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Utility Fog

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Sunday nights from 9 to 11pm on FBi Radio, 94.5 FM in Sydney, Australia.

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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

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