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Utility Fog

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Sunday, 6th of June, 2021

Playlist 06.06.21 (11:22 pm)

There's a strong, ruff thread of jungle, drill'n'bass & idm through tonight's selections, shot through with dub and ambient.

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Squarepusher - Tundra [Rephlex/Warp]
Squarepusher - Theme From Ernest Borgnine [Rephlex/Warp]
In 1996 jungle was just starting to morph into drum'n'bass, and the genre was itself only unevenly starting to spread around the world. Here in Sydney, I was discovering the sometimes scrappy "drill'n'bass" of "IDM" artists in some ways simultaneously with dancefloor jungle & drum'n'bass, and since Aphex Twin's experiments on the Hangable Auto Bulb EPs and Like Vibert's EPs as Plug were only limited vinyl releases, it was probably Squarepusher's Feed Me Weird Things that was one of the first places to encounter jungle's insane rhythmic complexity - and since drum'n'bass was taking over with less intensive, through-composed beat programming, it was easy to assume that this was the, you know, "intelligent" shit. Decades hence, various histories of the period plus YouTube and digitisation allow us to have a clearer picture of the timelines, but even so, the bedroom productions of these folks have a relentless creativity that mirrors that of jungle's originators and goes in unexpected directions - not least the melodic aspects. With Tom Jenkinson aka Squarepusher, no doubt the other characteristic twist is his showy but talented funk bass soloing which accompanied the sampler programming and windswept synth pads - almost all, at this early stage, primitively mixed in mono. Of course it didn't take long for Warp to sign Jenkinson after this first album on Aphex's own Rephlex, which he co-ran with Grant Wilson-Claridge, and Warp proceeded to collect some of Jenkinson's earliest 12"s on Spymania which preceeded this album. Now they've requisitioned that first album from the defunct Rephlex, and remastered it so that those lo-fi old mono mixes actually sound somewhat professional. The hazy nature of the recordings is part of their charm, though, and great remastering or no, that's still unavoidable here. The two bonus tracks, previously only available on a limited 12" and the Japanese CD, are pretty good - but it's the extensive liner notes which seal the deal here, detailing the instrumentation & recording techniques of each track, the recording date & location, and some notes about inspiration as well.

µ-Ziq - Slade Treacher [Analogical Force]
µ-Ziq - Sketty [Analogical Force]
Another essential character in the mid-'90s IDM & drill'n'bass scene was Mike Paradinas aka µ-Ziq, with two crunchy & melodic albums on Rephlex, a major label signing with wide-ranging remixes, and then of course the founding of his impeccable Planet µ label. It's been some 8 years since a proper new µ-Ziq release, and this year we're apparently getting two, with a Planet µ album on the way as well as this newie, Scurlage, which comes courtesy of Spanish IDM/acid label Analogical Force. Mike's music always had a strange otherworldly quality, drawing from his deep knowledge & love of rave genres but filtered through his particular odd way of producing music, with a great talent for melody and a penchant for juxtaposing beauty with harshness. There's junglish bits, acidish bits and hints of footwork, but most of all the tunes here are absolutely recognizable as the sound of µ-Ziq. What a joy.

CORIN - Enantiodromia [UIQ/Bandcamp]
CORIN - Rivalry [Bedouin Records/Bandcamp]
CORIN - Mnemosyne [UIQ/Bandcamp]
Filipina-Australian artist CORIN, once from Sydney and now based in Melbourne, goes from strength to strenth with international recognition courtesy of Bedouin Records' 2019 release of Manifest now extended to Lee Gamble's incredible UIQ records, who've just released her Enantiodromia album, which I think is her best yet. The dark, cyberpunk-inspired sounds of the previous album are further exercised with propulsive beats and eerie ambient tracks exploring the idea of impermanence, the observation of things gradually turning into their opposites. An album for the times, and another great step for this talented producer.

Loraine James - On the Lake Outside (feat. Baths) [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
Loraine James - Self Doubt (Leaving the Club Early) [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
Like many, I was blown away by Loraine James' debut album for Hyperdub in 2019, For You And I. I'd already heard the glitchy breaks of Button Mashing earlier that year on New York Haunted, and Sydney's Hence Therefore had alerted me to her talents when he remixed her "+44-Thinking-Of-You" the previous year. She's an anomaly and a product of the times - a young London-based queer black woman, who grew up listening to IDM and didn't quite fit into any scene. Her music blends IDM's experimentation and boundary-pushing with contemporary club sounds, r'n'b, jazz and more, and doesn't avoid directly addressing the personal toll of being queer and black. She also continues to collaborate widely, bringing in Antion alumnus Baths for some melodic indie vocals, as well as singing & speaking on a number of tracks herself.

Loraine James - I'm Feeling (w/Morwell) [Loraine James Bandcamp]
Morwell - Biosonics [Morwell Bandcamp]
Morwell - Disintegration [Morwell Bandcamp]
I mentioned first discovering via the +44-Thinking-Of-You Remixes in 2018, and as well as Hence Therefore, young UK producer Morwell contributed a mix. At the beginning of 2020, James released her second New Year's Substitution collection of collaborations, and Morwell again appeared - so when Max Morwell contacted me a couple of months back about a new release, his name rang faint bells in the back of my mind. His new album Souls is out on June 18th, and I cheekily played a couple of non-singles ahead of that date tonight. Its exploration of the tension between euphoria and collapse in club music (and its pandemic absence) leads to a collection of tracks influenced by UK's bass/hardcore continuum through house & techno, jungle, garage & dubstep, with disembodied, often incomprehensible vocals in amongst the beats. Although the subject matter is sometimes dark, it's a fine ride.

DJ C - Circe [Mashit/Bandcamp]
Electro Organic Sound System - Wacko Macko is Backo (DJ C's Babylon A Fall Mix) [Mashit/Bandcamp]
DJ C - Billy Jungle [Mashit/Bandcamp]
DJ C - Dread Bounce [Mashit/Bandcamp]
Also dedicated to fun on the club fringes is Chicago's Jake Trussell aka DJ C. Ten years after his last album was released, Jake is back with Do Radly, a genre-hopping club album for the home, a late-lockdown album for dancing to... And he's revived the Mashit label into the bargain, which is great as those brilliant 12"s of the 2003-2005 jungle revival finally get digital releases on Bandcamp! "Circe", the single from the new album, reworks a jungle-dub track from Trussell's 2000 album RootsWreck in his old Electro Organic Sound System incarnation, tightening the 11-minute "Magical Condition" into under 5 minutes of pulsing, dubby junglist fun. But Mashit released a series of eight superb 12"s between 2003 & 2005, mostly the work of DJ C with a few top-tier remixers, mostly in that "ragga jungle" style, appropriating dancehall & reggae classics as jungle workouts. 2004's "Wacko Macko is Backo" takes some of Trussell's soundtrack work (he's nothing if not versatile!) and weaves Sizzla & Capleton vocals amongst the synth strings & jungle breaks. From the same year, "Billy Jungle" adapts Shinehead's highly successful Michael Jackson cover into the perfect ragga jungle anthem.

Subtle - sinking pinks (Bracken loves Dax mix) [Bracken Bandcamp]
Odd Nosdam - Sisters (Bracken's second place edit) [Bracken Bandcamp]
Although his jungle escapades were never particularly of the "ragga" variety, Chris Adams of Hood released some of the most unhinged early breakcore and drill'n'bass as Downpour, and revived the alias for some Bandcamp EPs from 2014 to 2017. Now he's brought his other solo alias Bracken to Bandcamp, collecting most of the albums & EPs barring a few deep cuts, and also compiling many of his brilliant remixes on Selected Remixes - with a twist, because many of tracks here are edits. They're also rather nicely remastered, so it's easily worth the price of entry. For instance the Subtle rework, dedicated to their keyboard player & beatmaker Dax Pierson (who was rendered quadriplegic in a touring van accident but continues to make creative music), is about a minute longer than the original and sounds way better. Some others are shortened, including the edit of his phenomenal remix of Odd Nosdam's "Sisters", 17 and a half minutes in its original glory but also gorgeous clocking in at 7 minutes here.

Gantz - FATALIST [Gantz Bandcamp]
Turkish dubstep producer Gantz, known for releases on Deep Medi, Exit Records and others, continues to release EPs on his own Bandcamp, the latest being the KİLL GANTZ EP. As usual genre is at most a guideline, with subdued creepiness and cinematic evocation the order of the day, even while the the beats & bass move the body.

Other Joe Quartet - Lavender Pill (Live at Colour) [Music Company/Bandcamp]
Megan Alice Clune - Cut Space [Music Company/Bandcamp]
Melbourne's Music Company continue their compilation series with Vector Fields Vol. 3. It feels like I was sent this ages ago, but it was actually only a month ago that I played a couple of tracks. These comps are always of the highest quality though, so here's two more now that it's out. Joe Buchan aka Other Joe, who also mastered the album and runs the .jpeg Artefacts label, contributes a live performance by his quartet, a gorgeous bit of jazzy, electronic postrock. And Sydney's Megan Alice Clune brings glitchy vocal drones, peaceful yet slightly unsettling.

Listen again — ~206MB

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