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Utility Fog

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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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