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Utility Fog

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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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