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experimental electronica
electric string quartet

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, 29th of May, 2023

Playlist 28.05.23 (1:35 am)

Experimental sounds from the orbits of noise, free improv and spectral classical rub up against song-based experiments, beat-based floor-fillers and more...

LISTEN AGAIN and stand proud. Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

ugne&maria - healing [Futura Resistenza]
ugne&maria - zinc [Futura Resistenza]
A couple of months ago we heard Brussels-based Lithuanian musician Marija Rasa as emer with a stunning tape of underwater electronica on Lillerne Tapes. With compatriot Ugnė Vyliaudaitė she has a longstanding duo called ugne&maria which extends the dubby freeform beats & textures of emer with Ugnė's violin, along with an affable approach to field recordings & other samples which are woven into the music. The violin is mostly used to make scratchy noises and effects, adding to the pleasingly disorienting nature of the pieces on healing, their EP released in a couple of days on Belgian label Futura Resistenza.

Clark - Sus Dog (feat. Anika) [Throttle Records]
English musician Chris Clark has had an adventurous career, starting as a kind of enfant terrible of IDM with a series of albums on the Warp label that exhibited reams of talent but less originality - until the recently-remastered Body Riddle dropped in 2006 with its organically crunchy sounds which seemed to coax electronic music into the physical world, and onto the forest floor. Excursions into techno and other dancefloors followed, and then a detour into electronically-augmented classical stylings for soundtrack work, into which I'd include the gorgeous standalone climate change "soundtrack" Playground In A Lake from 2021. What this career précis does not do is prepare us for Sus Dog, Clark's latest left-hand turn: his first album of songs, mostly sung by himself. It's "executive produced" by Thom Yorke (whatever that means), and experimental songwriter Anika makes an appearance; despite appearances from clattering live drums, Thom Yorke's bass guitar and the ever-brilliant Rakhi Singh's violin, these songs are very much of a piece with Clark's own work, from plangent piano to crunching beats - and his own voice. I was originally reticent, but won over by the indubitable talent of our Chris.

Ky - Dragons [Constellation/Bandcamp]
The first Constellation release in today's show came out a couple of weeks ago. Ky Brooks has been part of the Montréal scene for some years, making noise-punk with Lungbutter and previously freeform experimental stuff with Nag. Here they brancho ut solo with Power Is The Pharmacy, albeit with various locals including Nag members on additional instruments. Big|Brave's Mathieu Ball contributes some guitar, and helped catalyse the project before lockdown, experimenting with tape loops accompanying Brooks' vocals, leading to the spoken & sung approach here, a much less harsh use of their voice than previously. Then, just as lockdown was ending, Lungbutter drummer Joni Sadler had a brain aneurysm and died at the age of 36. This tragic death haunts the album. While Brooks' compositions and vocals reach into moving and melodic territory, often they inhabit the poetic-robotic zone of Laurie Anderson's works, while the music spans '80s synthpop to imposing industrial and noise-rock.

Aya Metwalli & Calamita - Kadni El Hawa [Zehra]
Currently based in Beirut, here Egyptian avant-pop singer Aya Metwalli teams up with Lebanese experimental trio Calamita, made up of bassist Tony Elieh and guitarist Sharif Sehnaoui (both deeply involved with the Lebanese experimental scene, and both playing in Egyptian-Lebanese-Turkish supergroup of free music, Karkhana), joined here by Malek Rizkallah, drummer in Tony Elieh's legendary rock band Scrambled Eggs. A central inspiration for the music here is the music of Oum Kalthoum, a towering figure in Egyptian music. From this base, however, the musicians extrapolate into free jazz, psychedelic improv and punk rock, drawing from the same wells as groups like Fire! Orchestra - high praise from these quarters!

Wolf Eyes - Plus Warning [Disciples/Bandcamp]
Wolf Eyes - Engaged Withdrawal [Disciples/Bandcamp]
On the psychedelic tip, Wolf Eyes at one point decided to push back against the noise tag, claiming a new genre called trip metal. I haven't heard that bandied about lately, and personally I think noise is a broad church and Wolf Eyes can comfortably be claimed as central to it. Following the collaborative collection Difficult Messages from January, central duo Nate Young and Twitter memester John Olson bring us Dreams In Splattered Lines, via uncategorizable UK label Disciples. This is pure Wolf Eyes circa 2020s - disconcerting loops, creaking clarinet, electronic noisemaking devices, Nate Young's distorted, unhinged vocals. And yeah, it's not really noise but it's not really anything else, OK?

ourobonic plague - rumination [LMNL]
ourobonic plague - ENCOUNTER (confrontation) [LMNL]
Perhaps Melbourne enigma Ourobonic Plague is noise, or psychedelic electronic, dark ambient...? Of late, drum'n'bass or breakcore tendencies have been surfacing, and so it is on ENCOUNTER, the EP now out through Sheffield's LMNL Records. Each of the four tracks uses common elements in different genres, including half-time beats (with breaks chopped into little bits), drone, abstract sound and some kind of jungle. Dark and freaky.

RSD - 457 (Lion Syndicate mix) [RSD/Rob Smith Bandcamp]
RSD - Train To Shanghai (Rob's mix) [RSD/Rob Smith Bandcamp]
Near the start of the year, Bristol bass music originator Rob Smith, one half (or one third) of trip-hop pioneers Smith & Mighty and one half also of jungle duo More Rockers, released two volumes of Jungle Archive Collections on his Bandcamp. Finally full versions of dubplates found on various DJ mixes were available digitally, as well as unheard tunes, alt mixes and more - all beautifully remastered. What an embarrassment of riches! But wait, as they say, there's more! This Friday, with no warning, we've been gifted the Jungle Archive Collection 3, including additional More Rockers material and other Rob Smith/RSD jungle and drum'n'bass productions from the '90s into the early 2000s. Here we hear a nice reggae/jungle hybrid, and a Chinese-ish piece with a mad walking bassline.

Seba - Love Cycle [LekeAerosoul]
Inertia - Serenity [LekeAerosoul]
Keeping it jungle, here are some tracks from all-star jungle/drum'n'bass compilation The Aerosoul Album, which is a fundraiser for Leke Aerosoul, founder of the Aerosoul brand and Junglist Movement, a man much beloved of the UK jungle and hip-hop scenes. Leke lives with sickle cell anaemia, and after a fall at a gig last year developed bone cancer which resulted in him losing a leg. Unfortunately the cancer has spread further - there's an update on his GoFundMe. This compilation has brought together a pretty staggering selection of jungle & d'n'b originals including Paradox as Alaska, Nookie, DJ Trax, Equinox, ASC, Harmony of Deep Jungle, Double O of RuptureLDN, John B, Deep Blue from 2 Bad Mice, and the list goes on. Swedish producer and frequent Paradox collaborator Seba appears here, and then there's a lovely piece from Inertia, which happens to be an early alias of Gerald Simpson aka A Guy Called Gerald. Come for the good cause, stay for the brilliant tunage.

Wordcolour - Volta [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
Of recent UK DJ producers mixing jungle with other dancefloor forms as well as impeccable sound design, contemporary jazz and classical, Djrum immediately comes to mind - but he's been joined in the last couple of years by another young Londoner, Wordcolour. His album The trees were buzzing, and the grass. was among the very best of 2022, and he's now back on Houndstooth with the first of a promised series of Ratios EPs. The "b-side" of the digital release is a blissful house track just on the club side of ambient techno, but "Volta" is experimental junglism with shiny vocal stabs and jazzy chords over a 6/4 jungle groove that eventually switches to what the label copy describes as 4-to-the-floor but I would class as 3/2. Regular kicks anyway, but grouped in 3s folks! A nice switchover anyway from an artist brimming with creativity.

Flower Storm - This is my court [Flower Storm Bandcamp]
Disapora Iranians Sepehr (NYC) and Kasra Vaseghi (London) team up for Flower Storm, a new project recontextualising the sounds of their culture with the club styles they love. Together they created a huge sound library with traditional Persian percussion and string instruments, sampled vocals and more. Their debut EP simply entitled Yek ("one" in Farsi) builds variations on techno and drum'n'bass using these traditional percussion sounds, full of Farsi film samples, deriving its titles from classic Persian mythology and contemporary Iranian works. The track here leads us out of the jungle section of tonight's show in fine style.

Batu - For Spirits [A Long Strange Dream]
Head of the Timedance label and a Bristol bass/techno mainstay Batu released his remarkable Opal album last year, which took many turns into sound-worlds well away from the dancefloor, and typically enough didn't move as expected when beats were involved. He's now inaugurated new imprint A Long Strange Dream with the EP For Spirits, home I believe for more spontaneously-formed works but still wandering far and wide. The title track is a piece of bassy, break-heavy techno sure to get the room moving.

Wide Color - Practice Ceramics [Oxtail Recordings]
Wide Color - Building Bullocks [Oxtail Recordings]
Delaware's Dave Doyen has released scads of music as Vales and Sound Out Light as well as numerous bands and collaborations, exploring the outer reaches of electronic music. His first full length for Oxtail Recordings, the cassette label originally from the US and now based with label boss Mike Nigro in Sydney, is also his first under a new alias, Wide Color. There are industrial, burbling and juddering slabs of murky sound here, and there are shiny ambient pieces, with a slight brittleness which means they can crack and crumble at any minute into digital shards not unlike the more ambient sound-art of Wordcolour (not to be confused with...) There's a thrilling sense that anything could happen, and "anything" does happen on the last track, where we find a monolithic cover of one of NEU!'s more gentle numbers, Seeland. Energising stuff.

Joni Void - Present Day Montage [Constellation/Bandcamp]
Joni Void - Negative Loop [Constellation/Bandcamp]
On their third album for Constellation Records, Everyday Is The Song, Jean Cousin aka Joni Void moves the furthest away yet from anything resembling songs. This "tape vortex" centres on warped loops and hazey field recordings made on a Walkman Cousin purchased in 2020 and lost 2 years later. The samples they'd captured before its loss are collaged alongside their typical glitchy, granular constructions and elusive musical elements to create a strange, dislocated document of life in Montréal, featuring transient ghosts of many figures from the scene. While it's less filled with angst, the reduced emotional intensity seems to have made this work less immediately accessible, with samples and field recordings deliberately out of key and unresolving. But this is an unapologetic extension of the Joni Void aesthetic, and worthy of multiple listens to decode it.

Aphir - La Maison-dieu [Art As Catharsis/Bandcamp]
Aphir - toxic stoicism [Art As Catharsis/Bandcamp]
Sydney's Art As Catharsis have brought The Halo Is Shapeless - the new album from Melbourne-based Becki Whitton aka Aphir - to the world with a limited edition vinyl version as well as digital, a fitting endorsement of an album that documents her marathon livestreamed vocal improv sessions - 9 hours, 10 hours, even up to 12 hours straight of electronically processed wordless vocals. Whitton's work here is influenced by post-cyberpunk video games as much as it is by half-remembered choral music. Created in the period after Melbourne's marathon lockdowns and before a series of life-changing events in 2022, the music is always melodic and emotive, and is pleasingly willing to foreground the technology at times - like the pulsating rhythms on "La Maison-dieu". Whitton's work in sound engineering, production and mastering is garnering accolades, but this work shows us a musician challenging her skills and creativity through endurance, to impressive effect.

Machinefabriek with Monika Bugajny - VI (after Stravinsky) [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Machinefabriek with Monika Bugajny - VII (after Debussy) [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Finally tonight, the latest Machinefabriek comes out on July 1st, and we have a couple of world premieres here. Rutger Zuydervelt first met Polish clarinettist Monika Bugajny via another clarinettist, his friend and collaborator Gareth Davis, via whom Bugajny joined Machinefabriek's big "+" collection released in February this year. From that one short track came this whole album. Here Bugajny has supplied interpretations of clarinet works by mostly 20th century composers (the only exception is Johannes Brahms), which Rutger then cut up, processed and rebuilt into eight vignettes. The clarinet's tone lends itself beautifully to this treatment, and even though the composers credited here are not really recognizable, Bugajny's playing shines through. The album, Recytle, can be preordered now on CD or digital, including a bundle with another recent Machinefabriek collaboration, Wisps, his latest work with Dutch violist Anne Bakker.

Listen again — ~204MB

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Sunday, 21st of May, 2023

Playlist 21.05.23 (6:47 pm)

From the most "pop" Utility Fog music to the most experimental & abstract, new rave dancefloors to African diaspora percussion, industrial new-wave pop to dulcimer-driven post-black-metal.

LISTEN AGAIN on demand at FBi, or by podcast here. Repeated listens may induce transcendence.

Michael Ackroyd - Delicate Puncture [Michael Ackroyd Bandcamp]
About two and a half years ago, I debuted a track from Sydney's Michael Ackroyd, comparing it to late-period Talk Talk. Now, finally, we get to hear track #2, which is just as beautiful. It tells a story of chronic pain which led Ackroyd to become addicted to opioids. A soft guitar song slowly morphs into electronics, finally landing in fluttering beats and pulsating synths underlining multitracked vocals. Ackroyd's lived experience centres the songwriting, but there's no doubt that Ackroyd's award-winning sound design work lifts the music to another level. More is to follow, sooner than last time one hopes!

Taraamoon - Atiq | عَتیقْ [Low-Zi Records]
Exactly a year since their last song, Paris-based Iranian duo Taraamoon come out with another of their Persian-language electronic pop songs. Known as 9T Antiope for their more experimental material (usually sung in English), Sara Bigdeli Shamloo and Nima Aghiani conjure intimate emotions from electronic loops and tough beats - and Shamloo's pure voice.

Mandy, Indiana - Drag [Crashed] [Fire Talk/Bandcamp]
Mandy, Indiana - The Driving Rain (18) [Fire Talk/Bandcamp]
Somehow lately "pop" music (whatever that is, broadly taken) has once more become accommodating of experimentation and extremeness - maybe it's the political climate, or just where we are now. Maybe you'll turn around to me and say, "Come on, Manchester's Mandy, Indiana might sound like raucous noisemakers with their live industrial beats, squalling synths and shouted vocals, but this comes from a great tradition going back at least to punk and new wave if not further". And you'd be right, my friend. Even so, it's exciting hearing stuff as uncompromising as this being fêted by the arbiters of the zeitgeist. Touchpoints for their debut album i've seen a way have been the unusual recording techniques - recording drums in a cave, vocals in a shopping mall, field recordings on iPhone... The noise, for sure, but also the fact that Valentine Caulfield's vocals are entirely in French - a distancing effect for much of their audience despite the fact that they are emphatically personal and defiantly feminist. On "Drag [Crashed]" she's shouting out phrases that she's been subjected to as a woman: "She’s gonna pop some fly buttons", "Cover your shoulders, you’ll distract the boys", and of course "Souris, souris, souris, souris" which you may recognize is "Smile, smile, smile, smile". It's a visceral evocation of how tiring and infuriating this treatment is. Mandy, Indiana's debut album is a force of nature that 2023 will be reckoning with, and long may they rage.

Beverly Glenn-Copeland - Sunset Village [Atlast/Transgressive/Bandcamp]
Beverly Glenn-Copeland - Africa Calling [Transgressive/Bandcamp]
While not exactly labouring in obscurity, American musician Beverly Glenn-Copeland was rediscovered by a new generation in the mid-2010s when her 1986 album Keyboard Fantasies was re-released successively on three different labels. Other retrospectives followed, as well as a remix album, but the forthcoming The Ones Ahead is his first studio album in almost 20 years. Keyboard Fantasies was initially released before Glenn-Copeland had transitioned, and was celebrated as one of the greatest recordings by women by Seattle newspaper The Stranger. His website bears a quote worth attending to: "There are three challenges in my life. The first is being black in a white culture. The second is being transgendered in a hetero-normative culture. The third is being an artist in a business culture." "Sunset Village" from Keyboard Fantasies is a meditative piece I often listen to repeatedly, and its synthesized marimba-like line evokes "exotic" locales; but "Africa Calling", the first single from his new album, is an explicit call-out to his West African heritage. I can't wait to hear what the rest of the album holds.

YL Hooi - catch [Archaic Vaults]
Suburban Cracked Collective - Not Ready for Whistles [Archaic Vaults]
Continuing A Worn Out Tradition III is - yes - the third compilation from London artist Severin Black's Archaic Vaults, featuring ambient & experimental artists from around the world (including a typically elusive track from Saint Abdullah) as well as from so-called Australia. Here we have the dubbed out furtive song of YL Hooi, a member of Kallista Kult and part of Naarm/Melbourne's experimental scene, and the pensive primitive synths of Suburban Cracked Collective, the solo project of Mulubinba/Newcastle's Shaun Leacy, once of the great Castings.

Crimewave - Aftermath [Black Acre/Bandcamp]
Crimewave - 50 Rapid [Black Acre/Bandcamp]
Here's another variant of "pop" - if you squint - here combined with UK dance styles and experimentalism. Manchester's Crimewave explore the underbelly of Northern UK, sampling altercations outside clubs in Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester throughout their debut EP Altercation, with the jittery, clipped bass'n'breaks driving these tracks juxtaposed with the saturated, blissed out vocals - the jungle & shoegaze revivals camped together in a grimy English bedsit... Excellent signing from the UK bass and post-bass Black Acre label, situated down south in Bristol.

Dehousy - Wanna Be [[re]sources]
UK bass music rules across the world, and French label [re]sources is a great example of that (of course with a French twist). Here we have rave breaks and vocal snippets from French producer Dehousy from his latest EP.

Treega - We Da Dogs [Reveries/Bandcamp]
Treega - Trasher (Noroi Remix) [Reveries/Bandcamp]
There's also some great bass & jungle-influenced stuff coming out of Italy. Here's one released by the club night-cum label Reveries, from Treega, an artist the label describes as "one of the best kept secrets in Italy". It's three tracks of infectious breakbeat grime, rounded out by a fizzing, twisting remix from label head Noroi.

Blawan - Dismantled Into Juice (Ft Monstera Black) [XL Recordings/Bandcamp]
Blawan - Toast [XL Recordings/Bandcamp]
Berlin-based Bristolian Jamie Roberts aka Blawan, fresh from his mutant bass/metal project Persher with Pariah, returns to XL Recordings with the highly twisted deconstructed club EP Dismantled Into Juice. It's even further away from techno, as such, than 2021's incredible Woke Up Right Handed, driven by distorted modular synths, shuddering bass, and on two tracks vocals from the mysterious Monstera Black.

ZULI - All [The Drills] [Nashazphone/Bandcamp]
ZULI - Papercuts pt3 [Nashazphone/Bandcamp]
Although in some ways it's his most experimental release yet, the jungle, hip-hop & IDM influences of his past music are audible in the new album from ZULI, recorded on his live setup in his Cairo home and released on local label Nashazphone. The live nature of these tracks lends them the musical energy of a DJ set, with grinding industrial loops in amongst the cut-up beats.

B.I.N.T. - Self Under Siege [200+]
R-T-Fax - Secodont [200+]
Eora/Sydney's breakcore and hardcore scene has always been strong - not to mention our neighbours in Newcastle/Mulubinba country to the north - and new players are very active now alongside old hands from the days of System Corrupt et al. 200PLUS001 is the first (I think) compilation from the 200BPM+ Is My Safe Space crew. They may say that, but I'm pretty sure even on this comp there are tracks under 200BPM. Still, it's hard & hammering. Here we have locals B.I.N.T., with shattered breaks that would work as jungle if it would only slow down a little, and the typical stop-start rave dynamics of R-T-Fax aka Erin Nortje.

Princess Difficult - Destroyer [Avon Terror Corps]
Cruelle - I Took Speed You Can Fuck Me All Night [Avon Terror Corps]
Bristol's Avon Terror Corps are welcoming of all kinds of bizarre arts, and their latest cassette/digital compilation HAVON' A GOOD TIME covers metal, club mutations, industrial, noise and more. It's dedicated to the trans community at a time when the world's media is willingly complicit in the far-right's harrassment of this vulerable demographic. Here we have Irish interdisciplinary artist Princess Difficult with distorted industrial techno, bass and murky atmospherics, and then Paris's Cruelle, who released a brilliant mini-album on ATC last year, and here brings a somewhat menacing aspect to her titular phrase "I Took Speed You Can Fuck Me All Night".

Charles Wesley - Soften Into This Grey Ocean [LINE Imprint/Bandcamp]
Charles Wesley - The Error [LINE Imprint/Bandcamp]
The audio on Lyon-based musician & writer Charles Wesley's album simply entiteld C is perhaps less minimalist than a lot of the output from Richard Chartier's LINE Imprint, with crunching noises and glitches distributed, sometimes more rhythmically, sometimes less, throughout the tracks. Many of the tracks also feature the author's softly-spoken, French-accented English, elusively & allusively contemplating their unknowing experience of non-binariness growing up, and what intimacy is like in the digital age. Deeply cognisant of the queer & non-binary art that has come before it, this is a wonderfully assured experimental work.

Svetlana Maraš - 2019-2020-2 [-OUS/Bandcamp]
Svetlana Maraš - 2019-2020-7 [-OUS/Bandcamp]
Spoken word floats through some of the glitchy sound-work on the latest album from Swiss experimental label -OUS, a survey of live recordings from 2019-2020 by Serbian musician Svetlana Maraš. Now based in Basel, Switzeland, where she is Professor of Creative Music Technology and Co-head of Electronic Studio at Hochschule für Musik FHNW, up to 2021 she was artistic director and composer-in-residence at the Electronic Music Studio at Radio Belgrade, at which she was able to work deeply with the EMS Synthi 100, built specially for this studio. Throughout this time she was able to develop a musical language that allowed detailed control of sound in space, with micro-samples of all sorts manipulated in multiple dimensions through pressure-based controllers, pedals and her own Touch OSC interfaces on tablets. It's highly impressive work for concentrated headphone listening (or room listening if you have a great setup!)

Botanist - Selenotrope [Prophecy Productions/Bandcamp]
Botanist - Angel's Trumpet [Prophecy Productions/Bandcamp]
I've long been an acolyte of the work of Otrebor and his Botanist project, ostensibly black metal made with distorted dulcimer as its lead instrument. If it's black metal at all nowadays, it's the new school that's blending in shoegaze and more, along with Otrebor's wide interests (even before we get to the "Verdant Realm" in which his eponymous scientist-romanticist lives, far from nature-destroying humanity). The harsh vocals here are more like distorted whispers, while the layers of dulcimer often support the multi-tracked choral harmonies of Otrebor: notably, Botanist's Roman-numeral-prefixed albums, of which Selenotrope is VIII, are always solely the work of Otrebor. This is glorious, lush music, straight out of the Verdant Realm, flowering in the moonlight.

Listen again — ~212MB

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Sunday, 14th of May, 2023

Playlist 14.05.23 (6:54 pm)

So a lot of tonight's material has some claim to "classical" music provenance for some reason, although there's nothing you could claim to be classical music. Some is more-or-less ambient, some is anything but.

LISTEN AGAIN. There will be a test. Stream on demand via FBi, podcast here.

Nicholas Thayer - on growing [Oscillations/Bandcamp]
Nicholas Thayer - on stretching [Oscillations/Bandcamp]
Nicholas Thayer - on refracting [Oscillations/Bandcamp]
I'm so glad that I'm following new London label Oscillations, which started operations last year with an EP from Gabriel Prokofiev, the composer who founded the nonclassical label back in 2004. Oscillations calls itself an electronic music label, but so far has had a "composer" lean to it, and it has gifted us with this brilliant album from Nicholas Thayer, a composer & producer from the Netherlands who happens to have some ties to Australia - he's composed for Sydney Dance Company and Queensland Ballet, although he's now based in Groningen the north of the Netherlands I believe. The music here is again for a dance work, titled in:finite, commissioned for the Swedish Skånes Dansteater, and in the vein of contemporary dance, it encompasses abstract sound-art, contemporary composition, glitched audio and even some beat-heavy sections. Thayer clearly has a love for drum'n'bass in there, with fidgety programmed breaks on some tracks, and growling neuro basslines elsewhere (d'n'b/dubstep legends Noisia happen to hail from Groningen too). I also can't pass by the Motley Crüe reference in his bio! Cello is the main acoustic/classical instrument here, beautifully performed by Mikko Pablo, expressively interpreting Thayer's score which is at times straightforwardly melodic, elsewhere processing the sound or employing extended techniques. It makes sense that the performance this music is written for is considered a work of "multilayered hybrid art", combining choreography, music, set and costume design, as this is not just music for accompanying a stage performance - it's a very rich, satisfying listen on its own, highly recommended.

Willis Anne - Comfort Zone [LAN]
Willis Anne - Jazz [LAN]
French-born, Berlin-based DJ & producer Willis Anne marks the 20th release from his LAN label with a solo album of his own. Comfort Zone follows an EP on Shall Not Fade and appearances on Tresor and Infiné among others. There's a club basis to his music, but in keeping with the "regularly irregular" ethos of his label, his new album is quite abstracted from the dancefloor, with acidy noise workouts as much as scattered breakbeats, 4/4 drum machines, minimalist jazzy house and more. No track does quite what you expect, from the glitched breakdown near the end of "Comfort Zone" to the off-grid blurting break snippets of "Span" and the raw not-quite-footwork of "Jazz".

J-Shadow - Beneath The Undertow [Sneaker Social Club/Bandcamp]
J-Shadow - Arsu [Sneaker Social Club/Bandcamp]
Jason Kan has been exploring the dancefloor's outer reachers for about 4 years, in a genre-crossing form influenced by Mumdance's "weightless" sound - his debut full-length album Final Departure was appropriately released on Keysound, with uk garage, dubstep and jungle splinters giving way to ambient rave memories. His follow-up album The End Of All Physical Form is out now on the home of all things bass/dubstep/hardcore/jungle, Sneaker Social Club, and once again combines its irrefutable junglist touchpoints with ambient passages even in beat-driven tracks (or is it the other way round?), and with excursions into ukg and techno. When the jungle breaks come, they're as intricate and driving as anyone's making these days.

Simone Sims Longo - Babele [Esc.rec/Bandcamp]
Simone Sims Longo - Fondale [Esc.rec/Bandcamp]
Coming soon on the highly dependable Dutch experimental label Esc.rec is an album of electro-acoustic sound-art from Italian composer-producer Simone Sims Longo. Paesaggi integrati (integrated landscapes) takes sound from a host of acoustic instruments - sax, cello, horn, violin, accordion, tuned percussion and clarinet - and transforms them into electronic music, split into granular fragments, flittered across the stereo field in rhythms that accelerate and decelerate, seemingly referencing deconstructed club techniques but outside of the club context. The sense of discombobulation is only heightened on headphones by the use of mid/side technique - technically this means that the left & right are in opposite polarity (so if you try to listen in mono you'll lose a lot of the signal!), but it also means that the stereo image is particularly vivid.

Anything Pointless - what happens is here [Salmon Universe/Bandcamp]
Anything Pointless - subside [Salmon Universe/Bandcamp]
Turin's Anything Pointless, now based in London, is a producer and mixing/mastering engineer, whose latest album Shape Time Divide comes courtesy of Salmon Universe, the label run by Richard Pike and JQ. Much like fellow Italian Simone Sims Longo above, the music here takes acoustic instruments (flute, strings, voice etc) and mutates them into the bright, contemporary electronic soundscapes that have characterised his music thus far. Even the synthesizers, digitally bright, move and flex in organic-feeling ways, only finally bursting into beats in the latter half of the last track. In a way, this is the inverse of Longo's album: IDM & deconstructed club that's found its way into the forests of the "fourth world", where Longo's acoustic instruments are dragged, unprepared, into the club. Both albums fascinate and delight.

Suura - Drevelnis feat. Joe Talia [bwaa./Bandcamp]
Suura - Adieu [bwaa./Bandcamp]
Back to Esc.rec for a sec, earlier this year I played a couple of tracks from the gorgeous album Aare by the Belgian acoustic trio Erem. Two thirds of Erem, Nicolas Van Belle and Stan Maris, are half of the adventurous post-acoustic (I just made that up) quartet Suura where, like in Erem, Van Belle's guitar & bouzouki and Maris' accordion are subject at times to subtle electronic effects, alongside the saxophones and clarinet of Benjamin Hermans and the double bass of Emanuel Van Mieghem. Van Belle and Van Mieghem are credited as composers, and this music does sit somewhere between 20th century chamber composition and the folk-jazz of Bill Frisell, Tin Hat Trio et al - but on at least half the tracks these warm, expressive instruments are transfigured into strange burbling, distorting drones or other unlikely shapes. The music is no less expressive, but the sense of the uncanny, already present in the compositions, is heightened further. This transforming of acoustic instrumentation seems to be a theme tonight...

Helen Money / Will Thomas - Trace [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Helen Money / Will Thomas - Thieves [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
As Helen Money, Alison Chesley has never been a conventional cellist, preferring to play through guitar pedals and amps even on her solo work, as well as playing with the likes of Earth, Neurosis, Russian Circles - and I do believe she used to call herself a "doom cellist". Her last album Trace - her third on Thrill Jockey - drew away from the looped metal riffs which on the previous two had been augmented with drums from Neurosis' James Roeder, instead complementing riffs with drones and melodies accompanied with piano and synthesizers, including electronics from soundtrack composer & producer Will Thomas. Now we have a whole duo album from Helen Money & Will Thomas, even more sumptuous and experimental than the last. On our first selection tonight, the title track, dancing lines of electric cello play off against repeating piano chords until a staticky rhythm enters, and as the cellos multiply orchestrally, chunks of distortion are dropped into the reverberating space, finally taking over at the end. Meanwhile "Thieves" takes shimmering loops of cello harmonics and accompanies them with stop-start industrial techno beats and thrums of distorted cello. It's cinematic stuff, the work of two excellent musicians working on the same wavelength.

Erik Levander - In i stunden [Supple9/Bandcamp]
Erik Levander - Kvad [Rumraket/Bandcamp]
Erik Levander - Väv [Supple9/Bandcamp]
Berlin-based Swedish musician Erik Levander started his career in the early 2000s making glitchy electronic and electro-acoustic music, but has unleashed his industrial leanings on some albums, and has also played clarinet with Efterklang. It was Efterklang who released his 2008 album Kondens, which struck a balance between glitch, rhythm and drone. That album happens to feature a track called "Kvad", in which choral voices float under busy synths and electronic noise. In Danish "kvad" translates as to chant or sing, and there can be no coincidence between that old track's title and his new album Kvad, released by boutique Berlin label Supple9. The story of this album is that a few years ago Levander discovered an old recording of his from 2001 of a choir rehearsing in the Lunds Domkyrka cathedral. He couldn't identify the work, but it became the backbone of this entire album - spectral voices floating in tape hiss, with waves of distorted bass, electronic drones and pulses. Additional choral voices add to the majesty of this cold yet enveloping Scandinavian music.

Magic City Counterpoint - Dialogue [Magic City Counterpoint Bandcamp]
Once again I have the honour of debuting a new track from Brisbane duo Magic City Counterpoint. Here the opening reverberating voices might be from Madeleine Cocolas, or might also be a sampled choir, but certainly once the heavy bass hits, it's Madeleine's voice shimmering alongside the crunchy beats. This collaboration between Cocolas and Chris Perren is producing music for game soundtracks at the moment, but regardless of the provenance this is lovely music and we must have more!

Bartosz Dziadosz - GABI [DRONARIVM/Bandcamp]
Peace is the first solo album that Bartosz Dziadosz has released under his own name, after many years as Pleq. Like his work as Pleq it combines post-classical aesthetics with electronics. His music is particularly expansive here, in a work that's dedicated to the end of the horrific, continuing war between Russia and Ukraine, recorded at a time when Dziadosz found himself with no fixed abode travelling around his native Poland. Notably Dmitry Taldykin, who runs DRONARIVM, left Moscow in horror in the early stages of the invasion and now bases himself in Israel. The stretched out vocal drone that carries through this piece gives both urgency and peace through the crescendos and drops, the mix saturated with synths and this vocal, with single piano notes echoing through. While I can find post-classical piano ambient quite cloying, this music is full of sincerity and beauty.

Panoptique Electrical - Slowly The Sorrow [sound in silence]
The Humble Bee - Small Copper [sound in silence]
Greek ambient/electronic/experimental CD-R label sound in silence celebrates its 100th(!) release with a low-key compilation of 18 artists associated with the label. The crackling final track from Hainbach is wonderful, but in the context of tonight we heard two equally wonderful pieces. Adelaide's Jason Sweeney appears as Panoptique Electrical, with his piano reverberating through his track like Dziadosz before, and a doubled-up cello line probably provided by Zoë Barry. Gritty noise gives way to pure drones, heavily saturated piano, and disturbed synth playing through what sounds like a broken woofer in the gorgeous contribution from The Humble Bee, the continuing work of Craig Tattersall, formerly of Hood, The Boats, The Remote Viewer, The Famous Boyfriend et al. Tattersall and Sweeney both have rich histories in many genres.

William Ryan Fritch - Vascularity [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
ARROWOUNDS - Blue Entombed [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
Finally, two tracks from the ever-industrious Lost Tribe Sound. Cohesion is the second album in a 2023 trilogy from composer and multi-instrumentalist William Ryan Fritch which are exploring the many calamitous water crises already affecting life around the planet. While January's Polarity made music by feeding electronic sounds through solenoids, speakers and other electromagnetic drivers, Cohesion uses largely acoustic wind instruments - saxophones, clarinets, oboe, bassoon etc - to mimic electronic music, close-micing them and processing them so that finger clicks and breaths are augmented into elements of their own. It's not unlike the sounds produced by Colin Stetson on his bass saxophone, but harnessed towards a particular kind of abstract expression here. Meanwhile Athens, Ohio based Ryan Chamberlain aka ARROWOUNDS follows up on the submerged techno of his first release with a promised 4CD set called the "Therianthrope Series". The first of these human/animal hybrids is In The Octopus Pond, whose subject is a legend of ancient octopoeds in a green world that slowly succumbs to fire and violence. This arcane setting is evoked through Cocteau Twins guitars, slow moving bass and drums and shuddering delays. We're left needing to know where both these artistic series will go next.

Listen again — ~203MB

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Sunday, 7th of May, 2023

Playlist 07.05.23 (6:37 pm)

We continue our investigation/celebration of amen breaks & jungle tropes in other musics - this week, it's metal! Also jazz-meets-West-African, some lovely IDM throwbacks as well as a contemporary evolution of IDM, and some more minimalist electronics.

LISTEN AGAIN to these two hours of this little corner of human history. Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Samuele Strufaldi - Cammino, senza sapere dove [Música Macondo/Bandcamp]
Samuele Strufaldi & Tommaso Rosati - Soundbnuos [Auanda/Bandcamp]
Samuele Strufaldi - Abodan [Música Macondo/Bandcamp]
Samuele Strufaldi - Tutte le cose dentro [Música Macondo/Bandcamp]
Pride of place at the top of this week's playlist goes to a fantastic project between Italian composer/producer/jazz pianist Samuele Strufaldi and the villagers of Gohouo-Zagna on the Ivory Coast. It's formed as a collaborative work, eschewing the ethnographic, even colonialist aspects of much cross-cultural fusion music. It began in Strufaldi's native Florence, with djembe player Boris Pierrou inviting him to experience the Guéré music of his home village. Strufaldi embedded himself in village life, and learned that Pierrou intended to build a library for the people of his village, thus this project was formed as a way to help fund the library. The singing of traditional songs, percussion, hand-claps and creative sound-making of the locals are incorporated into Strufaldi's compositions, sometimes jazz, sometimes informed by electronic club music (even drum'n'bass), and in amongst these songs are conversations from the villagers (if you purchase the vinyl you'll find liner notes explaining the context of all the recordings). So I've decided to play a couple of pieces that meld the Guéré music with Strufaldi's gregarious work, as well as what seems to be a straight traditional Guéré song, beautifully recorded in the village. Strufaldi's 2019 collaboration 1.15K with electronic sound-artist Tommaso Rosati was where I first discovered the Florentine musician, and I was just as impressed re-listening this week, so we heard one of the more radical tracks from that album too.

billy woods & Kenny Segal - Hangman [Backwoodz Studioz/Bandcamp]
billy woods & Kenny Segal - Babylon by Bus featuring ShrapKnel [Backwoodz Studioz/Bandcamp]
billy woods & Kenny Segal - Waiting Around featuring Aesop Rock [Backwoodz Studioz/Bandcamp]
The 2019 album Hiding Places was a phenomenal collaboration between iconic underground rapper billy woods & the creative producer Kenny Segal. The sequel Maps has a lot of expectations hanging on it - but as fans we know these two artists well enough to know that defying expectations is built into their art. So while Maps has its fair share of opressive atmospheres and doom-laden verses, there are also plenty of lighter beats like "Waiting Around", with its catchy chorus and a first verse from the great Aesop Rock. Segal as usual pulls samples from everywhere & anywhere, pitching guitars way down inside drones and sub bass, dropping pop snippets, looping lopsidedly, scratching - and I had to highlight the (heavily slowed-down) Aphex Twin sample at the start of the ShrapKnel-featuring "Babylon by Bus". The theme of travel & touring permeates the album, from the joy of flight and seeming freedoms to the pain of separation and the exhaustion of having no home. Although every album from billy woods' and Armand Hammer's repertoire is of the highest quality, this second Kenny Segal collab does feel destined to become a classic on the level of Hiding Places.

Poppy - Spit [Sumerian Records]
On this cover of Canadian all-female indie/metal band Kittie, Poppy's back in full-on metal mode - in fact there's less clean vocals here than on the original. But the main reason I'm playing it is of course the amen breaks skittering between the riffs (something that Kittie weren't averse to!) I'm kind of dreading that jungle's ubiquity means it's going to burn out again soon, but let's enjoy it while it lasts!

fromjoy - Icarus [fromjoy Bandcamp]
fromjoy - machine [fromjoy Bandcamp]
fromjoy - seraph (feat. iRis.EXE) [fromjoy Bandcamp]
fromjoy - Eros [fromjoy Bandcamp]
Speaking of... The latest album from Texans fromjoy handily combines industrial metal with breakcore and, if not hyperpop then at least ethereal pop in places. There's plenty of twisted breaks sliding into double-kick metal drumming, plenty of hardcore vocals and lovely clean vocals (especially in the cameo from iRis.EXE). The '80s easy-listening sax music in the second last track and the album fadeout is the vapourwave icing on the cake of this cyberpunk dream made real.

Gunjack - Cult of the Drum [Gunjack Bandcamp]
Brian Gunjack continues to be prolific as ever, and in between the techno & house gear are splattery jungle workouts (beyond his "hyperjazz" coinage of last year I'd suggest). Knife Crime Origami is a case in point - dark jungle at accelerated tempo.

Madobe Rika - Ara=hill=imi=tci=tci [Virgin Babylon Records]
Mysterious breakcore idoru Madobe Rika is back on Virgin Babylon Records with hyperspeed computer-game synths and breakcore beats accompanying an almost traditional Japanese-sounding song?

DJ Sofa - Over And Over [Myor]
Park Shadow - Alley Cat [Straight Up Breakbeat/Bandcamp]
Jungle/d'n'b from Finland now, with DJ Sofa delivering two of her best cuts yet for Coco Bryce's Myor label, while Park Shadow mix junglist break edits in with straighter drum'n'bass on their pretty lush Cosmic EP for Straight Up Breakbeat.

NPLGNN - Skankin' [Hundebiss/Bandcamp]
Naples-born, Barcelona-based DJ Giovanni Napolano aka NPLGNN here drops two tracks on Italian experimental label Hundebiss. Napolano takes dancehall as his base but both tracks on this percussive EP rattle around jungle territory in unique ways.

Adrien75 - Novadeck [DataDoor/Bandcamp]
Adrien75 - Twenty Seven [DataDoor/Bandcamp]
When Tim Koch sent me the new EP from Adrien75, he described it as a return to his Worm Interface style, referencing the IDM label run out of the legendary, much-missed Berwick St record store Ambient Soho. Adrien Capozzi, however, is from the US, and in the late '90s co-founded the Carpet Bomb label that released a handful of lovely IDM releases including the barnstorming, never-repeated, long-out-of-print compilation Highways Over Gardens, whose detailed drum'n'bass programming imprinted itself on me at the time. Technicolor Wackies does indeed reference his early styles, with a few tracks skittering into almost-drill'n'bass territory. Lovely lovely stuff.

Wakati - wa [Wakati Bandcamp]
What's this? IDM from Melbourne? Well, Wakati is the name that John McCaffrey aka Part Timer has decided to use for some of his more electronic tracks that don't fit the Part Timer aesthetic. And this is far more maximalist stuff, but melodic as heck, wearing its Plaid influence on its sleeve.

Tim Koch - Tim 05 [DataDoor/Bandcamp]
Back to Tim Koch, the second release this week on his DataDoor label has been a long time coming. He's been friends with fellow electronic musician Keith Baylis for decades, and since Baylis records as Vim, a record credited to "Vim and Tim" seemed inevitable. It is however each artist taking a solo side to the Olio and Rammel cassette, each deriving inspiration from the broad scope of Krautrock. Here's a very expansive number from Tim's side.

upsammy - Patterning [PAN/Bandcamp]
upsammy - Green Lung [PAN/Bandcamp]
Amsterdam musician Thessa Torsing's music as upsammy explicitly reimagines IDM for the 2010s and '20s, taking the genre's melodic roots and influences from Detroit techno, dub, drum'n'bass and electro into this post-vapourwave world - especially on Germ in a Population of Buildings, her second full-length and first for PAN. Here jerky beats fracture into tiny pieces while little electronic melodies sprout and helium-high vocals sometimes float overhead. The album's title evokes scale, with microscopic organisms abutting massive artificial constructions. Despite all the references, upsammy's focus on ecosystems and architecture, organisms and artefacts lets her create something quite unique.

arovane - i.o. [DIN/Keplar/Bandcamp]
arovane - Nachttal [Puremagnetik/Bandcamp]
arovane - Woben [Puremagnetik/Bandcamp]
One of the most notable references for upsammy's sounds is the early music of Uwe Zahn as Arovane. The collection of his earliest EPs released on Torsten Pröfrock's DIN has now been remastered & re-released on vinyl by the Keplar label. icol diston and the also-released debut album Atol Scrap were themselves heavily influenced by early Autechre & Gescom, but with a windswept iciness all his own. More recently arovane has been a more ambient affair, often exploring flora and fauna and microsystems through composition and granular synthesis. On miniaturen, released last month on US label Puremagnetik, we get a window into Zahn's practice, with a collection of, literally, "miniatures" - mostly short musical ideas that remained on hard drives after not quite making it on to other releases. Here we hear Zahn experimenting with gritty loops and glittering synths, performing short musical ideas with often only one or two sound sources. It's testament to his musical talents, as there are many heart-pulling moments in these studies.

Sweeney - The Basement [Observable Universe Recordings]
Sweeney - It's Behind You [Observable Universe Recordings]
In the last year or two Adelaide's Jason Sweeney has been unearthing and archiving early works from various projects - something I celebrated a few times on Utility Fog last year. But his music-making continues, and the latest album released under his surname, Corporeal, continues to see him exorcising personal ghosts, fears and uncertainties about embodiment, queerness, trauma. Through Corporeal Sweeney voices this self-haunting in spoken tracks, in between songs based around his emotive voice, piano, and many studio effects. "The Basement" is a harrowing encounter with the paranormal with driving percussion and the disembodied ghostly voices that haunt the album - hanging also above the piano and voice of "It's Behind You", under which a kick drum throbs like a racing heartbeat.

Alva Noto - Sehnsuchtsvoll - Reverso [Noton]
Alva Noto - Unwohl [Noton]
Carsten Nicolai also uses piano through his soundtrack to Simon Stone's Komplizen, released (as Alva Noto) on his Noton label this month under the title Kinder der Sonne. The album's title translates as "Children of the Sun", one of the two Maxim Gorky play on which the new work is based. The milieu of the 1905 Russian Revolution isn't really audible in these works, but there's much drama and tension. I've chosen two of the most electronic pieces on the album to finish tonight - soft synth pads, static and almost-voice, followed by sub-bass and distortion in quite familiar Noton style.

Listen again — ~203MB

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