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

Monday, 31st of October, 2022

Playlist 30.10.22 (11:18 pm)

Tonight we go from dancehall and percussive beats through IDM and jungle to postpunk, glitch, postrock, neo-classical and folk.

LISTEN AGAIN - somebody has to! Podcast here, stream on demand from FBi.

Lady Lykez - Woza (Feat. Toya Delazy) [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
Lady Lykez - Bully Dem [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
The entire Woza EP from Lady Lykez is produced by Scratchclart aka Scratcha DVA - it's their second EP together, and it's a perfect pairing. The north Londoner grew up as a battling MC, but here she leans heavily into the dancehall connections of UK hip-hop and dance music, as well as the South African ampiano influences that Scratcha has been championing for some time. The SA connection is cemented with an appearance on the title track from London-based Zulu princess (true!) Toya Delazy. The beats are infectious, the rhymes cutting and frequently hilarious. It's fun and sharp.

DJ Plead - Louca [Livity Sound/Bandcamp]
Sydney's Jared Beeler aka DJ Plead returns to the great Bristol label Livity Sound with another selection of beats that combine global dance styles with the percussion patterns and melodies of his Lebanese background. Beeler cut his teeth making cutting-edge beats for beloved Sydney trio BV/Black Vanilla before going it alone, and has moved from strength to strength. Bringing traditional rhythms into the electronic dance realm is a popular and exciting development at the moment, but there's an argument to be made that DJ Plead was at the vanguard, and he continues to elegantly forge his own path.

Molotof - Omara [Rakete]
Down and across from Lebanon now we head to Cairo, with a short album by Molotof on the young Egyptian label Rakete. Molotof takes off from the Egyptian urban style of mahraganat, but the beats owe more to techno, with local percussion rhythms weaving in as well. This is a different strain of Egyptian electronic music from the stuff I've featured previously - ZULI, Abadir, 3Phaz et al. Let's not forget the psych rock and free jazz bubbling along as well - the Egyptian music scene is thriving.

SCALPING - Flashforward (Squid Remix) [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
I almost missed this when it appeared in my Bandcamp feed. I've really enjoyed the electronic rock of SCALPING on Houndstooth, and actually I've also liked the jagged postpunk of fellow Bristolians Squid (one of those rock bands you're surprised to find on Warp), but I couldn't figure what a remix from them would be like. It turns out, very good! There's a ravey aspect which is more in common with SCALPING than Squid, and the remix goes in a few directions over its almost 6 minutes.

Ryterski - Rimworld [Pointless Geometry]
Polish composer Rafał Ryterski studied classical composition, but is equally influenced by glitch & idm - and on Gaymers' Cheatsheet there's no small amount of hyperpop in there too. The hyperpop genre itself blends idm & glitch with frenetic computer game soundtracks (which in turn are influenced by jungle and rave), and many of its proponents emphasise queer identity, so Ryerski's identification as a gaymer fits well into this aesthetic. I'm particularly interested in how this material fits into the strains of reconstructed jungle that are bubbling around at the moment - so this is also a nice segue into the new two tracks.

µ-Ziq - Iggy's Song [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
µ-Ziq - Green Chaos [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
I may have gotten overexcited about this one - the Hello EP from Mike Paradinas aka µ-Ziq is out this coming Friday, so here's a couple of previews. To my ears it's got some of the best material from his yearlong revival of the melodic, experimental tribute to jungle that was his 1997 album Lunatic Harness, re-released as a double album with many contemporary tracks in the middle of the year. Meanwhile we've had the Goodbye EP earlier in the year, the Magic Pony Ride album alongside the Lunatic Harness reissue, and now the series is completed with Hello. Mike was in Australia at the start of September, playing Infinity Worm in Canberra and a club show in Melbourne, and I remember the rather irritating child's scream running through one track! That's "Iggy's Song", with a pitch-shifted sample of Mike's son, and on record it's a lot less irritating! In general there's a darker quality to the tracks on this EP, but Mike's irrepressible melodic sense still shines through, and it's got some of the most tricksy yet danceable beats. Yes! Hello!! Yes!!!

Lakker - Dredger [Lakker Bandcamp]
All year Dublin-via-Berlin duo Lakker have been releasing a rave-influenced EP a month on their Bandcamp. October, of course, brings LKRTRX010, which may be the best so far. Jungle and jungle tekno vibes here, killer rhythms and deep synth pads, just how we like it in UFog Towers.

ASC - Hindsight [Auxillary]
Sometime during the pandemic, acclaimed US producer James Clements returned to jungle & drum'n'bass with a vengeance. The ASC name has been associated with grey area techno & ambient for some time, but before that it was autonomic drum'n'bass, and now he's churning out dark jungle and d'n'b at such a rate that this month there are two simultaneously released 4-track EPs: Quantum State is this one, and the other is A Storm In Space. Definite sci-fi vibes on both, from blissful rolling breaks to complex chop-ups, lots of sub-rattling bass and warm, saturated pads. Delicious.

Moin - Melon [AD93/Bandcamp]
Moin - Foot Wrong [AD93/Bandcamp]
Tom Halstead and Joe Andrews's Raime have been a favourite of mine and many others since their earliest releases over 10 years ago. Since the start they've been equally influenced by the propulsive breakbeats of jungle & UK hardcore on the one hand, and the angular basslines & riffs of postpunk on the other. Also characteristic of Raime's tracks is the finely chopped vocal sample - often just a single phoneme, crying out on a syncopated accent, adding to the tautness of their funk as well as the disqueting aura. The brilliant drummer Valentina Magaletti has often been a silent partner on Raime releases, and for the last two albums in their side-project Moin, Magaletti is a full-time third member. Both Paste and last year's Moot! find them extending the root tendencies of Raime, but with far more emphasis on live guitar and bass - drawing postpunk into hardcore territory - and those disquieting vocal chops are now extended into full phrases, usually American-accented, divorced from context but often more than a little sinister. Scary? Scary good.

Zacharias Szumer x Raung Jagat Synthetic - Soleiman, Jule (Atavistic Jam Module) [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
Zacharias Szumer x Raung Jagat Synthetic - Thena, Idrus, Hilga (Afterlife) [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
Last year Indonesian musician Rully Shabara, singer in Senyawa and many other projects, released an album of Synthetic Vocabulary - a collection of AI-generated (whatever that means) voices. Naarm/Melbourne musician and writer Zacharias Szumer liked these sounds so much that he decided to remix them into equally uncanny electronic songs. The named voices are credited on each track, sometimes "singing" together, pitch-bent into melodies by Szumer, who accompanies them with glitchy beats. It's a bizarre cousin of Vocaloid or the Laurie Anderson cut-ups on Jean-Michel Jarre's Zoolook, but really it's its own thing.

Oiseaux-Tempête - Black Elephant [Sub Rosa/Nahal/Bandcamp]
Oiseaux-Tempête - Nu.e.s Sous La Comète [Sub Rosa/Nahal/Bandcamp]
When I first discovered Oiseaux-Tempête, around 2014, it was in the context of their first album being remixed by folks like Machinefabriek, Scanner, Do Make Say Think and others. Core members are guitarist Frédéric D. Oberland, bassist Stéphane Pigneul and Paul Régimbeau aka Mondkopf, but not only do all three play a multitude of other instruments and sound-makers, they are regularly joined by musicians from around the world such that their postrock/psych rock/kraut/kosmische sensibilities are augmented by North African and Middle Eastern musicians, among others. On many recent albums they've been joined on a few tracks by the wonderful singer G.W.Sok, for decades the frontman of Dutch anarcho-punks The Ex, and he's here on the nearly-12-minute "A Man Alone (In A One Man Poem)" - and that's not even the album's longest track! Leave that to the 20-minute "The Crying Eye — I Forget", which features the brilliant Radwan Ghazi Moumneh aka Jerusalem In My Heart. Tonight, however, we have neither of them (partly for reasons of space!) - but we do hear from Ben Shemie of Suuns on the first track - another Montréaler like Moumneh. Jessica Moss cements the Montréal postrock connection, appearing on one track too, and that takes us conveniently to the next album...

set fire to flames - there is no dance in frequency and balance [Alien8/130701/Bandcamp]
set fire to flames - two tears in a bucket [Alien8/130701/Bandcamp]
Back in 2001, in the earlyish years of the Montréal postrock bloom, a bunch of musicians from many of the bands in the scene got together to record a sprawling album under the name set fire to flames. The album was so good that the Fat Cat folks were inspired to start a sister label, 130701, to release it (it came out through the legendary experimental label Alien8 in Canada). As 130701 tell it, the vinyl pressing sold out almost straight away and has been out of print ever since, so 21 years later they have remastered and re-released it on vinyl. It has a familiar dreamy, collagey quality to Godspeed You! Black Emperor and A Silver Mt Zion, but take a look at the member list at the bottom of this page to see their provenance - Esmerine, Hiss Tracts, Hanged Up, Sackville, Exhaust, Fly Pan Am and more are represented. After a slow-growing, then explosive post/krautrock number, we then heard a fragile piece of string magic from Becky Foon, Geneviève Heistek and Sophie Trudeau which takes us into the next few tracks.

Nonsemble - Pelagornis [Nonsemble Bandcamp]
So here's Chris Perren's neo-classical-cum-postrock group Nonsemble, with their album Archaeopteryx, each track celebrating a different prehistoric bird. The Pelagornis was a sea bird with a 6 metre wingspan, and it's represented with perhaps the most peaceful track, in which the strings creep in before becoming rhythmic, underscored by Perren's electronics, which never overwhelm the acoustic instruments. For this project, Nonsemble is primarily a string quartet plus electronics, although there are live drums and piano on the title track. These tracks are lovely in themselves, but it's worth also noting the two singles, which come with remixes from Madeleine Cocolas on Argenativis and MJ O'Neill on Phorusrhacos.

Jacaszek, Romke Kleefstra, Jan Kleefstra - Leafst Sjoch Ik Nei Beammen [Moving Furniture Records/Bandcamp]
For some reason this collaboration is not one I'd expected. Polish composer / producer Michał Jacaszek is known for his classical-tinged electronic music and for collaborations with contemporary classical ensembles; Dutch brothers Romke & Jan Kleefstra are guitarist and poet/vocalist and collaborate on mysterious, minimalist music with folks like Rutger Machinefabriek Zuydervelt in projects like Piiptsjilling. Yet the artists meld together like they were always meant to be - stirring drones from Romke, string arrangements and buried beats from Jacaszek and poetry in Frisian - a language only found in the northern region of the Netherlands called Friesland - from Jan. The IT DEEL project finds the Kleefstras partnering with Frisian cultural organisation Popfabryk, making works about environmental decline and damage to nature - in this case, the damage to the beautiful ancient forests of Friesland, in particular Oranjewoud. But few people in the world can understand Frisian, and as with the other works from the Kleefstra Bros, the music and atmosphere is more than enough regardless.

Pattern Recognition Machines - The Garden of the Tuilleries [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
So here's the second release this week from the resurrected New Weird Australia New Editions - Stuart Buchanan is not only compiling excellent compilations for NWA, but also releasing artist editions like Zacharias Szumer's above and this one. Pattern Recognition Machines started as a duo of drummer Sam Price and electronics from Vijay Thillaimuthu, but for this new album they are joined by veteran experimental musician Robert Vincs on "woodwind" (lots of sax but evidently other instruments) and Chloë Sobek on violone (a relative of the double bass) and electronics. There are dirty grooves and wailing noise on this release, but I really liked the scrabbling non-music/music of this particular track.

Yair Elazar Glotman - A Mirror [SA Recordings/Bandcamp]
Yair Elazar Glotman - A Path [SA Recordings/Bandcamp]
When I first discovered Berlin-based musician Yair Elazar Glotman via his wonderful submerged techno as KETEV. But Glotman's sonorous double bass playing and his skills as a sound-artist have been the focus of his solo career, and on top of this he spent some years working closely with the great Jóhann Jóhannsson in his soundtrack work before the composer's untimely death. New album Speculative Memories finds Glotman in introspective mode, with the music spinning out from memories of his childhood in the Galilee, into more abstract evocations of scents, sounds and sights. Jóhannsson's influence is found in the beautiful vocal contributions from Sara Fors, while Glotman on double bass is also joined by trombone, bowed guitar, violin and viola. It is in some ways a modern classical album, but Glotman inserts field recordings and sound-art techniques into the analogue recordings, with tape manipulation credited to Glotman's alias Mephisto Wunderbar. It's an enveloping, at times almost heartbreaking work to sink into.

June McDoom - Babe, You Light Me Up [Temporary Residence/Bandcamp]
In July I was blown away by the first released track "The City" from new Temporary Residence signing June McDoom. So it's a joy to have her debut, self-titled EP now available. It's a shame "The City" isn't on here, but the five new tracks take a similar approach. McDoom plays all instruments and sings the soft vocals. She draws from her Jamaican heritage as well as her love of classic folk artists, classic r'n'b and reggae - I can't help thinking of early-to-mid period Grizzly Bear. There's a hazy analogue sheen to these songs, with instruments all melding together so that you hardly notice the beats in the mix even as you're nodding your head. McDoom has a keen ear for melody and harmony, making these the most gently catchy songs you're likely to hear this year.

Listen again — ~206MB


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Monday, 24th of October, 2022

Playlist 23.10.22 (12:15 am)

Strange ambiences, with strange songs and strange settings, and some strange beats tonight.
Thanks once again to Marcus Whale for kindly filling in for me last week when I was too busy!

LISTEN AGAIN before the gibbering aliens eat your brainwaves. It's too late for me, but your can save yourself! Podcast here, stream on demand from FBi!

Brian Eno - who gives a thought [Opal/UMC]
Brian Eno - garden of stars [Opal/UMC]
It's strangely surprising that foreverandevernomore is the first Brian Eno album of songs in a long time. "It's not an ambient album!" claim all the stories, but... it kind of is? There are no beats, there are beautiful glacial keyboards. Eno is hardly known only for his pioneering ambient music (and for coining the term). Alongside producing huge bands across many musical eras, he has a rich heritage of songwriting himself, and no surprise, there are some beautifully moving songs here - appropriately for the subject matter, which is a kind of elegy for the world that might have been. Yes, Eno continues to urge humanity to do better - on climate change, on sociopolitics - but the muted, wistful tone here is not exactly a call to arms. It's also not an entirely solo album as I expected - yes, there are Eno children singing on a couple of tracks, but also a number of his other well-known collaborators, including his brother Roger Eno, the excellent experimental guitarist & producer Leo Abrahams, and good ol' Jon Hopkins, who in fact composed one of the loveliest tracks on the album, sung by experimental folk singer Clodagh Simonds. Of the two songs I chose tonight, "who gives a thought" only features Abrahams, adding soft drones to Eno's ode to the dispossessed - it struck me as something like Dead Can Dance's Brendan Perry, or David Sylvian or even Scott Walker, but Eno's voice is not as rich as any of those. On "garden of stars", as with a number of tunes, Eno applies digital effects to his voice (software designer Peter Chilvers is also here, playing keyboards), as well as inviting Roger Eno's daughter Cecily to sing (and Roger plays accordion). It's an immensely affecting album.

Jane Sheldon - Put my eyes out: I can see you [Jane Sheldon Bandcamp]
Jane Sheldon - In the deep nights I dig for you [Jane Sheldon Bandcamp]
Australian soprano Jane Sheldon may be best known to Utility Fog and indeed FBi listeners as the singer in the brilliant early 2000s genre-crushing ensemble Gauche, but like many of the band's members, she has forged a phenomenal career, hers in contemporary vocal music. Her incredible new solo album I am a tree, I am a mouth draws its lyrics from the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke in his Book of Hours, a collection of pantheistic odes to God. Sheldon's compositions call for two voices (both sung by her) that harmonise and separate over the eerie, enveloping sound of gong resonances, distended, re-pitched and edited into dronescapes. At times crackling, glitchy textures bubble to the surface - the technology used to produce these pieces is integral to the final works, even though Sheldon's settings of the German lyrics, her compositions and her exquisite vocal technique recall classical & romantic Lieder. You won't hear any other music quite like this anywhere else, and you shouldn't miss this!

SURACHAI | FYOHNA - But You Remember [BL_K Noise]
It can be hard to keep up with what Surachai Sutthisasanakul is going to sound like on each release, having buzzed and hammered between IDM, grindcore/doom metal, breakcore, noise and ambient over many releases in the last decade and a bit. Lately there have been a number of experimental, dark ambient-ish albums produced on modular gear. That gear is no doubt behind the new Violet EP, but this collaboration with singer Fyohna is a lovely, if short, collection of dark electronic pop songs. There's a bit of trip-hop in there, as is the style these days, tied up with Surachai's great talent for sound design and Fyohna's silky vocals.

Lucrecia Dalt - Dicen [RVNG Intl/Bandcamp]
Lucrecia Dalt - Enviada [RVNG Intl/Bandcamp]
Now, this. THIS is album of the year right here. One of the albums of the year, for sure. I've followed Lucrecia Dalt through her early hazy, increasingly experimental indie works (including a gorgeous early collaboration with Canberra's Spartak - find her as Lucrecia Perez on "Second-Half Clouded" here), then to her extraordinary genre-free electronic experiments, where her voice was used as just one more instrument or sound-source... and recently her brilliant, disturbing soundtrack work, as well as her inspired duo with Aaron Dilloway, Lucy & Aaron. Here she comes full circle - having been based in Europe for many years now (first Barcelona, then Berlin), Dalt originally comes from Colombia, and thus her return to song also finds her returning to South & Central American rhythms, harmonies, basslines and melodies. The lyrics, co-written with Miguel Prado, are in Spanish, and if you're not paying attention you may think it's a traditional latin band (and indeed it is, beautifully orchestrated) - until you hear the edits, détournements, smudges, the processed sounds melding with the real. It's a beautiful headfuck, emphasis on beautiful. Unmissable.

Mabe Fratti - Desde el cielo [Unheard Of Hope/Bandcamp]
Mabe Fratti - Cuestión de tiempo [Unheard Of Hope/Bandcamp]
Not far from Colombia, north along the Isthmus of Panama, is Guatemala, where Mabe Fratti hails from. Based for some time now in Mexico City, Fratti has created her own form of experimental song from her raw cello playing, often filtered through multiple effects, along with arrays of electronics and her delicate voice - her ear for melody is remarkable, with melodic lines rising up over scratchy riffs and drones. Although this album is deliberately sparser in orchestration than her last few releases, her usual collaborative process remains, with guitar, percussion and many other sounds contributed by fellow travellers in Mexico and also Rotterdam. Nevertheless, this is a creative vision that could come from noone other than Fratti, and I'm proud that she's a fellow cellist!

Marina Hasselberg - Só [Redshift Records/Bandcamp]
Marina Hasselberg - At A Distance [Redshift Records/Bandcamp]
Speaking of cello... Vancouver-based cellist Marina Hasselberg is classically trained, both in her native Portugal and in Canada, but on her album Red she takes a small handful of classical compositions into experimental lands, with scratchy, breathy playing and unusual drones surrounding even the ancient works. These are joined by a number of free improvisations, some augmented by guitar, drums and other instruments (if subtly). The end result is an album that travels far in terms of genres - and indeed date of composition - but retains an impressively consistent sound. Even the contemporary compositions are corralled into the album's schema: the beautiful solo cello composition "At A Distance" by Martin Reisle here has its melodies and repeating rhythmic ostinati overlaid with improvised guitar from Aram Bajakian.

Felicity Mangan - Dolphin Tricks [Warm Winters, Ltd./Bandcamp]
Nobody else is making music quite like that of Felicity Mangan, Berlin-based Australian sound artist. Her music's foundation is flora & fauna - many of her releases feature raw field recordings of the wondrous sounds of nature. But among her recent releases are works which take nature's creativity and notch it up a few levels. Insectile rhythms become electronic beats, flows of water are reversed, cut up and overlaid in unnatural patterns, and the "pedosphere" (the upper layer of the Earth's crust) is mined (pun intended) for sound. Wet On Wet was originally to be released by Russian label Klammklang, but Putin's lunacy caused the label to indefinitely stop operations, so Warm Winters, Ltd. stepped in to release it. While the album's main focus is on soil and its inhabitants, we also have the repurposed polyrhythms of dolphin sounds on tonight's selection.

Maral - Walk and A Talk [Leaving Records/Bandcamp]
Maral - Hold My Hand, Go For a Walk [Leaving Records/Bandcamp]
Both of LA-based Iranian-American artist Maral Mahmoudi's albums on Leaving Records sound on one level like typical fleet-footed beat records. Maral loves head-nodding breakbeats and loves mixing them up with riffs (the first track of hers I discovered was a brilliant remix of anarcho-punks Crass). But Maral has studied the setar, and the traditional Persian instrument features in her music along with voracious samplings of Iranian popular music of yore and Persian classical music. Yes, Ground Groove is grounded in groove (I am embarrassed to write this, but not enough to not write it), but it contains multitudes. Dude. Get into it.

Persher - Calf [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Arthur Cayzer (Pariah) & Jamie Roberts (Blawan) are Bristolian bass & techno stalwarts who gathered together as Persher to produce a very Thrill Jockey record indeed. Man With The Magic Soap is not techno, nor is it dubstep, although it has some low-slung basslines and reveals electronically-produced beats at times. But the closest comparison is surely the heaviest parts of Petbrick's metal/hardcore/electronic compound. At 26 minutes over 7 tracks, it's short & sharp, and unlikely to find itself on the same dancefloors as the artists' usual fare, but I'm willing to give it a go (hire me, I'm a DJ!)

Marco Zenker - Resistance [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Marco Zenker - Intuition Dub [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Oooh and here's a real one. Marco Zenker is one of the Zenkers wot run the excellent Munich label Ilian Tape. And his new solo album Channel Balance is a beautifully realised example of most of what the label does oh so well - dub aesthetics cutting through genres from lugubrious ambient through breakbeat-loving techno up to (on the second half) jungle and drum'n'bass. The brothers came to techno and 4/4 electronics via a love of hip-hop and Jamaican styles, and somehow that really shows too. But it's the consistency of quality production and emotional depth across the ostensible genre changes through this album that make it such a highlight. Not to be missed.

Rasmus Hedlund - Chords Galore [Ljudverket]
Finnish producer Rasmus Hedlund recently became a father, and his new album commemorates that in its title, Far, which is Finnish for Father. The music itself cycles around dub techno patterns. Each track is relatively long - around the 8 minute mark - and pleasantly carries the listener with head-nodding 4/4 beats and, as this track tells us, "Chords Galore".

clipping. and Aho Ssan - Looking Like Meat (Aho Ssan Remix) [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
The last of clipping.'s RMXNG 2 12"s is out now - that's four EPs each with 7 tracks, totally over 2 hours of music reworking tracks from their last two albums of "horrorcore" rap. As with the last 3 EPs, the last one features an impressive lineup, including Kenyan electronic hero Slikback, ex-DHR veteran experimentalist Patric Catani and frequent clipping. collaborator Christopher Fleeger as Cooling Prongs. A highlight is the rework by French-Ghanayan ambient/glitch maestro Aho Ssan, which manages to preserve the energy of Daveed Diggs' performance without any beats to speak of. Also notable is the opening track, from our very next artist!

Carl Stone - Omar [We Jazz]
Yes, glitch/cut-up originator Carl Stone also contributes a remix on the latest clipping. remix EP. But also released this week is We Jazz Reworks Vol. 2, which is the second time the Finnish We Jazz label has opened up its catalogue to a single artist to remix at will. We're not told who the original artists are here, and there are some quite interesting excerpts, including some apparent jazz settings of classical compositions. Stone juxtaposes different performances in surprising and sometimes deliberately jarring ways. He shuffles and re-arranges in his usual manner - everything gridded up, juddering along in seemingly controlled chaos, and as of his more recent work, the rhythms sections still hang together while solo parts are shredded. And yet, it's still clearly jazz, ripped apart though it may be.

RUBBISH MUSIC - Trash and Treasure (excerpt) [Flaming Pines/Bandcamp]
Kate Carr (proprietor of Flaming Pines) and Iain Chambers (who runs the Persistence of Sound label) come together here for the first - but not last - time as RUBBISH MUSIC, a project which describes itself in its name. Upcycling is their album, with one track each by the individual members and one together (which we've excerpted tonight), all working on the idea of, well, "upcycling" objects, taking discarded refuse from consumer society and using it for art. You can see a beautifully-shot video of the two performing via State51 and Nonclassical here.

Jonathan Higgins - 01 [Flaming Pines/Bandcamp]
Jonathan Higgins - sckt [Flaming Pines/Bandcamp]
Kate Carr's Flaming Pines is a rich source of experimental music, mostly derived from differeing approaches harnessing field recordings and found sound. But along with a general interest in ambient music, Carr also has a love of glitch, and two recent releases celebrate that in style. First, we have British composer Jonathan Higgins, whose Good thanks, you? uses glitch to express inner turmoil and anxiety. This feels close to my heart - the anodyne reply "Good thanks, you?" is all too common when asked "How are you?" or even (*shudder*) "RUOK?" The clicks & cuts on Higgins' album are produced from custom-modified CD players - a kind of mirror image of the CD desecration performed by artists like Oval in the '90s.

Kamran Arashnia - Black Screen of Death [Flaming Pines/Bandcamp]
Kamran Arashnia - Guru Meditation [Flaming Pines/Bandcamp]
The other glitch release from Flaming Pines, released pretty much simultaneously, comes from Iranian composer Kamran Arashnia. Drawing on a quote from Augustine of Hippo, Arashnia treats the glitch not so much as a malfunction, but as a treasured mistake. In this, Arashnia is returning to the origins of digital glitch music in the mid-to-late '90s works of the Mego founders alongside fellow Europeans like Pole, who all celebrated the glitch as the serendipitous hardware or software mistake that brings a patina of beautiful randomness to the ostensibly perfect digital realm. Of course, rock music itself is founded in the overdriven circuits that bring glorious distortion, and Arashnia revels in the distortions, clipping and chaos of his collected mistakes.

Sebastian Field - All Tomorrows [Provenance Records/Bandcamp]
Sebastian Field - Somnambulist [Provenance Records/Bandcamp]
While Canberra's Sebastian Field doesn't express the sonic aesthetic of his Prescients EP in quite the same terms as the previous two artists, the pieces here are also experienced through a patina of distortions - here, like last year's beautiful Sandcandles album to which he considers this a "prequel", Field is taking old tapes of his from 20+ years ago and looping, chopping and obscuring their origins through a fog of effects. Rather than sharp glitches and raw edits, the artistic principle here is one of smudging, of continuous modulation rather than disjunction, even though there are rhythmic cut-ups to be found inside the haze. This EP and its sister album both contain detail worthy of close appreciation.

SPILL - Residue [Corvo Records/Bandcamp]
Berlin-based Magda Mayas and Australian, often Berlin-based Tony Buck have partnered as the duo SPILL for over a decade. Mayas' piano playing is intuitive and virtuosic, much like Buck's drumming, and both are experienced collaborators - Buck has played with luminaries across jazz, noise, punk and more, and may be best known to listeners as the drummer in The Necks. Much of SPILL's work is quite challenging, in the vein of free improv, but tucked away at the end of Mycelium, their latest album, is the beautiful, sparse piece we end with tonight, performed with great sensitivity by these two accomplished musicians.

Listen again — ~210MB


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Wednesday, 12th of October, 2022

Playlist 09.10.22 (10:51 pm)

Warped, theory-laden hip-hop, industrial sounds a'plenty, electronic pop, jungle and dubstep, glitched folk from black-metal, African ragga and IDM tonight.

LISTEN AGAIN and your head will explode (in a good way). Podcast here, stream on demand @ FBi.

MSRMNT - Substance is Subject [MSRMNT Bandcamp]
MSRMNT - Fantasy [MSRMNT Bandcamp]
Starting tonight with something unique. You could call this industrial hip-hop, but we can't ignore that the lyrics are drawing on some pretty high-concept theory, from Hegelian dialectics to Marxist politics to Lacanian psychoanalysis. This is all done, mind you, with sardonic humour, with entertaining spoken word samples, and Australian-accented rapping alongside noisy, ramshackle beats made from hardware and homemade found-sound samples. The closest thing I can think of is Curse ov Dialect, but MSRMNT comes in on a different tangent of his own. It's a pseudonym of a member of a well-loved Aussie indie rock band, but that's all I'm sayin'.

Terrificus - Tylex's Decadent Sitcom [self-released]
Shaggy and Tyler are Terrificus, making industrial garage, as they call it, out of Eora/Sydney. It's insane in the best way, especially when they take to the stage, but during lockdown Tyler took it upon himself to learn production in his garage. Both members have been active in the Sydney scene for a while - you can find Shaggy around Utopia Records, and both are part of Face Command as well as MC Filth Wizard. The more aliases the better, the more insanity the better!

Penny - Crucial [Thanatosis/Bandcamp]
"Crucial" is the debut single of Stockholm-based Penny Elvira Loftéen, once a child actress, who co-produced this song with fellow Swede Anton Toorell with extra synth from busy experimental musician Alex Zethson, who also runs the Thanatosis label. The glitchy vocals and throbbing bass express the idea of "crucial" words from someone to bring a person back from a paralysing state of anxiety.

Aphir - Pomegranate Tree [Provenance Records/Bandcamp]
Aphir - Equinox [Provenance Records/Bandcamp]
The new album from Becki Whitton's Aphir is more long-awaited than it may seem. Although Whitton released a collection of improvised, processed vocals last year called Plastichoir, and the wonderful album Republic of Paradise in 2020, the latter album actually replaced the original release of Pomegranate Tree, which Whitton considered at the time not to reflect the strange feeling of that early pandemic time. The album has thus spent three years being overhauled and has benefited for Whitton's epic vocal experimentation which resulted in Plastichoir, as well as her ever-growing experience mixing and mastering work of her musician colleagues. Whitton draws from the choral masses of 17th century composer William Byrd, a connection between her current songwriting and the church experiences of her youth. The album is about her eventual loss of faith, the resulting disconnection from the community around her Christian church - and the continued need for connection and community.

Jessica O'Donoghue - Awakening [Art As Catharsis/Bandcamp]
Jessica O'Donoghue - Good Grief [Art As Catharsis/Bandcamp]
We follow immediately with another powerful album from an Australian woman, Jessica O'Donoghue. The classically-trained O'Donoghue combines moving folk songs, drones, electronic beats, string arrangements and transcendent vocals to tell stories of female resilience, from the legendary to the very personal. The album captures her unique talents, with help from the brilliant creative (and family) partnership of Alyx Dennison and David Trumpmanis.

Liturgy - संसार [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Hunter Ravenna Hunt-Hendrix has often been a controversial figure in black metal, with her band Liturgy not just straying from whatever "real black metal" should be, but often doing so in a structured way that Hunt-Hendrix theorised and proselytised about in essays. At this point, nobody expects a Liturgy album to be anything except whatever complex vision Hunt-Hendrix has, often influenced by her theological studies, and musically drawing from classical composition, folk, and glitchy production techniques. Liturgy have just announced double album 93696 to be released in March 2023 - quite a long wait! In the meantime, the 15-minute title track has been released on a new EP As the Blood of God Bursts the Veins of Time, split into three continuous tracks but also accompanied by the highly contrasting "संसार" ("world" in Hindi), in which acoustic guitar and kind-of clean vocals meet stuttering digital edits.

Senyawa, Lawrence English, Aviva Endean, Peter Knight, Helen Svoboda, Joe Talia - Perjamuan (The Supper) [Room40/Bandcamp]
Collaborative work is the bread & butter, the soul of what Indonesian metal duo Senyawa do. Wukir Suryadi constantly creates bizarre instruments to make industrial noises with, while Rully Shabara has a highly powerful, instantly recognizable voice in any context. Last year, with the pandemic doggedly refusing to go away, Room40's Lawrence English, in Brisbane, was discussing the regional effects of the pandemic with Melbourne sound-artist & trumpeter Peter Knight. They reached out to Rully and Wukir and started exchanging recordings. Along with various other Australian-based musicians - clarinettist Aviva Endean (also on harmonic flute), double bassist Helen Svoboda (also contributing vocals), and drummer Joe Talia - they made music via a kind of deconstructed improvisation. Knight also manipulated sounds on a Revox tape machine, and English played organ as well as corralling the sounds into completed pieces. What results is an often dark and foreboding work, but also quite moving; different from whatever a "normal" Senyawa recording might be, and different from the individual work of any of the artists.

clipping. and Speaker Music - Say the Name [_] Something Underneath (Speaker Music - Longsuffering Remix) [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
clipping. and Stazma - Say The Name (Stazma's Driller Bees Remix) [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
And clipping.'s REMXNG onslaught continues, with 2.3 out of four parts released this week. DeForrest Brown, Jr's Speaker Music chops up Daveed Diggs' voice because this is clearly irresistable, along with his scattershot drum machine beats. And French breakcore producer Stazma aka The Junglechrist aka Repeater Eater brings not just jungle breaks but guitar riffs to the table with his version of the much-remixed "Say The Name".

Djinn - Tempest [RuptureLDN/Bandcamp]
Appropriately enough for a tour of the solar system, London drum'n'bass label Rupture's "Planets" series has taken a while to get to the big gas giants, but this week both Saturn and Jupiter are covered. Each 12" is a mini-compilation, with some artists taking more directly to the planetary theme than others. Manchester's Djinn references the storm that powers Jupiter's Great Red Spot with her absolutely storming track "Tempest".

Alan Johnson - Stillness [Sneaker Social Club]
Tom Neilan and Gareth Kirby adopted the very normcore name "Alan Johnson" to release bass-heavy music sporadically over the last 9 or 10 years. Their latest EP Stillness comes courtesy of Sneaker Social Club, sitting somewhere around dubstep-land, and the title track makes use of the legendary Poem by Count Ossie from 1972, while muscular beats drop in & out across its 5 minutes.

Hippoflip - Assif [FKOF/Bandcamp]
French producer Hippoflip turns in only his second release via FKOF (Fat Kid On Fire), a digital EP that leans nicely on the "dub" aspect of dubstep.

Commodo - Widebody [Mysterious Trax]
Commodo - cclarity [Mysterious Trax]
After the brilliant Deft 1s for Black Acre earlier this year, Commodo inaugurates his new Mysterious Trax imprint with an EP that follows suit with a collection of tracks that owe clear allegiance to his dubstep/grime roots, but are built from postpunk bass guitar riffs and weird jazz-inflected stabs. For the last few years Commodo has been following a path all his own, taking UK bass into strange noir TV soundtrack lands - you're missing out if you're not following.

Second. - Rasuba [TemeT Music/Bandcamp]
More French bass music next, from Simo Cell's TemeT Music. The Rasuba EP is the first solo work from Victor Paud as Second., better known as one half of techno duo Society of Silence. Much like the label boss, Second. is not tethered to any particular tempo or genre except for bass and infectious rhythm. There's a bit of IDM in there and some ambient textures along with syncopated beats, all very fun.

SLIKBACK X SWORDMAN - 22GAZA [Slikback Bandcamp]
The latest drop from Kenya's Slikback on his Bandcamp finds him joining with Ugandan dancehall-influenced master rapper Swordman Kitala, showing how versatile Slikback is - always an experimental edge, but always with hard-hitting rhythms, comfortably supporting Swordman here, who himself works comfortably with pretty experimental beats much of the time.

Clark - Re-Scar Kiln [Warp/Bandcamp]
Clark - Herzog [Warp/Bandcamp]
There was a time when Clark was a youngster playing in the venerable Warp stable - when he joined as Chris Clark around 2001 with some early albums that showed bright talent combining Aphex-style quasi-classical piano and, well, Aphex-style melodic IDM. But in 2006 Clark came out with the extraordinary Body Riddle, certainly still IDM but with incredibly organic, physical-feeling drums and chiming melodies that seemed like electronic music come to life. Around that time, there were a series of surrounding releases, including 3" CDs, EPs and download tracks, and some of that material is now compiled on 05-10, along with some unreleased contemporaneous material - also released with the remastered original album as Body Double. "Re-Scar Kiln" comes from the 3" Throttle Furniture, the point at which Clark lost the "Chris" and became mononymic. There's some great stuff among the extra material, although none of it quite reaches the genius of Body Riddle.

Tim Koch - Nocturne [CPU Records]
Tim Koch - Vowelstwo [CPU Records]
Adelaide's own Tim Koch has been on the IDM tip since before young Chris Clark - his excellent Isolated Rhythm Chock came out in 1999. Out on Sheffield's Central Processing Unit in a couple of weeks is his latest IDM release - as meanwhile he's stretched into granular ambient, electronic shoegaze, glitched folktronica and more. On Volplaning the melodies are sweet and the beats are crunchy, and all is well in the world.

Listen again — ~204MB


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Tuesday, 4th of October, 2022

Playlist 02.10.22 (11:39 am)

Various variants of song in all its experimental glory tonight, as well as other genre-mashing and electronic delights.

LISTEN AGAIN to the sounds of tomorrow - today! Stream on demand from FBi Radio, podcast here.

Julia Sabra and Fadi Tabbal - Signs [Beacon Sound/Bandcamp/Ruptured Music/Bandcamp]
Julia Sabra and Fadi Tabbal - Still Life [Beacon Sound/Bandcamp/Ruptured Music/Bandcamp]
Out in a couple of weeks from excellent Portland label Beacon Sound and great Beirut label Ruptured Music is the beautiful album Snakeskin from Lebanese duo Julia Sabra and Fadi Tabbal. Sabra is one third of dream pop trio Postcards, all of whose releases have been produced by Tabbal. Inevitably it's deeply influenced by the massive Beirut port explosion of August 2020 that left hundreds dead, thousands injured, and destroyed countless people's homes, but it also references other events from the region: the Palestinian uprising and Israeli crackdown in Sheikh Jarrah, and Azerbaijan's invasion of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Armenia. Sabra's soft voice expresses tragedy and loss, and the duo bring glitches and drones along with dubby Arabic percussion at times, all embedded in reverb. At times the more aggressive aspects of Postcards' shoegazey rock emerge, but mostly it's more quietly compelling. Don't sleep on it.

Dominic Voz - Dan Ryan [Accidental Records/Bandcamp/Beacon Sound/Bandcamp]
A couple of weeks ago we premiered some tracks from Dominic Voz's album Right to the City, also co-released by Beacon Sound, with none other than Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records. The album's out today, and I wanted to showcase this track, named for Dan Ryan Jr, who helped construction of expressways around Chicago including the Dan Ryan Expressway, opened shortly after Ryan's death. The track combines all the album's characteristics, from sliding synths supported by classical instruments to urban field recordings and glitched rhythms.

Oren Ambarchi - III [Drag City/Bandcamp]
Oren Ambarchi - IV [Drag City/Bandcamp]
Ever since 2012's Audience of One, Sydney/Melbourne experimental hero Oren Ambarchi has had a strain of rhythmic-melodic longform work based around repetitive patterns on guitar, shimmering ride cymbal and other instrumentation. I think of it as a form of krautrock, but it's as much influenced by Ambarchi's childhood love of heavy metal, minimalist composition, techno, funk fusion and more. The latest, Shebang, is constructed from recordings made around the world by Ambarchi's collaborators, who include Joe Talia on drums as usual, Jim O'Rourke on synths, Chris Abrahams with a characteristically restrained piano solo, Johan Berthling on double bass, Julia Reidy on 12-string guitar (seemingly tuned in an orthodox manner here rather than just intonation), the legendary BJ Cole on pedal steel, and Sam Dunscombe on bass clarinet. These are all musicians whose work, like Ambarchi's, extends from the most challenging climes of anti-music through to expressions of harmoniousness your least adventurous family members could enjoy. Shebang, despite existing as one 35-minute piece (divided into four for digital), is probably the most approachable yet of Ambarchi's compositions, despite also being pieced together from separate musicians' recordings during the pandemic, with counter-intuitive elements like guitar-triggered piano riffs blending into the whole undetectably. It's a wonder.

Keeley Forsyth - Wash (Yann Tiersen Remix) [The Leaf Label/Bandcamp]
Keeley Forsyth - Limbs (Simon Fisher Turner Remix) [The Leaf Label/Bandcamp]
A couple of weeks ago I played the brilliant Ben Frost remix of British actor-turned-singer Keeley Forsyth. The Phantom Limbs remix EP is now out in its entirety, and it's all just as good. Yann Tiersen we've heard quite a bit on the show - if you think he's just the Amelie guy you're missing out on French chanson melded with indie, postrock, electronic and "neo-classical" before there was such a thing. Here he shows that he can still surprise, with soft and then heavy drones supporting Forsyth's powerful voice. On a completely different tangent, the brilliant sound-artist Simon Fisher Turner (also once an actor, turned pop musician, turned experimental sound-artist) turns in a sparse glitch-space in which to situate Forsyth's avant-garde song.

Saint Abdullah & Eomac - In One Corner The Male Relatives [Other People/Bandcamp]
Lakker - Thought, Voice & Hand [Lakker Bandcamp]
Yes, here's another album we previewed a few weeks back - the collaboration between New York-based Iranian brothers Saint Abdullah and Dublin's Eomac. Patience Of A Traitor came out this week from Nicolas Jaar's Other People. Those familiar with Saint Abdullah's work will find this takes a similar tack, with field recordings and sampled voices in Farsi and Arabic weaving through electronic textures and beats. The brothers' IDM tendencies are brought out here by Eomac. That's Ian McDonnell, who is one half of Lakker with Dara Smith aka Arad, and we've been hearing a bit of Lakker through the year as they release an EP every month. LKRTRX009 has just come out for September, and it's a bit less on the fierce side, but still repurposing rave signatures with bass and beats.

Eusebeia - Hopes + Dreams [Livity Sound]
Wiltshire's Seb Uncles has been releasing modern jungle & drum'n'bass along with some slower-paced music for a few years as Eusebeia. It's a slight surprise to find him on Bristol's Livity Sound, who generally inhabit the dubstep-techno-house space, but jungle is certainly part of their make-up, and creative genre-crossers like Forest Drive West have found homes for their music there. On the Cosmos EP there are a couple of full-on drumfunk numbers like this one among ambient tunes and more trip-hop-paced pieces. As good an intro as any to the Eusebeia sound.

Kuedo - Ant City (µ-Ziq Remix) [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
Jamie Teasdale was known as Jamie Vex'd for a little while after his groundbreaking industrial dubstep duo Vex'd, with Roly Porter, dissolved sometime around 2008 when the pair moved to different cities. A couple of years later he'd settled on Kuedo as a split from the dubstep history. His first album under that name was the sci-fi Severant, reissued this month on 2LP with a bonus track. While the music has more to do with classic synth soundtracks than the UK dance continuum, Planet µ boss Mike Paradinas' µ-Ziq is first cab off the rank for the associated Severant Remixes, sending the Blade Runneresque sounds into overdrive on the junglist tip of his recent 2022 releases.

clipping. and ZULI - Make Them Dead (ZULI's Life After Death Remix) [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
A mere week after REMXNG 2.1, clipping. have followed it up with the second out of 4 remix EPs coming this year. There's a very nice junglist remix by LA's Baseck on there, but I'm not going to pass up the opportunity to play Cairo's ZULI, here mashing the amen breaks at hip-hop tempo and somehow scrambling Daveed Diggs' vocals in amongst the rhythmic stuff.

Mindy Meng Wang 王萌 & Tim Shiel - My Love Is Not What It Was 嗔念 (3ASiC Remix) [Music In Exile/Bandcamp]
Nervous Energy, the collaboration between Melbourne-based guzheng player Mindy Meng Wang 王萌 and tireless electronic producer and broadcaster Tim Shiel, was one of the most exciting releases of last year. MMW's beautiful, creative playing on the ancient Chinese zither, her dedication to bringing the guzheng into new musical contexts, brought out the best in Shiel, with four tracks of the best kind of fusion. Now each track is remixed, one by Tim Shiel himself, one by Brisbane violinst & contemporary musician Flora Wong, one from Sydney-born, London-based pan-Asian musician Justin Tam aka Tzekin and finally Shenzhen-based bass producer 3ASiC. Each takes the compositions in their own directions, and while the originals are untouchable, this is a lovely way of revisiting and extending the collaborative works.

Madobe Rika - ばく [Virgin Babylon/Bandcamp]
Madobe Rika - 炉心融解(cover) [Madobe Rika Bandcamp]
So, who is Madobe Rika? She is a virtual girl. Virgin Babylon, who have just signed her, claim they don't even know who she is. Or should I say "she"? The Baklava EP up on Virgin Babylon's Bandcamp is a three-track Pay What You Want introduction to her music, with tracks from her two OpenWindow volumes. The second track I played today comes from last year's OpenWindow vol.2 and is a cover of "炉心融解" ("Meltdown") by Kagamine Ren, a Vocaloid and obviously a virtual girl herself. The song is actually by producer iroha(sasaki) and you can see the video here - it's demented enough in itself (although there are many versions of the song so I can't be sure which this even is), but Madobe Rika takes it into full breakcore territory, like much of her music. Vocals that could almost be real until that zoom up into stratospheric pitch, sentimental melodies splattered into concrete. You can see why World's End Girlfriend wanted to release her music, and hopefully this EP precedes a full album and a lovely Japanese CD.

PETBRICK - Ayan (Bubblelogue Mix) [Rocket Recordings/Bandcamp]
PETBRICK - Pigeon Kick [Rocket Recordings/Bandcamp]
PETBRICK - Raijin [Rocket Recordings/Bandcamp]
The interface between breakcore and metal has always been eldritch thin. Here's a perfect example: one half of PETBRICK is Wayne Adams, who made breakcore for years as Ladyscraper, but has also been in hardcore bands like Death Pedals, and party noise rock band Big Lad. Adams' foil in PETBRICK is none other than Igor Cavalera, founding drummer in Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura, but also electronic music producer and touring drummer with Soulwax. I first discovered PETBRICK through their incredible collaboration with Brazilian punk/experimental/noise group Deafkids, DEAFBRICK. It's hard to pin down what's producing the noises on PETBRICK's second album Liminal - there are metal/industrial riffs that could be synths, drones that could be guitars, beats that could be live drumming but are often clearly sampled and programmed. It's at times intense and rhythmic, at other times sparse or doomy. Hardcore/metal vocalists guest as well as underground rappers. As a response to a world falling apart, it's quite visceral and yet also pretty fun. Meanwhile, back in May they released the Ayan EP, with four versions of the eponymous track, including remixes from techno veteran Surgeon and ex-breakcore veteran Cardopusher, but the real gem is their own "Bubblelogue" remix, which despite the reference to Aphex Twin's Analogue Bubblebath releases is more in line with the annagramatic Hangable Auto Bulb EPs, drill'n'bass madness.

Isolated Gate - Confusion Is Bliss (Full Version) [Darla Records/Bandcamp]
The latest release from Adelaidian IDM/glitch hero Tim Koch and Japan-based English shoegaze musician Ian Masters (ex-Pale Saints) is the EP No Heart No Home. The 15-minute title track is a gorgeous long composition by Koch with cut-up cello samples and melodies from yours truly, and angelic vocal lines from Masters. The shorter tracks on the other side are varied, with "Confusion Is Bliss" sounding almost like a lost shoegaze classic, interrupted by electronics between its verses. Isolated Gate is a pretty special thing and trust me when I say it, despite limited streaming provided by Darla Records.

JWPaton - Oxy Lance [Oxtail Recordings]
It's a shame I was only able to preview the first 7 minutes or so of Western Sydney-based Yuin musician JWPaton's new work "Oxy Lance". It's a pretty stunning track, almost 20 minutes long, which you should experience in video form if possible, with lush drones and buried rhythms juxtaposing peace and domesticity with various interruptions. I strongly recommend checking the whole piece out, and purchasing it via Oxtail Recordings.

Perera Elsewhere - Hold Tite [Friends of Friends Music/Bandcamp]
Perera Elsewhere - Stranger [Friends of Friends Music/Bandcamp]
Berlin-based, London-born Sasha Perera aka Perera Elsewhere is a very versatile musician, a restlessly creative electronic producer and educator, as well as a creative vocalist and songwriter. Her new album Home, released by LA's Friends of Friends Music, is balanced between pop and electronic experimentation, an extension of the style she's coined as "doom-folk", although it's full of beats and bass as well. Not infrequently, Perera's voice is distorted through pitch shifting and other effects, allowing Perera to express many personalities, while on this album nevertheless centring the idea of "Home", and of some kind of peace and freedom, juxtaposed with the "Elsewhere" of her taken name, and the "doom" of her earlier work. It's a catchy, enjoyable listen even at its weirdest.

Björk - Mycelia [One Little Independent/Bandcamp]
Björk - Her Mother’s House (feat. ísadóra bjarkardóttir barney) [One Little Independent/Bandcamp]
I had a lot of trouble with the initial singles for Björk's new album Fossora. I've been a fan of hers since before Debut was even released, but there have always been aspects of her art that I find difficult: the melodies that can be exquisite but can also prod and prod until my head aches; the weird phrasing that deliberately accents the wrong parts of words and stretches melodies over single syllables; harmonies that reach for atonality in awkward ways (from a composer capable of glorious harmonisation); rhythms that, especially on this gabber-inspired release, hammer even at slower tempos without remorse. Even "Ancestress", the song on the album most directly about her late mother, which many have been powerfully moved by, I find quite painful listening, its verse melody strained by repetition and portentous pauses, and the the chorus, even as it recalls the beautiful "Unison" from her masterpiece Vespertine, still exhibiting so many of those foibles (the incredibly awkward scansion!). Perhaps it's because it's very operatic, and (I'm sorry) I hate opera.
In any case, it's still Björk and there is still beauty and genius here. The bizarre fungal references are all over "Mycelia", a lovely vocal vignette with increasingly glitched voice samples, and there, at the end, is the sublime "Her Mother's House", once again referencing Björk's late mother Hildur while featuring her daughter Ísadóra (Dóa). Here the wind ensemble provides a bed instead of parping like a school band, and around Björk's own vocal lines Dóa and an oboe weave glittering scale patterns. Anyway, this is one guy's musical opinions and it's all aesthetics, so don't be offended if you love it all. You're absolutely right, even if I'm not wrong. And Björk is a treasure, forevermore.

Listen again — ~207MB


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