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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, 5th of March, 2023

Playlist 05.03.23 (11:00 pm)

There is too much music. Something must be done. But while nobody is doing anything about it, I will continue to try and listen to it all and give you the very best. It's my duty.
Your job? Simply to listen.

You can LISTEN AGAIN at FBi's website with on-demand streaming, or podcast here.

Party Dozen - Earthly Times (billy woods rework) [Temporary Residence/GRUPO Bandcamp]
Sydney's ubiquitous Jonathan Boulet and Kirsty Tickle have taken Party Dozen - a project that in name and concept you could mistake for a joke band - to stellar heights of late, signing to Brooklyn's Temporary Residence, Ltd and embarking on a tour of the US with Algiers. And just to be utterly clear, there's nothing gimmicky or jokey about this duo. Both members are brilliant musicians, and they create music of great intensity, with heavy riffage and swampy grooves. "Earthly Times" was a standout from last year's The Real Work, with a slightly less dense texture and a pacing that does lend itself to becoming a hip-hop beat, but nevertheless the appearance of the great underground rapper billy woods on this new version came out of leftfield. Of course it works perfectly, with woods' measured delivery, but to seal the deal Boulet and Tickle reworked the song around woods' vocal, adding strings and piano for extra lushness.

Dry Cleaning - Hot Penny Day (Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul Remix) [4AD/Bandcamp]
A couple of weeks ago we heard a single off the new Sleaford Mods album featuring Florence Shaw of Dry Cleaning. On the one hand, the 'Mods are gregarious folks, keenly working with people across the spectrum from grime to punk, but equally Shaw and her mates do have a post-punk adventurousness to their sound - and of course Shaw is renowned as a lead vocalist who speaks more than sings. So from their new Swampy EP, along with a couple of new tracks/versions, there are two remixes, and I'm particularly enamoured of this one by Belgian duo Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul. The duo are signed through fellow Ghentians(?) Soulwax, echoing their approach to club provocations, using pop to explore xenophobia, misogyny, colonialism and more. Perfectly suited to Shaw's poetic, elusive lyrics ("I see male violence everywhere"). "Kick drum"!

Polobi & the Gwo Ka Masters - Kawmélito [Real World/Bandcamp]
Polobi & the Gwo Ka Masters - Driv [Real World/Bandcamp]
Here's an interesting one. Moïse Polobi has just released his first album, through Peter Gabriel's industrious Real World Records, at the age of 69. He's sung his own songs, in his own invented creole, accompanied only by his own Gwo ka drums, for decades on the remote Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. A labourer by trade - now retired - he was drawn to this music early in life, and has revered the musical style for just as long. Although he also plays with traditional bands locally, his music - in any form - has only been recorded on his own collection of personal tapes up until now. At a léwoz (a kind of jam session) at his friend Klod Kiavué's house (Kiavué has decades of history taking his music to the wider world), his music was "discovered" by French artistic director Valérie Malot, to whom he played and then loaned a selection of his tapes. It was she who took this music back to France, and handed it to Irish-born, Paris-based producer Liam Farrell aka Doctor L, who loves working with African musicians (I know him particularly via heavy Congolese ensemble Bantou Mentale). So what we get, weirdly as the first outing of Polobi's music outside of his rainforests, is firmly fusion music. Farrell takes the quite raw rainforest songs of Polobi and embeds them in quite lush production - dub-inspired basslines, jazzy keyboards and so on. Nevertheless the "Gwo Ka" shines through. Polobi's singing is reminiscent of the music of his slave-traded forebears from French-colonised Africa, but those influences are present in Caribbean music, Jamaican included, and so somehow this fusion does work. It's hard to escape the potentially problematic aspects, capably described by Will Ainsley in The Quietus, but ultimately Moïse Polobi himself claims that "in the end, the spirit of gwo ka remains!"

- Cociage [Hakuna Kulala]
- Pleasing You [Hakuna Kulala]
French-Ghanaian actress, vegetable grower, producer, vocalist and DJ Pauline Bedarida calls herself Pö Beda or PÖ. After a few compilation tracks, including some earlier work with Congolose producer Rey Sapienz as Poko Poko, she here delivers her debut album Cociage, and it's incredible. Bedarida's voice is central all this music - there is an entire multi-tracked choir of her voice on one eastern European-sounding track - but there's also a lot of cutting-edge electronics and percussion of the sort that those familiar with the Hakuna Kulala label will no doubt expect. PÖ's voice is highly versatile, going from a gutteral growl to punkish delivery (in multiple languages) to a thing of beauty. Don't miss this one.

DREAMCRUSHER - In Due Time [PTP/Bandcamp]
Non-binary New York-based interdisciplinary artist DREAMCRUSHER has been plying their trade for 2 decades, and is as energetic and creative as ever. Suite One, released through PTP, collects two short tracks which combine heavy shoegaze textures, heavy beats, warped samples and plenty of oversaturated distortion in patented DREAMCRUSHER style. Both cuts essential IMHO.

Bulbul - –––––––––––- [Rock Is Hell/Bandcamp]
Viennese trio Bulbul are a long-lived entity existing at the edges of what we call music. Manfred Engelmayr, Roland Rathmair & Dieter (Didi) Kern have been making music in the interstices of noise, krautrock, industrial, punk & electronic music for over 2 decades, and from what I can tell, no two releases are the same. Nevertheless, new album Silence!, released as an LP+7" set, seems like Bulbul distilled down to its instrumental essence: ponderous, weighty bass and guitar noise, patient drums, some distant screaming - except the 7" track which is a punk-freejazz jam. The LP tracks give a sense of tectonic movement, massive and slow but inexorable.

Deprogram - Magnetic Springs [Provenance/Bandcamp]
Mary Mainsbridge formed Deprogram at least 2 decades ago, often working with longtime Australian producer Nick Mainsbridge. Her vocals are augmented through live processing via gestural controllers which allow her to translate bodily movement into sound. On her new album Youbeme the recordings document Deprogram as band, with Robbie Mudrazija on drums and Meeghan Oliver on bass taking the sound into almost postpunk regions, especially on a few live tracks. The tension between abstract, processed sound and live instrumentation pervades the whole album, but it's the mutated vocals that particularly draw me in.

emer - sea salt [Lillerne Tapes]
sea salt is the debut release from Brussels-based Lithuanian sound-artist Marija Rasa under the emer moniker. Rasa is one half of electro-acoustic/electronic duo Ugné & Maria, and with Ugné Vyliaudaite hosts a monthly show on Kiosk Radio; similarly with Konradas Žakauskas she makes experimental electronics as Forgotten Plants, and they too have a monthly show, on Radio Vilnius. So it's no wonder, perhaps, that this "debut" solo release is so accomplished, but it is truly special - downtempo ambient beats and synth pads, with pitch-shifted vocals and an estranged, slightly flanged sheen to the sounds. It could almost come from some '90s ambient, post-rave compilation - almost, but there are reminders throughout that this is music of now. Superb.

denqq - a negative entity seeped through a hole into your aura [normoton]
Matthias Dengg was involved in the Munich club scene from the '90s, but only now emerges as denqq, with his debut album we could be dead soon on normoton. The album is a kind of love letter to dub techno and ambient dub, full of warm bass, beats of different tempos (or no beats), manipulated voices and field recordings. It helps that it's beautifully produced too. Available on vinyl or on some digital platforms.

Ibrahim Alfa Jnr - BKQB [Mille Plateaux]
We last heard from the Brighton-based Ibrahim Alfa Jnr late last year with his first album for Mille Plateaux, Messier87, which featured 10 tracks of random four-letter titles, with junglist-inspired weird techno and electronica, under the banner of "hypercussion". So here's more hypercussion from the techno veteran, even more complex and to some extent less danceable beats, alien jazz, four-letter non-acronyms from across the void.

V.I.V.E.K - HER [System Music]
The Shapes EP continues the adventurous 140bpm compositions from one of the most creative dubstep-adjacent producers around, London's V.I.V.E.K. A logical follow-up to last year's Colours EP, it's both head-nodding, adventurous and soulful.

Agazero - Vnvnse [Precious Metals]
Agazero - Decontrol (feat. Laza) [Precious Metals]
From cutting-edge London label Precious Metals, a perfect encapsulation of their "dysfunctional club music", from Brazilian producer Agazero, also known variously as Vó1d, The 177th, The LHC and more. Eric Alves lives in Niterói, neighbouring Rio de Janeiro, an area with a lively experimental electronic scene, and his IDM-inflected glitchy beats draw heavily from baile-funk, uk drill, grime & hip-hop and bass music in general. It's highly danceable in its own way, but certainly it's a fucked-up way. Collaborators include Laza, another baile-funk experimenter whose productions, like Alves', have accompanied models on the catwalk. Style, baby.

Gunjack - 55032 [Gunjack Bandcamp]
Following two volumes of his jazz-influenced drill'n'bass madness last year, Gunjack now releases H3: Beyond Hyperjazz. Here the splattered breaks accompany hip-hop samples with a sci-fi atmosphere in keeping with jungle's origins.

Fanu - Headgames [Metalheadz/Bandcamp]
Everyone's favourite Finnish d'n'b master Fanu (OK, there are a *lot* of great Finnish drum'n'bass/jungle producers, but Fanu's very beloved) comes out with his first release on Metalheadz proper (he's had two EPs on Metalheadz Platinum). A great mix of storming breaks and bouncing basslines, with jazzy vibes on the opening track.

Jamie Hutchings - Everything Alive is at War [Jamie Hutchings Bandcamp]
Jamie Hutchings - In the Middle of a Field; a Bathtub [Jamie Hutchings Bandcamp]
So here's the new solo album from Jamie Hutchings - lead singer/songwriter for legendary Sydney indie band Bluebottle Kiss and more recently the krautrock-inspired indie band Infinity Broke. In both these bands, Hutchings and cohorts have been comfortably uncompromising with their experimental aspects - free jazz references, unusual structures and harmonies - along with his emotive singing. Making Water, however, is something different. At least, superficially it is: these are not songs, even if there's some singing at times; this isn't a band at all, in fact most of the playing is done by Jamie himself; and the instrumentation shifts from clattering found-object percussion to abandoned piano to scrabbling, detuned acoustic guitar, often recorded in unusual ways. And yet there's a definite Jamie Hutchingsness to the proceedings, and not just the occasional wordless vocals. Maybe because this adventurous musical spirit has always been present in his work, this seems almost like a logical progression. There's a purity to it, messy and primitive and spontaneous as it is. Listen with open ears.

Mayssa Jallad - Baynana [Ruptured Records/Bandcamp]
Mayssa Jallad - Holiday Inn (January to March) [Ruptured Records/Bandcamp]
Ziad Nawfal & Fadi Tabbal's Ruptured Records is a dependable source of brilliant music from Lebanon and further afield in the MENA region. And so often a new release is a surprise - take Mayssa Jallad's new album Marjaa: The Battle Of The Hotels. It merges Jallad's research work in architectural history and her parallel career as a singer-songwriter. These interests and imperatives have combined in the past: see last year's collaboration with Syrian musician Khaled Allaf which examines the trauma of post-explosion Beirut (incredible video here). But this is different, a walk through only slightly less-recent history, focused on urban warfare in the Hotel District of Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War (specifically 1975-76), which Jallad discovered was "the first high rise urban battle in the world". With the help of Fadi Tabbal and a selection of Ruptured-affiliated musicians, we're treated to a highly evocative & moving collection of narrative songs (even for those of us who don't speak Arabic), which musically inhabit a space on the corner of 1970s US folk, Arabic melisma and sound-art. A haunting, engrossing work.

Grand River - Kura [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
Grand River - Cost What It May [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
Aimée Portioli's Grand River was one of many artists to have a record in the works with Editions Mego when Peter Rehberg tragically passed away in July 2021. A mutual agreement was made by the artists involved as well as the labels that Rehberg had nurtured, to continue to release all that material through the subsiduary labels, with Shelter Press taking over the operational duties. So we're lucky to get All Above from the Berlin-based Dutch-Italian Portioli, an album grounded in acoustic, neo-classical elements (piano, choral voices, orchestral instruments), but constructed with heavy use of synthesizers and electronic processing. Whenever you think it's going the way of a traditional "neo-classical" album with pretty piano and lush electronics, some kind of jarring glitches or chopped up distortion enters - or the arrangements get lush in a more fully orchestrated way. There's a lot of depth to this album, highly worth of the EMEGO stamp.

V - Toll Keeper [Heavy Machinery Records/Bandcamp]
Pleased to premiere this single from Faithless, the forthcoming album by Naarm-based darkwave musician V. Born in Meanjin/Brisbane, V spent their childhood & school years in Seoul and then Singapore before returning to Australia. After a brief stint around here on Gadigal land, V is now back in Naarm, which Faithless will be launched on the 31st of March. The launch will be at the Federation Bells, and those bells contribute their distinctive clanging to "Toll Keeper" and presumably other tracks on this album - as with many Heavy Machinery releases in conjunction with the City of Melbourne. Here the bells take a sinister turn, tolling for us to pay our way to some kind of murky afterlife, while plangent piano and industrial drones accompany.

Cisser Mæhl - Se Nu Stiger Floden [Sonic Pieces/Bandcamp]
Cisser Mæhl - Menneskeaftryk [Sonic Pieces/Bandcamp]
Something rather gorgeous here via Monique Recknagel's lovely, thoughtful imprint Sonic Pieces, from young Danish artist Cisser Mæhl. While Mæhl is based in Copenhagen, she began this material in the mountains of mid Norway, and then spent 7 months in Oslo studying with Jenny Hval, who introduced her to the great, versatile producer Lasse Marhaug. But for all that these storied Norwegians helped her out, this is all the work of this talented young musician, with her close-mic'd vocals accompanied by her plucked and gently bowed violin, multitracked along with softly rattling percussion, field recordings and occasional piano. It has a simultaneously ranshackle and composed, down-to-earth and other-worldly. Recommended.

Matt Rösner - Alpha [Room40/Bandcamp]
Matt Rösner - Ripples on Time [Room40/Bandcamp]
Previously known as Pablo Dali, and at times just "M. Rösner", Perth musician Matt Rösner has made a quiet impact around the world with his considered soundscapes, particularly in collaboration with Seaworthy on 12k and with Adam Trainer as Gilded on Hidden Shoal and later Fluid Audio. These duo works are softly stunning, but so is Rösner on his own: Empty, Expanding, Collapsing winds careful layers of guitar, electronics and even percussion around delicate upright piano improvisations. The result is beautiful and peaceful.

Listen again — ~203MB


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