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

Sunday, 26th of November, 2023

Playlist 26.11.23 (11:00 pm)

Future beats, folktronic hybrids, post-everything improv and more...

LISTEN AGAIN because you know it's good. Stream on demand on the FBi site, podcast here.

Many Seg - wash ur mind [zzaapp records]
Many Seg - i guess [zzaapp records]
Non-binary Melburnian-via-Darwin Serge Balaam releases their debut EP as Many Seg on Kris Keogh's ZZAAPP Records, and it's a helluva opening bout. First track "wash ur mind" has crescendos of drone that seem mostly made up of stretched vocal samples, glitching disturbingly while voices state "I want u to be happy". The other two tracks are both driven by fast-paced kicks, but "the messages" overlays the stuttery kicks, and eventually harsh snares, with a kind of dub techno dronescape, while "i guess" leans on its repeating bass pulses to evoke a kind of dubstep-footwork hybrid by way of early Autechre. Big tip!

Sunken Foal - Esmeralda [Front End Synthetics]
Sunken Foal - The Verdict [Front End Synthetics]
I realised recently that Dunk Murphy's music has been with me since the very beginning of Utility Fog in 2003, as he was (and is) a member of Ambulance, the Dublin duo who were released on Planet µ as early as 2002. The first EP and album from Murphy as Sunken Foal were also released on Planet µ, but he and Ambulance had a connection to Dublin label Front End Synthetics since the late '90s, and of late Murphy's more ambient releases as Minced Oath as well as the some Sunken Foal have come out through that label. The Ambulance sound was IDM characterised by processed guitar sounds, granular fizz and occasional vocals. With Sunken Foal, Murphy introduced acoustic instruments from the start - the piano and acoustic guitar on Dutch Elm, along with the vocoder vocals, still tingle my spine. Murphy's talent for unusual, emotive chord progressions and melodies - and acoustic piano too - are present and correct on Reveal in Finder, his ninth official full-length, not to mention layers of cello (samples?) on "The Verdict". Never not blissful.

Fairie - Ode [Provenance/Bandcamp]
The third and final single from Lucy Li aka Fairie's album Nastic Appeal - out next week on Provenance - is, she says, a tribute to the strength of her fellow Asian femmes. The first pop song she wrote, it combines the thumping beats of her previous electronic dance productions with hints of the beloved Kate Bush, channeling all of Li's rage at the restrictive and harmful structures of patriarchy and whiteness. Powerful stuff.

Carrier - Markers [FELT/Bandcamp]
Guy Brewer, best known for his dark, sometimes industrial, minimal techno as Shifted, unveiled new project Carrier with a cassette on Trilogy Tapes early this year. It clearly has a lineage from Shifted's techno, but also seems to point back to his brief, early membership in drum'n'bass group Commix (originally a trio, now a solo project). There's strangely slowed-down techno, frenetic IDM, electro and something electro-drum'n'bass? The subs are pushed, the snares and hi-hats skitter and trill. Accomplished artists changing focus to other genres are often an exciting prospect, and with now three Carrier releases for 2023, I hope to hear more of this from Brewer next year.

R.A.W. - Take Your Soul (6 Ft Deep Mix) [Mictlan]
Raoul Gonzalez is one of LA's earliest proponents of jungle and UK-style hardcore techno, since the early '90s, and while 6Blocc is his most common alias these days for jungle, footwork and dubstep mashups and originals, R.A.W. was his first moniker I believe. These tracks aren't mashups but still, on The Serpent and the Rainbow Remixes the tracks all sample liberally from the Wes Craven movie of that name - exhilirating and sinister junglism, classic-sounding but with modern production values.

Last Life - Tensor (Reeko Remix) [Samurai Records/Bandcamp]
Berlin-based Samurai Records have been pioneering a particular form of drum'n'bass for some years that's minimal, percussive (it once might have been called "tribal") and close to techno - not the same stripped-down sound as later-'90s techstep, but just as brutal. The label has started occasional forays into actual 4/4 techno too, so here we have two legends of Italian techno taking apart the also-Italian Last Life, one of the label's front-runners over the last 5 years or so. Donato Dozzy and Reeko have released their takes on drum'n'bass (or at least 170bpm beats) on the label recently. I also recently loved Reeko's breakbeat/breakcore offering on R&S Records as Architectural; on his remix here he's certainly keeping the d'n'b vibe with syncopated kicks and programmed beats melding into sampled breaks. Dark and deadly.

Commodo x Crimewave - redacted [Black Acre/Commodo Bandcamp/Crimewave Bandcamp]
A team-up here of two genre-bending artists on Black Acre Records. Dom Tarasek aka Commodo released a string of great dubstep 12"s on Deep Medi from the early 2010s, but since 2020 he's found a way to mix postpunk basslines and '70s cop show styles into the 140bpm throb. Manchester's Crimewave appeared on the scene only in the last year or two, somehow mixing shoegaze and indie rock with bass music and experimental electronics. Their collaborative track "redacted" sounds like a recent Commodo track with digital fuckery. Great stuff.

Azu Tiwaline - Long Hypnosis [I.O.T/Bandcamp]
Azu Tiwaline - Reptilian Waves [I.O.T/Bandcamp]
French-Tunisian DJ Azu Tiwaline brought her distinctive style of dub-infused techno to the world in 2020 with the incredible double album Draw Me A Silence - Parts I & II released separately and then combined into an album. She also released a couple of EPs on Bristol's Livity Sound, and it's notable how well her mixture of Berber/Amazigh rhythms and dub fits with the their dusbtep/techno aesthetic. Like her two-part debut album, The Fifth Dream is released on her own I.O.T Records, and again goes deep with windswept sound design and head-nodding grooves.

UKAEA - La Stessa Croce (Gum Takes Tooth Remix) [The state51 Conspiracy/Bandcamp]
For the last few years I've been a subscriber to the online music mag The Quietus, because they publish a lot of highly invaluable music news, feature articles and reviews, and these days publishing online is a highly precarious proposal. While nearly all their content is available for anyone to read for free, being a subscriber comes at a few different levels with a few different bonus things, and if you're willing to shell out for the top level (which admittedly I got at a discount at one stage), you get a new exclusive release from sympatico artists each month. There's been music from JK Flesh, Sleaford Mods, Laura Cannell and Lori Goldston, Petbrick, Senyawa, 75 Dollar Bill, Nik Void and Alexander Tucker, Siavash Amini and many more. And to be fair to the creators, much of this music eventually makes it out into the wider world, by and large via The Quietus' partners in this commissioning project, The state51 Conspiracy.
All of this is to say that I was lucky enough to hear the forthcoming album from UKAEA, Birds Catching Fire In The Sky, way back in March this year, and I'm stoked to be able to point y'all to it now. The first two tracks are available as this double single Habibi / La Stesa Croce, with remixes from Rommek and noise rock/electronic duo Gum Takes Tooth. Circling back to UKAEA themselves, this is the project of Dan Jones and many collaborators. In the past it's tended to be a kind of industrial techno affair, albeit with wiiiide-ranging inputs, but discovering them here it sounds more like a kind of middle-eastern/eastern-European psych rock band with industrial electronic production? It's music with plenty of predecessors, but nothing that quite sounds like it, which is high praise. Mixed by Wayne Adams of Petbrick and the Bear Bites Horse studio, enhancing the heaviness. Both remixes lean in to the style here, so I've played you Gum Takes Tooth's viciously chopped club deconstruction.

AMIT - 'Flow Off' [AMAR]
AMIT Kamboj has been making drum'n'bass for about 2 decades (maybe more), but for most of that time he's been a pioneer of the halftime and slow/fast melding of dub & drum'n'bass, and more to the point dubstep sensibilities with drum'n'bass. Earlier this year he dropped two tracks which chatter & skitter along at around 170bpm but thump the bass on the four beats of the bar, creating a menacing hybrid of techno, drum'n'bass and dubstep all together. 'Flow Off' is a single track with a halftime feel that would be straight dubstep if it was 30bpm slower, and the pitched-down vocal snippets and horn stabs make it deliciously dark.

Quade - Piles Copse [AD93/Bandcamp]
Quade - Circles [AD93/Bandcamp]
In case there's any doubt that "genre" just isn't a thing anymore, here's UK band Quade, whose first album is out on AD93, a label most known for electronic music on & off the dancefloor. The song structures and some production elements do feel like they come from a post-club POV, but essentially Quade are a hybrid of postpunk, folk and postrock. Their bass player sings in a wonderfully self-effacing way, low in his register, and apart from drums the other two members switch between synths & electronics, tape machine, and violin & guitar. The genre-gregariousness is found also on the technical side: the album was recorded by Jack Ogbourne aka the noirish jazz-pop act Bingo Fury, and it was mixed by Larry McCarthy aka bass/techno bod Bruce - two very different sides of the Bristol music scene. The songs on Nacre are bass-led, introspective, but open out with shoegaze or dub-inflected blooms. I know I'll be returning to this and being surprised all over again.

Glass House Mountain - Foundation [Glass House Mountain]
Melbourne duo Glass House Mountain started as the rhythm section in a psych-rock band, and while the duo project is their take on electronic music, it's got a rock backing to it that places it somewhere between postrock, jazz and techno. Some of the tracks on their debut EP Curiosity came out last year, with some awesome videos - particularly recommend Perspective I. The beautiful video for opener Foundation takes us through nightscapes (mostly) of Melbourne. With live drums, lots of synths and guitars, it's evocative stuff, well-suited to their creative video accompaniments, but it would also go down a treat live.

Saroos feat. Kiki Hitomi - The Sign (サイン) (The Leaf Library Remix) [Alien Transistor/Bandcamp]
Brothers Markus and Micha Acher are core members of German shapeshifting band The Notwist, who started off as hardcore punk, then moved through indie to create some of the most beloved indietronica of the early '00s. They also run the Alien Transistor label, which showcases various side projects as well as many Japanese artists that they love. Since 2010 one of those side projects has been Saroos, although it's more like a band in The Notwist's orbit. Christoph Brandner has been in Village of Savoonga, Lali Puna, Tied & Tickled Trio, Console and others, all projects of the Acher brothers or other Notwist members. Florian Zimmer of Driftmachine has also played with Lali Puna. And Max Punktezahl has frequently been one step away from Notwist side projects, until he actually joined the band a little while ago. I guess this just goes to show that The Notwist have a lovely little incestuous world of multitudinous side projects which range from fully experimental electronic to punk, noise and lots of dubby krautrock vibes. And Saroos very much fits into that - a mostly instrumental affair of indietronica. But on Turtle Roll, released at the beginning of the year, the band enlisted seven singers to augment their instrumentals, ending up with a surprisingly varied collection of odd pop. Now two remixes push things further into the experimental realm, and really, who could be better than London spacerock experimentalists The Leaf Library, who layer and fold Saroos, with the great Kiki Hitomi on vocals, into a morass of pulsing sound.

Clark - Alyosha Lying [Throttle Records]
A month or so ago I discovered that the ever-creative ex-Warp legend Chris Clark is currently living in Australia. Based in Canberra, he has recently created the score for a dance work by his partner Melanie Lane, presented at Phoenix Central Park with members of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. Earlier this year Clark released his first vocal album, Sus Dog, which worked surprisingly well as a continuation of his post-idm production style, but with his sensitive vocals leading the songs. It seems like the surprise digital follow-up Cave Dog develops on these themes, taking tangents, perhaps created in a more relaxed manner. Still, there's an impressive list of guests: Thom Yorke (who "executive produced" Sus Dog) is there, and excellent contemporary violinist Rakhi Singh among others. Indeed, for an album of filler tracks created while he waited to usher Sus Dog into the world, it's even ended up with an orchestra on a couple of tracks. That's what you can do when you're Chris Clark in 2023, and all power to him! Can't wait for the whole thing next week.

Mesmer - 55°39'09.8"N 12°33'22.4"E [arbitrary/Bandcamp]
Mesmer - Slusen [arbitrary/Bandcamp]
Mads Emil Nielsen is a Danish musician, composer and sound-artist whose work, for me, bridges abstraction and tradition. On his label arbitrary, among other things he's released graphical scores, beautifully reproduced on prints accompanying the CDs. So it's quite interesting that improvising trio Mesmer very deliberately chose Nielsen to work on the final mix of their album Terrain Vague, which has now been released on Nielsen's label. Spanish architect Ignasi de Solà-Morales coined the term "terrain vague" to describe leftover, abandoned spaces that emerge in cities over time, and become sites for the re-emergence of nature within urban space. It's a concept that clearly inspired Matmos too, whose website has been Vague Terrain for some decades. In any case, Mesmer's album developed out of field recordings made in these abandoned, not-quite-there spaces around Copenhagen, from which they formulated the structured improvisations that form the basis of the tracks. The group itself is a hybrid, with trumpet, drums and percussion joined by synths and samples and other electronics. The live performances were further deconstructed by the band and then glued together by Nielsen to create a collection that is part free jazz, part glitch, part postrock, a sonic evocation of the vague terrain.

ZÖJ - Hearts of Stone [Parenthèses Records/Bandcamp]
The Belgian label Parenthèses Records was formed originally in Perth, Western Australia, and still retains close connections with this country. From Melbourne, the cross-cultural duo ZÖJ are a great fit for the label, creating liminal music that's intentionally hard to get a grip on, but is deeply pleasurable. Iranian-born musician Gelareh Pour plays two Persian string instruments, the Kamancheh and the Qheychak Alto, while Brian O'Dwyer's drumkit winds within and around her melodies. The music can be filmic and evocative, or abstract and contemporary, and at times Gelareh adds impassioned vocals, including lyrics from a number of renowned Persian poets. This is emotive music to lose yourself in.

toechter - Epic Wonder [Morr Music/Bandcamp]
German trio toechter (it means "daughter") are three women whose main instruments are violin, viola and cello. Along with their voices and electronic treatments, they build songs that seem to exist equally in the classical world, indie rock and the post-club spaces that used to be called chillout rooms. Their second album, Epic Wonder, comes out in February 2024 from venerable German indie/electronic label Morr Music, and from the first single and title track, it will be both epic and wondrous. Who am I to deny them this wording when it's the pure truth?

Kirk Barley - Courtyard [Odda Recordings/Bandcamp]
I'm very pelased to say I've been supporting Kirk Barley's delicate, rhythmic music on Utility Fog since his 2019 album Landscapes. Although it's the debut from "Kirk Barley", it wasn't by any means his first release - he'd previously appeared as Bambooman among others, at times making feints towards the dancefloor - but under his own name he consolidated a sound that filtered acoustic guitar, cello and field recordings through an idiosyncratic electronic lens - and often with drums from Matt Davies, with whom he has since frequently collaborated under the name Church Andrews. Here again, for the second release on Thea Hudson-Davies' Odda Recordings, we have Kirk Barley as Kirk Barley. The music on Marionette comes from modular synths, guitars, and on this track cello upon cello, looping little phrases, undulating in amongst the sound of running water. Unassuming music, but please give it your attention!

Listen again — ~210MB

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Sunday, 19th of November, 2023

Playlist 19.11.23 (11:00 pm)

Underground hip-hop royalty; remixed noise-rock and jungle-grime; a breakcore legend making rhythmic proto-techno on modular synths; dubstep-jungle and industrial-jungle hybrids; percussion-electronics mind-melds; bass-heavy noise-beats; deconstructed cello, deconstructed piano, deconstructed indie, deconstructed industrial acoustic cabaret, very deconstructed American Primitive guitar; and indie-postrock-dub-techno.
All of this, for you. Tonight.

Also, HUGE thanks to Mara Schwerdtfeger for her excellent curation last week while I was down with Covid!

LISTEN AGAIN, you know the drill: stream on demand at FBi's website, or podcast right here.

Blockhead - The Cella Dwellas Knew ft. Quelle Chris [Backwoodz Studioz/Bandcamp]
New York beatmaker Tony Simon aka Blockhead has a long history of solo albums, and has released a bunch on that once home of instrumental hip-hop Ninja Tune, as well as billy woods' Backwoodz Studioz. There are no instrumentals at all on The Aux, his latest for Backwoodz, and the guest list is enough to leave the most casual underground hip-hop fan salivating, with woods and his duo Armand Hammer, Danny Brown, Open Mike Eagle, AKAI SOLO, ShrapKnel and many others appearing, as well as his frequent collaborator Aesop Rock. Quelle Chris's feature is a stand-out though, with his customary drawl rhyming "lost" with "source"/"sauce", and Blockhead's funky sampled jazz choir and skittering boom-bap beats. Check the cool animated video just released with the album.

Aesop Rock - Black Snow (feat. Nikki Jean) [Rhymesayers/Bandcamp]
Blockhead used to be Aesop Rock's main production partner, going way back to at least 2000's Float, although in 1999, Appleseed was already mostly self-produced, with just one Blockhead number. Aes's last album saw the two get back together - Garbology is officially credited to both - but Integrated Tech Solutions is more of a follow-up to the last self-produced opus Spirit World Field Guide. Like that album, ITS is a sardonically parodic concept album, and once again Aes's production is the perfect foil for his nimble dictionary-in-a-sentence raps. For years now Aes has commented on his anxiety & depression, and his tendency to keep to himself. On "Black Snow", the album closer, he imagines himself prepping for a climate doomsday augured by the snow turning black: "Precipitation should be clear or not at all, but..." Nikki Jean's sweet bridge is just as chilling when you listen closely, and the change-up for the last verse is a genius of perky beats and dark-as-fuck lyrics. "Aes get the dark cloud active" as depression takes hold, and "See you in the morn, the forecast ain't right". A helluva finish to another brilliant album.

Mandy, Indiana - Sheared (Pinking Shears reworked by clipping.) [Fire Talk/Bandcamp]
Just a couple of weeks ago we heard Mandy, Indiana remixing Water From Your Eyes, and now it's time for one of the best tracks from the incredible 2023 album I've seen a way to get the remix treatment - and who better to rework this Manchester noise-rock group than noise-hop greats clipping.? Valentine Caulfield's French vocals and the song's angular punk-funk survive the cut, with Daveed Diggs adding new lyrics and Jonathan Snipes & William Hudson pushing the song a little further towards the dancefloor.

ROOO - swing (Jennifer Walton remix) [YUKU/Bandcamp]
Czechia-based label YUKU continues to be at the forefront of whatever era we're in, here with London-based twisted hyperpop sensation ROOO, who released two tracks on the label last year. On ROOO Remixed, three female/non-binary artists reshape those songs, with Jennifer Walton speeding up "swing" into the finest drill'n'bass splatterpop.

Special Request (feat. Novelist) - Sliver (Tim Reaper Remix) [Gudu Records/Bandcamp]
Paul Woolford was very much on the front foot with the jungle revival, releasing the influential Soul Music ten years ago, just when the drum'n'bass scene was veering back towards jittery funkiness via madcap grime collabs like Sam Binga & Redders' "AYO", but ahead of Sully's Blue. The Special Request alias proved so popular that it's usurped Woolford's own name for much of what he does now - notable given that he'd been a pretty big name in tech house for a good decade or more before. For Peggy Gou's Gudu Records he recently created mad grime/house hybrid "Sliver" with grime MC Novelist, which is now given two very different treatments on the remix 12". KETTAMA keeps things 4/4, while jungle's greatest evangelist Tim Reaper swaps in breaks'n'basslines and rave stabs, just the way it should be.

Keith Fullerton Whitman - STV 2-2-1.2-2-2 [KFW Bandcamp]
In the mid-1990s, Keith Fullerton Whitman was THE MAN if you were looking for amen break dissection and proto-breakcore. Under the name Hrvatski, often known as Våt online, he initially uploaded a lot of his experiments onto mp3.com as 128k files, yeesh! Of course in the years since he ventured into Max/MSP-processed guitar "Playthroughs", krautrock-inspired multitracked one-man bands, and then he became the patron saint of modular synthesis. Much of the Hrvatski stuff can be found on his Bandcamp, and Keith is by all accounts not interested in the intricate editing work that was required to construct all that crazy shit. He'd rather do the intricate work of wiring up modular synth components - but somehow in the last few years since he decamped back to NYC after some years in Melbourne with his Australian wife, he found himself visiting Brooklyn dance clubs, and techno's energy found its way into his Eurorack sets. Some of that material is now available on Acid Causality (H) ("Hi-Fi" recordings, largely in-studio) and Acid Causality (L) ("Lo-Fi" self-bootlegs of live performances). It's exhilarating stuff, full of energy and madness. Happily, Keith has resumed his hardware builds after a period of selling off gear for food (so he claims - and modular gear is $$$), so who knows what sonic wizardry we have in store next...

T5UMUT5UMU - T5 06 [T5UMUT5UMU Bandcamp]
Japan's T5UMUT5UMU melds jungle, grime and breakbeat with contemporary percussive techno sounds that have found him released on Ugandan experimental powerhouse Hakuna Kulala. His latest track T5 06 wrong-foots the listener with a rhythm that turns out to repeat every third quaver once the heavyweight bassline enters. It's not so far-fetched to call it dubstep (as it's labelled on SoundCloud), but whatever it is, it's immense and supremely energetic.

Pugilist - Be Humble [Modern Hypnosis/Bandcamp]
Back on Naarm/Melbourne's Modern Hypnosis is Melbourne's own Pugilist, with some lovely dubstep/jungle hybrids. "Be Humble" samples Lee "Scratch" Perry with The Upsetters' Blackboard Jungle, a sample I first heard in The Orb's Outlands... Classic dub biz.

Sense Fracture - Type Lax (ABADIR remix) [Haunter Records/Bandcamp]
Milan based co-founder of Haunter Records, Francesco Birsa Alessandri, steps out with his first album as Sense Fracture. Landscape of Thorns was in fact released in full this week, but the previous week saw a preview in the Land Entranced EP, two album tracks and two remixes. Sense Fracture's productions take in everything Alessandri's into, seemingly, from bass music and deconstructed club to vintage industrial and black metal. Deena Abdelwahed and Rami ABADIR are inspired choices for remixers, and ABADIR puts a moody junglist spin here on "Type Lax".

Cinna Peyghamy - Khak Shah [Zabte Sote]
Percussionist and electronic musician Cinna Peyghamy is known for a few collaborations with French-Tunisian dub techno producer Azu Tiwaline. Born in France to Iranian parents, Peyghamy took up the tombak, a Persian goblet drum, around the same time he started working with modular synths. The juxtaposition of the physicality of the ancient percussion instrument and the manufactured, programmed synth modules struck Peyghamu as a representation of his own existence, trying to find his place within his Iranian heritage despite never having been to Iran. His brilliant EP The Skin In Between is released by Ata Ebtekar's Zabte Sote, a label dedicated to Iranian musicians both from Iran and in the Persian diaspora. It has a clear percussive drive, around which the electronics build colour and melody. A really interesting project that I'd love to see live sometime!

Eugene Carchesio + Adam Betts - A [Room40/Bandcamp]
Eugene Carchesio + Adam Betts - G [Room40/Bandcamp]
Famed Brisbane visual artist Eugene Carchesio has a substantial repertoire of musical work released by Room40, including a series of Circle Music works based around rhythmic, minimalist electronic music. When he sent a recent set of material to Room40's Lawrence English, he happened to mention that he'd be interested in drums being added, and Lawrence had just been reminded of English drummer Adam Betts, who's worked with the likes of Goldie and Squarepusher. Circle Drum Music is a real mind-meld of a collection. The single-letter-titled tracks range from half a minute to 2½ minutes, with most sitting around one minute, each exploring lovely textures and rhythms, circling around similar musical gestures, some leaning into dub, others tumbling delicately. As with many of the selections tonight, the acoustic and electronic soundworlds here complement each other beautifully.

emptyset - cinder [Subtext Recordings/Bandcamp]
James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas formed emptyset in 2005, originally as an outlet for minimal techno - and that's how I discovered them in 2009 when their self-titled album was released on Multiverse, the label Ginzburg co-founded with Pinch and James Fiddian in Bristol, preceding his impeccably-curated Subtext Recordings. That debut album's pristine distillation of techno captivated me at the time - in fact it was probably a gateway drug for me to accept the pleasures of the 4/4. The album's thoughtful sound design and use of highly controlled noise contains the seeds of what was to come, as Ginzburg and Purgas spelunked further & further into cavernous noise experiments. The 6 tracks on their short new release ash show that rhythm is still central to the project, albeit sputtering and crumbling in ways that wrongfoot any attempt to dance. Rhythm aside, emptyset are explorers of noise - and particularly bass - in spaces, whether real or digitally modeled, making for music that's truly, deeply resonant.

The Haxan Cloak - N/Y [Archaic Devices/Bandcamp]
It's been ten long years since Bobby Krlic released music as The Haxan Cloak. He's kept busy in the meantime, having moved from Wakefield in Yorkshire to Los Angeles, where he's created a string of award-winning and celebrated soundtracks. As The Haxan Cloak, Krlic was at the forefront of the melding of doom and noise into bass and experimental electronic music - including his iconoclastic production work on the body's I Shall Die Here, kickstarting their own continuing incorporation of electronic production techniques. Krlic is reissuing the two Haxan Cloak albums on his new Archaic Devices label, and he's given us one single new track, "N/Y". I'm not sure there's any of his cello playing here, but to my ears this is very much The Haxan Cloak, maybe a little shinier, Krlic showing the deconstructed club kids how it's done.

David Bird - Cyberlathe [Oxtail Recordings/Bandcamp]
David Bird - Tessera Suture [Oxtail Recordings/Bandcamp]
This stunning new album from the now Sydney-based Oxtail Recordings sees NYC/Chicago composer David Bird deconstruct and reimagine the cello in ways never before imagined. Inspired, we're told, by the (gut-wrenching) sound of a cello falling to the floor and snapping its neck, Bird set out to recreate the physicality of the instrument itself through software modelling. There are no real cello recordings here, yet in amongst the frenetic layering, smudged melodies and glitches, it's impossible not to hear vibrating strings, resonating (and sometimes splintering) wood, catgut and rosin. The techniques of modern composition and electro-acoustic production combine to create a set of uncanny solo cello études twisted through folded dimensions. I'm sure that as a cellist I'm particularly attuned to these resonances, but I'm also sure that anyone interested in sound-art, glitch or contemporary music will be highly rewarded listening to Wire Hums.

Eve Egoyan & Mauricio Pauly - Braid [No Hay Discos/Bandcamp]
Oh but we're not finished with transformative contemporary music, not by a long shot! Hopeful Monster is the first recording of the duo of Armenian-Canadian pianist Eve Egoyan and Vancouver-based Costa Rican/British composer & electronic musician Mauricio Pauly, who first improvised together in 2018. That first meeting was followed by a long period swapping files remotely, but on this album the two came together in person to once again create music spontaneously. The shared musical language is remarkable, considering they'd only played together once four years prior to this recording. On Hopeful Monster, Egoyan plays acoustic piano, but also acoustically modelled piano; alongside this Pauly is live sampling and processing Egoyan's sounds, and adding additional sounds from drum samples and a "dekeyed chromaharp" (presumably like a fretless autoharp?) So we may think we're listening to modern composition or free jazz, until the uncanny elements enter: piano notes slide in pitch, or seem stretched into legato lines. This is slippery music, uncategorisable in the best way.

Will Gardner - Levodopa [Castles In Space/Bandcamp]
Will Gardner - The Urge To Leave [Castles In Space/Bandcamp]
Remains is the debut album from English composer/producer Will Gardner, released through electronic label Castles In Space. Prior to this release, Gardner has been heard mainly from his contributions to other people's work - string arrangements for alt-J and Daughter, orchestrations and other contributions to film music, etc. Gardner's classical training and varied experience puts him in a slightly different position from some of the popular post-classical/ambient artists who have gravitated to classical from other genres - not to diss anyone, mind you, but there's a depth to music composed by someone steeped in centuries of musical history. Still, Remains isn't a classical album really. There are rich, bubbling drones, barely-discernible spoken samples, electronic processing and yes, a smattering of piano. The beauty of this album came as a means of processing and memorialising his experience caring for his father through late-stage Parkinson's dementia. His father's diaries contributed cadences to the music, rhythms and melodic shapes from which the text itself was then erased. The melancholy is palpable, but it's somehow comforting to sink into. Recommended.

Kee Avil - I too, Bury (claire rousay Remix) [Constellation/Bandcamp]
The debut album from Montréal musician Vicky Mettler aka Kee Avil was a standout from 2022, if nothing else for its bewildering nature: often weirdly amelodic, with programmed beats mixed with rickety piano or accordion, and yet still a collection of songs that draw you in. Ahead of a new album in 2024, Constellation are releasing a set of four remixes, all inspired choices. Here, claire rousay embeds the touching "I too, Bury" in waves of drone, found-sound and seeming digressions, in a way increasing the defocused nature of Kee Avil's song, but when the original piano and vocal lines appear, the setting somehow emphasises their emotiveness. Uncanny creative resonance.

DAAU - Die Anarchistische Abendunterhaltung - Cinema [Sub Rosa/Bandcamp/DAAU Bandcamp]
DAAU - Die Anarchistische Abendunterhaltung - Graceful [Sub Rosa/Bandcamp/DAAU Bandcamp]
This is a really nice surprise. I discovered Belgian shapeshifters DAAU (short for Die Anarchistische Abendunterhaltung, or "the anarchist evening entertainment") in the late '90s, by accident in a European CD store, noting that they were a kind of cross between a classical chamber group and an indie band. In 2000 they appeared on my radar again contributing an incredible remake of The The's song ShrunkenMan (you can listen here, switching between chamber classical, jazz and almost industrial rock - there are also interpretations by Foetus and John Parrish, each as different from each other as they are from the original). It took me a while to collect DAAU's catalogue, which ranges from acoustic classical, folk and jazz (the original lineup was violin, cello, clarinet and accordion) to electronic, indie/hip-hop hybrids and more. Releases are so few and far between now that one keeps thinking they're gone for good, but while the lineup has changed frequently, here they are again, in a collaboration with Rudy Trouvé, an original member of another legendary Belgian band, dEUS. Musik f​ü​r Animierten Tonspurfilm is, well, "music for animated soundtrack film", or rather music for a series of animated films by Trouvé. The writing process was a back-and-forth between acoustic/analogue and electronic, originating with tape recordings of accordion, double bass, clarinet and percussion, which were passed to Trouvé who sampled, edited and chopped them up into loop-based collages. These were then overdubbed by the band using electronic instruments: from double bass to bass guitar, accordion to synths etc. The music retains a kind of cabaret vibe of twisted jazz and classical, filtered through krautrock and electronic aesthetics. In some ways DAAU have always been an alternate-universe version of Utility Fog's aural obsessions, a strange bridge between my "other" musical side of rock string quartet, gypsy/klezmer and 20th century classical which only surfaces occasionally within these playlists. Here, more than ever, DAAU have found their way right into the core of what this show of mine's all about. I don't like to make this all about me, but maybe this will explain why this release is really special to me. (Now to convince Guy-Marc and Fred of Sub Rosa to put it out on CD!)

Daniel Bachman - Happy Hearts That Feel No Pain [Three Lobed Recordings/Bandcamp]
Daniel Bachman - All Their Sadness Turned To Gladness [Three Lobed Recordings/Bandcamp]
Daniel Bachman - Now The Roses Come Again [Three Lobed Recordings/Bandcamp]
"American Primitive", the fingerstyle guitar technique pioneered by John Fahey in the 1950s, was from the outset a way of playing folk and country blues but transforming it in experimental ways. The incredible Imaginational Anthem series released by Tompkins Square charts the style from its earliest days to the futuristic present, and our man Daniel Bachman has indeed appeared there. This is all to say that When The Roses Come Again, Bachman's remarkable new album, is perhaps not as radical as it may appear, despite the lovely fingerstyle guitar being sent through all manner of processing, turning into distorted noise, crackling drones, or fizzling glitches. The album is really one long work split into separate tracks (and the track titles are the lyrics of the Carter Family song from which the album takes its title). It's stretched-out and deconstructed, but it's still American Primitive in all its freeform gregariousness, and it's a beautiful listen from start to finish.

D.C Cross - Brumby Revisited [Darren Cross Bandcamp]
Sydney's own Darren Cross made the journey from indie rock larrikinism with Gerling to folk songwriting and thence to the lovely expansive instrumental guitar music as D.C Cross. He's no pale imitator either - he knows how to make his guitar sing and thrum, and his D.C Cross albums do also wander off into ambient interludes and field recordings, in fine American Primitive form. Wizrad, his latest album, is as good a place as any to start!

Great Panoptique Winter - You Were There [sound in silence/Bandcamp]
Another wonderful surprise, this. Back in 2014 a collaborative album called Wildness came out from a trio calling themselves Great Panoptique Winter. It was the work of Great Earthquake aka Melbourne drummer Noah Symons, Adelaide's Panoptique Electrical aka Jason Sweeney, and The Declining Winter aka Richard Adams of West Yorkshire, once of indie/tronic/postrock legends Hood. The music had been finished years earlier, but finally Greek label sound in silence stepped in to release it. And now, almost a decade since, Sweeney and Adams have gotten back together as Great Panoptique Winter, apparently sans Symons but retaining the "Great". It's just as lovely, with Sweeney and Adams' sympatico styles of postrock and electronic-tinged indie combining beautifully. Let us give thanks.

The Declining Winter - Fortune Lies [The Declining Winter Bandcamp]
Jason Sweeney has been busily releasing singles from an upcoming album, and I'll no doubt feature another soon. But The Declining Winter also has something new out, a two track single with a new mix of a track off his excellent album from earlier this year, and an exclusive b-side which builds out of a murky 4/4 beat into a melancholy song before fading away again. In Hood, Richard tended to stay in the background behind his ever-talented brother Chris, but his solo work as The Declining Winter just gets better & better.

Listen again — ~210MB

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Sunday, 5th of November, 2023

Playlist 05.11.23 (11:00 pm)

All sorts of experimental electronic song tonight, and bits of postrock, dub, jungle, techno, sound-art...

LISTEN AGAIN and do some good. Stream on demand at FBi, podcast here.

Maryam Saleh - Nouh Al Hamam [Al Gharib]
The Allegorist - Trees of Peace [Al Gharib]
The Allegorist - Dreams at Dawn (Midori Hirano Rework) [Awaken Chronicles]
Naarm/Melbourne-based label Al Gharib this week released their After The Last Sky compilation, with all proceeds going to Dalia, a Palestinian charity that works for systematic change in international humanitarian aid to properly respect Palestinian rights and provide lasting support to local communities. The compilation, with 11 tracks made almost entirely by female artists, is dedicated to the children of Gaza, and if you want your heart broken, click the "more" link on the Bandcamp page and scroll through the list of names of children killed - a number that's already out of date. The first track tonight is a beautiful song from Egyptian artist Maryam Saleh, who I know from the incredible collaboration Lekhfa with Egyptian polymath Maurice Louca and Palestinian singer & composer Tamer Abu Ghazaleh. And then we have a dark ambient piece from the Hungarian-born, Berlin-based artist Anna Jordan aka The Allegorist. She released her album TEKHENU earlier this year, and followed it with TEKHENU Retold a couple of weeks back, with reworks from the likes of Scanner, Subheim, Ben Chatwin and others. I played the reworking from the ever-reliable Midori Hirano tonight.

Joseph Branciforte & Theo Bleckmann - 10.14.4 [greyfade/Bandcamp]
Joseph Branciforte & Theo Bleckmann - 10.11.5 [greyfade/Bandcamp]
Here's a sneak preview of the second album from New York duo Joseph Branciforte & Theo Bleckmann. Bleckmann usually moves in the worlds of jazz and new music, but here sings in a fragile, high register, not unlike Arve Henriksen in Supersilent. Bleckmann's vocals are liberally sampled and cut up by Branciforte, using techniques the duo use in live settings - and although the basis of the recorded tracks is live, there are overdubs that enhance the structure of their compositions. But for tonight I've chosen two short tracks to give a taste of what there is on the album, which is released on the 8th of December.

Animal Hospital - Awful Beast [Sipsman/Bandcamp]
I've said it before, but I can't get enough of Kevin Micka's music as Animal Hospital. His 2009 album Memory is a kind of distilled essence of postrock, with its shorter tracks wrapped around two 17-minute tracks and one 12-minute, each of which patiently cycle through fragments of rock riffs, minimalist guitar patterns, and, on the title track, emotive string hairpins. This technique is still present on his new album, Shelf Life, which again deconstructs rock guitar tropes over two short and two long tracks. "Awful Beast", which I played tonight, is 9 minutes of Tortoise-style guitar refrains and skittery drums, but the 16½-minute track that follows does start with a drone before plunging into rolling drums and prickly synth riffs. It's quite a different take on the long track, which storming breakneck drums and interlocking masses of synths running through most of the track, before fading back into those repeating riff snippets - and because he can't help it, the last 2:43 of the track is stuttering glitched samples that start quiet and get quieter before the last track gives us almost three minutes of what sounds like to two live electric guitar takes and nothing else. Even within the Animal Hospital template, Micka goes in unexpected directions. Really can't recommend enough diving into his discography.

RSD - Babylon Dark Light [RSD Bandcamp]
RSD - Not Easy (Motherless Child) [RSD Bandcamp]
Rob Smith has been central to Bristol's sound through soundsystems to trip-hop with Smith & Mighty and jungle with More Rockers, and playing a part in the early careers of Massive Attack and Roni Size, DJ Die, Krust et al. RSD is the catch-all for mostly dubby productions over many years now, circling around dubstep, breakbeat, jungle and more, with ragga and soul influences aplenty. Decades collects music both new & old with a dub baseline, whether breakbeat dubstep or trip-hop. The second track here samples from an a capella version of the beautiful spiritual "Motherless Child", setting it to unusual chords that somehow do work.

Ola Szmidt - Rooted (Louf's Glass Room Exploration) [Accidental Records/Bandcamp]
Ola Szmidt - Rooted (Sijya's I Feel Exploration) [Accidental Records/Bandcamp]
Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records introduced most of us to UK-based Polish musician Ola Szmidt last year with her EP3, a set of experimental songs based around self-sampling, looping and chopping her own voice. "Rooted" was a highlight from the EP, and has now been treated to ten reworks, dubbed "explorations" on Rooted Explorations. Louis Fitton aka Louf, who runs Valby Rotary, drops vocal samples into a breaky house beats on his reworking, and Delhi-based musician Sijya (who also debuted on Accidental last year) embeds Szmidt's vocal cadences in a casual downtempo groove augmented with electronic orchestrations.

Romeo Moon - animals / unfamiliar sun [Romeo Moon Bandcamp]
Naarm/Melbourne musician Kevin Orr is due to finally follow up his 2019 release It Unfolds sometime next year, but in the meantime the 3-track freewave is coming out this Friday November 10th as a stop-gap. The lovely opener bears Talk Talk and Radiohead influences, with acoustic drums and guitar rubbing up against electronics, and lyrically it deals with traumatic abuse experienced as a teenager. Highly recommended.

Leonardo Barbadoro - Hybr Spiro [HELICAL]
Sliding back into beats in the oddest way possible, courtesy of Florentine composer & programmer Leonardo Barbadoro, whose album Musica Automata is performed by the largest robot orchestra in existence, residing at the Logos Foundation in Ghent. Examples of these works in performance can be found at his YouTube page. The robots can play lyrical lines for woodwinds and horns or strings, and all manner of percussion. The percussive elements mean that on a track like "Hybr Spiro" one thinks of Aphex Twin's Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt2 EP, and there's an IDMish skitter to the music, but there's a lyricism here and elsewhere that puts it in a slightly different category. It's an impressive feat to precisely program these automata to perform so well, and to make good music to boot. Well worth your time.

Belia Winnewisser & Luca Durán - Luz [Präsens Editionen/Bandcamp]
Lucerne label Präsens Editionen brings a lot of Swiss experimental music to the rest of the world. Here they present an EP from two such figures, experimental singer & sound-artist Belia Winnewisser and experimental club producer Luca Durán. The two tracks (which are also remixed, by RHR and Low Jack) are pop-song-length excursions into contemporary IDM, all accelerated beats and bass throbs, with Winnewisser's voice alternately chopped into pieces and clean as a pop diva. Short and sweet.

Fracture - All of the Massive [Astrophonica]
On last year's 0860, drum'n'bass producer Fracture created a multimedia tribute to pirate radio and its role in the birth of jungle out of UK hardcore and soundsystem culture. Some tracks were released on vinyl and digital, but many more were created for the 0860 mixtape. All of the Massive is a joyful hardcore tune, previously only found on the mixtape, in which acid techno and proto-jungle breaks evoke that intensely creative time. This 4-track EP is an extension of the 0860.fm project, with more promised on the way.

µ-Ziq - Glow [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
Meanwhile Mike Paradinas celebrated the 25th anniversary of his jungle-loving IDM classic Lunatic Harness last year with a deluxe reissue as well as new EPs and an album in the same style. His own tribute to hardcore and jungle continues with this stop-gap EP Galope, with a new album slated for next year. The 4/4 version of album track "Galope" has that hardcore techno feel down pat (and it's the original version in fact), and there are more jungle breaks to be found within. Dope.

Tone - Move Now (Suitman Jungle Remix) [Rhythm Section International/Bandcamp]
Tone - So I Can See You Part 2 feat. Coby Sey [Rhythm Section International/Bandcamp]
Basil Anthony Harewood's Afro-Caribbean and Welsh heritage combine in his music as Tone, which wanders between indie, r'n'b, dub and distant club influences on last year's So I Can See You. Tone's also a member of the CURL collective formed back in 2016 by Micachu, Coby Sey, and Brother May, and the Tirzah & Coby Sey vibes are strong. On the new So I Can See You (Remixes) various CURL collective members appear alongside well-known artists like Trevor Jackson. Suitman Jungle is one of the artists to take things into, yes, jungle territory. Meanwhile last year's album title track appears as "So I Can See You Part 2", a kind of '80s synth-pop reimagining, once again featuring Coby Sey.

Jockstrap & Taylor Skye - All Roads Lead To London feat Coby Sey & Ersatz [Rough Trade Records/Bandcamp]
Coby Sey also appears on the new self-remixed Jockstrap album. It's not the first time Taylor Skye has radically reimagined/destroyed their music before - see 2020's Beavercore. The tracks on I<3UQTINVU are simultaneously all-new and not at all new. "I Touch" is obviously a glitched-up "Glasgow" for instance. Featured tonight, on "All Roads Lead To London", chord progressions from "Concrete Over Water" slip in between Coby Sey and Ersatz's rapping and Skye's intense club deconstructions.

Mary Ocher - Pulse (feat Your Government) [Underground Institute/Bandcamp]
Mary Ocher - The Whip (album edit) (with Red Axes) [Underground Institute/Bandcamp]
In October I played the last single from Mary Ocher's album Approaching Singularity: Music for the End of Time. I wrote:
Berlin-based Russian-Jewish musician Mary Ocher incorporates activism into her art, to the extent that her album comes with a substantial (and great) essay about politics, philosophy and art (if I dare sum it up with such broad strokes). She writes movingly about how she holds two passports - Russian and Israeli - both of which she is ashamed of, as Russia invades Ukraine and Israel pummels Gaza to dust. Of course, nothing's simple, but the simple fact that nothing justifies killing civilians anywhere, much less children, should hardly be controversial.
This is still true. It's an unpredictable album of electro-pop, rock, experimental production, Berlin club references and big thoughts about big questions.

Neinzer - Flurry [YUMÉ (forthcoming)]
Very pleased to be able to play a new track from Berlin producer Neinzer, whose EPs on the likes of AD93 and Where To Now? have been among the most creative and emotive house/techno releases I've heard over the last few years, with acoustic instruments, gorgeous sound design and complex harmonisations along with head-nodding beats. New single Flurry/Obsoletion will drop on YUMÉ on the 17th of November, with two tracks of fast-paced 4/4 club tools, one with syncopated breakbeats and ring modulation, the other with warm percussion, both grounded in delicious sub bass.

spectral gates - doomscroller [Spectral Gates Bandcamp]
Eora/Sydney duo spectral gates fit uncomfortably into the 4/4 techno straitjacket, but they are also not your normal guitar-drums instrumental rock band. There's plenty of synths, a 4/4 pulse, and clattering drums and jagged guitar here. Quite euphoric for doomscrolling!

Flightless Birds Take Wing x Benjamin Shannon - Bin Chicken [4000 Records/Bandcamp]
Flightless Birds Take Wing x Benjamin Shannon - Plains-Wanderer [4000 Records/Bandcamp]
Meanjin/Brisbane duo Flightless Birds Take Wing are made up of electronic producer/composer Madeleine Cocolas and Dutch saxophonist/composer Marieke Van Dijk. Their debut EP Taking Flight combined their synth, piano and sax playing with field recordings of nature and urban spaces. For their follow-up Ruffled Feathers, released later this week, the duo invited Meanjin drummer Benjamin Shannon to join them in seven bird portraits, again representing their self-proclaimed "Tropical Ambient Bangers" genre. Shannon brings a free jazz expressiveness to the trio, with tumbling rhythms at times, and subtle texture elsewhere. "Plains-Wanderer" (an endangered native bird) is a lovely ambient piece of very restrained piano and seemingly little else until you listen for the details.

J.WLSN - The beach, the sea, the waves [ROOM40/Bandcamp]
Jonathan Wilson is a musician and curator now based in Eora/Sydney. He was responsible for the phenomenal Volume festival at the Art Gallery of NSW, which featured two nights programmed by Lawrence English, and his second album on ROOM40 as J.WLSN - just like the first - is released on English's ROOM40. For Slipped, Wilson's source material is his own jams on a ¾-size nylon string guitar that he bought for his 7-year-old son. As well as the unusual sound of this small training instrument, the album is soaked in the analogue sound of tape - specifically the Audio Technica RMX64, which in the '80s repurposed standard cassette tapes for 4-track recording. The sounds slip and slide even when the guitar's sound is evident, amid drones and small gestures on FM and modular synths, piano and the like. It's an understated but affecting album.

Himalayan Beach Ensemble - A Rainstorm Of Pots Of Paint [Julien Mier Bandcamp]
Dutch-born electronic producer and multi-instrumentalist Julien Mier mainly records as Santpoort these days, but has resurrected his Himalayan Beach Ensemble alter-ego for Recordings of the Lost Valley. The album documents time spent in his mother's chosen home of Saman in south-west France, and a family trip to the French Pyrenées 15 years earlier. Primitive recordings of the family piano, a wonky Yamaha DX7, and all sorts of found objects merge together in this lo-fi work, which somehow does evoke the feeling of the fog-laden mountains, outside of time.

Alexandra Spence - The Well [Paralaxe Editions/Bandcamp]
Penelope Trappes - Weft [Paralaxe Editions/Bandcamp]
Finishing with another compilation for Palestine. For Palestine is a massive affair, 64 tracks compiled for the Spanish Paralaxe Editions by label-head Dania. As an Arab in the diaspora and also an Emergency Medicine doctor, the genocide in Gaza hits close for her, hence the compilation sending all proceeds to Médecins Sans Frontières, whose 300 Palestinian staff continue to work in hellishly dangerous circumstances. There are many wonderful artists on here, predominately ambient and experimental, but there are detours into minimal techno, murky jazz and more. Of course there are a number of Australian contributors. Eora/Sydney's Alexandra Spence, who has toured underground & experimental music spaces in Europe a few times now, bequeaths a piece with her barely-there whispers and mysterious amplified objects that sound like tuned percussion and strings, while London-based Penelope Trappes (returning to Sydney for the Biennale in March 2024) layers distorted feedback, layers of spoken word and a slow-growing choir of voice and drones. Two beautiful highlights from an essential release.

Listen again — ~205MB

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