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Utility Fog

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Sunday, 18th of April, 2021

Playlist 18.04.21 (6:46 pm)

A range of electronic music from piano-led post-classical/kraut, IDM/techno hybrids, and delicate field recording constructs.

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Malcolm Pardon - Beneath The Surface [The New Black/Bandcamp]
Roll The Dice - Axel [Digitalis Recordings/Bandcamp]
Malcolm Pardon - The Blindspot [The New Black/Bandcamp]
Stockholm duo Roll The Dice released a steady stream of electronic music since their debut self-titled album came out through experimental label Digitalis Recordings in 2010. Peder Mannerfelt is well-known for his gregarious club music under his own name, his involvement with Fever Ray, and for releasing fellow Swiss electronic artists on his Peder Mannerfelt Produktion. But the other half, Malcolm Pardon, has stayed more in the background, making music for film & TV, so his debut solo album is a very welcome occurrence. Hello Death doesn't take its title too seriously - it's more about the acceptance of the inevitability of death than anything more maudlin, with peaceful, enveloping piano and analogue synths echoing his work with Roll The Dice. A rather jaunty number from their debut album reminds us that this combo of very acoustic, organic piano next to synths and electronics has always been a core part of the duo's sound too.

Cale Sexton - The Smell Of Dirt [Heavy Machinery Records/Bandcamp]
Last year, Melbourne cellist & beatmaker Bridget Chappell released her album Undertow on Heavy Machinery Records, composed around the sound of the Federation Bells, an installation in the parklands next to the Yarra, just south-east of Melbourne's CBD called Birrarung Marr. The bells play compositions via MIDI that ring through the park, and as well as inviting the public to submit MIDI files to play on the bells, the City of Melbourne has commissioned a series of works based around their sound and location. After Chappell's work, next up is Melbourne electronic musician Cale Sexton, whose new album Sustain embeds the ringing bells in warm, melodic synths. It's quite nostalgic music, utterly likeable, and I thought the longest track, just over 9 minutes, was the best way to enjoy the sound.

Vladislav Delay - Ranno [Cosmo Rhythmatic/Bandcamp]
Vladislav Delay - Rakkine [Cosmo Rhythmatic/Bandcamp]
Vladislav Delay - Raaha [Cosmo Rhythmatic/Bandcamp]
From analogue to very digital, we join Finland's Sassu Ripatti with his second album in as many years under his prolific alias Vladislav Delay. His earliest releases saw him grouped with the Basic Channel/Chain Reaction minimal techno artists, and a stripped-down ambient dub aesthetic is found throughout his over 2 decades of work - but shimmering, shuddering digital cut-ups and granular processing have been central to what he's done for most of that time too. Later this year there'll be an album as Ripatti for Planet µ, a continuation of a vinyl & digital project from 2013-14 with frenetic dancefloor beats and pop references; the two albums released last year & now on Cosmo Rhythmatic, while referencing dance music, are monolithic forces of nature. For Rakka, Ripatti drew from the raw power of the Finnish wilderness, and on Rakka II he draws again from this power but channels it into something a little more structured towards dance music. Phenomenal, intense stuff.

Microcorps - JFET [ALTER/Bandcamp]
Microcorps - XEM w/ Gazelle Twin [ALTER/Bandcamp]
Frenetic, glitchy dance music also makes up the sounds on the latest album from English musician Alexander Tucker, who we first encountered making yearning psychedelic folk and rock under his own name, and psych-rock-noise with Daniel O'Sullivan as Grumbling Fur. That duo, and other projects including more recent solo Tucker have become increasingly electronic, but it makes sense that this new album, released by Luke Younger's ALTER label this week, receives a new name - Microcorps - as it is quite a left turn all the same. At times Tucker's voice appears, thoroughly splintered, and his processed cello (once you know it's there) scythes through many of the tracks, but by and large it's the jackhammering beats and electronic treatments that define this music. There are some high-profile collaborators here, including the great Simon Fisher Turner on one track, and the distorted voice of Gazelle Twin joins Tucker on one highlight. If you didn't know Tucker's previous work with guitars, strings, and songforms, you'd never know he wasn't a "digital native".

Eomac - Falling Through The Cracks [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
Eomac - Resist All Dogma [Eotrax]
Eomac - Prophetess [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
After living in Berlin for some years, Dublin's Eomac, aka Ian McDonnell of club deconstructionist duo Lakker, repaired to rural Ireland to make his new album Cracks for Planet µ. In these lockdown times, he was freed from the need to consider the dancefloor - although a lot of this is thoroughly danceable all the same. And the rural setting hasn't quite removed the angst and darkness - the cathartic screaming found on tracks from his 2018 album Reconnect appear here too, but so do beautiful choral vocals. The title "Cracks" is a reference to Leonard Cohen's "Anthem", where he suggests that "There is a crack in everything - that's how the light gets in". So this is an album of hope, and a very enjoyable one too.

Andy Stott - Answers [Modern Love]
Andy Stott - Dont know how [Modern Love]
Also released this week is another of Andy Stott's occasional albums, but this one sees him reuiniting with singer Alison Skidmore, who appeared on his great Luxury Problems album and the EPs that preceded it 10 years ago. For what it's worth, Stott is continuing with his 2019 album's very lo-fi aesthetic, so the beats on these tracks have that hissing, moist sound of low-bitrate mp3s. It's odd, but there's certainly some moving music on here which I'll be giving some more listens in the next few weeks.

Kentaro Hayashi - Peculiar [Opal Tapes]
Kentaro Hayashi - Arrowhead [Opal Tapes]
Osaka-based mastering engineer and electronic musician Kentaro Hayashi released his debut album Peculiar initially on CD last year through the Japanese label Remodel. It's now been given an expanded release and vinyl edition through UK label Opal Tapes - we heard one of the new tracks tonight. His work with Merzbow is evident across many of these tracks, but the noise element is more in service of beats and other more familiar structures. Hayashi covers a lot of ground, from minimal techno to various UK bass & club styles, including some hints and drum'n'bass on new track "Arrowhead". Any lover of experimental electronic music, IDM or the far end of the dancefloor should get a lot out of this album.

Armed With Bow - Heavy Handed [MFZ Records]
Armed With Bow - I-WILL-NOT-GIV [MFZ Records]
London cellist Will Langstone did not expect the debut album from his Armed With Bow to sound quite like this. As many of us found, the weight of extended lockdown made him emotionally alienated from his usual art, and it was only through eventually getting deep into his electronic music interests that he found his way back to music-making. There's a bit of processed cello in here, but mostly it's cheeky and clattering experimental beats, and very well done.

Alexandra Spence - Bell, Fern [Room40/Bandcamp]
The second album from Sydney sound-artist Alexandra Spence on Room40 is as captivating as her last. She deals with very personal sound recordings, including field recordings and also everyday objects brought to sonic life through attention to detail and a deep understand of musical communication. The way these sounds blend with electronic tones and singing over its 15 minutes is like a magical spell. A Necessary Softness is not to be missed.

Listen again — ~206MB

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