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experimental electronica
electric string quartet

Utility Fog

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Sunday nights from 9 to 11pm on FBi Radio, 94.5 FM in Sydney, Australia.

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Sunday, 9th of January, 2022

Playlist 09.01.22 (10:59 pm)

It's the second week of January, I'm a year older, and it's time for new music again! I'm catching up on things missed in 2021 (mostly released late in the year) and there's even a 2022 release in there...

LISTEN AGAIN to catch up, that's what it's about. Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Bradbury - Cheap Wagnerian Dynamics [Dual Plover/Bradbury Bandcamp]
This weekend we learned that Sydney experimental music icon Garry Bradbury died - announced on Twitter by Tom Ellard, with whom Bradbury played in Severed Heads in the very early days. Bradbury was a spiky, sometimes difficult fellow, but brilliant, funny and well-loved. He leaves us too soon, at only 61, and I think many people don't realise what an important impact he had on the Sydney scene, from postpunk days through proto-industrial tape manipulation and experimental electronic excursions of all sorts. When I found out at the last minute, I wanted to drop in a track from one of his two brilliant CDs released in the early '00s on Dual Plover. RIP Garry, you're missed.

Aquaserge - Un grand sommeil noir [Crammed Discs/Bandcamp]
Aquaserge - Nuit Altérée (à György Ligeti) [Crammed Discs/Bandcamp]
Much of tonight is me catching up on 2021 music, either released too late in the year to have played before my Best of 2021 shows, or discovered via other people's best of lists! This is a bit of both - I'm a keen follower of the Belgian label Crammed Discs, home of everything from postpunk to electronic to gypsy music to music from all over Africa and more. For a long time they had a "composers' series" of mostly instrumental and ambient music called Made To Measure, and I had not realised that they reactivated it in 2021 - so the very unusual album The Possibility of a New Work for Aquaserge by French psych-pop band Aquaserge initially passed me by as I thought it was a reissue. The band combine psych and krautrock with pop sensibilities as well as classical instrumentation for an album which serves as a tribute to four idiosyncratic 20th century composers: Giacinto Scelsi, György Ligeti, Edgard Varése and Morton Feldman. These are not your typical choices for a band like this, and the result is a suite of songs with live grooves and chanson-inflected melodies orchestrated with close-knit harmonic discords, mysterious classical avantgardism and free-jazz improv segments. It's not nearly as chaotic as it sounds - fans of experimental pop will find a lot to love, even with the "covers" of their chosen composers.

Minus Pilots with friends - To A God Unknown (with Gareth Davis, Stephen Vitiello & Machinefabriek) [PLAYNEUTRAL/Bandcamp]
Minus Pilots with friends - A Dreamer, A Dreamer (with Yellow6, Gareth Davis, Scanner & Machinefabriek) [PLAYNEUTRAL/Bandcamp]
I discovered UK duo Minus Pilots via some collaborations with Machinefabriek a few years ago. Bass player Adam Barringer and drummer Matt Pittori both contribute samples and electronics, with an aesthetic of pronounced minimalism - post-classical melded with postrock. Their collaborative impulse has once again come to the fore for their new EP for the new experimental label PLAYNEUTRAL, each track featuring multiple contributors. Across tonight's two selections, which range from ambient to skittery to noisy, we have clarinettist Gareth Davis, sound-artists Stephen Vitiello & Machinefabriek, ambient guitarist Yellow6 and legendary electronic musician Scanner. Credited to Minus Pilots with friends, these tracks are compelling and cohesive due to the astute musicality of the core artists; recommended.

Ordnance Survey - Vico Road June 1984 [Scintilla Recordings]
Ordnance Survey - Belfield May 1985 [Scintilla Recordings]
From the UK to Ireland - Neil O'Connor used to be Somadrone, but renamed himself after Ireland's Ordnance Survey, appropriately for music that bases itself so much in field recordings. Nevertheless, those site-specific audio pieces find themselves buried in amongst woozy manipulations of tape loops and blissful grooves. The beats could come from a 1990s Ninja Tune release, but they too are buried in the mix. I was expecting something quite ambient but instead I found a rather enveloping sound, evocative of a particular countryside which I've not visited for decades - an unexpected pleasure.

Holopeak - Golden Walk [People Sound]
Released in November on Jaques Emery's People Sound was this excellent album of jazzy postrock (or post-rocky jazz?) from Sydney three-piece Holopeak, made up of drummer Chloe Kim, guitarist Nick Mielczarek, and bassist Harry Birch. It's really nice hearing this kind of postrock, which I associate with Tortoise, as well as Mice Parade et al, turning up again now after years & years of the genre being identified with post-Mogwai/Explosions in the Sky style quiet-LOUD-quiet pomposity. The three musicians here are top-class players, and this music was created through improvising, collaborative edited and overdubbing, with the results feeling very organic and live. Truly lovely.

Corin - Ghost Dance [Heavy Machinery/Bandcamp]
The last album from Australian-Filipina artist Corin Ileto, Enantiodromia, only came out in mid-2021 from Lee Gamble's great UIQ label, so it was a nice surprise to find a contrasting follow-up released in the last month of 2021 from Heavy Machinery. Araw finds Corin in ambient mode, losing the industrial, rave-influenced beats but with all the great sound design and rhythmic intelligence still intact. It's beautiful stuff.

Bernard Parmegiani - Strio [Mode Records/Bandcamp]
Bernard Parmegiani - E Pericoloso Sporgersi (élément) - 1991 [Transversales Disques/Bandcamp]
I've been on a Bernard Parmegiani trip lately - I've had the 12CD collection for ages and slowly worked my way through it, but there have been some recent additions from his archives. Parmegiani was a pioneer of electro-acoustic or acousmatic music, going from early tape-based edits and analogue synths through to digital techniques at Ina-GRM in Paris until his death in 2013. Tonight we heard two things released in 2021. "Strio" is the shortest of three movements of Stries, a sort of electronic distillation of an earlier work called Violostries, for violin and electronics. This work involves a pre-prepared tape plus synthesisers performed live by three performers, and the 2021 release by Mode Records finds a contemporary trio re-creating this work, sourcing instruments as close the originals as possible, wiring them up according to notes from the original performances etc. The liner notes (also found as PDFs in the Bandcamp download) provide fascinating insight into the challenges in rendering a work like this decades after it was originally created - the hardware is in no way stable and predictable, so there's a lot of interpretation involved. Tonight's track sees two of the musicians appearing in the left and right speaker, modulating the sounds on the tape, while a third synth contributes the little high melodic hints. Meanwhile, "E Pericoloso Sporgersi" is a fragment from 1991 which is surprisingly rhythmic; uncovered as part of the second volume of Mémoire Magnétique from Transversales Disques, collecting short works from Parmegiani's archives of radiophonic and film works. Years (decades?) ago someone told me that Parmegiani was doing Autechre decades before them, which piqued my interest at the time, but I dismissed the claim itself as hyperbole. It's been surreal how many times I've had Parmegiani's collected works on in the background and thought "Hm, is that Autechre or something Mego or...? oh that's right!" A pioneer indeed.

Mitchell Elliott - The Belly of the Beast [unreleased]
Newcastle musician Mitchell Elliott belongs in a proud tradition of noise music from Sydney's northern neighbour. This new composition is the first to emerge from his soundtrack to a contemporary dance piece called "Belly of the Beast", choreographed and performed by Monique Humphreys, which is due to be performed as part of the Newcastle Fringe Festival in March 2022. In the current climate, we can only hope it goes ahead. Elliott's music is audacious as an accompaniment to modern dance, with passages of harsh static alongside booming subs.

Sow Discord - Opportunist [AR53/Bandcamp]
Melbourne's Sow Discord is David Coen, also found in sludge/doom/grind/noise band Whitehorse among others. As Sow Discord, he remixed The Body back in 2019. His new two-track release for AR53 is dark, doomy dubstep, just what the end of 2021 needed.

s280f - (untitled) [Bandcamp]
This very disquieting track technically has an empty title and artist name, but the Bandcamp name s280false points to it being the work of the mysterious s280f. The combination of contemporary classical elements with twisted glitch-r'n'b and eldritch black metal is the perfect distillation of now. As weird and fucked up as the artwork.

Silkie - West Man [Navy Cut]
Silkie - 51 times Stronger [Silkie Bandcamp]
I have an abiding love for the melodic, jazz-inflected core dubstep of Solomon Rose aka Silkie. His City Limits albums and string of 12"s for Deep Medi are untouchable - dark like chocolate, with head-nodding beats and perfect basslines, shot through at times with purple jazz phrasing... And he continues, with a lovely three-tracker on Navy Cut last year, but I only discovered late in the piece last year that he's been using his own Bandcamp to trickle out archival cuts and new tracks at a surprising rate. For the second track, the "51 times stronger" quote comes from Samuel L Jackson in the movie Formula 51.

Wheez-ie - Pressure (Aura T-09 x Cardopusher Rmx) [Evar Records]
Wheez-ie - Horizons (Tim Reaper Rmx) [Evar Records]
LA-based rave artist Wheez-ie released an EP on fellow LA label Evar Records last year, and this coming Friday comes a superb remix EP. First up tonight, Aura T-09 is the Italian-born, LA-based Marci Pinna, who co-runs Evar Records with John Frusciante (Red Hot Chilli Pepper and rave/IDM-enthusiast). She reworks "Pressure" alongside Barcelona's Cardopusher, who used to appear in many playlists in the halcyon breakcore days of Utility Fog, and also produced some tasty dubstep before switching to lucrative club house climes - so it's nice hearing the breakcore/hardcore influence here (and that awesome vocal sample which I'd love to know the provenance of!) Meanwhile the hardworking Tim Reaper brings a classic junglist rush of subby basslines and rolling amens - first class.

Aria Rostami - Bolbol (Sote Rework) [Shaytoon Records/Bandcamp]
Aria Rostami - Endless [Shaytoon Records/Bandcamp]
New York-based Iranian artist Aria Rostami finishes tonight with his new Bolbol EP released by fellow Persian electronic artist Sepehr on his Shaytoon Records. The title track is remixed not only by the label head but also by the one & only Ata Ebtekar aka Sote, each taking the ravey breaks in different directions; but Rostami's a past master at sound design too, and the lengthy "Endless" is a highlight of the EP, with a slowed-down vocal sample, drones, and a percussive beat that slowly grows fiercer until it dissipates back into ambien-fueled confusion.

Listen again — ~208MB

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