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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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Sunday, 19th of February, 2023

Playlist 19.02.23 (10:33 pm)

Experimental forms of hip-hop, grime, dubstep, bass music of all forms, jungle of course, with Palestinian, Turkish, Burkinabè, Algerian, Peruvian, Mexican, Polish, Japanese and Asian-Australian artists in the mix...

LISTEN AGAIN to a world of sound... stream on demand at FBi, podcast here.

Sleaford Mods - Force 10 From Navarone ft. Florence Shaw [Rough Trade/Bandcamp]
Once upon a time Sleaford Mods were obscure Nottingham punk-hip-hop dudes, darlings of Norman Records while the world scratched its head and went "Uh? Huhhhh?" But the world's caught on, thankfully, and so Jason Williamson's voice is found all over the place, and while Andrew Fearn's minimalist beats remain tightly constrained, they're just as much informed by today's electronic processing as they are by punky bass loops and RZA. With UK GRIM the 'Mods are surfing the zeitgeist with flare, and choosing Florence Shaw of Dry Cleaning was nothing short of masterful: her delivery perfectly matches the tone of this piece. Williamson and his collaborators are always political, but also always poetic and surrealist. You only need to follow him (and them) on Twitter to see how deeply thoughtful they both are, as well as fucking funny. So Jason, why does the darkness elope?

Skrillex, Nai Barghouti - XENA [Skrillex via Warner Music]
Skrillex, Flowdan, Fred again.. - Rumble [Skrillex via Warner Music]
Skrillex, Missy Elliott, Mr. Oizo - RATATA [Skrillex via Warner Music]
Time was when I would've laughed in your face if you suggested I'd play Skrillex on my show. That American kid who redefined dubstep as "EDM at any tempo with big drops for drunk white college kids to flail around to". And yet, he always had good taste, just with an ear for mass appeal. Just after Quest For Fire dropped, Sonny popped out a second album, Don't Get Too Close. I hadn't heard it at the time of putting the show together, and its emo-sadboi-rap vibe doesn't do much for me anyway, so here we're focusing on the brash dancefloorisms of Quest. I'm not the only one to note that Sonny Moore has maybe gone and worked out how dubstep really worked in the time since he started, and so not only do we get the absolute don of grime, Big Flowdan, on two tracks, we get a lot of nice syncopation and low-slung bass. Of course the album's choc full of collabs, and there are both canny choices and out-of-leftfield lightning strikes. Featuring Palestinian prodigy Nai Barghouti, a flautist, composer, singer and activist, is a stroke of genius. Both Flowdan tracks are great, but "Rumble" is pure fire, both because of and despite the presence of phenomenon-of-the-moment Fred again.., whose Boiler Room set it appeared in, and which wowed all the kids who are presumably too young to have ever seen someone mashing an MPC. And what the hell, let's just throw in Missy "Misdemeanour" Elliott reworking an old refrain (among other self-quotes) alongside French tech house/electro prankster Mr. Oizo, and make it a ridiculously huge banger with, yeah, That Drop? Sure.

IFS MA - Hanpuku [outlines]
IFS - fractal run [U Know Me Records/Bandcamp]
Prykson IFS - Alarm feat. Dj Chederac [U Know Me Records/Bandcamp]
IFS MA - Heddchara [outlines]
Polish duo IFS (Mateusz Wysocki aka Fischerle and Krzysztof Ostrowski) released their first album on the great Portuguese experimental label Crónica, and while a lot of their latter output has bean beat driven, it's resolutely weird and fucked up. 2021's Fractal Run LP on the Polish label U Know Me Records draws influences from footwork, dub, glitch and hip-hop, and the hip-hop connection really comes to the fore with their 2022 EP on the same label with Polish rapper Prykson Fisk, featuring a number of local scratch DJs amongst the glitchy beats. But while a full-length is also on the way with Prykson, the (also Polish) experimental/abstract footwork label outlines has just released an album recorded with the adventurous Japanese rapper MA - titled REIFSMA. MA's stream-of-consciousness rapping is perfectly supported and confounded in its pairing with IFS's jittery beats and avant-garde production - unsurprisingly given the rapper's previous work includes a collaboration with Italian sound-artist Nicola Ratti (Shinkai) and a release on adventurous German label Morphine Records.

Morwell - George Michael - Jesus to a Child (Morwell remix) [Morwell Bandcamp]
Max Morwell has honed his skills at post-rave production for some time, but in between his own compositions he's long had a love of the pop edit - the unauthorised remix. So tonight we get a sneak preview of the forthcoming Remixes Vol. 6. I was stoked to hear a rework of the adventurous vocalist Pamela Z there, but in the end I couldn't go past this ridiculously lush jungle refix of Saint George Michael.

Basic Rhythm - 4 Tha Streets [Straight Up Breakbeat]
Essex-based Anthoney J Hart grew up in London's soundsystem culture and has released music under a number of different names, including for a long time the noise & industrial-centred Imaginary Forces, and his particular take on grime & dancehall as East Man. But under Basic Rhythm he's been taking things back to the jungle/hardcore roots, including an EP last year on Planet µ. Now Finnish drum'n'bass/jungle powerhouse Straight Up Breakbeat has enlisted him for their Zero Three, with a full EP on the way. This track is sweet, sweet junglism all the way from the early '90s through a 2020s lens.

Photek - Phaze 1 (Gremlinz & Jesta Remix) [Odysee Recordings]
Photek - Phaze 1 (2022 Remaster) [Odysee Recordings]
Odysee Recordings is one of those original jungle labels from back in the day that's found a home on Bandcamp both re-releasing remastered classics (especially Source Direct, although they're apparently about to setup their own place?) and releasing some very very nice new jungle from old artists including Andy Odysee. Once upon a time, Rupert Parkes was indomitable, as Photek or under various aliases - and no matter what guff he's up to these days, everything up to the Form & Function collections is still untouchable. Phaze 1 / Try A Style was the second single on Odysee Records back in 1995, under the name Phaze 1, and the title track has now been remastered with beautiful EQ range and punchiness. Also included are remixes by Andy Odysee (super sped up, which works once you get over the initial shock) and currrent-day d'n'b masters Gremlinz & Jesta.

黑芝麻 (Hēi zhī ma) - 黑芝麻 & Merph - I Miss You [Pure Space/Bandcamp]
黑芝麻 (Hēi zhī ma) - 黑芝麻 & Shoeb Ahmad - Associations (ft Zhi) [Pure Space/Bandcamp]
The latest release from the ever-gregarious Pure Space, Eora/Sydney label, radio show & more helmed by Andy Garvey, comes from the Naarm-based 黑芝麻 (Hēi zhī ma). Originally, I believe, from Ngunnawal country, the artist is also a graduate of FBi's Dance Class, and the appropriately named Hēi zhī ma and friends EP assembles collaborators from all over. There's a restless genre-agnosticism to the whole EP, ably demonstrated on the track "I Miss You" which features Eora/Sydney DJ Merph aka Sarita Carol Herse, veering from uneasy ambience into junglist techno halfway through. There are also spoken word contributions from Cham Zhi Yi, the other half of the sound & poetry project 莎瑜 (Shā yú) with Hēi zhī ma, and none other than Ngunnawal Country/Canberra visionary Shoeb Ahmad. This is evocative music that's a tribute to the richness of Asian-Australian exploratory culture at the moment.

Prado - Virus [Buh Records]
Prado - Error [Buh Records]
Prado - Invasión [Buh Records]
Two previous releases exist from Nicolás Prado under the name Blxzey, but those 2021 releases seem to only exist on the streaming services, and from what I can see aren't licensed for Australia either. So for us, London-born Peruvian producer's Machines is a highly impressive debut from a creative young artist, released on the influential, exploratory Buh Records. It's a very now combination of ADHD/videogame hyperactivity and jungle/breakcore/IDM influences. There's heavy bass and glitched up beats (particularly see "Error") and a surprising outburst of double-kick drum metal at one point. Fun insanity.

Damos Room x LYAM - Data Ponzi [Accidental Jr/Bandcamp]
Damos Room x LYAM - EIN [Accidental Jr/Bandcamp]
London's Damos Room are an experimental trio who exist somewhere between underground hip-hop, noise, glitch and art - don't be put off by the offline Twitch embed on the front page of their website; every time you click "Rooms In Your Area" you get another of their seemingly endless bizarro videos, which give you a bit of a taste of where they're at. They were meant to team up with innovative UK rap experimentalist LYAM (Liam Harris-Williams) a couple of years ago, but somewhere a long the way a hard drive malfunction lost them a lot of the resulting material (multiple backups everyone! One local and at least one in the cloud! Don't avoid this), and we can be grateful for this loss as we get the excellent EIN EP (it stands for "Everything Is Noise") as a result. Released by Accidental Jr as part of their Room 2 series (a sub-label of a sub-label?), the EP eschews any vocals, instead being constructed from fidgety beats and mostly rhythmic noise samples. It's not representative of either artist's sound, but while that's part of the pleasure of it, it's also well worth looking into both more deeply.

Nondi_ - FCD (Floaty Cloud Dream) [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
Johnstown, Pennsylvania artist Tatiana Triplin is the latest signing to Planet µ, combining the IDM & experimental roots of the label with its footwork archivism - although footwork is only one input into her music, which feeds influences like breakcore and Detroit techno through a hazy vaporwave fog. Triplin runs the netlabel HRR, specialising in "Web Folk, Nightcore, and Dubst", and given how much of Nondi_'s music appears on the label, those lovely terms can handily be applied to her own music: this first single hints at club music somewhere behind the clouds of audio debris. The album is an evocation of life in Johnstown, dominated by the impact of the 1977 floods which saw the town's economic base from the Bethlehem Steel Company withdrawn - a classic failure of capitalism which is in fact capitalism doing just what it's designed to do.

Santa Muerte - Coahuiltecan [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
Mexican-raised Panch Briones, now based in Houston, Texas, and brings a Central American aspect to music that's influenced by the low-slung hip-hop and trap of his hometown as well as the more experimental electronics that Hyperdub has often championed.

Acid Arab - Leila Feat Sofiane Saidi [Crammed Discs/Bandcamp]
٣ is the Arabic numeral 3, and naturally is the third album from Algerian-French collective Acid Arab (it's officially parenthetically titled "Trois"). The band insist that "this is not fusion. this is not a mix. this is a meeting ?", which is reassuring as European-initiated club music versions of MENA music can be uncomfortably colonial. This is not the Amazigh-Tunisian dubby club music of Azu Tiwaline, or the bass music with North African/Arabic themes of Cassablanca producer 3xOJ. But AMMAR 808, the excellent Denmark-based Tunisian producer, does appear here, along with many Algerian and other musicians from the region. Indeed the legendary Rachid Taha turns up on one track, but tonight we heard squiggly club-ready Arabic melodies underscoring the gruff rapping of contemporary French-Algerian vocalist Sofiane Saidi, who has worked with Acid Arab since their first album. The white French DJs who initiated the band heard sounds in Arabic and North African music that gelled with acid house, and tracks like these certainly make a case for this fusion, but it's hard to avoid the idea that it's still a "fusion".

Avalanche Kaito - Moulin [Glitterbeat/Bandcamp]
Avalanche Kaito - Goomde [Glitterbeat/Bandcamp]
From the Belgian Crammed Discs to German label Glitterbeat, but it turns out that Avalanche Kaito are 2/3 Belgian, made up of Brussels noise/post-punk duo of Benjamin Chaval on drums & electronics and Nico Gitto on guitar, who were found on his first visit to Belgium by Labalou Kaito Winse, an urban griot from Burkina Faso who plays many West African instruments and is also a remarkable vocalist. This is a true meeting of minds, with noisemaking, post-punk/dub basslines, guitar distortion and granular processing merging with Winse's talking drums, Peul flute, mouth bow and of course his wildly versatile vocals. The digital-only Dabalomuni EP preceded their self-titled album by a few months, and seems particularly, spectacularly new and uncompromising. I can't imagine that there's much difference in time between those recordings and those on the album, but there's a difference in perspective perhaps. Either way, there really seems to be something different about this group's music, and I'm ashamed I missed it in the middle of last year. Better late than never!

The God In Hackney - Heaven In Black Water [Junior Aspirin Records/Bandcamp]
I was thrilled to discover UK band The God In Hackney in 2020 via a feature track in The Wire Tapper. There's no doubt that they do so much that is tailor-made for this here radio show, with skittery drums, krautrocky grooves and dub effects, bizarre non-sequiturs, acoustic instruments rubbing up against electronics of all sorts, and all this with great songwriting! "Heaven In Black Water" is the first single from their new album The World In Air Quotes, which I've listened to and can tell you is very good, and you will be hearing more from it in due course.

Sinemis - Only Breath (Hüma Utku Remix) [Injazero Records/Bandcamp]
Sine Büyüka is a Circassian-Turkish producer from Istanbul, based in London at the moment, studying at Guildhall. She has had a career as a journalist and television presenter while in Turkey, and now runs the fantastic Injazero Records from London, while also making music under the name Sinemis. In a terrible confluence, the Dua Remixes EP (remixing tracks from her debut album) came out just as the massive earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria; so all profits from the EP will go to an on-the-ground NGO in Turkey called AHBAP as well as the White Helmets in Syria. The remix artists are inspired: Nairobi's KMRU, Guatemalan cellist Mabe Fratti and brilliant Turkish experimental artist Hüma Utku, whose remix builds to her favoured distorted bass tones and minimal rhythms. Fantastic work all-round.

Kevin Richard Martin - Hustle [KRM Bandcamp]
Kevin Richard Martin - Nishinari [KRM Bandcamp]
Kevin Richard Martin - Forever Falling [KRM Bandcamp]
If you're a listener of this show you surely already know who Kevin Richard Martin is - crafter of bass terror as The Bug, one half of Techno Animal & Zonal & Ice etc with Justin K Broadrick, compiler of brilliant '90s compilations and more. Under his given name he's been making glacial ambient music the last few years, but over 3 albums from last last year he's turned also to what he's variously described as drone-jazz, narco-jazz, or dubbed out ambient jazz and smudged drone. It really is all of those things. It's way less ambient than the Frequencies for Leaving Earth series and others, but less tough and dancefloor-focused than what tends to eventuate from The Bug. It has a jazz-noir feel to it with sounds of acoustic bass, sax (Martin's first instrument) and minimalist harmonies hinting at rainswept streets lit by lamplight - and indeed these three albums take three different perspectives on the dark late-night city, with the recent final installment Above The Clouds flying us above the streets and buildings. The closest predecessor to these sounds is Martin's collaboration with Dylan Carlson of Earth, appropriately titled Concrete Desert. It's deeply evocative work.

Listen again — ~206MB


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