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Utility Fog

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Sunday, 4th of December, 2022

Playlist 04.12.22 (11:00 pm)

Ambient to frenetic to intense to low-slung to delicately glittery...

LISTEN AGAIN for that comforting fear. Stream on demand via FBi, podcast here.

KŒNIG - جنگ، خودِ حقیقت است‎‎ - war is the unveiling of the truth (ft. Rojin Sharafi) [PTP/Bandcamp]
Starting tonight with a single track from Austrian percussionist KŒNIG, although the centre of this track is the voice and vocal processing of the brilliant Vienna-based Iranian musician Rojin Sharafi. Sharafi reads a poem by Parham Shahrjerdi that directly addresses the atrocities committed by the Islamic Republic, the forces who have ruled Iran in one way or other for decades. It's a fantastic piece of audio, and you can read the text in English on the Bandcamp page. PTP are passing on all proceeds to the Woman*-Life-Freedom Collective in Berlin, to support the feminist uprising.

Fatäk, Romance Relic, Tettix Hexer - To The Beauty Of Being [Eastern Nurseries/Bandcamp]
Eastern Nurseries is a Portuguese label that releases experimental music seemingly of any nature, including plenty of noise and drone. There's something of that on this collaborative track, as well as contemporary sound design, and a sensual poem by Aude Barras which turns sinister courtesy of the production. Spoken word aside, it's the work of two Danish producers - Fatäk and Tettix Hexer - and the Finnish Romance Relic. As best I can work out. In any case, it's great.

Stick In The Wheel - White Copper Alley [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]
Stick In The Wheel - Robot [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]
When I've played Stick In The Wheel in the past, I've emphasised the connection between Ian Carter and Nicola Kearey - now a duo - and the dubstep innovators Various Production. Among the bass tunes on their early 7"s, Various inserted strange occult English folk pieces, and Stick In The Wheel began as a project to resurrect or keep alive the English folk tradition. Along the way, they've released "mixtapes" in between the albums proper, with remixes and strange re-arrangements of their songs, but even those "proper" albums have dabbled with autotuned voice, electronics and amplified instrumentation. For the end of 2022 they've released mini-album Endurance Soundly Caged, which documents their live sound (albeit in-studio) with George Hoyle on bass and Siân Monaghan on drums. Here we find the band in quite raucous folk-rock mode, but there are also synths and the infamous autotune on their early single "As I Roved Out". On new track "Robot", Kearey tells a tale of a time-travelling robot, in her broad accent, with a melancholy guitar melody leading the band in a postrock-like surge.

Morwell - This Word, Life (21.11.22) [unreleased]
Max Morwell has continued dropping new material on his Bandcamp at considerable pace this year, with ravey reworkings of pop music and his own bass/jungle/hardcore/techno hybrids as well. However, lucky me, I've also been handed some unreleased gems, of which I've selected "This Word, Life" tonight. Max claims this is unfinished, but it sounds pretty fucking ace to me. Pitched-down spoken word samples, a head-nodding beat that goes double-time, warm subs... great stuff.

Arcane & Jon1st - Honey Dew [Defrostatica/Bandcamp]
Here's a surprising team-up showing the versatility of scratch DJ (one-time DMC champion) Jon1st who we heard earlier in the year with the aforementioned Stick In The Wheel. Here he's working with excellent Bristol junglist Arcane on an EP that flips jungle and techno tropes alongside Jon1st's turntable gymnastics.

Keita Sano - Inner Hall [ROW Records/Bandcamp]
Keita Sano - C2 [Keita Sano Bandcamp]
Keita Sano - TV (Tape Mix) [Keita Sano Bandcamp]
Keita Sano - Legacy From Leyton (Dayzero Remix) [ROW Records/Bandcamp]
Always love new discoveries. Keita Sano is by no means a new artist, but by and large his focus has been on house and disco, so I've not encountered him until recently. His second EP on ROW Records just dropped (he spent some time in Berlin before moving back to Okayama) and Legacy From Leyton brings a nice mix of head-nodding techno, IDM influences and even a bit of jungle, along with a classy garage/dubstep remix from Tokyo-based Dayzero. But a little search shows up that Sano has his own Bandcamp with a shocking amount of material uploaded just this year and last - surely so much that a lot is archival - and a huge range of styles is found. 2021's Keep The Party Going On seems to take on a different dance music genre on just about every track, with low-slung beats abiding, distorted snares, b-boy drum machines, even a bit of drum'n'bass. On other EPs mini-albums there are junglist versions of dub tracks, IDM-style beatworks and even some proper d'n'b, some very lovely grainy distorted slow techno a la Andy Stott, and lots more. Well worth exploring in depth!

Tapefeed - Snakes in Suits [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
The debut EP from Italian duo Tapefeed on Houndstooth takes them beyond the industrial techno they've released thus far, with some more syncopated bass styles, albeit still in a pretty 4/4 and industrial-influenced fashion. It's highly dancefloor-optimised (except for one ambient track), suitably since Houndstooth is an offshoot of London's fabric club, where Tapefeed have a residency. Looking forward to some more left-of-centre material from them on Houndstooth next year.

Gold Panda - Plastic Future (Skee Mask Remix) [City Slang/Bandcamp]
Always love a remix of a track I haven't heard - or a remix compilation of an artist I've never heard. I vaguely know Gold Panda but his music never really clicked with me. However Münich producer Skee Mask is a hero, and here gives us a skittery 5 minutes of percussive fun and a sunny vibe.

Sijya - Another Thing [Accidental Records/Bandcamp]
Sijya - 52 [Accidental Records/Bandcamp]
The latest release in a busy year from Accidental Records is the debut EP, entitled Young Hate, from young New Delhi graphic designer Sijya. Her understated songs sit comfortably in the context of Matthew Herbert's label, the soft vocals and wistful textures recalling the minimalist r'n'b of Tirzah, or the trip-hop references of Sevdaliza, but all self-produced. No hate here - these are touching little pieces, and this is another EP I exhort you not to let pass you by.

Arve Henriksen & Kjetil Husebø - Syntax [Smalltown Supersound/Bandcamp]
Arve Henriksen & Kjetil Husebø - Slow Fragments [Smalltown Supersound/Bandcamp]
Two big figures in the Nordic jazz and experimental scene get together for some blissful electronics and jazz here. Arve Henriksen is a purveyor of gorgeous, melodic & mellow trumpet, often electronically treated, as well as otherworldly vocals - especially in the extraordinary Supersilent. Kjetil Husebø is a classical & jazz-trained pianist with a particular interest in combining live piano with live electronics. Although the music is highly informed by jazz and improvisation, it was recorded separately, Henriksen in Gothenburg, Sweden (although he is originally from Norway) and Husebø in Oslo, Norway. Both musicians employ clouds of electronics as well, creating big textured drones on some pieces, while Husebø is inclined more towards melody on his piano than chordal harmonies - even on the one track where Henriksen sings (not in his usual falsetto), where sampled, reversed and treated piano nevertheless moves as a single bass counter-melody to Henriksen's singing, with further decoration from mostly-untreated piano and trumpet. Booming and shuddering sounds from the physicality of the piano are sampled for reverberant or percussive effect, as are breaths through the trumpet and patterns of prepared piano. This is a striking pairing of musicianship with technology at every level, and a striking pairing of two musicians who long admired each other.

To Move - Mirroring [Sonic Pieces/Bandcamp]
To Move - In Pink [Sonic Pieces/Bandcamp]
We last heard from Welsh pianist Anna Rose Carter and her partner, musician & sound-artist Ed Hamilton when they released a wonderful album as Dead Light back in 2016. Earlier still, Carter had a legendary duo called Moon Ate The Dark which combined her always attractive neo-classical piano with Christopher Bailey's tape effects, synths and other electronics (and also violin from Carter). Hamilton also loves tape manipulation and drones, and the pair made some powerful cinematic music as Dead Light for Village Green. Their latest project To Move finds them back on Monique Recknagel's Sonic Pieces (who released the Moon At The Dark albums), for a set of recordings made with fellow pianist, film composer and filmmaker Alex Kozobolis. Whenever Kozobolis visited Carter & Hamilton's home in the English countryside, the two pianists would improvise together (four hand piano, with one player on the bass end and one at the treble), full of the characteristic heart-pulling musicality of Carter that's clearly shared by Kozobolis, while the sounds are degraded and crumbled by tape and other analogue effects. It's as gorgeous as you'd expect if you know their previous work, and worth getting in one of the boutique physical editions if you can afford it!

Elyse Tabet with Pascal Semerdjian and Yara Asmar - Low Toms [Ruptured Records/Bandcamp]
Elyse Tabet with Pascal Semerdjian and Yara Asmar - Bright Bells [Ruptured Records/Bandcamp]
Yet more wonderful music from Lebanon, courtesy of Beirut label Ruptured Records. I played Elyse Tabet a few weeks ago from the Beirut Adrift compilation, from a duo album she made with the brilliant Jawad Nawfal, and from the same compilation I also featured Yara Asmar's wheezing accordion. For Low Toms Bright Bells and Darkest Spells, Tabet enlisted Asmar to play metallophone, and Pascal Semerdjian on drums. Semerdjian plays with shoegazers Postcards, whose singer Julia Sabra we heard in October with Fadi Tabbal on their album Snakeskin (co-released by Ruptured and Portland's Beacon Sound). For this new album, Tabet initially setup a recording session with Semerdjian to play drums along with drum machines and synths. Asmar later overdubbed the brightly ringing metallophone, and the removal of the drum machine beats leaves a trio of tracks suffused with mystery, two percussionists jamming with each other's ghosts, fragments of sounds looped and glitched, placed in artificial spaces, shuffled and re-composed. It's artfully done, all sounds beautifully recorded by Fadi Tabbal and edited, shaped and deconstructed by Tabet. As a bonus, the North Carolina-based Lebanese sound-artist Bana Haffar contributes a shimmering remix that begins ambient and becomes urgenty rhythmical.

Pretty Boy Crossover - Echo 12 [Nice Music/Bandcamp]
Pretty Boy Crossover - Echo 1 [Nice Music/Bandcamp]
Pretty Boy Crossover - Echo 7 [Nice Music/Bandcamp]
Adelaide musical legend Jason Sweeney had a busy year (and last year) collecting reams of archival music from his various projects - much of it on his Observable Universe Recordings Bandcamp. His duo with Cailan Burns, Pretty Boy Crossover (named after a cyberpunk short story by Pat Cadigan, PDF here), is of particular importance to me, responsible for a remarkable early artefact of Australian IDM that I originally heard on CD-R in about 1998. In October 2021 the duo offered up a collection of rarities and unreleased material called Traces Backwards, and sometime this year Jason hinted that new Pretty Boy Crossover material may be in the offing. Interestingly, their return with Echoes In The Sound Mirror feels rather like a clearing out of hard drives, with many of the tracks (each titled merely as a numbered "Echo") cutting off mid-flow, not even blending together mixtape style. It's an odd decision which denies these snippets their full power, but perhaps that's the idea. PBX's music was always redolent of indeterminacy, out of phase and out of its time, and perhaps the Sound Mirror that's producing these Echoes is cracked. It's wistful and evocative, a little disquieting, and essential even if one hopes there's something a little more complete on its way.

Third Space - Dowlais [New Weird Australia/BandcampA]
alsi - When you touch me, I see visions [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
After a pair of single-artist albums, Stu Buchanan's New Weird Australia returns to its original strength of impeccably-selected compilations of Australian experimental artists. Fragile States takes as its referents '90s ambient compilations such as Kevin Martin's incredible Ambient 4: Isolationismam, and as such, there are desolate drones (Madeleine Cocolas' literally breathtaking opening track), there's delicate softness, beatless maximalism and much more. And it's not, in fact, all beatless: Naarm/Melbourne's Third Space often makes techno that flirts with drum'n'bass tropes (or is it the other way round?) and here the first half of his track is ambient, and then it accelerates into skittering beats. Also hailing from Melbourne, on unceded Wurundjeri land, is alsi, whose disembodied voices are interlaced with glitched crackles and ominous sound-design on her track "When you touch me, I see visions".

Aviva Endean - Between Islands [Room40/Bandcamp]
Aviva Endean - What Calls In The Quiet [Room40/Bandcamp]
Solo work from Naarm/Melbourne clarinettist Aviva Endean is always a gift. Her contributions are always notable in other contexts - for instance, with Yolŋu musicians on the Australian Art Orchestra album Hand to Earth, with Senyawa and others on The Prey And The Ruler, or with Evelyn Ida Morris a few years back. As primarily a performer, making her latest solo album on Room40, Moths and Stars, afforded her the opportunity to carefully craft sounds, close-micing her clarinets for an uncommon intimacy, but splicing them with field recordings, e-bow and voice. But far from drone, the album starts with the pink and white noise of breaths through a clarinet's body, bubbling and shuddering across the stereo spectrum, while gradually pitched tones join. By the second track we have the pure clarinet tones drifting closer, at times beating, and across the first three continuous tracks the music shifts between interlocking tones and convulsive sibilants. The second half is another three continuous tracks, where slightly detuned clarinet tones slowly replace fast-moving ostinato patterns, initially peaceful, slowly attenuated by the final track into high- and low-pitched discords and disquieting plucked interjections. Moths and Stars couldn't be more apposite as a description. It's eerie, brilliant work.

Listen again — ~200MB

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