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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, 8th of October, 2023

Playlist 08.10.23 (11:00 pm)

Heartrending songs from around the world, glitchy processed traditional instruments, breakcore, and more tonight!

LISTEN AGAIN, even if you missed it the first time around. Stream on demand via FBi, or podcast from here.

Sufjan Stevens - Goodbye Evergreen [Asthmatic Kitty/Bandcamp]
It was possible, when one first heard Sufjan Stevens's new album Javelin, to think it was a touching album about a break-up - although Sufjan's lyrics have always been open to interpretation. But by the time we reached the weekend in Australia, Sufjan had posted his heartbreaking dedication of the album to his long-term partner Evans Richardson, who tragically passed away in April at only 43 (mourned by Nico Muhly at the time). For Sufjan to lose his life partner the same year as coming down with Guillain-Barré syndrome is doubly devastating. And for him to reveal the relationship (widely known but kept remarkably, respectfully quiet by all those in their circle) in this way is a humbling act for us, his fans, to whom he owed nothing about his personal life. It's a beautiful gut-punch of an album.

June McDoom - Emerald River Dance [Temporary Residence Ltd/Bandcamp]
Last year Temporary Residence Ltd did us the wonderful service of bringing to light the music of Jamaican-American singer-songwriter June McDoom, who brings her love of classic folk together with her love of reggae and soul, and the particular sound produced by particular analogue equipment. And yes, the sound of June McDoom's songs is classic, warm and welcoming - but her songwriting, performance and arrangements are just as special. Her second EP With Strings has just been announced, with the first track being a cover of cult singer-songwriter Judee Sill. Sill found minor success in her lifetime, but is one of those musicians who is much celebrated among later generations of musicians (she died in 1979 after long struggles with addiction). The 2009 compilation Crayon Angel featured a raft of cover versions, including gorgeous interpretations by Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy) and Daniel Rossen. With her version of "Emerald River Dance" (the original of which, like the Rossen-covered "Waterfall", only exists in demo form) she easily matches those old favourites of mine, with gorgeous strings and harp accompanying McDoom's fingerpicked guitar and soft vocals.

Honeydrip - System feat. Shanique Marie [Banoffee Pies/Bandcamp]
Psychotropical is the new album from Bajan-Canadian DJ & producer Honeydrip aka Tianan McLaughlan. McLaughlan is a music promoter as well as DJ, and looks to her Caribbean roots here, dub and dancehall-infused bass music featuring reggae artist King Shadrock on a few tracks, and Equinoxx member Shanique Marie on the excellent "System".

Iury Lech - Here Comes Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes [Muscut/Bandcamp/Mida/Bandcamp]
Maarja Nuut - Flamingo Pop [Muscut/Bandcamp/Mida/Bandcamp]
Ukrainian label Muscut and Estonian label Mida have teamed up to release new compilation Volia x Rahu, with one side only Ukrainian artists, and the other almost all Estonian. The label profits from the compilation go to Liviyj Bereh, an organising helping Ukrainians affected by the war. Ukrainian electronic producer Iury Lech contributes a minimalist head-nodder named "Here Comes Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes" - the Latin means "war of all against all". And from Estonia, I played the wonderful Maarja Nuut, eschewing her violin and voice in favour of modular synths, in keeping with her last album, Hinged.

Bisweed - Boa (feat. Joshua Stephenz) [Bisweed Bandcamp]
And next we segue right into more Estonian electronic music, with a new track from dubstep producer Bisweed, featuring a nimble bassline from fellow Estonian Joshua Stephenz.

exmantera - MACHINE [PAYNOMINDTOUS/Bandcamp]
exmantera - EXPOS [PAYNOMINDTOUS/Bandcamp]
From the Finnish underground comes exmantera with their new album LETHALITY released on the excellent Turin label PAYNOMINDTOUS (whose last release came from Sydney's/FBi's own Obelisk, presenter of Mithril on FBi directly after Utility Fog). The music here is a kind of industrial bass music, dubstep/grime with distortion turned up, or the beats and other sounds mutated into post-cyberpunk nightmares. Music of the futuristic present.

ITSUFO - TECKFO140 [ITSUFO Bandcamp]
Here's San Francisco's longtime purveyor of jungle love UFO, with a bit of a dubstep/jungle hybrid - it's literally got "140" in its title, the BPM of dubstep. It's full of nimbly jumping breakbeats and makes them work at this slower-than-usual tempo.

Hoavi - Phase 10 [Gost Zvuk]
Earlier this year, Russian producer Hoavi created a very unusual remix for DEEP LEARNING's Evergreen Remixed - accelerated rhythms with seemingly no centre to them. These tumbling, fast-paced percussive rhythms continue in his new mini-album Phases, with tracks that cover different tempos but with the same woozily disoriented feeling throughout. It's the kind of music you need to listen closely to in order to understand, but it actually works its magic when heard in the background too.

Tawdry Otter - More Sauce [Adrien75 Bandcamp]
Adrien Capozzi has made music as Adrien 75 for ages (like, decades), and before that was part of a bunch of mix'n'match aliases making incredible breakbeat-driven IDM with a couple of mates under the umbrella of the Carpet Bomb label. These days Adrien75 is mostly engaged in fairly ambient guitar-manipulation stuff, so the IDM tends to come out under the Tawdry Otter alias (cute). This weekend he made the rather bonkers decision to release three new albums on his Bandcamp. All three are almost entirely made in an app called Koala Sampler on an Android phone. I can't imagine doing complex things like this on a touchphone, but hey, people write blog posts, articles, books on the things, so that's just me. Anyway, I particularly love the first of the three, named Extinction Event Pre-Game Show, a title that maybe cuts a little close to the bone, but hey, this pre-game show sounds great so let's sit back & take it all in! There are lots of lovely shifting breakbeats and melodies, and an array of bizarre samples that suggest that working in the constrained environment of the phone is a useful catalyst for engaging creativity.

JSPHYNX - King Cobra (JSPHYNX Remix) [Sekito/Bandcamp]
Here's something interesting and great. London jazz musician Johnny Woodham is JSPHYNX, but his band is also JSPHYNX (I think?), including keyboardist Alfa Mist aka Alfa Sekitoleko, who runs the Sekito label. Sekitoleko is an accomplished jazz pianist but also loves his beats, and both he and Woodham have remixed tracks from the band's Reflex album released earlier this year. Both originals feature live breakbeats, and both remixes ratchet up the jungle inflections, with the jazz arrangements twisted into old-school sounding looped samples and loops. JSPHYNX's own remix in particular is a complex beat workout on the level of early Squarepusher or Amon Tobin. Rad.

Fanu - Some Old Type Shit [Fanu Bandcamp]
Back to Finland, where Janne Hatula aka Fanu has been making legendary jungle & d'n'b tracks for decades - really since the early days. He appeared on Metalheadz for I think the second time earlier this year, he's remixed the masters, and by the way he's a skilful mixing and mastering engineer as well, and provides quality production tuition online. As he suggests, releasing an album in this day and age - particularly in the dance music world - is either a bold or foolhardy move, but I for one appreciate it. Classy Coffee Cuts covers a lot of breakbeat ground, mostly tried-and-true d'n'b and old-school jungle, but it also ventures into breakbeat at slower tempos, if not quite down in the hip-hop basements of his FatGyver incarnation. It's Fanu, it's excellent, dig.

Noneless - A Vow of Silence [☯ anybody universe ☯]
Noneless - Neurocannibal [☯ anybody universe ☯]
The North Sydney/Kuringgai artist now known as Noneless previously released some pretty crazy breakcorey hybrid music as elfaether, but has returned to music production a couple of years later with their amazing new album A Vow of Silence. It has the well deserved cachet of being released on ☯ anybody universe ☯, the label run by Japanese IDM/breakcore latter-day legend Laxenanchaos. On this album their classical violin training and love of erhu is married with breakcore splatterbeats, joyous distortion and a bit of Zen Buddhism. Lovers of World's End Girlfriend or Kashiwa Daisuke, not to mention Venetian Snares, will gobble this up. Compulsory listening.

Christoph de Babalon - Pechvogel [Vaagner/Bandcamp]
Now to one of the breakcore originators, Christoph de Babalon, whose 1997 album If you're into it, I'm out of it for DHR is the stuff of legend. He never really stopped, but after a gap between 2000 and 2008, releases have appeared with some frequency. The three Haunting Past of Christoph de Babalon albums on his Bandcamp collect heaps of dark drum'n'bass, dark ambient and breakcore stuff, and there's IDM aplenty too. The latest album, Vale, is released on Berlin label Vaagner, a label known for industrial and industrial beats, and for ambient for all sorts. The dark ambient aspects blur even into a kind of gothic neoclassical music at times, but breakbeats of all tempos have by no means been abandoned.

Aho Ssan - Cold Summer Part I (feat. Blackhaine) [Other People/Bandcamp]
Aho Ssan - Away (feat. Exzald S & Valentina Magaletti) [Other People/Bandcamp]
When I previewed the stunning new album Rhizomes from Aho Ssan back in August, we heard the track featuring both clipping. & Polish cellist Resina. The Paris-based West African producer, Désiré Niamké to his family & friends, has gathered an incredible cast of collaborators for the album, released on Nicolas Jaar's Other People. The physical format is a further collaboration, with illustrator Kim Grano exploring Deleuze & Guattari's concept of the "rhizome" through abstract shapes which respond to the music. The book also makes available bonus tracks and a sample pack from the artist - if only postage to Australia didn't basically double the price! Check the full album for the rest of the awesome collaborators, but tonight we had a near-perfect collaboration with the poet laureat of northern English bleakness, Blackhaine, and another phenomenal piece with Exzald S (fka Fawkes, aka Sarah Foulquiere) and ubiquitous percussive genius Valentina Magaletti.

Yara Asmar - to die in the country [Hive Mind Records/Bandcamp]
Yara Asmar - objects lost in drawers (found again at the most inconvenient times) [Hive Mind Records/Bandcamp]
The artistry of Beirut's Yara Asmar doesn't end with synth waltzes and accordion laments, beautifully descriptive though this album title is. She creates delightful video art on Instagram that's somehow lo-fi and modernist at the same time, and beautiful, strange puppetry. All is tied together with whimsy and delicateness, with her own music accompanying the performances and videos. It's a very different take on the YouTube-archaeology of vaporwave, all her own, and these synth walzes and accordion laments feel like they come from somewhere outside of time.

Safa - Grounds [Ruptured Records/Bandcamp]
Safa - Supersummer [Ruptured Records/Bandcamp]
The last album from Mhamad Safa, also hailing from Beirut, was 2022's Ibtihalat, a collection of crushed beats and sound design perfect for Lee Gamble's UIQ label. Now on the ever-reliable Lebanese label Ruptured Records comes Hometown (Original Score), created for a video installation by the Dutch collective Metahaven, which depicts a fictional, liminal city, filmed in both Kyiv and Beirut. So you'd expect the music to lean more on the sound-art side, which it does, but still with convulsing percussive electronics, noise and chopped samples. Highly effective even stripped of the visuals.

Youmna Saba - Akaleel أكاليل [Touch/Bandcamp]
And finally, venerable UK sound-art label Touch brings us our third Lebanese artist tonight, with a remarkable new work from Beirut's Youmna Saba, now based in Paris. Saba is an accomplished oud player, found on many other artists' releases (such as Oiseaux-Tempête). On Wishah و​ِ​ش​ا​ح her oud's sound is technologically extended, to amplify every string squeak and body tap, and further integrated with sympathetic electronics. The works range from abstract processed sound to delicate oud fingerpicking, and most tracks patiently reach a place where Saba brings in her emotive vocals. It's an immersive, moving listening experience.

Listen again — ~208MB


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