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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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Playlists are listed with artist name first, then track title and (remixer), then [record label]. Enjoy the links.

Tuesday, 26th of September, 2023

Playlist 24.09.23 (12:37 am)

Music both popular and unpopular tonight. There's not enough unpopular music on the radio, but this is an imbalance that Utility Fog has always attempted to correct.

LISTEN AGAIN and experience transcendence (again). Podcast right here, stream on demand on the FBi website.

Popular Music - Sad Songs [Popular Music Bandcamp]
Back in August, I played the first single from Popular Music, the new duo of Zac Pennington from Parenthetical Girls with Australian cellist & composer Prudence Rees-Lee. Having spent many years in the LA area, they are based in Naarm/Melbourne now - if you're lucky enough to live there, you can see them launch their new album on October 26th. Because they're already so search engine-unfriendly, they've called the album Minor Works, and while they are perhaps mainly in minor keys, these songs should not be downplayed. These are theatrical pop songs with arch humour, pop references galore, and an air of melancholy. Lovely.

ZÖJ - Hangman [Parenthèses/Bandcamp]
Another duo based in Naarm/Melbourne are Iranian born kamancheh player & singer Gelareh Pour, and drummer Brian O’Dwyer, working together as ZÖJ. Their album FIL O FENJOON is coming out in November through Belgian/West Australian label Parenthèses, but this single, featuring Pour's emotive, impassioned playing and singing, was released especially to commemorate the anniversary last Saturday of the killing of Jina Mahsa Amini. It was her murder at the hands of the Iranian regime's morality police that sparked the Woman, Life, Freedom movement.

Eartheater - Heels over Head [Chemical X/Mad Decent/Bandcamp]
Eartheater - Face in the Moon [Chemical X/Mad Decent/Bandcamp]
The last album proper from Alexandra Drewchin aka Eartheater was 2020's Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin, in which electronic beats were by and large abandoned in favour of classical orchestrations and acoustic instrumentation. For Powders, her first released through Chemical X/Mad Decent, Drewchin is melding those acoustic folk influences with glitchy beats'n'bass and some of the current trip-hop zeitgeist, for a collection that may have the most pop appeal of anything she's done - not that she's any less barmy and uncompromising than before, with heels over head and wearing whatever she damn well pleases. Oh - and there's a cover of System of a Down's "Chop Suey" which is great, although it just made me want to listen to the original again.

HAAi - ZiGGY (DJ-Kicks) [!K7 Records/Bandcamp]
Teneil Throssell, originally from Karratha, WA, has been DJing as HAAi since 2016, with her profile only rising ever since then. She's been invited to do a mix for the prestigious DJ Kicks series on German electronic mainstays !K7 Records, and as is traditional, contributes an exclusive original. Hints of breakbeats give way to a big ravey 4/4 techno piece, melodic and uplifting.

Richie Culver - Alive in the Living Room (Pessimist Remix) [Drowned By Locals/Bandcamp]
Here's some techno that's frankly not intended to be uplifting. We last heard from Richie Culver round here back in April with an album of remixes of his 2022 album I was born by the sea. The original album featured Culver's spoken storytelling with avant-garde electronics, taken to the max by the remix artists. Culver's new album proper is a rather imposing near-half-hour piece called Alive in the lving room, released by the ever-excellent Jordanian label Drowned By Locals, a relentless piece of throbbing, evolving 4/4 beats that evokes the unsettling experience of sleep paralysis. There's an accompanying poem by Culver, contained in a leather hardcover hymnbook (very limited edition!), but the piece itself is intentionally lacking vocals. However, on the remixes, the vocals surface in two very different settings. bod [包家巷] bathes their piece in shuddering, glitching layers of distorted fug, while Pessimist crafts his characteristic d'n'b-inflected dark techno.

Rutger Zuydervelt - Part 4 - Point of No Return [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Among other delights, the Objects & Sounds label's Seasonal Diary III: Curious Enchantment compilation offered up a piece from Rutger Zuydervelt, better known as Machinefabriek, that was credited as a "Kaleiding Outtake". It's an offcut from the music he composed for a performance titled Kaleiding by Lily&Janick, who combine dance and acrobatics in their work. There's a lot of movement in Zuydervelt's pieces, whether through chiming pitched percussion, more sinister bass surges, or lovely interlocking motorik grooves. There's an organic, acoustic feel to the sounds, whether digitally modelled or sampled, that convey a warm humanity even when programmed into complex patterns. One of the most enjoyable Machinefabriek works of late.

Loraine James - Prelude of Tired of Me [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
Loraine James - Gentle Confrontation [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
As I said last week, this is Loraine James' third album for Hyperdub, although there've been a couple of other things in between. Gentle Confrontation is a lovely name, and James' love of IDM is all over the album, as well as r'n'b & pop, bass music and more. Although there are many great guest vocalists featured too, it's always particularly nice hearing her own gentle voice on a few tracks too. This does feel like her best work yet, but that's a big thing to say given how brilliant even her pre-Hyberdub material was!

Soda Plains - Meet Me at Escados [Yegorka/Bandcamp]
Hong Kong musician Soda Plains, based now in Berlin after some time in London, here releases a single track on Berlin label Yegorka. It's experimental bass music along the lines of his Living With Elvis EP from last year, also very fun stuff.

Pl4net Dust - Bunny Hat [[re]sources]
Paris producer Pl4net Dust seems to comfortably switch between dance genres, but on the Freefall EP for the Paris bass label [re]sources, we get two tracks of fantastically syncopated jungle. I'd love to hear more of this.

Mukqs - Truck-Kun [Hausu Mountain/Bandcamp]
Mukqs - Etheric Double [Hausu Mountain/Bandcamp]
Max Allison named his musical self Mukqs, which explains a lot. It's his name but spelled like the fabled Aphex Twin album, and Allison's music is a continuation of the off-kilter humour and dense programming of the first generation IDM producers of yore. Stonewasher is released on Hausu Mountain, the label Allison runs with Doug Kaplan (the pair were also 2/3 of Good Willsmith with Natalie Chami aka TALsounds). The Hausu Mountain aesthetic is one of pixellated post-computer game imagery and bizarre juxtaposition - and so it is with the music of Mukqs: relentlessly chopped, scrambled and pitch-shifted samples, information overload overloaded. Somehow it all lands just on this side of coherent - or maybe that's just me.

Brutter - Dance un-dance [Brutter Bandcamp]
Brutter - Twin Outta [Brutter Bandcamp]
Christian and Fredrik Wallumrød come from a very prominent family in Norwegian jazz & experimental music. Their sister Susanna, best known by her first name, is an influential and loved avant-garde singer-songwriter, and they are also cousins of pianist David Wallumrød. I've heard plenty of Christian's music on labels like Hubro, and Fredrik as part of the phenomenal Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. Anyway, none of this really prepares one for Brutter (unsurprisingly the Norwegian word for "brother"). Here both brothers play drum machines and various electronics, alongside live drums, loving the glitch and with industrial and dub influences to the fore. It's awesome, and it's not a million miles away from the next artists...

Radian - Stak [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Radian - Jet [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Radian - Cold Suns [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Austrian experimental trio Radian have been around even longer than Utility Fog, maintaining a remarkable consistency across 2½ decades. Martins Brandlmayr and Siewert, on drums and guitars respectively, both also contribute electronics, and both are known for their connections with the Viennese glitch and experimental scenes (Siewert a long time ago replaced Stefan Németh, also central to that musical world). They're joined by John Norman on bass, so the band technically has a guitar/bass/drums lineup, and it's no surprise that they've been connected with Chicago's Thrill Jockey for much of their existence. They play a European form of Chicago-style postrock, with jazzy, muscular drumming next to glitchy rhythmic cut-ups, guitars coexisting with sweeping machine drones, real instrumental performances underpinning electronic abstraction. New album Distorted Rooms - coming 7 years after their last - leans towards their more abstract side, but snaps you back into focus with surprising guitar riffing or krautrocky acoustic drums. It's always a pleasure to be reminded how quietly influential this long-lived group have been (on me at least!)

Zoltan Fecso - Feast Terrain [Oxtail Recordings/Bandcamp]
Bringing the glitches home, Naarm/Melbourne experimental ambient musician Zoltan Fecso has a new album out on Oxtail Recordings. Other Air is a little different from the earlier works I've heard of Zoltan's, often built from ingenious real-time sampling & manipulation of guitar sounds. Here we have field recordings, synths and chittering textures inspired by a month-long stay on Yuin Land in southern New South Wales. This is beautiful stuff, made for deep listening on headphones.

Emily Wittbrodt - Interlude [Ana Ott/Bandcamp]
Emily Wittbrodt - Foolish [Ana Ott/Bandcamp]
Via glitchy textures we segue into the genre-repudiating music of Emily Wittbrodt, from her new album Make You Stay, released by the equally unpigeonholeable label Ana Ott. The album is a cycle of eight pieces, alternating between "recitatives" and "arias", adapting these baroque & early classical forms for a contemporary band. Wittbrodt plays freely with the forms - the recitatives are songs, each sung by a different member of the four-piece band, while the arias are in fact instrumentals, distilling and reinterpreting some aspect of the preceding song. The band itself is just as unconventional, with Wittbrodt on cello, Annie Bloch on chest organ and electric organ, Jan Philipp on drums and Wolfgang Pérez on electric guitar and electronics. Thus we have music that shifts between quite classical sounding arrangements, indiepop songs, burbling, glitching electronics and free jazz. It's charmingly strange and strangely engaging music.

Bob Holroyd - February [Bob Holroyd Bandcamp]
English producer & composer Bob Holroyd happily spans genres and styles too. He's probably best known for the rave-era polyrhythmic anthem African Drug, which appeared in various influential DJ mixes including Coldcut's Journey By DJ and was much later remixed into blissful percussive/ambient techno by Four Tet, and even later again by himself. In 2021 Holroyd released a series of two-track singles through Real World X, including the uneasily layered Mangled Pianos. "February" is a standalone track originally called "Machine Lullaby", which neatly describes the combination of pensive piano chords and processed samples.

Hessien - We Are Fond Of Them [sound in silence]
Our last track moves yet further into ambience, with textured field recordings underlying chiming guitar loops. This is Hessien, the duo of UK artist Tim Martin aka Maps & Diagrams and Queenbeyan musician Charles Sage aka y0t0, also co-founder of guitar-noise project The Rothko Chapel. Hessien combines looped jangles of guitar with electronic processing, which might sound like Fennesz or countless others, but really doesn't. These pieces spool out slowly and patiently and catch you unawares, evoking landscapes you can get lost in.

Listen again — ~207MB


Comments Off on Playlist 24.09.23

Sunday, 17th of September, 2023

Playlist 17.09.23 (11:00 pm)

There's more pop (arguably) than usual in tonight's Utility Fog, and more ambient (loosely) tonight as well. There's 4/4 dub of various sorts, processed field recordings and a surprising number of cellists doing unusual things.

LISTEN AGAIN and be inspired. Stream on demand via FBi, podcast from here.

Lucidvox - Don't Look Away [Glitterbeat/Bandcamp]
Starting tonight with something heavy and melodic that reminds me of early '90s 4AD - Lush perhaps? Lucidvox are a Russian quartet, all women, who were originally based in Moscow but left for various parts of Europe and the Middle East when Russia invaded Ukraine. I get the impression that there's a lot of stylistic diversity across this album, so I look forward to hearing the rest - but the dense riffs, effects and vocals both sweet and harsh here are just the ticket.

Peter Gabriel - Love Can Heal (Bright-Side Mix) [Real World Records/Bandcamp]
I'm surprised that it's been quite a long time since I played Peter Gabriel, a hugely inventive musician through 5 decades and many twists and turns. His new album i/o is coming out sometime this year, and he's setup a subscription on Bandcamp, where he's releasing every track from the album (and some bonuses) throughout the year. Each song is released with two different mixes (as well as some kind of 3D sound which I can't make work): The "Bright-Side" mixes are by Mark "Spike" Stent, and the "Dark-Side" ones by Tchad Blake, both weapons-grade producers/sound engineers, and it's been fascinating hearing the differences in their takes - sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic. There have been some of his trademark upbeat funk-pop numbers, plenty of "world music" influence and use of technology - although you can forgive a 73-year-old for not being quite at the vanguard of musical and technological invention. But he's a wonderful songwriter still, as this pensive song ably demonstrates.

JOBS - Ask New York [Ramp Local/Bandcamp]
Here's some more experimental pop from a bunch of experimental musicians including renowned jazz/improv violist Jessica Pavone, along with bassist Ro Lundberg, guitarist Dave Scanlon, and drummer Max Jaffe. Jaffe recorded & mixed the album but all contribute some keyboards, and all sing. Their music can be deceptively straightforward postpunk pop, but there are a lot of electronic elements (Jaffe plays a custom hybrid drumkit), and Pavone's viola is a significant force throughout.

Loraine James - I DM U [Hyperdub/Bandcamp]
Hard to believe that this is only Loraine James' third album for Hyperdub - but there was the Whatever The Weather for Ghostly International, and the Julius Eastman reworks for Phantom Limb. James has always had so-called IDM in the mix among other things, so the title "I DM U" is particularly cute - but it turns out that this one's driven by some beautifully cut-up acoustic drums. Absolute pleasure.

Harry Klein - Who Floats Above [Harry Klein Bandcamp]
Eora/Sydney artist Harry Klein takes a left turn from the soulful electronic pop of his previous album with new single What Floats Above. Here it's instrumental electronica, by turns dreamy & melodic, and heavy and glitchy on the beats.

Sumn Conduit - What Energy [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
Sumn Conduit - A, B or C [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
We've been talking a lot about FBi Radio's 20th birthday, and Stu Buchanan is someone who was very important in its history in various capacities. One of those was co-presenting New Weird Australia for some years, and this Scottish immigrant's service to Australia's experimental music community has continued in the form of the record label of the same name (among other things! Stu is a busy man!) This week we got two new albums released on the digitals, both Pay What You Can (if you do pay, the proceeds go to the artists). First up is Sumn Conduit, the duo of Dharawal/Inuk vocalist Sonya Holowell and Ben Carey, whose solo modular synth work we heard earlier this year. Valve Is Released is the duo's first studio album, after some live documents, and it's audibly more structued (as well as being divided into separate tracks). Once again Carey's modular synth work is breathtaking - controlled, yet constantly in motion - and whether the electronics are harmonious or dissonant, Holowell finds ways of inserting melody. Really, don't let this one pass you by.

salllvage - O'Drone Park [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
New Weird Australia's other release this week is equally stunning. salllvage is Kombumerri man Rowan Savage, currently living on Wangal Land, who works with processed field recordings made on-Country in Kombumerri country and Gadigal country. He does an amazing job of keeping enough of the source sounds' nature while transforming them into melodic and rhythmic material for his post-club and ambient musical works.

This Friday at the Art Gallery of NSW the Volume Festival event showcases First Nations artists from around the world, including Joe Rainey. Sonya Holowell will perform both solo and as part of Sumn Conduit, and salllvage's sounds will loop throughout the night. Maybe I'll see you there?

Gentleforce - Plant Commune Dub [Oxtail Recordings]
Eli Murray has been making ambient techno as Gentleforce since at least 2010, but before that he was organising dubstep and drum'n'bass events around Sydney's Northen Beaches. He's also known to many as the composer of the music for Kinderling's meditation series for kids called Bedtime Explorers. Fucken cute! His new short album Life Anthems, out through the ever-reliable Oxtail Recordings, is made up of ambient tracks with gentle techno beats and field recordings, all made while on the go with family & friends. Gentleforce draws here from children's open & unmediated way of being in the world, making music intended to be a healing force. Come commune with the plants.

unpropped - Inner [unpropped Bandcamp]
Spanish musician Germán Sánchez spent time in a variety of places before settling, for the time being, in Germany. While he spent time studying electronic music in France, the music on his new EP Acausality seems a perfect fit for his current home, where glitchy dub techno is a native form - although that said, he's also spent time in Mexico, home of Murcof. The 5 tracks on Acausality, mastered by Stefan Betke aka Pole, have lovely clicky 4/4 beats, dub effects, and lovely pads, all put together with a lot of care.

The Bug - Possessed(The Light of Shaka) [Pressure]
I guess at some point The Bug will release something where I'm insufficiently enthused and I'll skip playlisting it, but so far each of these Machine EPs have just been nicely heavy-riffing distorted basslines and beats, with all the grit that characterises Kevin Martin's productions.

JK FLESH - NO MAN NO CRY [Avalanche Recordings]
Justin K Broadrick isn't quite as prolific as Kevin Martin, but still there's frequent missives from JK FLESH in between albums from Godflesh, Jesu and Final, along with myriad other projects. NO EXITS is the latest from his JK Flesh identity, established for some years now as an outlet for acerbic 4/4 industrial techno with a nod to dub. Broadrick is a master of texture and structure even in this maxi-minimalist vein.

Playing these two next to each other, it's also worth noting that, following their reformation as a duo under the name Zonal in 2019, they've now arranged for Relapse to re-release their classic Techno Animal albums from the 1990s and early '00s. First cab off the rank is the 1995 double album Re-Entry, and I'm waiting for the 2CD set to arrive, as well as a t-shirt because the album has reimagined artwork from the brilliant Simon Fowler. (Not unreasonably as the original artwork is very much of its time, created by the Future Sound of London-affiliated Buggy G Riphead).

Kaya North - Lava [Lost Tribe Sound/Bandcamp]
Speaking of stunning artwork! Lost Tribe Sound's Ryan Keane can always be relied on to create luscious packages with evocative art and an immaculate design sense, down to the colour choice. So it's notable that the artwork for Kaya North's album Myths is black & white. The imagery is of giant hairy beasts from the ice age. The music's by Caleb R.K. Williams who, like some crazed ventriloquist, seems to be the person behind all of the artists in The Eagle Stone Collective. Based in France, Williams makes dark drone, "Americana ambient" and a kind of minimalist industrial techno but played on acoustic percussion. You're listening to mysterious rituals occurring deep in the caves of the bleak, snowy mountain that you're traversing. Actually you're listening to the cassette recording you made of the mysterious rituals while you were traversing the bleak mountain. Anyway, it's quite a trip!

Leyla McCalla - Crown [Anti-/Bandcamp]
Here's something quite surprising. I've been in the Leyla McCalla fanclub (so to speak) since her first album. A Haitian-American cellist (, guitarist, singer) playing a mixture of bluegrass, Haitian folk, blues etc? What's not to love! Her own songs are joyously creative and moving in turn, but she's a wonderful interpreter too, so here we have her take on a song from Kendrick Lamarr's last album. She remarked on Instagram that she wanted to hear what this heavily emotional song sounded like in a Black woman's voice, and she's gifted it to us. Initially it's just her voice and guitar, but I love the quiet, affecting strings that enter near the end.

Michael Peter Olsen - Terms of Desertion [Hand Drawn Dracula/Bandcamp]
Speaking of cellists... You've maybe heard Toronto's Michael Peter Olsen in these shows in the past... His credits run the gamut of Toronto indie acts: The Hidden Cameras, Arcade Fire, Great Lake Swimmers, Drake (OK, so not just indie!) - oh, and Fucked Up. Anyway, none of that matters, because his solo music is just great standing on its own. This second single from the forthcoming Narrative of a Nervous System is prettiness via electric cello and delay lines. There'll probably be more before the album's released on Oct 27th, so watch this space (or go pre-order it!)

RETE - Tape Loop 1 [901 Editions/Bandcamp]
Vasilis Liolios & Savvas Metaxas are two sound-artists based in Thessaloniki, who record together as RETE. Their collaged pieces involve analogue synths, found objects, field recordings and at times other musical instruments, and the warm saturation and analogue pliability of tape machines is central to their music. 9°(3) is their contribution to Italian label 901 Editions' "virtual residency" series that the label's conducting on Bandcamp. Throughout September RETE are adding tracks to the album (an excellent 5th track appeared on Sunday as I was putting the show together), and as long as you remember to check back, you're rewarded with a growing collection of wonky, angular, abstract sound works. Really worth digging into.

Ljudbilden Boelja - Oxygenation 2 [Malmö Inre/Bandcamp]
Kristofer Ström and Markus Clemmedson are separately veterans of Swedish ambient music. Together they've formed Ljudbilden Boelja, a lovely name that I sadly have no hope of pronouncing correctly. But the music is really engrossing - like RETE above this is sound-art made from unidentifiable acoustic sources, with a lot of electronic processing, cutting & pasting. The album is by turns rhythmic and dronelike, and it's all selected from 24 hours of studio improvising. As above, really recommend checking this out.

Erik K Skodvin - Quiet states of anxiousness [Sonic Pieces/Bandcamp]
Here's another quietly spooky alubm from Erik K Skodvin, proprietor of the Miasmah label who just happens to also be a cellist. His new album Nothing left but silence is released on Miasmah's sister label Sonic Pieces, run by Monique Recknagel (out of the same office). Recknagel's releases are gorgeously packaged boutique objects, expensive but worth saving up for. The material here resembles that of Skodvin's 2017 album Apart, released on Miasmah under his alter ego Svarte Greiner. But where that album was recorded entirely on cello in an abandoned building, the minimalist, spacious and spooky sounds here are from one electric guitar, an amp and a reverb unit. This is captivating stuff of a sort pioneered by Skodvin over years of music-making, and close kin to the acoustic doom (and non-acoustic) favoured by the Miasmah label.

glacis - White Chalk Among The Ivy (Simon McCorry) [Whitelabrecs/Bandcamp]
Scottish musician Euan Millar-McMeeken appears in collaborations with Matthew Collings as Graveyard Tapes, with Johan G Winther as Gallowglas, with Michael Cottone (The Green Kingdom) as Dead Bell, and with Craig Tattersall of The Remote Viewer & Hood as Civic Hall (coming later this year from Lost Tribe Sound!) So it's perhaps not surprising that his first solo album as glacis for Whitelabrecs is a set of remixes, or reworks, or rather Interpretations by musical friends. Tattersall's there as The Humble Bee, The Green Kingdom's there, Tape Loop Orchestra is there, and there's a lovely piece from Naarm/Melbourne's own Claire Deak & Tony Dupé. Euan's piano is sometimes prominent, at other times completely obscured. Tonight I chose a rework by yet another cellist, Simon McCorry, again not (as far as I can hear) using cello at all. The sparkling ambient textures are eventually joined by buried, distorted acid thrums, like a distant rave party revving its engine.

Marcus Fischer - Night Paving [Zum/Bandcamp]
My Heart, an Inverted Flame - The Ever-Expansion [Zum/Bandcamp]
We finish tonight with two very different selections from Zum Audio Vol 5, the latest big compilation from US label Zum, run by siblings Yvonne Chen (ex-Xiu Xiu) and George Chen (of many bands). Their shared musical loves run from noise (e.g. Yellow Swans) through Americana (perhaps p:ano), indie jangles, punk, metal, experimental electronics, and various types of ambient & sound-art. It's a lot to take in over 2 CDs, but well worth the ride. Marcus Fischer is best known for his work on 12k, here contributing one of the most subdued tracks on the album, in which soft chiming chords are chopped up over very soft guitar drones and distant, sparse percussion. And the guitarless synth+drums duo My Heart, an Inverted Flame, made up of noise/metal veterans Andee Connors and Marc Kate, is a nearly 8-minute journey through pounding drumkit and swirling, swooping distorted synths. Rad.

Listen again — ~203MB


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Sunday, 10th of September, 2023

Playlist 10.09.23 (8:48 pm)

It's the first Utility Fog episode in my 21st year of broadcast, and in my 3rd decade too. But it's also a momentous occasion because Lee Tran Lam, who's hosted Local Fidelity for some 17 years of that time, is calling quits tonight. She's been an amazing in bringing contemporary Australian music - and some worthy older stuff - to our ears for so long, and will be missed.
Tonight, we have Butchulla songlines, sound-art, indietronica, experimental beats of various types, and music hanging in the between-space. We also farewell the wonderful lower-case sound pioneer (and visual artist) Steve Roden, who tragically died this week, from Alzheimer's, at only 59.

LISTEN AGAIN, you know you want to. Stream on demand via FBi, podcast here.

Yirinda - Yuangan (Dugong) [Chapter Music/Bandcamp]
Butchulla songman Fred Leone is starting to blow up, with A.B. Original's producer trials remixing his first single "Yirimi Gundir", and some high-profile live apeparances. He's one of three Butchulla songmen left, a custodian of endangered Butchulla language and song. Yirinda is a remarkable project linking Leone with double bassist and composer Samuel Pankhurst. The intimate voice and strings setting of this first track immediately draws the listener in, and the rest of the album promises horns, synths, piano and percussion added into the mix.

steve roden - sparks from one hand on fire [ini.itu/Bandcamp]
steve roden - sleep/walk/drive (walk) [Sonoris]
Earlier this week the tragic news came that beloved musician and artist Steve Roden had died. I was only vaguely aware that he was sick, but he'd in fact had Alzheimer's for some time, and passed away on Wednesday. I have only played a little of Roden's work on Utility Fog, not least because a lot of it is really long tracks sourced from installations. It's always rewarding; Roden was a pioneer of what he dubbed "lowercase" sound-art, but despite the term being used to describe the most ambient of ambient, Roden's music is often teeming with life, engrossing with foley sounds, adapted field recordings, and musical tones created by unmusical objects. Roden also made wonderful music in collaboration with the likes of Stephen Vitiello, Machinefabriek, Taylor Deupree and Frank Bretschneider, and his solo catalogue is large. Often it's accompanied by his own visual art, which in parallel with his music combines line drawing, painting and collage. In memory of Roden, tonight I played two short pieces: one is a crackly loop made from objects and sound sources provided by ini.itu, and second a field recording with music from a 4CD boxset released by French label Sonoris.

Nick Calligeros - ~ Dancing ~ Buoy ~ (Texture 28) [People Space]
Nick Calligeros - Texture 23 [People Space]
We last heard Dhawaral/Wollongong trumpeter Nick Calligeros with contemporary jazz ensemble Microfiche, but the music on his solo album In Fight & In Flow there's very little of his main instrument - only some non-musical sounds from the trumpet, along with found objects, field recordings and on-site piano recordings. The vignettes (many named as numbered "Textures") found here draw from the Illawarra coastline where Nick relocated to (from Sydney's inner-west) during Covid.

Sow Discord - Scale II (Radio Edit) [Heavy Machinery Records]
Very pleased to be premiering the first excerpt from a new LP by Melbourne/Naarm musician David Coen aka Sow Discord. Coen is a member of the excellent doom/noise act Whitehorse, who've collaborated with the body (and Sow Discord was among the remixers on the body's 2019 remix album). The project connects noise & industrial electronics with dub, hip-hop, dubstep and other such genres. Scale II, his third long-player, is (I believe) part of Heavy Machinery Records' series of albums the use the Melbourne Town Hall's Grand Organ - Taipan Tiger Girls' final album was another. The imposing organ sounds combine with mangled samples and dark bass beats in this 4½ minute excerpt which will leave you wanting more - the album is two sides of 15 minutes each. Can't wait!

Peak Park & Charlie Wilde - Boyhood [Peak Park Bandcamp]
This collaboration sees Naarm/Melbourne indie-folk singer Charlie Wilde brought into the electronic sound-world of art rock trio Peak Park, with an emotional song about growing through & out of society's expectations of masculinity. I hear Sufjan Stevens in there as much as Bon Iver, and the electronic experiments of both are taken up by the four musicians, with distorted bass and heavily autotuned voice at the climax.

Constant Light - Black Ghosts [Constant Light Bandcamp]
Naarm/Melbourne musicians Sasha Margolis aka Automating and James Dean of Tugboat are Constant Light, under which project they make music haunted by the sounds of krautrock, postpunk, psych, kosmische and shoegaze. Black Ghosts, the second single from their forthcoming third album, combines a postpunk wistfulness and shoegazey expansiveness with drum'n'bass beats contributed by cartoonist/illustrator/musician Keith McDougall. It's got more than a little of Hood's pastoral indietronica to it. Sasha's Automating is playing this Saturday, Sept 16th at Mosh Pit Bar on south King St, alongside Terrificus and Scattered Order, should be rad.

Forest Swords - The Low [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
Following the trip-hoppy single Butterfly Effect with Neneh Cherry's sampled voice, Forest Swords' new album Bolted is now announced for October 20th. On "The Low" an almost martial beat accompanies a washed-out but distorted vocal melody, a post-dubstep take on trip-hop. This bodes well for the rest of the album.

A Taut Line - Colour Science feat Chocola B [Diskotopia/Bandcamp]
A Taut Line - Never Any Gain [Diskotopia/Bandcamp]
Matt Lyne co-runs the Tokyo-based Diskotopia label, who've released memotone, SEEKERSINTERNATIONAL, Wally Badarou and many others. They also, at times, release his own music as A Taut Line. New album Never Any Gain follows (thematically as well as temporally) last year's Loss. Shoko Sasano aka Chocola B sings on a few tracks, but it's otherwise instrumental electronica with roots in the multicultural Bristol sound (where Lyne originally came from), whether trip-hop, dub, electro, garage, or further-out forms like post-punk and loungey exotica. The title track is dense with beats that sit like an amalgam of electro & jungle, with spoken lyrics contributed by author Thomas Kendall. These seems clearly to be Matt Lyne's best work yet: incredibly varied and confident.

exael - Desire is a Glitch (with Zoe Darsee) [enmossed/Bandcamp]
Speaking of authors, Berlin-based Texan poet Zoe Darsee contributes words to the productions of also Berlin-based Naemi aka exael on their latest album Vanishing Act. It's released by the US label enmossed, which has a similar aesthetic to that of Naemi's scene, which in various collaborative and solo settings encompasses such labels as West Mineral Ltd, Soda Gong, Lilerne Tapes etc. What I mean by this is music that's got a clear and direct connection to club music, to rave and UK bass, but by and large is "ambient" music, informed by new age aesthetics, cassette tape wow & flutter, hauntology & vaporwave's low-bitrate resampling. Zoe Darsee's voice floats in the jungle-speed tribal percussion and echoing textures of "Desire is a Glitch" in an almost sinister fashion, but at the halfway mark the beats change to chunky trip-hop breaks, and Darsee's words also become clear(er), speaking a Laurie Anderson-style detached perspective on the slipperiness of identity.

Temp-Illusion - Clem Fandango [PTP/Bandcamp]
For their third album proper, Tehran duo Temp-Illusion continue their elastic, crunchy take on techno and IDM, while also inserting (or emphasising) the humorous and incongruous. The album's title failsafe refers to a built-in mechanism that averts disastrous breakdowns in machinery, but the artists extend this to the idea that comedy acts as a failsafe for mental health in the face of extreme mental or emotional stress. Shahin Entezami (aka Tegh) and Behrang Najafi (aka Bescolour) are both natives of Tehran, and the music they create as Temp-Illusion - clearly dance music - is a kind of self-commentary on the conditions of living in Iran, pushed & pulled to breaking point by the economic and social destruction rought as much by draconian sanctions as much as by the unforgiving regime. Sometimes, they seem to suggest, you just gotta laugh.

world's end girlfriend - Ave Maria [Virgin Babylon/Bandcamp]
world's end girlfriend - FEARLESS VIRUS [Virgin Babylon/Bandcamp]
Katsuhiko Maeda is one person I really wanted to include in last week's episode marking of 20 years of Utility Fog. His music as world's end girlfriend is absolutely emblematic of Utility Fog's mission: genres such as IDM, breakcore & glitch are mashed up with post-rock, punk, classical and J-pop, in a fashion, mind you, that's perfectly natural within Japanese culture/counter-culture. Maeda also runs the phenomenal Virgin Babylon, collecting a diverse array of artists covering most of those aforementioned genres - think Vampillia, Kashiwa Daisuke, DRUGONDRAGON, and more recently idoru figure Madobe Rika. From a varied career over 2+ decades, including acclaimed movie soundtracks as well as many albums, Resistance & The Blessing seems like a suitable capstone (although I hope it's not his last!) It's released on 3CDs or 4LPs, many of which are now sold out, as well as a 35-track download. The physical editions look to be gorgeous - I might revisit the album when mine arrives. Meanwhile, 3CDs allows ample space for Maeda to indulge all sides of his work, so we have pretty piano passages switching into thrashing guitars, plenty of breakcore splatter-breaks, glitch and ambient interludes, spoken word, song... and in amongst it all are some absolute gems, as great as anything in his catalogue. A standout is his setting of Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria". The sampled soprano is not credited (although the composer is), but her voice is drowned in static or heard through layers of crackle, but the music surges in time with Schubert's beautiful progressions - until eventually everything's subsumed in blast-furnace noise, dissipating back into Schubert to finish. Bracing, yes, but also euphoric.

Law - Mind In Motion VIP [Law Bandcamp]
Ricky Law runs the jungle/drum'n'bass label Repertoire, although his own music has been released on Rupture and elsewhere. His second Unreleased Beats EP collects tunes which could easily appear officially. I like the way the beats on "Mind In Motion VIP" skitter around with plenty of space while the bassline prods and stabs.

Chimpo - Domino Rally [CIA Records]
Manchester's Chimpo is beloved in & beyond the jungle/drum'n'bass scene as someone full of character, lending vocals as well as beats to his own & others' productions. For Domino Rally he detours from his own Box N Lock to Bristol's CIA Records. Seriously the title track's all you'd need to sell it: punchy kick'n'bass thumps at the start of each phrase, perfectly tuned fast breaks (often so "tuned" that they become little melodies). This is a guy who knows his UK bass & soundsystem music inside-out, and knows how to insert fun into his tunes.

Crimewave - 50 Rapid (Folly Group Remix) [Black Acre/Bandcamp]
Crimewave - Metropolitan Police (not fit for purpose mix) [Black Acre/Bandcamp]
Off the back of the excellent Altercation EP from Manchester's Crimewave comes their remix EP. Still audible in these reworks are the sounds of - yes - altercations outside of clubs in England's northern cities, the sounds of sirens, and the sounds of UK club music mixed with shoegazey vocals. Crimewave's own "not fit for purpose mix" flips and re-dubs the jittery choppage and UK garage beats of "Metropolitan Police", dropping into dizzying cut-ups by the end. Meanwhile postrock-cum-electronic band/collective Folly Group chops & screws "50 Rapid", with dramatic thuds, stretched, decaying bass tones, and Crimewave's echoing vocals, slowly surging into something really cinematic.

Speaker Music - Feenin [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
Techxodus, the new album from black music theorist and musician DeForrest Brown, Jr. under his Speaker Music alias, further extends the music he's been making in conjunction with his book Assembling A Black Counter Culture, which firmly places the history of techno within the story of working-class African Americans in the "Motor City" of Detroit. Simultaneously, it can be seen as an extension of the Afrofuturist sci-fi expressed by Detroit techno/electro legends Drexciya (hence the "x" in "Techxodus") - further emphasised by the artwork from Abu Qadim Haqq, who also provided the art for Drexciya. The twitchy finger-percussion that's characterised Speaker Music's work so far is very much present, mixed in with samples of jazz, radio broadcasts, samples of street protests and blasts of electric noise. This feels like the purest and most powerful expression yet of what Speaker Music is about.

Spime.IM - Crystal feat. Stina Fors [-OUS/Bandcamp]
Spime.IM - Pure feat. Lorem [-OUS/Bandcamp]
The music of Italian artistic collective Spime.IM (whose name is their website) is superficially like the pure digital electronics of the likes of Ryoji Ikeda and Alva Noto, but it takes a different path in how it engages with art & culture. On their third album Grey Line rhythmic hard-edited electronics are only part of the sonic vocabulary. On opener "Crystal", featuring spoken words from Swedish performance artist & musician Stina Fors, the stuttery production sounds somewhere between Speaker Music's percussion patterns and the high-speed drum programming of footwork. On "Pure", sinister synth-choir drones and slow beats accompany shouted hip-hop vocals in the style of Blackhaine that may in fact be generated from an AI model.

Show Me The Body - WW4 (Swishahouse Remix by DJ Michael "5000" Watts) [Loma Vista/Bandcamp]
Finally, from AI-generated screamo-hip-hop to very much the real thing. Trouble The Water Remixes features four tracks from NYC hardcore punks Show Me The Body, remixed by five very different artists. Show Me The Body have always drawn attention to the parallels between their ostensibly hardcore punk music, underground hip-hop and the electronic & noise scenes. Here, WW4, a highlight from last year's Trouble The Water is given a legit chopped & screwed treatment by Swishahouse founder DJ Michael "5000" Watts. Like the original, the folk-Americana of the first 2/3 of the song gives way to heavy grunge for the last part. Cathartic.

Listen again — ~209MB


Comments Off on Playlist 10.09.23

Sunday, 3rd of September, 2023

Playlist 03.09.23 - 20 Years of Utility Fog! (11:00 pm)

Incomprehensibly, Utility Fog has been on-air for 20 years as of this week! That means, of course, that FBi Radio has survived 20 years - something to celebrate. The station has had an undeniably massive impact on Sydney's music scene, brought fourth musical careers, provided a focal point for music obsessives all over Sydney & surrounds. I'm proud to have been part of it, and on this show I'll be celebrating music & artists who've been of significance to this show over this period. In just 2 hours I'm trying to give representation to 2 decades' worth of artistic output - and for perhaps half that time the show itself was 3 hours long! (Sheesh, don't remind me...) So forgive me for all the fades & edits and talking over music that I've done in order to tell this story.
And please forgive this very self-indulgent write-up. Hopefully it's fun & interesting!

LISTEN AGAIN to 20 years in 2 hours... Stream on demand via FBi, podcast here!

the books - the lemon of pink [Tomlab/Temporary Residence/Bandcamp]
I heard the first album from The Books right about when it came out, as I'd already come across Nick Zammuto in the old email list days. Weird laptop music with cello (Paul De Jong) - that was always going to be right up my street! When their second album the lemon of pink was announced, I knew I was going to be starting Utility Fog later that year, so I wrote to Tom at Tomlab and asked for a CD promo. It's probably accurate to say this was the first promo I ever got for UFog, at least by request - and what a top tier legendary piece of work too. This is where The Books came into their own. Beautiful folksy, quirky cello playing, impeccably chaotic digital edits, acoustic guitar, and somehow singing as well. Oh, and those unplaceable spoken word samples, often found on tapes in thrift stores by both members. What is it? Laptop folk? Neo-classical? No, it's just The Books. Sadly, after their fourth album, the pair had a falling out and that was that.

In any case, the un-pin-downable nature of The Books' music is a perfect encapsulation of what I wanted to do with Utility Fog - music that sits uneasily in musical norms, not just of genre but even of "songwriting"; composition vs improvisation, acoustic vs digital, noisy vs beautiful. Let's problematise all the binaries!!!

tunng - mother's daughter [Static Caravan & many reissues/Bandcamp]
Just want to note here that these selections are not going chronologically. I've sequenced the music much like a normal Utility Fog - a musical journey.
Still, The Books' "laptop folk" fitted a strain of music that UFog favoured from the start, call it folktronica. And when I discovered Tunng in 2004, they immediately resonated. Here were songs that sounded like they came from an arcane English past, but filtered through contemporary electronics. I got hold of Tunng's first two lathe-cut 7" singles and played those to death even before the debut album mother's daughter and other songs came along later that year. They caught the ear of Danny Jumpertz while listening to the show, who promptly licensed the album for Australia on his Feral Media label (a label that would feature frequently in UFog playlists).

65daysofstatic - drove through ghosts to get here [Monotreme Records/Bandcamp]
Here's another hugely important band in the UFog story. Like Tunng, I picked up 65daysofstatic's very first EP through Norman Records based on their description, which as I recall was "Like Mogwai being mugged by Squarepusher in a dark alley". I guess when you're a young band you notice when you're getting played, and boy did I play stumble.stop.repeat! Paul from 65 sent me cool oddities like their unreleased/unreleasable comps, and by the time their second album One Time For All Time came out, I was stoked to find my name ("Peter Hollo at Utility Fog") in the thank yous. The best story, though, came round to me later. Birdsrobe brought them out to Australia to tour with sleepmakeswaves, and they ended up re-releasing all the 65dos albums in gorgeous card sleeve editions. Around that time Mike Solo from Birdsrobe mentioned to me that it was hearing 65daysofstatic on Utility Fog that put him on to the boys in the first place. Rad.

Four Tet - My Angel Rocks Back and Forth (Four Teas on English Time - Icarus remix) [Domino]
Killing two birds with one stone here. 2003 was a watershed year for Four Tet, with the release of the still-legendary Rounds album. Hip-hop beats and acoustic samples chopped'n'glitched, it's miles away from Kieran's club-ready sounds of the last decade or more, but it was hugely influential. In the lead-up to FBi's official launch, a looped playlist was broadcasting on 94.5FM, and She Moves She was one of the tracks that would come round, hour after hour. Suffice to say it already felt like home.
Many singles were ripped from this album, and in 2004 "My Angel Rocks Back and Forth" came with this insane remix from Icarus. I'd heard of this band but only glancingly, but something in the frenetic pace of this remix felt like drum'n'bass. I quickly discovered that Icarus's debut Kamikaze in 1998, and to some extent the followup Fijaka a year later are jungle-leaning drum'n'bass perfection. Following this, the duo ventured further and further into abstraction, drawing on the history of musique concrète, granular processing and glitched jazz - but somewhere inside there's always a heart of junglist rhythm'n'bass.
I got in touch with the duo - cousins Ollie Bown and Sam Britton - and discovered that Ollie had been living in Melbourne, working as an academic. Years later, he's been a Sydneysider for over a decade and we play in Tangents together.

Department of Eagles - Sailing by Night [Isota/Melodic/Bandcamp]
Another 2004 discovery, initially feeling like they fit into the folktronica/indietronica mould, with zany sampling and rhythm programming antics befitting music written by college students on cheap computers. But Daniel Rossen's songwriting and emotive voice put Department of Eagles on a whole different level, something which created a beautiful alchemy when he joined Grizzly Bear shortly after. I love everything he does, but I'm still super fond of the awkward first album, and songs like "Sailing By Night" and "The Horse You Ride" already possess the beauty of his later work.

Hood - Over the land, over the sea. [Domino/Bandcamp]
When Utility Fog started I was already a dedicated Hood fan. Again they encapsulated so much of what the show was aimed at - my unweildy postfolkrocktronica term (intended as an amalgan of postrock and folktronica) fits this band with indie DIY/noise roots, a deep engagement with technology and electronic music, a deep understanding of the original roots of "postrock" (late period Talk Talk and Bark Psychosis), and a complicated relationship with the pastoral northern English countryside. Hood were always a hard band to sell, with obscured lyrics and self-effacing vocals, but their influence is incalculable on generations of indie/electronic bands the world over.
This track is one of my faves, postrock textures and electronic beats - as with many Hood favourites, a non-album track, here found on "The Lost You" EP that preceded their last album. Meanwhile Chris Adams' breakcore/drum'n'bass project Downpour and indie/experimental project Bracken, Richard Adams' The Declining Winter, and many other side projects have featured regularly on Utility Fog.

part timer - thinking, unthinking feat. Danielle McCaffrey [Moteer/Bandcamp]
Craig Tattersall and Andrew Johnson were both members of Hood in the '90s, as well as with their own indietronic band The Famous Boyfriend. They morphed into the minimalist electronica band The Remote Viewer, whose incredible first LP I heard playing at Pelicanneck in Manchester when travelling in 1999 (Side note: Pelicanneck became online store Boomkat a few years later, and the rest is history). I had to double back and buy the LP, which became a prized possession (and was replaced on CD some years later). Like Chris Adams' Downpour, I was a fan of this project before I knew the Hood connection.
Craig and Andrew started a boutique label called Moteer in 2003, whose first release was a self-titled 12" from a duo called Clickits, followed by an album in 2005. When I played Clickits for the first time, I was quickly contacted by John McCaffrey, one half of Clickits, who had moved to Melbourne with his wife Danielle (this moving to Melbourne thing, what's up with that). John was excited to be played on the radio in Australia, and sent me a batch of solo stuff as Part Timer. And for years afterwards I would regularly receive CD-Rs in the mail from John, charming and intricate folktronica which I would always play. Many years later, Part Timer has come back with a more post-classical bent, and John still sends me tracks on the reg, and I still play them.

billy woods / kenny segal - spider hole [Backwoodz/Bandcamp]
There'll be more UFog history coming, but here's a perfect album from recent years. East coast underground rap hero billy woods, curator of the impeccable Backwoodz Studioz, released his second album with west coast producer Kenny Segal earlier this year, and Maps will no doubt be topping many year-end lists for 2023, but for me 2019's Hiding Places is untouchable. woods' raps are sardonic and melodic, documenting the fucked-up state of America and his own psyche in surrealist stanzas, while Segal twists his samples out of shape, pitched down, reversed, chopped, interjecting and undercutting. The ascent of billy woods, his duo Armand Hammer and his Backwoodz label has been slow/fast - his first, lost releases were in 2003 (two decades, folks) but his restart was 2012, also over a decade ago. Hip-hop has always been experimental music, but this is pretty far-out stuff, and it works. Which is just right for the times.

Collarbones - Kill Off The Vowels [Collarbones Bandcamp]
So. I first played Marcus Whale when he was just 16 - here, under his early solo alter ego Scissor Lock. He'd already been sending me music for quite a while. That solo stuff was freeform improv, sound-art, drone stuff. Marcus would often chat to me online, and at one point in 2009 he told me he had a new project with a friend he'd met online (Travis is based in Adelaide) - and it was pretty different. What I was hearing were the earliest Collarbones tracks, dance beats and cut-ups, and Marcus (a saxophonist and guitarist) as front-man, singing in pop/r'n'b fashion. And it was good. So I was the first person to play Collarbones on the radio, from their debut EP in 2009, Waiting For The Ghosts. Their next singles, which ended up on the album Iconography (sadly not online), were far more accomplished, with heavily-edited samples and beats, and super catchy hooks. FBi was all over them by then.
Further pop & dance projects from Marcus included the Sydney supergroup BV (RIP) with Lavurn Lee (best known as Cassius Select) and Jared Beeler (best known as DJ Plead) - and Marcus's Inland Sea is a masterpiece.
Oh - and Marcus also ran a homegrown 3" CD label called CURT that released my first solo EP in 2010 (same year as this single).

clipping. - All in Your Head (feat. Counterfeit Madison & Robyn Hood) [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]
OK, clipping. represent the intersection of so many UFog interests. Daveed Diggs, half-Jewish/half-black frontman, is a genius rapper, a smart lyricist who inserts deep cultural references into everything he does - and a charismatic front-man. Making the innnssaaaane beats are William Hutson - composer and noise musician - and Jonathan Snipes - also a composer and noise musician, but also one half of the notorious rave/hardcore hooligans Captain Ahab. Clipping are the best. They just are. And every release they do is different - well, OK, other than the duology of Horrorcore albums. And there's the thing: clipping take the tropes of sci-fi, hip-hop, horror, and turn them inside out. This song - and its intense video - is horrifying, violent and beautiful, raised ever higher by the raps of Robyn Hood and the singing of Counterfeit Madison. And that crescendo to the finale!
Oh and for true horror, before This Is America (which rules btw) there was Knees On The Ground.

Venetian Snares - Hajnal [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
But here's another axis around which Utility Fog has always revolved. Jungle's experiencing an extended renaissance at the moment, something I already started seeing at least 10 years ago... But in 2003, drum'n'bass was mostly tech-step, and breakcore was where you went for your crazy beat juggling. Along with "postfolkrocktronica", when I started Utility Fog I threw in a few other made-up genre mashups - including "orchestral breakcore". So imagine me if you will, 2 years later, when Aaron Funk aka Venetian Snares releases Rossz Csillag Alatt Született on the ever essential Planet µ. Here it is! I spoke it into being. Not really, but Aaron spent some months in Hungary, and was inspired by the poetry and history to make an album in his characteristic 7/4 breakcore, built out of impeccably sequenced and chopped classical samples. There's Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto, there's Stravinsky and Paganini - oh and of course there's Billie Holliday doing the famous Hungarian suicide song (cut to 7/4). And there's Bela Bartók. 18 years later this album still boggles my tiny mind. Sure VSnares was always clever, funky shit, but this is next level.

Exile - Silicon Chop (feat. Sub Focus) [Planet µ/Buy via Planet µ (not on Bandcamp ?)]
Yes, Planet µ has long been the place to go for forward-thinking electronic music. When Planet µ released his first album Pro Agonist in 2005, Tim Exile (at that time still going by just Exile) was a renowned producer in the drum'n'bass world. But this album saw him spreading his wings into far more experimental waters. The album is cheeky, sometimes grotesque, self-referential, and super complex, but it starts with a veritable banger, featuring - of all people - stadium d'n'b powerhouse Sub Focus. This is noughties d'n'b as jungle. Legendary.

DJ C - Conscience A Heng Dem (Aaron Spectre Remix ft. Capleton) [Mashit]
Alongside breakcore, in the early oughts there was a trend (crossing over from breakcore) for "ragga jungle". In the mid-'90s heaps of dancehall classics were given jungle makeovers - the tempo and feel of dancehall lends itself perfectly to the drums and the bass of jungle. This was taken up in the decade later by the next generation of bedroom producers and noise kids, but in a way that felt like appropriation of a slightly squicky nature: using the disembodied voices of black people for the coolness factor. I don't doubt the dedication of Baltimore's DJ C to Jamaican artforms, though, and on the very first 12" from his Mashit label (released in 2003), the voice of Capleton is credited. This is another release I played to death in those early years - both DJ C's side and Aaron Spectre's incendiary remix.

Wordcolour - Babble [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
I wanted to give some representation to current jungle trends, and I couldn't go past young producer Wordcolour, whose debut album The trees were buzzing, and the grass. came out on Fabric's in-house label Houndstooth last year. The album is gorgeously produced, with beatless sound design pieces, spoken word, quasi-classical interludes, and some of the most expertly programmed beats I've heard of late.

Loefah - Root [DMZ/Bandcamp]
But now we must switch gears again. I felt like it took me a while to get my head around dubstep when I first encountered it. Still intoxicated with jungle, the 140bpm tempo seemed to slow, and I couldn't switch perspective from music led by the drum breaks. But once I understood that dubstep is led from the bass, it all fell into place. When Mala played Sydney, hearing it on a real soundsystem really brought it home, and I was hooked. Despite this delay, playing dubstep tunes on my show from about 2006 stood out - I remember getting a call from Paul from Garage Pressure one Sunday night, who was super surprised to hear dubstep played outside of their show. While Skream and Benga became the pop stars of dubstep, Digital Mystikz were among the pioneers. DMZ was Mala alongside Coki, but the third figure in DMZ was Loefah, whose early dubstep singles were simple yet profound.

Colleen - blue sands [Leaf/Wind Bell/Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
For some reason when Colleen's beautiful album les ondes silencieuses came out in 2007, with dubstep on my mind I used mix "blue sands" in with Loefah's beats. It sort of works? This album is exquisite - a kind of lonely post-classical/folk made with acoustic instruments including the viola da gamba (an older relative of the cello). Incidentally, Colleen's more recent work is dub-inspired modular synth stuff.

The Bug - Black Wasp feat. Liz Harris of Grouper [Ninja Tune/Bandcamp]
But back to dubstep for a minute. Kevin Richard Martin, in all his incarnations, has been an ever-present fixture on the show. Pre-dubstep, I played the punked-out dancehall of The Bug's aptly-named album Pressure, co-released on Rephlex and Tigerbeat6. When London Zoo came along in 2008, I was fully signed up - in fact it started in 2007 with the immortal Skeng released on 12" by Kode9's Hyperdub - with a remix from Kode9 on the flip. It featured two grime greats, Killa P and Flowdan of Roll Deep, who improvised their lines in the studio at the end of a session. Incredible stuff. Oh look, I played both sides when it came out. And by the way, Loefah's remix of the other Flowdan masterpiece off the album, Jah War, is an oft-rediscovered masterpiece.
Again I've gone off on tangents, because what I played was not from London Zoo but from the Angels & Devils era. That album features a beautiful track with Liz Harris of Grouper, but they actually recorded two, and "Black Wasp" is ethereal beauty in a spectral dubstep frame.

Andy Stott - Numb [Modern Love]
Speaking of ethereal beauty, Andy Stott's Luxury Problems, and the preceding Passed Me By and We Stay Together represent, for me, a long-needed broadening of horizons, having for too long disdained 4/4 techno and house. The power of these records cannot be denied, especially Stott's collaborations with his childhood piano teacher Alison Skidmore. This wasn't quite the beginning - I would have already been a Matthew Herbert fan, and I'd been pulled out of my comfort zone by the pumping rhythmic variations of Emptyset's self-titled debut. Still, glorious stuff.

shoeb ahmad - the orchids [Mystery Plays]
I clearly remember the Andy Stott EPs and album of this era being the subject of music-geek conversations with Shoeb Ahmad, something we've done for about as long as UFog's been on air. My recollection of our first meeting was Shoeb sending me a message via LiveJournal (those were the days) remarking that he'd seen me at the recent Tortoise gig. Being randomly recognized was pretty bizarre, but Shoeb had great taste and we talked a lot, exchanged musical loves (we were both huge Hood fans), and eventually met in person. In fact our first physical meeting was about 2hrs before we performed an improvised duo set together at Hibernian House in Surry Hills.
A few years later we setup another improvised gig with musicians who all knew each other but had never performed together: Evan Dorrian, drummer with Shoeb in their brilliant duo Spartak; Adrian Lim-Klumpes, piano & keyboard player in Triosk; and Ollie Bown from Icarus. That first performance became Tangents' first album, after which Ollie contacted Jeremy from Temporary Residence, who'd earlier released Icarus, and Temp Res have now released three albums from us.
This long friendship aside, Shoeb's music has always featured heavily on this show - and not only Shoeb's music, but also the music released on Shoeb's impeccably-curated label hellosQuare. I'm having trouble with pronouns, as I'm very used to using she/her with Sia these days.
In any case, sometime early in the Tangents days, Shoeb released the wonderful album watch/illuminate through Mystery Plays, a label setup by Stefan Panczak of the wonderful Inch-time, an Australian medical doctor who was living in London at the time. I still feel this album was unfairly overlooked - beautiful shimmering guitars, hidden vocals, flittering rhythms. This track also has sampled piano from Adrian Lim-Klumpes sprinkled throughout.

Jenny Hval - blood flight [Rune Grammofon]
Here's another pivotal album for me. Jenny Hval spent a few years studying in Melbourne, and released two lovely indie albums as Rockettothesky, but by 2011 she'd moved back to Oslo and created the remarkable album Viscera with various Norwegian experimental musicians, including producer Helge Sten aka Deathprod, a member of Supersilent, who like this album were released on the legendary Rune Grammofon label. Thus Hval's songs, with artfully explicit lyrics, are garbed in expert experimental arrangements, Hval's voice and melodies like an even more unhinged Kate Bush. Over the following albums Jenny Hval found great success, but this one seemed to puzzle a lot of people. Well fuck'em, this is another immortal classic to me.

9T Antiope - Nocebo (B) (excerpt) [PTP/Bandcamp]
I discovered the Paris-based Iranian duo 9T Antiope first via Kate Carr's Flaming Pines label. If you're a listener to this show you've heard releases from Kate and Flaming Pines a lot. Back in 2016, Flaming Pines released a landmark compilation of experimental music by Iranian artists, Absence, curated by Arash Akbari, with an introductory essay by the excellent composer/producer Siavash Amini. Later that same year, 9T Antiope contributed to the label's Tiny Portaits series, with a track called Brobdingnagian. I quickly gobbled up all I could from them, and was pleased when, in 2019, Geng from PTP sent me an advance promo of their album Nocebo. Here we have the imposing soundscapes of Nima Aghiani and the poetry and pure vocals of Sara Bigdeli Shamloo, some kind of mix between noise, drone and classical music. Since 2020 the duo have released a series of beautiful electronic pop songs sung in Farsi as Taraamoon.

Sote - Pipe Dreams [Diagonal Records/Bandcamp]
9T Antiope are only one part of the tapestry of Iranian music that I've discovered in the last 8 or so years and been inspired to play. I knew Ata Ebtekar's music as Sote (literally "sound" in Farsi) from way back via a pair of heavily overdriven drum'n'bass tracks on the Warp label, Electric Deaf. Some 5 years later I found the Wake Up 12" EP on the disarmingly-named Record Label Records, which to some degree followed in Electric Deaf's footsteps, but already by then Ebtekar had moved back to Tehran from the United States, and was connecting with Persian classical music and early electronic music with Dastgaah. This engagement has generated more & more inspiring music from Sote, often in collaboration with musicians playing traditional instruments like the santour, tambour and tar, melding these sounds with intricate sound design.
I was lucky enough to interview Ata ahead of his first appearance at Soft Centre in 2019. As well as his own inspiring music, Ata runs the label Zabte Sote on which, in 2019 he released a massive four cassette, 42-track survey of Iranian experimental music, Girih - and yet this only scratches the surface of the incredible music coming out of Iran (even under brutal sanctions and an equally brutal ruling regime) and from the Persian diaspora.

ZULI - Robotic Handshakes in 4D [UIQ/Bandcamp]
But let's move now to north Africa, where in Cairo we find the master of bent bass beats ZULI, whose debut EP Bionic Ahmed was released by Lee Gamble's great UIQ label in 2016, and who's gone from strength to strength since. ZULI represents one facet of a thriving experimental music scene in Egypt. The label he co-founded in 2020, irsh, has released two excellent compilations from the Egyptian experimental scene, starting with did you mean: irish - but electronic music is only part of the story, with free jazz, psychedelic rock and more coming out of Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and elsewhere.
Of course you can also find exciting sounds from Uganda, Morocco, Jordan and more.

Muqata'a - Ikmal إِكمَال [Hundebiss/Bandcamp]
Also notable is the hip-hop and experimental music scene in the occupied territories of Palestine. Muqata'a was a member of the hip-hop collective Ramallah Underground, whose music I first came across in 2018 on an album released by Discrepant sublabel Souk. Kamil Manqus كَامِل مَنْقوص was a standout in 2021, glitchy hip-hop informed by an Arabic numerological science that invokes the voices of Muqata'a's ancestors and evokes the suffocating experience of living in the world's largest open-air prison. Muqata'a is also co-founder of the Bilna'es بالناقص label, showcasing cutting-edge Palestinian music.

Ben Frost - Through The Glass Of The Roof [Bedroom Community/Bandcamp]
I first met Ben Frost around the turn of the millennium, when he handed me his EP Music for Sad Children, which I'm still fond of, even though Ben probably wants to disown it. Some years later Ben had decamped to Iceland, to work with Valgeir Sigurðsson in his studio, honing his composition skills and production expertise. The first output from this was Theory of Machines, released in 2007 by Bedroom Community, with heavy bass, dark ambient drones, Swans samples... But for me By The Throat in 2009 was where he really got started. Cold and beautiful and brutal, it evokes snowscapes and snarling wolves with a lot of acoustic instrumentation and a lot of overdriven electronics. It seems to me that the growling distorted bass surges so popular in electronic music these days can be traced back to these albums (if not exclusively - of course drum'n'bass and dubstep's basslines are another source). Anyway, epochal.

Jockstrap - Acid [Warp Records/Bandcamp]
Shifting gears again, Jockstrap have only been around for around 4 years, but already have climbed the pantheon, with virtuoso electronics, Broadway-informed string arrangements and poetic, sardonic lyrics, all rolled together in glorious cacophany. Like a lot of leftfield music, the quirks and disruptions annoy some people, but... fuck 'em. I've listened to the Wicked City EP and now the self-titled album over and over.

Leah Kardos - Sexy Monday [bigo & twigetti/Bandcamp]
Back in late 2011 I was introduced to the music of Brisbane musician Leah Kardos, long resident by now in London. Her debut album Feather Hammer was a creative take on piano in electronic music, with real emotion and real production dexterity. On follow-up Machines, she enlisted the classically-trained Leah Wolk-Lewanowicz, another ex-pat Aussie, to sing sophisticated electronic/classical pop songs, with lyrics cut out of spam emails. It's strangely touching. Leah works as an academic, as well as leading projects at Visconti Studio, named for Tony Visconti, longtime producer for David Bowie. Indeed, Leah's love of Bowie led her to write an in-depth analysis of Bowie's final works, published as Blackstar Theory by Bloomsbury. She also frequently writes reviews and articles for The Wire. I'd love it if she released more music though!
I interviewed Leah back in 2013.

Aphir - Green Valentine Blues (Rework of Allen Ginsberg) [Provenance]
In the earlyish days of FBi, Stu Buchanan co-presented a radio show (with Danny Jumpertz of Feral Media) called New Weird Australia, which also served as a record label, compiling the best of Australian experimental music over a long series of releases. Some time later, post-NWA, Stu formed a new label called Provenance, in an attempt to see how to do a record label in post-Spotify times. A number of artists highlighted by the label came from a thriving Canberra and Melbourne scene of artists melding experimental electronica with a certain pop sensibility - and when Stu decided to give up the label, those artists stepped in to remake Provenance as a collective. It seemed to me that Becki Whitton aka Aphir was a driving force in this new form of the label. Becki lends her engineering, mixing and mastering skills to many artists, and her own music as Aphir has continually evolved, with highly personal songs wrapped in pop songs with adventurous production - and more recently her marathon late-night improvised vocal processing sessions have led to a plethora of textured ambient "choral" work. Tonight I chose something different though - a poem of Allen Ginsberg's set as a kind of electronic folk song, from one of Provenance's compilations.
Circling back to Stu, he restarted New Weird Australia last year with single-artist releases and compilations on Bandcamp. Absolutely essential.

Ellen Arkbro & Johan Graden - Other side [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
As we reach the end of our allotted 2 hours in which to summarise 2 decades of music, I need to fit in some of the more lower case, minimalist sound-art that I also love to feature. This album was utterly unexpected - Swedish musician Ellen Arkbro is known for her super minimalist compositions exploring alternate tunings on instruments like organ and brass. But here, working with fellow Swede Johan Graden, she has crafted a singular album of delicate, touching songs. I get along without you very well (which contains no Chet Baker inside, despite the title) is a masterpiece of songform, which carries its experimental elements with great subtlety - unusual harmonies based around discords, unusual voicings and instrumental choices, and very subtle electronics.
Here, Utility Fog's mission of boundary-crossing musical forms is given expression through the meeting of free jazz, minimalist composition and songwriting. Another example, approaching from a very different direction, is the recent albums by Ashley Paul: Ray and I Am Fog.

soccer Committee & machinefabriek - for i have none [Morc/Digitalis/Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Here, though, is the most minimalist of minimalist song, courtesy of Dutch singer Mariska Baars aka soccer Committee. This year she gifted us the beautiful ❤️ /Lamb, but my first encounters with her were via another very important member of the Utility Fog musical family, Rutger Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek. Machinefabriek's music brought me into the realms of drone and sound-art, and he's been a recurring presence in these playlists. His collaboration with Baars, 2018's drawn, pairs soccer Committee's highly understated, yet heart-pulling songs with Machinefabriek's talents in sound design and signal processing. Also indispensible is the album redrawn, made up of remixes and reworkings of the original album by the cream of experimental music as of 2012.

Burning Star Core - Beauty Hunter [Hospital Productions/Bandcamp]
As we draw to a close, we need some representation from the proper noise scene - and who better than C Spencer Yeh, leader and often sole member of Burning Star Core. The psychedelic, freeform onslaughts of BxC could range from power electronics to improvised, crashing, droning out-rock, mangled vocals and mangled violin. The noise scene has transformed many times since the '90s and early '00s, and while some projects are still alive & kicking (see Wolf Eyes), Spencer folded up BxC in 2010, following it with sporadic oddities under his own name. Some of Burning Star Core's massive discography can be found at his Bandcamp, and I strongly recommend digging in.

the body - the west has failed [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
And finally, extreme metal and hybrid metal goings-on could not be better represented than by the body, creators of beautiful ugliness and ugly beauty. Though they're ostensibly some kind of blackened doom band, they have always featured collaborators who transform and enhance the crushing guitars and drums of the core duo, such as singers Chrissy Wolpert and Kristin Hayter. In the last decade, as well as female choirs and piano, they've increasingly incorporated electronic beats and production into their music, in collaboration with Seth Manchester at Machines With Magnets. This doesn't just mean industrial metal, but also draws widely from Beyoncé (really! so they say), dancehall, dub, drum'n'bass and more. Here also is music unchained from the constraints of genre. On this track, heavy guitars, industrial drums and distant black metal screetches give way to dubbed out beats and the sampled voice of Eek a Mouse.

And there you have it. This didn't even come close to scratching the surface of 20 years of musical exploration, but everything I've included here is pivotal and inspiring. Here's to the next 2 decades...

Listen again — ~209MB



 
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