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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, 22nd of November, 2021

Playlist 21.11.2021 (5:51 pm)

Some old friends tonight, and some new talents. Underground hip-hop, experimental electronic pop?, deconstructed dancefloors of various types, and even some acousmatic music that got lost and found a nightclub in the woods...

LISTEN AGAIN... just to be sure. FBi's got the streams on demands, podcast is here.

Aesop Rock x Blockhead - That Is Not A Wizard [Rhymesayers/Bandcamp]
Aesop Rock - fast cars [Def Jux]
Aesop Rock - Fumes [Def Jux]
Aesop Rock x Blockhead - Difficult [Rhymesayers/Bandcamp
We've gotten used to Aesop Rock producing his own beats over the last few albums. He's a master beat-maker, almost as much as he is a wordsmith (and indeed an artist!), recently producing an entire EP for his buddy Homeboy Sandman - but many of Aes's greatest tunes from his early days through to his 2012 return were produced by his close college friend Blockhead. So when Aes was finding creativity hard, in lockdown, following the tragic death of a close friend, he turned to Blockhead to provide some beats for him to write rhymes to. And these two do just gel so well - they seem to understand each other's creativity instinctively - so enough tunes flowed that they ended up with a full album, with the utterly Aesop Rock title Garbology. With Aes's usual self-deprecating observations and metaphor-laden vocabularianism, it's deeply enjoyable, like putting on an old jacket and finding it fits better than it ever did. Both artists are better at their game than ever - but that's not to say that the back catalogue isn't absolutely genius, as we saw with tunes from 2005 & 2007...

Arad - Gravedad Nos Dobla [Voitax/Bandcamp]
Arad - Inti [Bedouin Records/Bandcamp]
Arad - Squidger [Voitax/Bandcamp]
Arad - Dream House [Voitax/Bandcamp]
Dara Smith is one half of the Berlin-based Irish electronic duo Lakker along with Ian McDonnell aka Eomac. McDonnell's solo productions are deservedly well-known, but I'm always up for some new tunes from Arad, especially since the brilliant EP The Glimpse that came out in 2018 from Bedouin Records. Vocoder vocals and unexpected harmonies accompany IDM-inflected techno & breakbeats, and these tendencies have continued on his releases last year & just now on Berlin label Voitax. This year's Augmented Fantasy also features a couple of excellent female vocalists on two tracks, but I've played two which again rely on the vocoded & processed voice of Smith himself, along with his usual beatmaking talents.

Moon Sign Gemini - Tomato Town [Moon Sign Gemini Bandcamp]
Moon Sign Gemini - Adelaide to Gawler [Moon Sign Gemini Bandcamp]
The second EP of the year from Dylan Cooper's Moon Sign Gemini is full of South Australian references, EP title included. As well as playing in hardcore punk bands like Raccoon City and Melchior, Cooper makes electronic music influenced by UK & US bass music and laden with unexpected samples, and he has a real talent for this stuff.

Klahrk - E-merge Stgy (coproduced with Zoë Mc Pherson) [SFX/Bandcamp]
Klahrk - NuNegative [SFX/Bandcamp]
I guess when you're named Ben Clarke, going by Klahrk is one way of differentiating yourself from the famous (Chris) Clark. Klahrk, who also runs the Ware Collective, makes deconstructed bass music, often in collaboration, and his new album for Berlin label SFX features various dense coproductions, including one with SFX boss Zoë Mc Pherson. There's a thread of jungle and breakcore through this album, but plenty of other genres are visited as well along the glitchy, unpredictable path.

Patrick Conway - Evident Wear [ESP Institute/Bandcamp]
Patrick Conway - A Long Way To Walk For Bad News [ESP Institute/Bandcamp]
It's not immediately obvious that Patrick Conway, whose Cellular Housekeeping album from LA-based ESP Institute follows two EPs for the label, records under any other names, but he's best known on Utility Fog as Low End Activist, recording politically-on-point releases for Seagrave and Sneaker Social Club. Conway manages to cover a lot of ground, taking in electro, deep house, and all sorts of techno (often all on the one release), and running the Black Orpheus label, but Low End Activist focuses on bass and breakbeats, and his earlier 2021 EP Engineers Origins featured some brilliant '90s-style jungle & drum'n'bass, so it's great to hear that emphasis also on Cellular Housekeeping. Like the earlier EP, there are tracks on this album showing that Conway knows the origins well enough to evoke those production styles - not just the beats and basslines - beautifully, while still departing and disassembling in fine contemporary style. There are elements of some kind of mysterious '80s industrial ambient storytelling here also, weaved into the haunted rave dancefloors.

MSC - Home 2 God [First Terrace Records/Bandcamp]
Manslaughter 777 - ARC [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
MSC - Tek [First Terrace Records/Bandcamp]
Brothers Isaac and Zachary Jones have formed many bands over the past decade and a half, starting with hardcore punk acts like GIANT and then Braveyoung, which gradually morphed into the postrock-informed sounds of their later period, with orchestral influences as well as tape manipulation alongside the hardcore and doom metal trappings. As Braveyoung they collaborated with ever-morphing beauty/noise proponents the body, and Zachary Jones is a longtime touring member of that band too. Braveyoung eventually was disbanded and replaced by their equally-uncategorizable soundsystem identity MSC, and alongside their incredible second collab with the body from last year called I Don't Ever Want To Be Alone - and Zach's duo with Lee Buford of the body released at the start of this year under the name Manslaughter 777 - they have been exploring the power of junglist breaks and dub bass, still emphasising the catharsis of noise and the emotiveness of classical music-referencing samples and drones. It's no surprise that their new album What You Say Of Power is baffling and inspiring.

Jannah Quill - 2020 [SUMAC]
Naarm (Melbourne) based multi-disciplinary artist Jannah Quill has been a name to look out for for some time in the Sydney & Melbourne music scenes, so it's a bit of a surprise that her new self-titled EP is her first full solo release. In installations & performances, Quill has a reputation for unique experimental work involving hardware & software sound, which result in five evolving club-adjacent tracks on this EP. It's great to finally have a recording from this singular Australian artist.

Louis Dufort - Into the Forest My wounded arms wide open [empreintes DIGITALes]
Montréal composer Louis Dufort has been a force in acousmatic music since the 1990s. It's fascinating to hear the way the more recent electronic music of "the academy" ingests and de-contextualises the electronic music of the dancefloor in its own way. Into the Forest collects works from Dufort from the last five years inspired by walks in the mountains and forests of Canada, and renders the experience of nature - its pleasures, comforts, and horrors and majesty - through highly artificial means, recalling (in its own way) the bass-heavy distorted electronics of Vladislav Delay's recent Rakka duology. On this particular 10-minute track, fast-paced glitchy stereophonic electronic beats compete with digitized field recordings and synth pads; elsewhere sub-bass drops accentuate static-filled landscapes. I can only imagine how experiencing these works in surround sound in large soundsystems would inspire the kind of awe they are themselves inspired by.

Helm - Para [Dais Records/Bandcamp]
Helm - Moskito [Dais Records/Bandcamp]
Luke Younger aka Helm, owner of the ALTER, channels his noise and industrial roots on his latest album, Axis. But despite the primitive noisemaking techniques, this music is clearly informed by the more recent directions he's taken, including the string arrangements on 2019's Chemical Flowers. There's drama and detail in these monumental tracks; it's a worth successor to that fantastic 2019 album.

Olivia Block - En Echelon [Room40/Bandcamp]
Olivia Block - Great Northern, 34428 [Room40/Bandcamp]
And we finish tonight with two tracks from one of a slew of albums released late in the yeare by Brisbane's Room40. Chicago composer Olivia Block is best known for longform works combining notated composition with improvisation, live instrumentation with analogue & digital synthesised sound, and thoughtful use of field recordings. This new album, not her first for Room40, certainly places icy field recordings inside organ and lovely Mellotron recordings, but it's also notable in that the pieces are mostly around 5-6 minutes long - convenient for me to play on radio for a change! There's much beauty and drama in these pieces which evoke a kind of imaginary sci-fi movie - and there's a surprising amount of rhythm in the electronics too. If you'd like an easy way in to this important musician's oeuvre, Innocent Passage in the Territorial Sea is a great place to start.

Listen again — ~215MB

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