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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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Sunday, 10th of December, 2023

Playlist 10.12.23 (11:00 pm)

Strange echoes tonight as we hear some (quite avant-garde) freak-folk, prog-folk(?), alt.hip-hop and plenty of proper drum'n'bass - but also very modern sound-design jungle, acoustic experimentalism edging on classicalm, free jazz and postrock, and... more?
This is our last "new music" show of the year. The next two shows will be "Best of 2023" Parts 1 & 2, and I'm taking a break on the 31st of December.

LISTEN AGAIN and embrace the new! Stream on demand from FBi, podcast here.

Jameson Feakes - Preston Point [Jameson Feakes Bandcamp]
Jameson Feakes - Neutral Pausy [Jameson Feakes Bandcamp]
I first heard Perth guitarist Jameson Feakes performing contemporary compositions and improvisations on ...until..., released in 2017. More recently he was developing a practice of improvised folk guitar that must have fed into this major new work, Albany's Famous Gardeners. Here we have a suite of "freak-folk" songs performed by a band made of musicians from the Perth experimental scene - it reminds me a lot of Annika Moses' incredible 2021 album Of Cloven Hoof in Honey, and indeed Feakes played on that and Moses plays on this. The songs here are inspired by the colonial history of the Whadjuk Noongar, Wiilman and Minang boodja. The guitar phrase that opens "Preston Point" indicates an expressionist style which is mostly only hinted at, as the songs take on rather a melodic, harmonically rich, rapturous style like Grizzly Bear or perhaps Punch Brothers. Fans of indie-folk and the more adventurous ends of folk and country/bluegrass should adore this.

Junkboy - Chase the Knucker (feat. Hannah Lewis) [Wayside & Woodland/Bandcamp/Junkboy Bandcamp]
Junkboy - So Breaks Tomorrow [Wayside & Woodland/Bandcamp/Junkboy Bandcamp]
The roots of Jameson Feakes' folk seem very American to me - American Primitive or country blues. Junkboy, on the other hand, are from the south-east of England, and their approach to psych-folk owes a lot to the English folk revival, along with certain arms of postrock and psych/spacerock. On Littoral States, co-released with epic45's Wayside & Woodland label, brothers Mik and Rich Hanscomb gather a group made up of violin, cello, trumpet and lapsteel banjo(!), and on a couple of songs the vocals of Hannah Lewis. Around the lush folk arrangements are synths and little bits of electronic processing to remind ourselves we haven't slipped back a century or so.

Abstract Concrete - Almost Touch [The state51 Conspiracy/Bandcamp]
Few musicians have been as prescient and creative over as long a period as British drummer Charles Hayward. His earliest group This Heat bridged art rock and postpunk, while also developing tape techniques and studio production in parallel with early industrial music. Hayward's drumming from the start was proto-breakbeat, and in most of his projects there's a rhythmic drive that's almost like jungle - but the flipside to the experimentalism and virtuoso drumming is Hayward's talent for yearning melodies, often sung in high register, like the great Robert Wyatt. With Abstract Concrete, Hayward has connected with a group of first-class contemporary musicians: Agathe Max plays viola (she appears on the incredible UKAEA album that I was talking about last week), guitarist Roberto Sassi appears in a long list of experimental bands, and I'm familiar with both clarinettist/keyboardist Yoni Silver and bassist Otto Willberg from their work with experimental songwriter Ashely Paul. This pedigree results in a band that's part-improvisation, part-songwriting, with a sweeping range that incorporates everything from art rock to post-punk to psychedelia, with rich arrangements courtesy of the unusual, brilliant line-up. Really, what a gift.

Buck 65, doseone, Jel - Kill Or Be Killed [Handsmade/Bandcamp]
Buck 65, doseone, Jel - Not Weird [Handsmade/Bandcamp]
North American Adonis exists! Way back in 1998, these three Anticon-affiliated artists put together a set of demos that never properly saw the light of day. Jeffrey Jel Logan is one of the great early proponents of fingerdrumming, creating beats live on the pads of E-Mu SP-1200 and Akai MPC samplers. He was half of Themselves with Adam Drucker aka doseone, whose nasal tones and avant-garde cut-up poetry are synonymous with that "alt" hip-hop strain that Anticon represented. Richard Terfry, meanwhile, as Buck 65 did start off in that scene but found more major success. What's interesting about this now-completed album is that it was all recreated now, with Jel building the beats from the original SP-1200 disks, and doseone and Buck 65 riffing on the original raps but pretty much creating them anew. And it's great hearing dose - who's been busy writing computer game music - and '65, whose style has moved in different directions since this period, both rapping in ye olde leftfield style. Jel's beats are as insane as you'd expect, it's a real joy. You can read more about it via Buck 65 here.

TLF Trio - Suite X [Latency/Bandcamp]
TLF Trio - March-like, Wild (Moritz von Oswald Variation) [Latency/Bandcamp]
French label Latency, which I know mostly for minimalist electronic music, prides itself (absolutely correctly) in covering a broad spectrum of music from around the world. That's how the Danish TLF Trio have ended up on there, made up of cellist Cæcilie Trier (aka CTM, heard on Danish experimental labels like Posh Isolation), pianist Jakob Littauer and guitarist Mads Kristian Frøslev. With this acoustic lineup they can mimic early classical or baroque music, but even on last year's debut album Sweet Harmony they introduced a drum machine beat on one track; now their follow-up EP New Songs & Variations sees two of their tracks reworked by minimal techno pioneer and post-jazz explorer Moritz von Oswald, and given another beat by Claus Haxholm. TLF Trio are one of those postmodern entities entirely at home in the liminal now where seemingly there's no such thing as genre anymore. Given that's kind of what this show's always been seeking out, I can hardly complain.

Pelayo Arrizabalaga & Eli Gras - Turbio [La Olla Expréss/Bandcamp]
Pelayo Arrizabalaga & Eli Gras - Agua Negra [La Olla Expréss/Bandcamp]
Two well-established Spanish experimental musicians join up for the second time on their album Áridos. Pelayo Arrizabalaga is a bass clarinettist but also employs turntables and electronics, while Eli Gras is known as an experimental luthier, but here plays electric guitar and acts as sound engineer, producer and mixer. Their very abstract music is sometimes created entirely acoustically, but here is very electronically-mediated. I love the mystery of many of the sounds, and the way they flit between free jazz musicianship and experimental electronics.

Slowfoam - Sporadic Dawning [mappa]
Slowfoam - Phantom Memories, Iambic Limbs [mappa]
Berlin-based musician Madelyn Bird aka Slowfoam has an MSc in Neuroaesthetics, and the connection between art and science is present in their music and curation as well as their research. Their music blurs the line between dance music and sound-art, between organic and digital, and none moreso than on their new album Worlding With Earth on Slovakia's might mappa label. Here Byrd evokes the sounds of the post-Anthropocene, a time when (hopefully) humans no longer dominate the environment but rather live in harmony with it. Thus these pieces are part faux field recordings, but as much as they conjure up the sounds of future biotech, they also shape the sounds into flittering dance rhythms. It's rare for conceptual instrumental music to make its themes as audible as they are here.

Oblaka - Infinite Cycles [YUKU/Bandcamp]
Czech producer Ladislav Zensor, previously known as Exhausted Modern, initiates a new moniker, Oblaka, for the album Petrichor Memories on YUKU (also based in Prague). It's intricate sound-design and deconstructed club forms, with jungle's jackhammers appearing even when there aren't constant beats.

Prado - Overload [Buh Records]
Prado - Hysteria [Buh Records]
Nicolás Prado introduced his surname'd project with the album Machines last year on Peruvian label Buh Records. For the follow-up, a very short EP called Overload, the machines are indeed overloaded, while jungle & breakcore beats, with heavy bass thump, clatter and sometimes sputter out. When it really gets going, if still only briefly, it's got heaps of energy.

TRC2 - Facing The Void [Offish Productions/Bandcamp]
TRC2 - Straw Hat [Offish Productions/Bandcamp]
Poland's Offish Productions specialise in drum'n'bass & jungle from all round the world, from drumfunk to halftime to techy stuff. On his full-length Deep Audio Introspection, Welsh producer TRC2 covers plenty of ground, with breakbeat choppery and massive bass. Jungle & drum'n'bass heads will find a lot to love, and should explore the rest of the label's catalogue.

Abstract Drumz - Ambient Illusion [Over/Shadow/Bandcamp]
Nectax - Voychek [Over/Shadow/Bandcamp]
The Over/Shadow label was formed a few years ago by hardcore/jungle originals 2 Bad Mice, aiming to bring back the halcyon days of the Moving Shadow label, including artists of the time like Dom & Roland, DJ Trax, Paradox and others. Their latest project features four contemporary producers with an EP each making up Quadrant Vol 1. Detboi and Overlook each contribute, and tonight we heard Abstract Drumz from Quadrant 2 and Nectax from Quadrant 4, each with drum workouts, Abstract Drumz' more ambient and Nectax on a dark & heavy tip.

Hassan Abou Alam - Te3ebt (ZULI Remix) [YUKU/Bandcamp]
The great YUKU may be based in Czechia, but they draw artists from around the world. Here's Hassan Abou Alam, from the thriving Egyptian scene, bringing percussive beats and bass, with four remixes, two of which are also Egyptian artists. The great ZULI drives "Te3ebt" into crunched distortion and ragged breaks.

DRUGONDRAGON - せーぞんせんりゃく (Saison Senryaku) [Virgin Babylon]
DRUGONDRAGON - もんくつらつら (Monk Tsuratsura) [Virgin Babylon]
It's been 5 years since Virgin Babylon released DRUGONDRAGON's last album DokkanoNaneka DarekanoNanika ("something for someone else"). This new one, イ​ノ​セ​ン​ト (Innocence), is along the same lines: punkish indie songs with breakcore madness slipping in all over the place. It's classic Japanese stuff, where not conforming to genre is the norm! Love.

Nicholas Remondino - its [shhpuma]
Nicholas Remondino - stick [shhpuma]
Finishing tonight with the Italian drummer & experimental musician Nicholas Remondino, whose work as LAMIEE I've played a lot in the last couple of years. One of the great things about Nicholas's music is that every release is different, whether in his many groups or solo, ranging from extreme electronic editing & processing to contemporary jazz to noise to singer-songwriter. His solo album on Portuguese label shhpuma, Ocra Rossa (Red Ochre), is for prepared drums only, beautifully mic'd up so that you can hear every movement of every object. Sounds tumble around, anchored (sometimes) by a booming bass drum. It's always rhythmic although never in recognisable patterns. But it's sonically so interesting that it doesn't need bar lines.

McCorman - sfiorarsi//perdersi [Kohlhass/Bandcamp]
McCorman - posarsi//ritrovarti [Kohlhass/Bandcamp]
In McCorman, Remondino plays prepared bass drum and synth, and whistles on one track. He's joined by two other jazz-trained Italian musicians, Stefano Calderano on prepared guitar and electric guitar, and Francesco Panconesi on tenor sax and "extended sax". Panconesi also sings, somewhere in the back of the room, on our closing track, "posarsi//ritrovarti" (settle//find yourself again), an eerie piece primarily for slow-moving electric guitar. The slow-moving lines on guitar and sax make "sfiorarsi//perdersi" (touch each other//get lost) quite eerie too, with shuffling drums pushing it along. Their album A Page Is Turned | A Mountain Collapses | A Guy Leaves is evocative music in the interstices of jazz, postrock and folk. Highly recommended.

Listen again — ~210MB

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