am invincible in these sunglasses", "I'm more than adequate / Leave Kanye out of this") - but the band is populated with highly talented musicians. Indeed, when I first read up on the band, the name Georgia Ellery stood out to me - and yes, their violinist is the Georgia Ellery from the brilliant duo Jockstrap, whose releases on Warp last year floored me. Although Black Country, New Road are pretty far away from the intricate chamber pop-meets-glitchy hip-hop of Jockstrap, that association may help explain how BCNR ended up on Ninja Tune...

Adam Stone, Dead Sea Apes, Black Tempest - Shop Soiled [Feeding Tube Records/Dead Sea Apes Bandcamp]
Adam Stone, Dead Sea Apes, Black Tempest - Time To Eat Again [Feeding Tube Records/Dead Sea Apes Bandcamp]
The social commentary of Adam Stone, in spoken and sung form, has been part of many of the releases from UK psych rock/dub outfit Dead Sea Apes for a few years now. Their latest release Dataland teams band and singer up with another artist, Black Tempest aka synth player Stephen Bradbury, adding an extra krautrock throb to the proceedings, and Stone's lyrics focus on the 21st century condition.

Snowman - A [Dot Dash]
Joe McKee - Bollard Beats (Drip-Drop) [Salmon Universe/Bandcamp]
Joe McKee - Wind On The Flying Bridge [Salmon Universe/Bandcamp]
A segue here via the much-missed Perth band Snowman, whose slightly mournful kraut-psych echoes the previous tracks - but this flashback is heard tonight because we've got a new album from Snowman's Joe McKee. No songs here, and no riffs either - Ultra Letizia is named for the cargo ship that it was recorded on, on which Joe McKee travelled across the North Pacific Ocean from Japan to Vancouver. These sometimes rhythmic, sometimes hauntingly melodic pieces of music are comprised entirely of the sounds of this vessel and its journey, the blowing of the wind, the shuddering of its engine room. It's remarkably musical and very evocative work.

Mikado Koko - Two Birds [Akuphone/Bandcamp]
Crass - Asylum (Mikado Koko Remix) [One Little Independent Records/Crass Bandcamp]
Mikado Koko - The Queen Of Hearts (Alternate) [Akuphone/Bandcamp]
I discovered Mikado Koko when she remixed Crass as part of an ongoing series of remix 7"s last year - she took Eve Libertine's caustic poem "Reality Asylum" ("Jesus died for his own sins, not mine") and bolstered it with a barrage of woozy electronics. On her new album Maza Gusu ("Mother Goose"), it's her own spoken word, read with exaggerated expressiveness, that accompanies her electronics, collaging Japanese instruments, beats and synths. The words are fairy tale settings in Japanese by the famous poet Hakushu Kitahara. Fabulous.

Thugwidow - Artifice Or Skeuomorph [Thugwidow Bandcamp]
Frantic amen breaks in the "Alternate" version of Mikado Koko's last track lead into a track from one of the most prolific current-day jungle producers, Thugwidow. This atmospheric breakbeat, whose slightly slower pace evokes the time around where hardcore techno was mutating into jungle, is taken from his own Bandcamp, and it's a single track bundled as an album - maybe he'll be adding to it at some point?

Muqata'a - Bilharf Alwahad بالحَرف الواحَد [Hundebiss Records/Muqata'a Bandcamp]
Muqata'a - Al Watar Al Wiswas - الوتر الوسواس [Muqata'a Bandcamp]
Muqata'a - Tanqeeb تَنقيب [Hundebiss Records/Muqata'a Bandcamp]
I've been looking forward to the new album from Ramallah, Palestine producer Muqata'a for a few months, and it's as superb as expected - glitchy hip-hop informed by an Arabic numerological science that invokes the voices of Muqata'a's ancestors. The title Kamil Manqus كَامِل مَنْقوص refers to the perfection of imperfection - the glitchy sound is to be seen not as errors per se, but as "possible breaks in an otherwise closed system", poignant imagery from an artist in the occupied territory of Palestine.

GILA - 111 tucked [GILA Bandcamp]
For the first Bandcamp Friday of the year, Denver beatmaker GILA dropped a single track, referencing his Trench Tones from 2019. It's a smacking, head-nodding bass rhythm and I for one will welcome them whenever he wishes to put them out there.

Deadhand - Touch ft. Sensational (ETCH's Pink Ladies In Space Remix) [Seagrave/Bandcamp]
Deadhand - Meanwhile ft. Sensational [Seagrave/Bandcamp]
UK techno producers James Ruskin and Mark Broom have long had an alter ego as The Fear Ratio, under which name they release fantastic IDM/bass productions. Their Deadhand alias, previously only used for a remix or two, is reserved for crunchy hip-hop, and steps out now with an EP for the ever-excellent Seagrave. Many tracks feature DJ Prime Cuts of the Stratch Perverts, and the legendary MC and frequent IDM-collaborator Sensational appears on all tracks. Among the remixers is the chameleonic ETCH, who's comfortable in all UK breaks & rave styles, and lends some bass weight to one of the selections here.

Kcin & Tilman Robinson - Go Be Free Then [Provenance Records/Bandcamp]
LOUV - In the Form of a Prayer [Provenance Records/Bandcamp]
Provenance Records, founded by Stu Buchanan, is now co-run (or mostly run?) by Becki Whitton aka Aphir, as Stu has resurrected New Weird Australia. Becki has curated the latest in their Marks of Provenance compilations, this one titled Textures, with many familiar names appearing. I'll feature some more tracks next week, but tonight we've got some reliably dark & heavy-hitting drones and rhythms from Sydney's Kcin & Melbourne's Tilman Robinson, and a beautiful piece of layered voice, electronic rhythms and processing from Melbourne's LOUV aka Louise McKnoulty with Dirty Versace.

Bruce Brubaker & Max Cooper - Two Pages (Tegh Version) [Infiné Music/Bandcamp]
Finally tonight, a transformation of a transformation. When concert pianist Bruce Brubaker teamed up with Max Cooper to interpret works of Philip Glass, I wasn't terribly impressed to be honest - the system developed by Cooper essentially produced a smearing effect on the piano performances, muddying the otherwise precise harmonic, melodic & rhythmic elements of Glass's compositions. Now Infiné Music have released a follow-up remix EP, and the rework by Iranian electronic producer Shahin Entezami aka Tegh is tremendous, lodging crystalline piano, at times pitch-shifted, in Tegh's trademark washes of drone and low-end rumble and snarl. A more radical approach, respectful but not faithful to the original material.

Listen again — ~207MB

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