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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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Monday, 30th of August, 2021

Playlist 29.08.21 (12:38 am)

Heavy bass music of various sorts, and then "post-classical" music of various sorts. Also a number of premieres tonight!

LISTEN AGAIN, what are you waiting for? Stream on demand at FBi. Podcast here. Options.

The Bug - War (feat. Nazamba) [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
The Bug ft. Flowdan - Jah War (Loefah Remix) [Ninja Tune]
The Bug - Black Wasp feat. Liz Harris of Grouper [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
The Bug Ft Dis Fig - Destroy Me [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
Moor Mother x Zonal - On The Range [Adult Swim Singles 2018-2019]
The Bug - Vexed (feat. Moor Mother) [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
The Bug - The Missing (feat. Roger Robinson) [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
It's weird really to think that it's been so long since the last "album proper" from The Bug. Kevin Martin has been plenty busy, whether the re-formed duo with Justin K Broadrick (previously Techno Animal, now Zonal), various singles, lysergic barely-there ambient under his own name, or the stunning "narco-dancehall" album In Blue last year with Dis Fig. And yet, the last album just as The Bug was 2014's Angels & Devils - probably one of my favourite albums of all time. Big call, especially because 2008's London Zoo is so crammed with masterpieces of dubstep-meets-grime, including "Skeng" with Roll Deep's Flowdan and Killa P, and "Jah War" with Flowdan - and if the dubstep connection wasn't clear in the music, Loefah's remix here is a masterpiece of the genre (in 2007, just as things were getting big). The new Bug album Fire is described as the third in a trilogy of albums, following these two - all released by Ninja Tune, and all featuring low-end pressure and powerful vocalists. While I didn't venture back past London Zoo to the 2003 album Pressure, released on Tigerbeat6 and Rephlex, the abrasive dancehall found therein is certainly a precursor to this trilogy, as was so much of Martin's work through the '90s (seek out the two massive Macro Dub Infection compilations he curated for Virgin Records). The "Angels" side of Angels & Devils allowed for some vocal contributions aside from MCs, and two gorgeous tracks were created with Liz Harris from Grouper - "Black Wasp" appearing on the Exit EP later the same year. But mostly Fire is about hard-hitting MCs, including many of Martin's longtime collaborators. Jamaican poet Nazamba delivers one of the scariest contributions with "War", while Moor Mother is in gutteral form on "Vexed" (after a side-long collaboration with Martin & Broadrick on the Zonal album in 2019). But the album ends with a stunning poem by Martin's King Midas Sound compadre Roger Robinson, giving the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster a heartbreaking send-off.

My Disco - StVO [Heavy Machinery Records]
Like many of Heavy Machinery's releases for the latter part of this year, My Disco are part of the Flash Forward festival taking part in the laneways of Melbourne - as well as online. The Melbourne band have made a number of sharp left turns in their career, after some years making angularly rhythmic post-punk/math rock and then shifting gears into bleak industrial ambient & percussion for 2019's Environment. That's the context for StVO, the first single - premiered tonight - from Alter Schwede, their new album to be released in late November. Recorded at andereBaustelle by studio owner (and Einstürzende Neubauten member) Boris Wilsdorf, the track was to be instrumental, but ended up featuring Wilsdorf reading from the Berlin Straßenverkehrsordnung (Road Traffic Regulations) because I guess it sounds cool? And let's be clear, it sounds menacing in amongst the clattering sounds of metal on metal and rumbling bass. But it's clearly also humourous, as is titling their album Alter Schwede, an expression of surprise in German, which literally means "old Swede"! Can't wait to hear more...

Mitchell Elliott - Kurosawa Daydream [Mitchell Elliott/Bandcamp]
Next up, some sound-painting from Newcastle's Mitchell Elliott, inspired by the Dream movies of Akira Kurosawa. Elliott comes from a proud tradition of noise music from Newcastle, feeding threads of melody (including vocals from Sydney's Maira Kei) and field recordings along with the harsh static. The two other tracks are longer but equally evocative.

Minder - Space [Sneaker Social Club]
The enigmatic Minder has very little info about them online, but they've just dropped a massive cache of sounds on Sneaker Social Club - a double cassette reaching to over 100 minutes. In keeping with SSC's love of UK hardcore, Telepathy is jungle techno, but it's just not just an early '90s breakbeat throwback. There are ragga, hip-hop and diva samples all over this, and breaks a-plenty, but also strange rhythmic treatments and structures befitting a mixtape, and elevating this into an intriguing modernisation of the sound. Worth diving into.

Andy Odysee - Ruthless (In Purpose):Insidious (In Design) [Odysee Recordings/Bandcamp]
Andy Odysee - Like Jazz [Odysee Recordings/Bandcamp]
Andy Baddaley joined Tilla Kemal aka Mirage as partner in drum'n'bass label Odysee Recordings in 1999, and made some records as Cloaking Device. He went to school with Jim Baker of Source Direct and it's that Photek/Source Direct sound that permeates his music as Andy Odysee - complex, fine-tooled beats after jungle but before tech step's simplistic aggression. The new Ruthless:Insidious EP is third in a trilogy of EPs Baddaley has released in the last couple of years on Odysee Recordings. They're excellent, and one I often return to is "Like Jazz" from the first of these, 2019's Cause Damage EP. Delicious.

Arrom - Can't Ask This [Provenance Records]
Another premiere tonight comes from Arrom, aka Melbourne's Melissa Vallence. Vallence has spent time singing in choirs, but her classically-trained voice increasingly takes the back seat - heavily processed here - to techno beats. New single "Can't Ask This" isn't exactly a party banger, with sub-bass drones and churning distorted beats accompanying chopped up, electronically harmonised vocal lines, but it's still got an infectious rhythm and uncanny beauty to it.

Gudrun Gut + Mabe Fratti - El Cielo Responde [Umor Rex/Bandcamp]
Berlin producer Gudrun Gut began her career in the 1980s in the same scene as Einstürzende Neubauten, but is known well-known as an electronic music pioneer herself and through her Monika Enterprise - especially supporting female musicians. Young Mexico-based Guatemalan musician Mabe Fratti grew up learning cello, and incorporates it into her music along with synths and vocals - I've played her a lot on this show too. It's lovely hearing these two very different musicians together. Let's Talk About the Weather would be how they began their online conversations, with Gut in a cold German town and Fratti in the Mexican heat. Mexican label Umor Rex also straddles the globe, with its physical distribution and promo coming via Morr Music in Germany, so they are the perfect home for this uncompromising music. At times it's rhythmic, at other times slipperily ambient, with field recordings, spoken word and Fratti's singing all combining to evoke a changing world.

Yann Tiersen - Ar Maner Kozh [Mute Records/Bandcamp]
Yann Tiersen - Poull Bojer [Mute Records/Bandcamp]
It's unfair that to a lot of the world, Yann Tiersen is synonymous with the twinkly prettiness of his soundtrack to the sweet French film Amelie. He's known and loved in France (and Europe and to those who know the world over) also for indie rock, chanson and postrock, but he does do that post-classical piano thing really well, as evidenced by new album Kerber, part of a more ambient turn of late. It's a very intimate album, and the glitchy electronics that envelop the piano and other instruments at times are welcome. There are jazzy drums in "Poull Bojer", but mostly the album focuses on piano, hints of strings, and these electronic effects. It's often quite lovely but simple quasi-classical fare, but at times the French sentimental melancholy surfaces, as with "Ar Maner Kozh". Inspired by living on the remote island of Ushant, off the north-west tip of France (hence the strangely-spelled track titles), the album soundtracks a film that you can watch online now.

Rakhi Singh - Dhura [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
Vessel - Red Sex (Re-Strung, feat. Rakhi Singh) [qu junctions Bandcamp]
Welsh/Indian violinist Rakhi Singh straddles not only the heritage of her background, but also the English cities of London and Manchester. She is Music Director of contemporary ensemble Manchester Collective, who record for Bedroom Community, but her name jumped out at me immediately due to a collaboration last year with Bristol's Seb Gainsborough aka Vessel, reworking his bendy, twisted "Red Sex" with virtuoso violin and keeping the rattling rhythms. But even this excellent pedigree didn't prepare me for the brilliance of the three-track Quarry EP released by Bedroom Community. Singh's violin is indeed virtuosic, but she is happy to take multi-tracked trills and short phrases and chop them into industrial rhythms, or take time with strung-out violin and vocal drones, with exquisite avant-garde harmonisation. Don't let this one slip you by.

Gaspar Claus - 2359 [InFiné/Les Disques du Festival Permanent/Bandcamp]
Gaspar Claus - Un Rivage [InFiné/Les Disques du Festival Permanent/Bandcamp]
French cellist Gaspar Claus has featured on these playlists quite a lot, in collaboration with people like Aidan Baker, Third Eye Foundation, Efterklang's Casper Clausen and many excellent releases on his label Les Disques du Festival Permanent. So it's surprising that InFiné Music refer to new album Tancade (released on September 10th) as his debut solo album. Technically I would say that's 2013's Jo Ha Kyū, but the Japanese-inspired contemporary composition therein is ensemble music, and Tancade is very much Claus solo. Claus' cello is used in every way possible, multi-tracked for its expressive qualities, but also plucking basslines and played percussively. Often the music sounds like a live ensemble of cellists, but "2359" (one minute to midnight) is constructed from painstaking edits into impossible-to-perform arpeggios, a skittery IDM of acoustic cello. "Un Rivage" takes us to the shoreline, perhaps spying the naked men on the beach who adorn the album's cover, with strummed chords and fluttery multi-tracked melody. It's surprising to hear music so nakedly sentimental from Claus, but it's no less avant-garde for that. Brilliant work.

Laura Cannell, Kate Ellis, Rhodri Davies & Stewart Lee - Spend The Day With Me [Brawl Records]
English violinist Laura Cannell and cellist Kate Ellis continue their monthly releases for 2021 with AUGUST SOUNDS, joined this time by two guests: Rhodri Davies on the Welsh bray harp, which sounds strangely sitar-like - and Stewart Lee, who reads the moving poem "Spend The Day With Me". This is contemporary acoustic music with deep roots in the strangeness of English folk.

Lucy Railton & Kit Downes - Lazuli [SN Variations/Bandcamp]
And one more cellist to finish the show off - Lucy Railton is comfortable performing contemporary composition, but also created an incredible electro-acoustic work at Ina GRM in 2019 called Forma, which featured Kit Downes on organ. Downes and Railton have been collaborating for some 13 years now, so it's no wonder their improvisations on Subaerial are bewitchingly, instinctively organic. At times it's like naturally-occurring contemporary composition - not-quite tonal melodies in counterpoint with each other. Elsewhere it's imperceptibly mutating, discordant drone, aching sighs and yowls from the deep. It's unlikely you'll hear anything else quite like this this year.

Listen again — ~201MB


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