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experimental electronica
electric string quartet

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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Playlists are listed with artist name first, then track title and (remixer), then [record label]. Enjoy the links.

Monday, 23rd of May, 2022

Playlist 22.05.22 (11:54 pm)

Experimental music for a new government! Things are looking better for the climate, the arts, a Federal ICAC and much more today in Australia.

LISTEN AGAIN because who's gonna stop you? Podcast here, stream on demand there.

Joe Rainey - jr. flip [37d03d/Bandcamp]
Joe Rainey - ch 1222 [37d03d/Bandcamp]
I've been looking forward to this album since I first heard "No Chants" back in February. Ojibwe singer Joe Rainey has collected and made recordings of Pow Wows from his Native American culture for many years, and on this album his powerfully moving vocals are combined with heavily distorted percussion and spoken word from his archives, filtered through the incredible production of Andrew Broder, whose Fog project started as lo-fi hip-hop and migrated through free jazz indietronica to post-IDM bass music. These stunning songs are probably unlike anything you're going to hear anytime soon, both due to the tradition Rainey's preserving here, and through his inspired collaboration with Broder.

Marina Herlop - abans abans [PAN/Bandcamp]
Marina Herlop - lyssof [PAN/Bandcamp]
Barcelona-based singer and pianist Marina Herlop is classically trained, and lists Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Béla Bartok and Aram Khachaturian among her influences. But then you notice Holly Herndon, Venetian Snares and Plaid in there too and you start to see how her latest album is released by PAN. Aided by James Ginzburg on the mix, the songs here shift and scatter with technological interventions, while retaining the classically-trained vocal precision and pianistic technique. Piano lines are glitched and stuttered while experimental beats drop in & out, and Herlop's vocal style draws from Southern Indian Carnatic traditions, Jewish cantorial singing, Eastern European folk choirs and of course r'n'b and pop as well as classical. There's a lot of joy in this work, a lot of emotion and a lot of that acoustic/digital slipperiness that Utility Fog loves so much.

Cult of Luna - Beyond I feat. Mariam Wallentin [Metal Blade/Bandcamp]
Cult of Luna - Into the Night [Metal Blade/Bandcamp]
It might seem strange to move now to Sweden's post-metal legends Cult of Luna, but their "post-" status and influences from industrial and experimental music are a good fit for UFog, even without the excellent guests on their new record The Long Road North. On a few tracks, Colin Stetson's multiphonic circular-breathing saxophone features, and one particularly calm piece is adorned with the vocals of fellow Swede Mariam Wallentin, aka Mariam The Believer, of Fire! Orchestra and Wildbirds & Peacedrums. There's a deep emotiveness to this music, with guests or not - as found in Kristian Karlsson's vocals on "Into the Night", with its chromatic harmonies and gradual postrock crescendo.

Aidan Baker - Dramatic Illumination I [Cruel Nature Recordings]
Aidan Baker - Done [Improved Sequence]
Another versatile metal legend, Aidan Baker of Nadja, kept himself busy during lockdowns creating album after album of solo music. While Baker collaborates far and wide, he's also prolific on his own, whether it's drone guitar, krautrock grooves with free jazz drums or drum machines, undistorted minimalist songs or epic shoegaze metal. So just this year, along with a solo bonus with Nadja's Nalepa album on Midira Records, and a host of compilation appearances, there was the great experimental book soundtrack The Sheep Look Up (which I've already featured), ambient/drone on Cloud Chamber, drone also on Slow Tone Collages, and tonight's entries: Tenebrist on Cruel Nature Recordings is a selection of free rock pieces with jazz-influenced drums that morph into krautrock jams or psych noise freakouts. Meanwhile Songs of Undoing on Improved Sequence collects slowcore and deconstructed grunge songs, although tonight's slow piece is an instrumental.

Zeno van den Broek & Otto Kokke - Cloud Chamber [Moving Furniture Records/Bandcamp]
Gemma Bass & Coen Oscar Polack - Happenstance [Moving Furniture Records/Bandcamp]
Kay Stephen & Production Unit - I Played With Everyone [Moving Furniture Records/Bandcamp]
This is release MFR100 is the self-referential title of - you guessed it - the 100th release from Dutch experimental label Moving Furniture Records. And, as well as raising money for Dutch suicide prevention organisation 113, it's a powerful overview of the kind of experimental music the label presents, through 25 duo collaborations, all clocking in at 4 minutes precisely. There's an emphasis on Dutch artists, but contributions are found from Canada, Scotland, Turkey, Norway, Greece, Italy, and no doubt other places I couldn't identify. Tonight's selections give an idea of what's to be found: Dutch sound-artist Zeno van den Broek & saxophonist Otto Kokke of Dutch noise duo Dead Neanderthals present a beautiful, disturbing soundscape of smeared sax and field recordings; British violinist Gemma Bass plays expressive violin fragments over percussive found sounds (maybe glass?) from Dutch musician Coen Oscar Polack. And the viola of Scottish musician Kay Stephen competes with lurching spoken words glitched beyond recognition from fellow Scot Production Unit.

nightports w/ tom herbert - lumin [Leaf/Bandcamp]
nightports w/ tom herbert - hydrodynamica [Leaf/Bandcamp]
The latest album from UK duo Nightports' series on The Leaf Label, each based purely on the sounds of their collaborator's instrument, has as its subject the double bass of Polar Bear's Tom Herbert. At times Herbert's playing is seemingly untouched, with long bowed melodies and drones, sawing tremolo and rhythmic bowed ostinati, pizzicato basslines, but all these and percussive sounds from the instrument's resonant wooden body contribute to tracks which echo IDM and minimal techno. It's a worth addition to Nightports' previous work with pianist Matthew Bourne and percussionist Maxwell Hallett.

YOUTH - Nuclear Winter [YOUTH]
Manchester label YOUTH specialise often in an overdriven, ultra-compressed form of dubstep & UK bass music, and that's well represented on this uncredited 12". "Nuclear Winter" is so compressed that its waveform hardly varies, held down by an almost droning bassline while a broken post-garage/dubstep beat drops in and out.

Walton - Rush [Sneaker Social Club]
Walton - Detach [Sneaker Social Club]
Also from Manchester, Walton also resides in a post-dubstep/grime/uk garage/uk funky club-adjacent world generally, and his short album on Sneaker Social Club highlights these uk bass forms, with the title track "Rush" a particular hard-hitting highlight. But interludes like "Detach" let the ambient synths do the talking, until a simple kick and bass hit underline dancing synth lines.

Jurango - Concrete Blossom [[re]sources]
Meanwhile, over in Bristol, Livity Sound-affiliated Jurango returns to Paris label [re]sources with an EP that blends his dancehall influences with uk bass and techno... leading us into...

Deena Abdelwahed & Basile3 - Alpha GPC [InFiné Music/Bandcamp]
Toulouse-based Tunisian producer Deena Abdelwahed here teams up with French producer Basile3 for three tracks of bass-inflected techno on InFiné Music. It's infectious stuff.

COH - Gear Chill Spell [Noton]
COH - Fear into Dust [Noton]
Russian musician Ivan Pavlov's CoH (or sometimes COH) reads as "SON" in Cyrillic script, and is convenient in its ambiguity - it means "dream" or "sleep" in Russian, and he's punningly titled an album CoHgs (combine the two scripts to read "SoNgs"). Many of his albums are themed, around his love of postpunk or doom metal or '80s electro-pop or industrial pioneers, around voice (including a whole album with Throbbing Gristle's Cosey Fanni Tutti), or indeed around Strings (specifically piano strings, guitar strings, and those of the oud and saz). So to his latest album, from Alva Noto's Noton, which is entitled WYFF (While Your Guitar Gently) and it is indeed all guitar, from soft walking basslines and pulsating glitched fragments to IDM & shattered techno and estranged riffage. Whatever the influences and whatever the source material, CoH's minimal glitch core is retained, producing in total an impressively wide-ranging yet consistent ouevre.

Matmos - Cobra Wages Shuffle / Off! Schable w gurę! [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Matmos - Flight to Sodom / Lot do Salo [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Baltimore duo & couple Matmos are also consistent in their techniques of sonic estrangement and collage, exploring a vague terrain of IDM, glitch, folktronica, contemporary classical and avant-garde over 3 decades now. Regards/Ukłony dla Bogusław Schaeffer finds them in Poland, where they were given access to the entire catalogue of Polish avant-garde composer (and musicologist and graphic artist) Bogusław Schaeffer. As always with Matmos, this is no literal interpretation or remix of Schaeffer's work. Fragments from many compositions are sampled, edited and rearranged by M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel, interpolated with additional performances from Schmidt and various other collaborators. Few people outside of Poland are familiar with Schaeffer's work, so this is quite a cryptic tribute. Nevertheless, Matmos never fail to entertain, and the source material was provided much grist for their technological mill, whether in more abstract form or with glitchy, crunchy IDMish beatforms.

Carl Stone - Wat Dong Moon Lek [Unseen Worlds/Bandcamp]
LA/Japan-based computer music pioneer Carl Stone has seen a renaissance since the Unseen Worlds label released two archival albums of his a few years ago. Active since the mid-1908s, Stone developed a technique to time-slice through existing recordings using granular synthesis to produce garbled yet musical live remixes & mashups. On his last couple of albums this has resulted in strangely rhythmic stuff that's like dance music as interpreted by 19th century robots(?) - and on the title track of his latest, Wat Dong Moon Lek (all his titles come from the names of Asian restaurants), a Thai lounge jazz track is the source, smeared and sliced for 5 minutes, while the intro and coda are charmingly left untouched.

Listen again — ~210MB

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Wednesday, 18th of May, 2022

Playlist 15.05.22 (12:45 am)

We got jungle-hip-hop; gqom; various experimental electronic forms with jungle, dubstep & techno influences; international sound-art; Haitian-American folk; and cello!

LISTEN AGAIN as if your very life depends on it! Podcast here, stream on demand from FBi.

They Hate Change - Who Next [Jagjaguwar/Bandcamp]
They Hate Change - Screwface [godmode/Bandcamp]
They Hate Change - Coded Language (Interlude) [Jagjaguwar/Bandcamp]
Discovering the jungle-loving rap duo They Hate Change was one of the great moments of 2020. Dre and Vonne grew up in Florida's Tampa Bay, and courtesy of the internet became immersed in UK club music, especially jungle & grime. Their rapping is as American as it comes, with Vonne's gender fluidity an important part of the mix. Despite their non-conforming status, it was still surprising to find them signed to indie/experimental label Jagjaguwar last year, after EPs on smaller labels like godmode, but all power to them, and now we have their debut full length Finally, New, with their signature sound intact. Oh - and I can't help think of a classic jungle/US hip-hop crossover with "Coded Language" (Krust & Saul Williams) but, like all with They Hate Change, it's very much its own thing. Bigups!

Phelimuncasi - Wazini Ngo Qoh (prod DJ MP3) [Nyege Nyege Tapes/Bandcamp]
Phelimuncasi - Ngavele Ngagaxela (Prod by DJ Scoturn) [Nyege Nyege Tapes/Bandcamp]
Phelimuncasi - I don't feel my legs (prod DJ Nhlekzin) [Nyege Nyege Tapes/Bandcamp]
More cause for celebration: A whole new album from Durban gqom crew Phelimuncasi, following 2020's 2013-2019 collection. Here the beats come from various locals including frequent collaborator DJ Scoturn, some bouncy productions from DJ MP3, and newcomer DJ Nhlekzin as well, while the three members (two men and one woman) rap & sing in isiZulu and English. While gqom is thought of as a South African form of house music, it's unique, and there are hints of UK funky, dancehall and African traditions in there, with deep bass and a minimalist aesthetic. Exciting stuff.

Slikback - SEQUENCE [Bandcamp]
Way up the coast in Kenya is Slikback, still pumping out at least one EP a month on his Bandcamp. May brings us almost junglist IDM with pop samples, while the third track is a rare near-ambient beauty.

x/o - Cyclone Scream [Precious Metals/Bandcamp]
x/o - Mirror Shard, Phoenix Down [Precious Metals/Bandcamp]
x/o - Chrysalis Wrath [Precious Metals/Bandcamp]
Proving that the jungle & trip-hop revival is in full swing is the debut album Chaos Butterfly from Vietnamese-Canadian producer x/o aka Veron Xio. Xio's pop-inspired vocals appear (perhaps hyperpop? I couldn't say), but often buried in glitchy production and breakbeats. The sweeping neon-rain of vaporwave synths inhabit these tracks, and the general approach is very '20s rather than '90s, but it's still striking hearing those signature sounds here, and definitely worth giving a listen.

TSVI & Loraine James - Awaiting [AD 93/Bandcamp]
TSVI & Loraine James - Observe [AD 93/Bandcamp]
The juxtaposition of twinkly ambient, including piano, with jungle and rave beats is shared with the new duo release from London-based Italian TSVI (co-founder of percussive electronic label Nervous Horizon) and the always-brilliant Loraine James. Released by AD 93 - who've also released TSVI under his percussive house alias Anunaku, including a collab with our own DJ Plead - 053 surprises with choral samples as well as piano, veering between TSVI's percussion and Loraine James' IDM breaks. As great as you'd expect.

Air Max '97 - Paroxysm ft. TSVI [DECISIONS/Bandcamp]
Air Max '97 - Coriolis [DECISIONS/Bandcamp]
TSVI also gives us a nice segue into our next artist. In 2019, TSVI featured on a track from Australian (but also UK/Holland/New Zealand) experimental club hero Air Max '97. The latest EP from Air Max, Coriolis, is also released on his DECISIONS Records, with precision-engineered beats syncopated just right.

Glass - Appointment Scheduling System [OOH-Sounds/Bandcamp]
Glass - crY (Klahrk Remix) [OOH-Sounds/Bandcamp]
Air Max '97 is always near but never quite drum'n'bass, or dubstep, or garage... French duo Glass are somewhat breakcore-adjacent, definitely draw on jungle, and have a vaporwave hue to them. Last year they released crY on the eclectic OOH-Sounds, and it's just been augmented - with a CD edition, no less - as crY Remixed. The original deconstructed jungle/IDM tracks are all there, along with a live cut and some choice remixes. UK IDMster Klahrk keeps things in place with mysterious sound design and sparse mashed amen breaks.

Atsushi Izumi - Nos [Opal Tapes]
Anode - Multiplex [Anode Bandcamp]
Atsushi Izumi - 12G2 [Opal Tapes]
Between genres though this may be, Atsushi Izumi started off producing intense drum'n'bass, neurofunk by my reckoning, as Anode. Under his own name, he's slowed things down a little, bass-heavy techno with dubstep inflections and occasional more open sounding sound-art. His new album for Opal Tapes, Houzan Archives, is a stunner from start to finish, techno sometimes with a drum'n'bass tinge. I can't get enough of it.

Atom™ - Hartcode [Raster/Bandcamp]
Just a couple of weeks ago, Uwe Schmidt aka Atom™ released a four-track EP of mysterious quasi-ambient called Golden Real with little fanfare on his NN label. Now this Friday came the surprise release of Neuer Mensch ("New Human") on CD & digital through the legendary glitch/minimal electronic label Raster. It follows his drill'n'bassy faux-idoru album <3 and various attached EP/singles, and it's jittery minimal techno, evoking human-machine hybrids. Being Atom™, it's genius in its own special way.

Michel Banabila - Toy Shop [Michel Banabila Bandcamp]
Michel Banabila - Map Symbols [Michel Banabila Bandcamp
Dutch musician Michel Banabila is a frequent visitor to these playlists, often in a very "fourth world" vein. You could hear his latest, Monochromes, through that stylistic pigeonhole, but I enjoyed how weirdly & rightly "Toy Shop" blended out of Atom™'s minimal techno, with its tumbling percussion. "Map Symbols" is ambient layers of pitch-shifted clarinet and watery field recordings, slightly uncomfortably discordant rather than peaceful. Excellent sound-art.

Adam Badí Donoval - Birdsong In The Car Park [The Trilogy Tapes/Bandcamp]
More excellent sound-art here from Adam Badí Donoval, whose Warm Winters Ltd has presented some beautiful music in the last couple of years (e.g. Martyna Basta, who appears on this album). On his debut album for The Trilogy Tapes, titled Sometimes Life Is Hard And So We SHould Help Each Other, Donoval blends field recordings and looped acoustic instrments with electronic treatments with highly varied intent, from the folktronica acoustic guitar cut-ups on this track to extended subaquatic looped pulses. Quite captivating.

Leyla McCalla - Le Bal est Fini [ANTI-/Bandcamp]
Leyla McCalla - Nan Fon Bwa [ANTI-/Bandcamp]
From Donoval to Leyla McCalla could be a change of pace, except that the acoustic guitar and field recordings are all in place here. McCalla is a brilliant Haitian-American musician who plays cello as well as guitar, banjo etc, and sings beautifully both in French-derived Haitian Creole and in English. Her first album set the words of African-American poet Langston Hughes to music, and the second followed the musical template of bluegrass and Haitian folk, often played with strummed and bowed cello, sometimes in more traditional settings. A more recent album moved into more of a blues setting, but Breaking The Thermometer, her first for the ANTI- label, takes her back to Haitian folk territory, with a suite of songs derived from her stage work Breaking The Thermometer To Hide The Fever. This work saw her researching Radio Haiti, and the tragic, criminal colonial history of her homeland, and samples from interviews on that radio station as well as field recordings are interspersed through the album. I couldn't help also playing the lively opening track, an instrumental led by her cello, and a nice segue into our last two tracks.

Adrian Copeland - No Heat No Light [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
Adrian Copeland - Heir to the Ember Sun [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
Montréaler Adrian Copeland is best known under his Alder & Ash moniker, under which he plays his cello through various guitar pedals, looping riffs and melodies in doom/sludge/drone style. His new album If This Were My Body, once again via Lost Tribe Sound, comes out under his own name with good reason: the distortion pedals are dropped in favour of beautifully-recorded acoustic cello, plucked, bowed, tapped and knocked (with some tiny additions on piano in one track). There are some gorgeous passages as things crescendo and relent. There are shimmering tremolos, tumbling broken chords, strummed chords, plucked basslines, and some passionate upper register soloing at times. While there's a lot of turmoil and sadness here, there are also surprisingly positive and peaceful tracks. A very satisfying, very successful album.

Listen again — ~205MB

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Tuesday, 10th of May, 2022

Playlist 08.05.22 (1:08 am)

A dizzy tour through computer folk, club and non-club electronics, indie doom, experimental hip-hop and industrial drill, contemporary classical and drone...

LISTEN AGAIN, I do this for you. Stream on demand with FBi, podcast here.

Borja Flames - Superación [Murailles Music/Bandcamp/Les Disques du Festival Permanent/Bandcamp]
Borja Flames - Lepanto w/ Marion Cousin [Les Disques du Festival Permanent/Bandcamp]
Borja Flames - Nuevo medievo [Murailles Music/Bandcamp/Les Disques du Festival Permanent/Bandcamp]
Originally from Spain but based in France for many years, Borja Flames has been plying his unique electronic folk weirdness for some time. He's frequently worked with Marion Cousin, a singer with a deep interest in sidelined folk musics of the Iberian Peninsula - their duo June et Jim has recently transformed into Catalina Matorral, which I look forward to checking out soon. Borja Flames' last two albums were released through Les Disques du Festival Permanent, the label run by cellist Gaspar Claus (who is French, but his father Pedro Soler is a highly respected flamenco guitarist), although the latest is co-released with booking agency Murailles Music. Nuevo Medievo is indeed titled in Spanish - it's "New Medieval", a very nice description of the contents. Along with Cousin again, Rachel Langlais also joins on synths and vocals, and Paul Loiseau lends additional percussion. It's part of a wave of highly idiosyncratic, groundbreaking music from France, highly recommended.

Coco Em - Winyo Nungo Feat. MC Sharon & Wuod Baba [InFiné Music/Bandcamp]
Coco Em - Kilumi Feat. Ndunge Wa Kalele [InFiné Music/Bandcamp]
Emma Nzioka is a filmmaker and an electronic producer as Coco Em. She's a leading light in the fantastic electronic scene from Nairobi, Kenya, taking many African styles including kuduro, lingala and ampiano and mixing them with worldwide electronic dance styles. That's resulted in a truly exciting listen on her Kilumi EP with French label InFiné Music. Various vocalists guest on different tracks, but it's a particularly lovely touch on the title track when Nzioka brings in a sample credited to "Ndunge Wa Kalele with Kamba women", from Kenya, recorded in the Smithsonian Folkways' International Library of African Music.

R-T-FAX - Circuit Breakaa [Deep Scan]
Obelisk - Spire [Deep Scan]
I played a couple of tracks from Deep Scan's Solid State Drive 2 compilation a couple of weeks ago - a breakcore-focused compilation featuring Sydney artists as well as producers from around Australia and the world. Tonight I'm revisiting it with two Sydney artists. Erin Nortje, aka R-T-FAX, is one half of Deep Scan with Tom Vanderzeil. Her track splices junglist breaks into a half-time, stop-start, bass-heavy monster. Brilliant. Meanwhile, Sydney DJ and event organiser Obelisk throws us into a hellish blender.

Intense - Time Space Continuem (Ricky Force Remix) [Future Retro]
Essentially a 2022 refix, this remix by Dublin's Ricky Force was cleared by Tim Reaper for his Future Retro label. It takes a stone cold jungle classic from '93 by Intense (also known as Babylon Timewarp) and preserves much of the structure, rearranging the beats and beefing up the bass, as well as rewriting the bridge. Check the original, but this is killer.

Travis Cook - interzone [Travis Cook Bandcamp]
The notorious Travis Cook, infamous as one half of Collarbones with Marcus Whale, drops one of his occasional tracks for Bandcamp Friday. "Interzone" mashes up unlikely source material into trance/rave madness, with profits going to Shine SA.

Stefan Goldmann - Oyotung [Macro Records]
Stefan Goldmann - Nayba [Macro Records]
Berlin techno producer Stefan Goldmann does 4/4 with the best of them, but also has a sideline in experimental beats and sound-art (his father was the composer & conductor Friedrich Goldmann), and for his latest release on his Macro label he deconstructs the beats and barlines into strange polyrhythms, sometimes frenetic and sometimes calm, always flowing with liquid grace. This is pure electronic music, although the melodic and textural elements tend towards gamelan-like bells and tuned percussion. It's engrossing music for mind & body.

MONO KIOSKO - Loose Focus [MONO KIOSKO Bandcamp]
the empty sleeps - panthers (dental jams / ezroh remix) [the empty sleeps Bandcamp]
MONO KIOSKO - Velvet Stucco [MONO KIOSKO Bandcamp]
Adelaide hip-hop heads dental jams & ezroh have worked together for a while, appearing last year with a nice overdriven remix of fellow Adelaidians the empty sleeps. They now wish to be known as MONO KIOSKO, and their debut album is a joyous mixtape of downtempo, head-nodding beats. It's got the feel of a lo-fi Avalanches jam, and will appeal to any instrumental hip-hop fans.

BUSDRIVER - <______________ [Busdriver Bandcamp, already gone]
This was a track of weirdo alt-rap from BUSDRIVER, who's one of the kings of complex, experimental underground rap. I just found out that in 2018 (or 2017 even?) he was accused of sexual assault, and although it appears not to have gone anywhere, it sounds pretty credible (as do most public accusations of that sort). It's very disappointing, although there were always elements of his lyrics that I found troubling to be honest. His whole music release strategy has been weird for some time, and I'm sure he's got some fucked up mental shit going on, but if he's been abusive to women there's no excuse and I'm sorry to have given him airtime.

Blackhaine - Stained Materials [Fixed Abode/Bandcamp]
Blackhaine - Black Lights on the M6 (JordanLuca OST) [Fixed Abode/Bandcamp]
Blackhaine - And Salford Falls Apart [Fixed Abode/Bandcamp]
Named in part after the incendiary French movie La Haine, Lancashire rapper Blackhaine makes the bleakest and angriest drill I've heard, with cohort Rainy Miller and more recently Croww underlining and entwining his anguished howls and poetry with industrial menace. Meanwhile Blackhaine himself, aka Tom Heyes, accompanies his vocals with astonishing and moving contemporary dance - check his insane choreography for Flohio's Unveiled (and some intense behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage). Intensity is the name of the game with his work, whether unsettling calm or massive distorted waves of sound that at times overwhelm his voice. He gives visceral voice to the depressing realities of working class life in post-Brexit England. I await Armour II with baited breath (and some trepidation).

Helms Alee - Keep This Be The Way [Sargent House/Bandcamp]
Helms Alee - See Sights, Smell Smells [Sargent House/Bandcamp]
Seattle band (and oh boy, there's really something in the water up in Washington State, hey) Helms Alee are a strange and wondrous amalgam of classic indie rock and hardcore punk/doom/sludge metal. All three members - two women and one man - contribute vocals along with the guitar/bass/drums, with stunning harmonisation juxtaposed with gutteral yells. Each album is an evolution for the band, and in creating this latest through lockdowns in a makeshift studio together, they were able to splice in tape experiments and strange interludes, then adding in contributions from friends including renowned cellist Lori Goldston. It's a pretty thrilling album for lovers of US indie rock and metal alike.

Gantz - Foreboder [Gantz Bandcamp]
Turkish post-dubstepper Gantz is one of those artists who's thrived with Bandcamp's monthly schedule of fee-free Fridays. Like many other recent offerings, this month's Unspeakable EP features strangely fizzly, processed beats somewhere between his classic dubstep/trip-hop and Autechre, and on some tracks here he's distorting his synths to the extent that they sound more like shoegaze or grunge riffs than anything you'd find on a dancefloor. But dancefloors aren't really the target of Gantz's music at the moment, and that doesn't worry me...

Hüma Utku - Ataxia [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
Hüma Utku - Continuing Bonds [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
I was transfixed by the work of Berlin-based, Istanbul-born Hüma Utku since her first EP (as R.A.N.) in 2018 on Karlrecords. An album followed in 2019, and she was then given the high accolade of signing to the great Editions Mego - but tragically, the label's Peter Rehberg died of a heart attack in mid-2021. Lucky for us, everything slated for release is still being put out by the various artists & others associated with the label, so we get Utku's magnificent album The Psychologist, released as it should be on Editions Mego. The title is a reference to Utku's qualifications in psychology, but also to the album's focus on psychological phenomena, and the human element of Utku's own voice, albeit often pitch-shifted and processed. Aside from this, the album continues her use of industrial ambiences and textures, repetitive beats and samples, but also introduces creative string arrangements. All this lifts The Psychologist to a new level in an already gripping career.

Randi Pontoppidan & Povl Kristian - Awareness [Chant Records/Bandcamp]
Randi Pontoppidan & Povl Kristian - Juno & Eros [Chant Records/Bandcamp]
Danish singer Randi Pontoppidan is powerhouse of vocal creativity - not just vocal techniques, but also the use of technology with her voice. She is also an accomplished improviser, and it's perhaps more surprising to find that her collaborator here, the film composer Povl Kristian, interacts so instinctively with her on the piano in this wonderful album of spontaneous compositions, Life In Life. There's little to indicate that these aren't contemporary compositions, with ambiguous tonal centres and quiveringly evocative discords, and beautiful extra-musical touches from Pontoppidan's electronics. It's an antidote to the glut of "neo-classical" prettiness - any "subtle electronics" here are employed in a context of an unsettling and deeply satisfying lack of compromise.

Leah Kardos - Little Beating Heart [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]
Here, mind you, is post-classical prettiness in its ideal form, by a master (and incidentally a David Bowie expert). Leah Kardos, based in London for some time but with her roots in Australia, created this single "Little Beating Heart" for bigo & twigetti's third Perceptions compilation exploring different approaches to piano music. Here it's twinkly felted piano but it slows grows with textural additions through a kind of orchestrated shoegaze crescendo and then settles back again. A delight, as always.

Robert Takahashi Crouch / Lawrence English - Body Ritual [Room40/Bandcamp]
On his last album, US musician Robert Takahashi Crouch opened with a 20-minute piece called "Ritual", which was actually excerpted from a two-hour improvisation performed for his partner, the ambient musician Yann Novak. Following the album's release, Crouch decided to turn this very personal, private creation over to various trusted friends to reinterpret as they saw fit. Tonight, we heard Room40 label boss Lawrence English's minimalist drones and deeply submerged kick pulse. As well as Novak himself, I have to draw attention to the nearly-14-minute reworking from Faith Coloccia, which I was unable to fit in tonight.

Minus Pilots - We Dream Dreams And Scribble Stars [PLAYNEUTRAL]
Finishing with another Ukraine-related compilation, from the relatively new UK experimental label PLAYNEUTRAL. Their Ukraine Appeal is PWYC with all profits to the Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal, and has some gorgeous exclusive pieces from the likes of Aidan Baker, Simon Scott, Machinefabriek, Library Tapes & Jakob Lindhagen, and this beauty from the very consistent sound-art duo Minus Pilots. Starting with close harmonies on strings, it slowly evolves through postrock sounds and sampled voices. Even if you're exhausted by bad news and appeals, do yourself a favour, contribute what you can and absorb the beautiful offerings here.

Listen again — ~202MB

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Wednesday, 4th of May, 2022

Playlist 01.05.22 (12:57 am)

Industrial's influence on hip-hop, metal, techno and more, IDM, post-r'n'b techno, math rock, folktronica and ambient. Wishing you a very Utility Fog May Day.

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dälek - The Harbingers [Ipecac/Bandcamp]
dälek - Holistic [Ipecac/Bandcamp]
dälek - Abandoned Language [Ipecac/Bandcamp]
Although the last dälek album proper was 5 years ago (almost as long as the break between 2010 and their "reformation" in 2016), there's been an EP and a series of "Meditations", mostly solo work from Will Brooks, created during 2020's pandemic months. Still, it's awesome to have a full album from dälek as a "group" again, with Mike Mare's added noisemaking throughout. A pioneering force in industrial hip-hop or noise-hop or whatever you want to call it, dälek merge Public Enemy's hard-hitting politics and uncompromising beats with squalls of noise and distortion borrowed from shoegaze & metal - and indeed they've tended to find themselves on metal-aligned labels more than hip-hop, with Mike Patton's Ipecac their home on much of the way. Precipice has all the hallmarks of a great dälek release, very welcome around these parts. I also played the beloved title track to 2007's Abandoned Language, replete with its gorgeous blissed-out outro.

SCALPING - Desire [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
SCALPING - Flashforward [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
Approaching industrial noise from another direction entirely, Bristol quartet SCALPING combine techno maximalism with riffs and samples in a way that can't help but recall the mid-'90s metal/rock fusion with electronics. Their debut album Void, released by Fabric club-aligned Houndstooth, is a rollicking fun time, but it strongly reminds me of a band from my youth...

Pop Will Eat Itself - Everything's Cool (youth's dragonfly mix) [Infectious]
In particular the riffs, beats and wordless female vocal samples are eerily reminiscent of Pop Will Eat Itself's 2004 single "Everything's Cool", represented here by the "Dragonfly mix", one of a number produced by Killing Joke bassist and dub/trance master Youth. I have seen the future and this is how it begins.

Tilman Robinson and Kcin - Skull Emoji [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]
Last week I played a preview of the new EP from Melbourne composer/producer Tilman Robinson and Sydney percussionist/producer Kcin, musical visionaries both. Requiem for the Holocene is out now, all fizzling, crackling drones and subs and percussion (except for the more elegiac title track). Don't miss this!

Bacchus Harsh - Crepusculum Mirable [Bacchus Harsh Bandcamp]
Christian Bishop continues with his Bacchus Harsh identity, a somewhat more versatile and sometimes less abrasive project than the breakcore stuff as Xian that he's previously been famous for. As you'll hear here, even when working on a classic synth at MESS (Mebourne Electronic Sound Studio), he manages to bring in the jungle influence to his dark electronica.

digital selves - Eurostar [Cherche Encore/Bandcamp]
digital selves - Happier without [Cherche Encore/Bandcamp]
Speaking of jungle influences... digital selves is Lizzie Wilson, a live-coder, researcher into computation creativity and electronic musician whose second EP error topography has just been released by Cherche Encore. It's a cool collection of glitchy IDM stuff, restless and dense with detail. It also comes with a super cool video by Joana Chicau.

µ-Ziq - Magic Pony Ride (Pt.1) [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
You're going to get bored with how much I'll be talking about µ-Ziq this year - or, no you won't, because Mike Paradinas is a legend! So, following the Goodbye EP we're getting Magic Pony Ride, the much-vaunted new album that's his continuation of the 25-year-old work of genius Lunatic Harness, which will see a multi-disc expanded remaster in a few months. Strongly influenced by jungle, but still with Mike P's signature talent for melody and orchestration, it's a beloved album and so it's great that Mike is returning to these sounds in the midst of a pretty substantial jungle revival two & a half decades later. Other than "Goodbye", "Magic Pony Ride (Pt.1)" is the first single from the album, and it's everything you'd expect/hope for.

Kelly Lee Owens - Release [Smalltown Supersound/Bandcamp]
Kelly Lee Owens - Voice [Smalltown Supersound/Bandcamp]
Welsh musician Kelly Lee Owens is never one to be pigeonholed, occupying a strange space of dreamy house/electronica with occasional vocals and bouts of darkness and grit. Her albums so far have been released on Norwegian label Smalltown Supersound, and just as the pandemic hit she took herself off to Oslo and bunked down to record a new album, working with the great noisemeister and producer Lasse Marhaug, who's worked with the likes of Jenny Hval, Susanna and others. When she was finished, she told the label she'd created her "eighth album" - and indeed album #3 is titled LP.8. As far as I can see this is going entirely unexplained, which I find deligthful. Owens recently played this entire album to an audience at Sydney's Phoenix Central Park, which I couldn't make it to, but I hear was supported by a special scent for the evening, and lots of swirling fog. It's a pretty experimental album, but still all Kelly Lee Owens. I do particularly like the rather dark opening tracks, but fans of her previous work will certainly enjoy this one in its entirety too.

Batu - Solace feat. serpentwithfeet [Timedance/Bandcamp]
Batu - Squall [Timedance/Bandcamp]
Batu - Atavism [Timedance/Bandcamp]
Omar McCutcheon is a mainstay in the Bristol music scene, coming up through dubstep into all sorts of dancefloor genres as Batu, and through his curation of the brilliant Timedance label. His new solo album Opal is a remarkable achievement, pushing his music into new directions with instrumental contributions throughout from Will Yates aka memotone, some material from adopted Aussie Air Max '97, and a beautiful, creepy vocal from serpentwithfeet that we heard tonight. There are certainly beat excursions of all sorts, all of which hint at UK bass genres without quite bedding down into dubstep, garage, jungle or anything else. That's suitable for Timedance, which dances to its own tune, but it's still an impressive statement from the label leader and an album that I think will need multiple more airings to fully digest.

Mads Emil Nielsen - Constellation [arbitrary/Bandcamp]
In smaller quantities comes the first in a series of 7"s from Danish sound-artist Mads Emil Nielsen on his arbitrary label, each in collaboartion with Chromacolor, a project of Hanno Leichtmann. Constallation finds him in abstract dub form, evocative and not quite rhythmic, and his track is backed with a reworking from Leichtmann which expands the work in scope while keeping its foundations.

Cola de Zorro - Largo camino al silencio [LeRockPsicophonique/Bandcamp]
Cola de Zorro - El desierto avanza [LeRockPsicophonique/Bandcamp]
This is ia hell of a discovery. Cola de Zorro are a Chilean band, in this incarnation sounding mostly like a post-/math/kraut/psych-rock hybrid, with a history stretching back over a decade and a half. The mathy postrock vibes here are really great, shot through with a Latin American feel that reminds me just a tiny bit of the wonderful Dos Santos. But then we have "Largo camino al silencio", in which César Bernal swaps his bass guitar for double bass for an extraordinary performance of melodies and broken chords, eventually accompanied by drum machine as it builds to its climax. A wonderful surprise on a wonderful album.

Crewdson & Cevanne - Drinking Song [Accidental Records/Bandcamp]
Crewdson & Cevanne - Sailing Song [Accidental Records/Bandcamp]
I discovered UK folktronic producer Crewdson via his 2017 album Toys on Slowfoot, full of his homemade instruments and electronic processing. Looking back at the credits, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian was there playing harp, but their duo as Crewdson & Cevanne sees the latter's talents as composer, orchestrator and singer come to the fore. It's not surprise to find this duo on Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records - it's just their natural home really. New EP Rites For Crossing Water imagines a new folk music around the idea of 21st century waterways, with a capella song, Cevanne's harp, string arrangements and occasional glitchy rhythms.

Alexandra Hamilton-Ayres - Relent [Headphone Commute/Bandcamp]
Claire Deak - A Million Cloaked Ghosts [Headphone Commute/Bandcamp]
Ryuichi Sakamoto and Illia Bondarenko - Piece for Illia [Headphone Commute/Bandcamp]
To finish tonight, we have three tracks from the second For Ukraine compilation just released by Headphone Commute. Hollie Kenniff has once again done a brilliant job curating the works here, with many female composers & producers included, from all around the world. A lovely piece of bubbling synth and found-sound beats from UK composer Alexandra Hamilton-Ayres starts our selections tonight, but I'm really pleased that to find Melbourne's Claire Deak here (incidentally of Ukrainian extraction herself) - in solo mode, having been heard a year and a bit ago in duo with her husband Tony Dupé, here with gorgeous vocal layering, and then we finish up with a vintage chamber composition from Ryuichi Sakamoto, in his sumptuous post-Debussy style, his piano accompanying the violin of Ukrainian performer Illia Bondarenko, who interprets the piece especially written for him with all the emotion it deserves.

Listen again — ~210MB

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