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Utility Fog

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Monday, 21st of August, 2023

Playlist 20.08.23 (10:06 pm)

In putting together tonight's playlist I was pulled from two directions - bass-heavy beats and micro ambient. In between we find the synthesis of noise and bass, indie rock and beats, and more.

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Sheila Chandra - Ever So Lonely/Eyes/Ocean (Stephen Hague Remix) [Real World Records/Bandcamp]
In 1982, when British-Indian singer Sheila Chandra was just 16, her band Monsoon released the song "Ever So Lonely", a big pop tune with a beautiful vocal melody, and tablas and sitar in the breakdown. This was the first song in the British pop charts with a South Asian singer, and even recognisable Indian musical elements. About 10 years later, Sheila Chandra released the first of three albums for solo voice, through Peter Gabriel's Real World Records, and "Ever So Lonely/Eyes/Ocean" was the stunning centrepiece. Even before this, the song had been remixed and incorporated into other works, and once again there were new remixes commissioned. I'm pretty sure the remix by fabled synth-pop producer Stephen Hague was the one I heard played around the early '90s, so it's great to have that available digitally again on a new compilation, Out In The Real World, put together to accompany Real World's reissues of Chandra's three solo albums. Tragically, since 2009 Chandra has suffered from "burning mouth syndrome", and is unable to speak - let alone sing - without excruciating pain. Incidentally, another 10 years later, DJ Dave Lee aka Joey Negro (a name he no longer uses) released "So Lonely" under his Jakatta moniker, again using Sheila Chandra's own vocals. But honestly the best version's the gorgeous solo voice version (or the remix I played tonight).

Frankie B - Pressure Me [Ital Stuff/Death Is Not The End]
Here's a truly delightful digidub/digi-dancehall track from 1986, reprinted by Death Is Not The End. Franklyn Bernard aka Frankie B recorded "Pressure Me" on a riddim produced by Ital Stuff aka Sweet & Bitter. Apparently the riddim was originally recorded for Dixie Peach, but "Pure Worries" doesn't sound the same to me. In any case, Frankie B's vocal flows beautifully over the chords, with the occasional shift to chord 4 and back again. True earworm.

DJ Pitch - Motorboat [All Centre]
blu-e - essdee9 [All Centre]
Dancehall's influence is strong on both sides of this new split EP on London's excellent All Centre label. The label's founder DJ Pitch gives two percussive bass tracks, and on the flip is newcomer blu-e, with two slow/fast tracks with syncopated beats and awesome flittering jungle-like rhythms that appear in the second half.

fiyahdred - Overtime [Club Djembe/Bandcamp]
Following an EP on Hyperdub in 2021 and a single last year, London native fiyahdred (previously known as Bamz) returns with two tracks of rejuvenated UK funky on Club Djembe. At root this may be funky house, but UK bass music runs through its veins, including the thread of dancehall.

Wraz. x PAV4N x ILLAMAN - Yung Ghost [4NC¥/Bandcamp]
Quebecois dubstepper Wraz. is joined by two UK rappers for "Yung Ghost": Foreign Beggars frontman PAV4N and the versatile ILLAMAN. It's hard-hitting dubstep with thick bass and amen breaks clattering away in the background, merging dubstep, jungle and grime in one song. There's also an instrumental dub.

Gantz - Lolita Tiger Punch [Gantz Bandcamp]
Gantz - Adage (MFDOOM) [Gantz Bandcamp]
Turkish dubstep original Gantz continues confounding with his battered, broken beats and underwater production, coming shortly after his last Bandcamp release. A kind of Autechre take on dubstep & trip-hop, and the off-kilter beats on "Adage" seem perfectly tuned to the MFDOOM vocal.

Mukqs - Dream Doping [Hausu Mountain/Bandcamp]
Max Allison aka Mukqs is co-founder of the iconoclastic experimental label Hausu Mountain, and part of Good Willsmith along with Hausu Mountain's other founder Doug Kaplan. The Mukqs name is an obvious Aphex Twin reference, and the IDM influence comes out large on this second single from his forthcoming album Stonewasher. It's a typical mixture of everything but the kitchen sink, somehow hanging together by the skin of its teeth.

Bella Báguena - La Calle [SHAPE+ Platform/The Wire]
Zbigniew Chojnacki, Ritvars Garoza - Humdrum Tale [SHAPE+ Platform/The Wire]
UK experimental music institution The Wire has long complemented its articles, interviews & reviews with attached sampler CDs and download compilations. They're often compiled by other organisations - labels, festivals, etc - and SHAPE+ Platform has made contributions almost every year since 2015. Their latest covers 2022 and 2023. SHAPE+ is not exactly a festival, label or online magazine: it's a "platform" for "Sound, Heterogenous Art and Performance in Europe", incorporating commissioned works, events and writing, and probably more. There are always interesting contributors, both familiar and unknown. From Spain, Bella Báguena is a trans non-binary woman working in music and other disciplines, producing songs abstracted from r'n'b and pop with hard digital ruptures. And Polish accordionist Zbigniew Chojnacki and Latvian pianist Ritvars Garoza contribute a slab of noise that may not contain either of their main instruments.

Actress - Push Power ( a 1 ) [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
A standalone single from Actress comes just a week ahead of his performances in Melbourne and Sydney. It's a thumping piece of bass-led house with chopped vocal samples and a lovely outro of piano and synths, boding well for whatever is next in store.

Nats - Breather Switch [Perish Editions/Bandcamp]
Canadian sound-artist Damian Valles has been familiar to me for years with his instrumental and drone works, but this year has started releasing odd percussive beat-based material under the name Nats. "Breather Switch" is the second one, somewhere between techno and IDM. Would be happy to hear more of this.

Interpol - Greenwich (Daniel Avery Interpolation) [Matador Records]
Interpol - Toni (Jesu Interpolation) [Matador Records/Bandcamp]
I've never really followed Interpol, so it came as a bit of a surprise to hear they they've commissioned these very interesting remixes of their last album, featuring the likes of Makaya McCraven and Jeff Parker, both jazz crossover artists - and also these two. Daniel Avery starts with thumping 4/4 techno, somehow working well with the song's indie rock origins, and then dramatically switches into a half-time bass thing, heavy and syncopated. On the other hand, Justin K Broadrick handily converts his designated Interpol track into what's effectively a really great Jesu song. A lot of people don't like remixes for some reason, but approaches like this are why I've always loved a good remix collection.

Starving Weirdos - Barulho Do Samba [Discrepant/Bandcamp]
Starving Weirdos - Haiku Nagasaki [Discrepant/Bandcamp]
Brian Pyle aka Ensemble Economique and Merrick McKinlay have made uncategorisable weirdo music for almost 2 decades, but it's been over a decade since their last, 2012's Land Lines. It's very hard to pin down what they do, which makes it archetypal Utility Fog music - anything from drone to psych rock, folk, postrock... To me, it feels like "noise" in the very broad sense that includes Burning Star Core and Wolf Eyes and so on. This album surprises from the get go with percussive electronic bass drops triggering delay tails, slowly being subsumed under churning drones. There are layers of sound densely packed with sounds and styles that probably shouldn't go together, but somehow work. Coming in without expectations, I was pretty floored - especially the sonic elements that seem to come from that deconstructed club/bass music.

hackedepicciotto - Anthem [Mute/Bandcamp]
American-born musician Danielle de Picciotto and her husband Alexander Hacke have worked together for a long time under the combined moniker hackedepicciotto. Hacke is a longtime member of industrial music pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten, and contributes doomy guitar riffs and no doubt plenty of sounds; De Picciotto is a violinist and also electronic musician; both sing. What this amounts to is that hackedepicciotto can be anything, from weird folk to electronica. Their new album Keepsakes is their second for Mute, offering doomy post-industrial rock and skittery beats, vocal melodies and spoken word. It's strangely hard to fit in to my playlist flow - very much sui generis - but the stylistic malleability of Starving Weirdos seemed like a nice juxtaposition.

Kane Ikin - Pulsari [Micro Ambient Music/Bandcamp]
Yui Onodera - Untitled #1 [Micro Ambient Music/Bandcamp]
Tujiko Noriko - I’ll Name It Tomorrow [Micro Ambient Music/Bandcamp]
Micro Ambient Music is a collection of 39 tracks in 5 "discs" (although online only) made up of exclusive tracks from a rich selection of artists in tribute to, and in memory of, Ryuichi Sakamoto. Put together by Tomoyoshi Date, a sound artist and medical physician, the compilation features many illustrious Japanese artists, and plenty of big figures in ambient & sound-art like Lawrence English, Taylor Deupree, Stephen Vitiello, Otomo Yoshihide, David Toop, Marihiko Hara, Christopher Willits and many more. As well as wafting drones and field recordings, there are sparse piano pieces, abstract grainy noises and more. Naarm/Melbourne-based Kane Ikin is one who does bring in some rhythmic elements, while still keeping things on the gentle side. Yui Onodera's untitled piece is a beautiful example of long tones with field recordings - here slow footsteps on something like gravel. And Tujiko Noriko sent in a beautiful piece using abstract synths, orchestral sounds and her voice somewhere in there too. This whole compilation is only up for a couple more months, so check it out now.

IKSRE & anthéne - Remission [Polar Seas]
IKSRE & anthéne - Solstice [Polar Seas]
Here's a collaboration between Naarm/Melbourne's IKSRE and Toronto's anthéne, recorded cross-continentally during times of change for both artists. Phoebe Dubar aka IKSRE is a multi-instrumentalist and practitioner of sound-healing, and Bradley Deschamps aka anthéne is curator of the Polar Seas, on which their album Seasons Shifting is released. The two artists' styles mesh perfectly together, with Dubar's melodic vocals enhancing Deschamps' electronics & guitar drones. Across hemispheres, the artists found the seasons shifting in polar opposites, along with shifts in their lives. At times there is greater movement, as in the melodic "Remission", which celebrates a reprieve for Dubar's mother from cancer.

Mike Nigro - Argyle Place Park [Oxtail Recordings]
Formerly based in Newark and Brooklyn, Mike Nigro has been running his Oxtail Recordings from Eora/Sydney over the last few years, releasing excellent ambient & experimental music from here and across the world. His latest Oxtail release, Argyle Place Park, is also his first solo release in a while, based on field recordings from a tiny strip of grass near Observatory Hill, above the Rocks. These environmental recordings (the chirping of cicadas, traffic passing and pedestrians walking), is accompanied by simple synth chords and a glitching piano melody.

Listen again — ~202MB

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