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Utility Fog


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Sunday, 20th of February, 2022

Playlist 20.02.22 (11:22 pm)

Cavernous sounds and skittery details, from dub to sound-art to drill'n'bass to ethereal folk... to gothic pop.

LISTEN AGAIN, for your life depends on it! Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Sote - I'm trying but I can't reach you father [Sub Rosa/Bandcamp]
Sote - Forced Absence [Sub Rosa/Bandcamp]
Here at Utility Fog Towers we've been devoted followers of Ata Ebtekar Sote since his first 12" released on Warp in 2002. That was insanely overdriven breakcore/drum'n'bass, and he's gone through variants of breakcore, hardcore techno and other mind-bending electronics since, but there's also a rich vein of Persian classical music and Iran's own history of electro-acoustic music that runs through his sound. You can get a bit of a tour of Ebtekar's work via the interview & selections in this 2019 episode of Utility Fog. The venerable Belgian electronic/experimental label Sub Rosa has released Ebtekar before, very much on the Persian classical tip, and it's nice that this new release is back with Sub Rosa. Majestic Noise Made In Beautiful Rotten Iran references his essential Hardcore Sounds From Tehran from 2016, but while it's certainly majestic it's not exactly noise music - and nor does it draw from Persian classical instrumentation or musical structures. Instead it's all-electronic, using many of the idiosyncratic techniques he's developed of late for sliding DSP effects, percussive punctuations and stuttery glitches, with warm and glittering digital synth pads adding up to a beautifully emotive energy.

Wordcolour - Bluster (Djrum Remix) [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
Felix Manuel aka Djrum is a Utility Fog fave, comfortable in drum'n'bass, techno and dubstep realms as well as hints at modern classical, so he's a very nice fit for remixing a new tune for Houndstooth/Lapsus artist Wordcolour. The original is a very nice piece of breakbeaty techno, at a quite slow tempo with shifting beats and intercut vocal stabs and little piano riffs. Djrum centres his intro & outro on a piano that's tuned to the harmonic series produced by an alpen horn (pretty weird!) and accelerates through madcap drum'n'bass (almost drill'n'bass) programming.

Apulati Bien - Holoh [KRAAK/Bandcamp/Promesses/Bandcamp]
Apulati Bien - Blé Noir [KRAAK/Bandcamp/Promesses/Bandcamp]
I'm new to the Brussels-based French artist Apulati Bien, whose debut vinyl release came out this week through excellent long-lived Belgian label KRAAK as a co-release with French/Belgian label Promesses. He's had a few previous releases on Promesses and elsewhere, and I've really enjoyed the sounds on Azone which very nicely reference classic idm/drill'n'bass with a modern post-dubstep/juke twist. There are some glitched/processed vocals on a few tracks, and the only complaint is that it's mastered super quiet for digital. Recommended nevertheless!

Commodo - Living Bones [Black Acre/Bandcamp]
In 2020 Commodo put out three EPs of dingy TV show soundtrack vibes mixed up with dubstep swagger. Now he's back on Black Acre with the three track EP Deft 1s which breaks the mould once again. The closest I can think of is some of Distance's old stuff fusing distorted metal riffs with dubstep, but here's it's nimble postpunk basslines and riffs. It's phenomenal, I've had it on repeat all week.

Montel Palmer - Catastropheland [Planet Rescue/Bandcamp]
Montel Palmer - Satellite Bounce [Planet Rescue/Bandcamp]
Cologne trio Montel Palmer have previously created weird electro bloops-and-bleeps, but for their new album Catastropheland on Planet Rescue they've found bass, and their drum machine emanations are now wrapped in dub echoes. It's a kind of psychedelic krautrock dub, and I for one am not complaining.

Vacuum - Pulse [Heavy Machinery Records/Bandcamp/It Records/Bandcamp]
Vacuum - Pulse (Lakker Remix) [Heavy Machinery Records/Bandcamp/It Records/Bandcamp]
This one's been due for a long time. I previewed the self-titled album from Melbourne duo Vacuum in late November, but it was delayed until now, when you can finally hear their postpunk dub techno sounds. Jenny Branagan and Andrea Blake met playing in bands on the Nihilistic Orbs label, and have played live together as Vacuum for years, but this is finally their first recorded release. Alongside their dark sounds (Suicide meets early HTRK at a dubstep club?) there are remixes by fellow Melbourners Ela Stiles and Sow Discord, industrial hip-hop vibes from the legendary Dälek, and tonight's outing from Dublin-born UFog faves Lakker.

Slikback x Rosa Forever Ft. Kayokyokou - Kwangya [Slikback Bandcamp]
Slikback x Malibu - Uendeligt [Slikback Bandcamp]
Following last year's all-collaborations album MELT, Kenyan producer Slikback with another batch of brilliant crossovers, CONDENSE. His style of glitchy bass music, drawing from trap, juke, dubstep, techno, IDM and more, is distinctive and very online, lending itself to this sort of inter-connectedness, and so we get the high energy syncopations of his track with Poland-based Rosa Forever and someone calling themselves Kayokyokou, while France's Malibu entices Slikback towards her more ambient tendencies.

Malcolm Pardon - Peder Mannerfelt meets 'The Blindspot' [The New Black/Bandcamp]
I was much enamoured of the debut solo album Hello Death from Swedish musician Malcolm Pardon last year. I've been a fan of his duo Stockholm duo Roll The Dice since their debut on Digitalis Recordings in 2010, and here we had piano and synths with none of the sentimentality of a lot of "post-classical" composition. Now he is trickling out a series of remixes from that album. Techno don Regis has already had a go, and the wonderful Klara Lewis contributed a remix you really ought to check out too. But tonight it's his partner-in-crime in Roll The Dice who we're hearing, the ever-unpredictable Peder Mannerfelt, who here creeps into a slow techno pulse with dark sweeping synths.

Jack Prest - Sound I [Jack Prest Bandcamp]
Jack Prest - Sound II [Jack Prest Bandcamp]
Last year, Sydney composer Jack Prest put together an ambitious interdisciplinary work at Phoenix Central Park involving live musical performance, dance and visual art called The Risk of Hyperbole. Now he's released the first of three volumes of music extending the work presented at Phoenix - this one's just titled Sound. Musicians who performed with him are drawn from Ensemble Offspring predominantly, with Claire Edwardes on percussion, Jason Noble on clarinet, Freya Schack-Arnott on cello as well as Ben Freeman on piano and Nicholas Meredith (aka Kcin) on drum kit. Recorded sounds are also interpolated of dancer Azzam Mohamed breathing and moving, and of artists Joe Wilson and Chanelle Collier working with poles, ropes and fabric. The performed work varied from field recordings to ambient and classical through to techno and hip-hop-inspired beats, and there's a bit of all of that on here, with more to come in the further volumes.

Bryce Hackford - Is Anyone Home [Futura Resistenza]
For over a decade, New York musician Bryce Hackford's work has sat somewhere in between dance music, sound-art, pop and contemporary composition. In 2014, UK cellist Oliver Coates reworked "Another Fantasy", a techno piece of Hackford's, and Hackford returned the favour with two remixes of Coates. Hackford's new album Cloud Holding is out next week on Brussels label Futura Resistenza, and on it Hackford sources sounds from many fellow travellers: Ka Baird, Shelley Burgon, Alice Cohen, Michael Hurder, Dominika Mazurova, Camilla Padgitt-Coles. These contributions are mixed with the strange sounds of the Suzuki "Nobara" synthesizer, which emulates the koto, allowing the user to tune it to Japanese or Western scales. There's something quite ethereal about the music here, sometimes veering into vapourwavey sacharine sweetness, but often charmingly off-kilter.

soccer Committee - Le Jardin (Wouter van Veldhoven version) [Moving Furniture Records/Bandcamp/Bandcamp]
Last year I celebrated the first new album from soccer Committee, the solo work of singer Mariska Baars, for 14 years. It turns out that her other album was in fact her second, and the self-titled soccer Committee was released in a limited run on CDR in 2005. It's now available again via Moving Furniture Records, in a proper CD edition with two remixes - one from Machinefabriek, who's the reason I originally heard of soccer Committee, and the other from another hidden genius of Dutch music, Wouter van Veldhoven, whose fragile tape constructions have beguiled me for years. Van Veldhoven collages Baars' voice and maybe guitar into waves of tape hiss.

Robbie Lee & Lea Bertucci - Twine and Tape [Telegraph Harp]
Robbie Lee & Lea Bertucci - Image Mirror [Telegraph Harp]
I know NYC composer Lea Bertucci from her exploration of site-specific acoustic phenomena (e.g. the brilliant Acoustic Shadows), work with computer, and her own playing on clarinet, sax, flute and other instruments. On Winds Bells Falls however, she's working tape and effects in realtime while fellow New Yorker plays Robbie Lee plays celeste, flutes, gemshorn, contrabass recorder and orchestral chimes. These different instruments each interact in beautiful and strange ways with their tape-manipulated shadows, warping in pitch and flickering in and out alongside their real counterparts. A little bit of magic.

Machinefabriek - Kim's Back / Sixty-Nine [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Rutger Zuydervelt, aka Machinefabriek, has of late been releasing material from dance works. Our Arms Grew Together is his second collaboration with Marta & Kim, who combine dance with circus performance. This is quite an avant-garde score, made with typical restraint, but occasional rhythmic passages appear as well.

part timer - genix [part timer Bandcamp]
Speaking of occasional rhythmic passages, having explored crystalline piano & strings over the last couple of years, Melbourne's part timer is now striking out into glitchy beats, reminiscent of his folktronic beginnings, albeit with a gentle ambient tilt. What I've heard of his recent studies (some of which you can hear at his SoundCloud) suggests there's much more exciting stuff to come...

Sweeney - The Break Up [Observable Universe Recordings/Sound In Silence]
Sweeney - You Will Move On [Observable Universe Recordings/Sound In Silence]
We've heard a lot from Jason Sweeney recently on Utility Fog - solo works, duo Pretty Boy Crossover, Other People's Children and ambient as Panoptique Electrical. Under his surname he's focused of late on gothic pop works, with dramatic vocals, piano and electronics. Stay For The Sorrow, released on vinyl via his Observable Universe Recordings and CDR through Greek label Sound In Silence, is a record of a break up, a broken heart, and a slow mending. It's dramatic and beautiful.

Listen again — ~199MB


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