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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, 7th of January, 2024

Playlist 07.01.24 - Best of 2023, Part 3! (5:00 pm)

The 3rd and last part of Utility Fog's Best of 2023 is a DJ mix of dance/beats music from the year. I decided not to speak over any of the music, so I've top-and-tailed it only. See below for much discussion of the music in there!

LISTEN AGAIN and again, dance, nod your head, smile secretly to yourself - whatever you prefer! Stream on demand from FBi's website, or podcast it here.

Rutger Zuydervelt - Part 4 - Point of No Return [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Starting tonight with an unexpected entrant for a dance music special - Rutger Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek is known for sound-art and drone (and he appeared in the second 2023 Best of as well), but in 2023 he also composed the music for a performance titled Kaleiding by Lily&Janick, who combine dance and acrobatics in their work. There's a lot of movement in Zuydervelt's pieces, whether through chiming pitched percussion, more sinister bass surges, or lovely interlocking motorik grooves. There's an organic, acoustic feel to the sounds, whether digitally modelled or sampled, that convey a warm humanity even when programmed into complex patterns. One of the most enjoyable Machinefabriek works of late.

Air Max '97 - Kaiba [Pure Space/Bandcamp]
The third compilation from Andy Garvey's Pure Space, Proximity III once again featured electronic musicians from across the club and club-adjacent landscape from Eora and across so-called Australia. There's techno and bass music, breakbeat and drum'n'bass, IDM and garage, including the typical bass-heavy syncopations of Air Max '97.

Gantz - Spineless (Pleasuremodel VIP) [Gantz Bandcamp]
Turkish post-dubstep beatmulcher Gantz continued his regular EP releases in 2023. Pusher Acid VIP is all VIPs versioned from the original Pusher Acid, and includes an appearance from the highly vocoded bass music entity Pleasuremodel. It seems like Gantz has slightly reined in the post-Autechre sonic destruction here - controlled chaos.

Neinzer - Flurry [YUMÉ]
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. I got to play Flurry/Obsoletion a little early, but it dropped 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.

KIDIZDEY - Dub Taton [raghoul/Bandcamp]
Moroccan indie-pop producer Saad El Baraka surprises fans in his homeland with an album of electronic beats in his new project KIDIZDEY. Following their incredible compilation Crocodile Tears in a Reptilian World earlier this year, the fledgling Moroccan label raghoul (we're told it means "bass" in Amazigh) now releases a single-artist album. KIDIZDEY packs plenty of variety in, with off-kilter beats of heavy bass varieties (you can hear the Dilla influence), sampling Arabic vocals and traditional regional instruments. Apparently there's plenty more to look forward to, but check Lketma out now.

Barker - Birmingham Screwdriver [Smalltown Supersound/Bandcamp]
After some select releases on Berghain's in-house label Ostgut Ton, Sam Barker's latest EP comes from the gregarious Norwegian label Smalltown Supersound. Unlike the recent kickless techno for Ostgut, all four tracks here have a rhythmic drive from the kick drum, although Barker is never one to stick to convention. So scribbly acid synth lines are accompanied by sputtering kick drums a la footwork, and even when the synths are gentle pads or jazz stabs, the beats mutate and syncopate in unpredictable patterns. Lovely stuff.

BAMBII - WICKED GYAL (feat. Lady Lykez) [BAMBII Bandcamp]
Toronto DJ BAMBII is joyously gregarious in the sounds she pulls together for her DJ sets, and for her own music. She wrote a fantastic essay for Dazed last year on her experiences becoming a DJ - and a successful DJ - within scenes that marginalised blackness and queerness despite the obvious roots of the music. Her own Jamaican roots inform her music as much as footwork, r'n'b, techno and the like - there's jungle in there too, but "Wicked Gyal", from mini-album INFINITY CLUB, brings in Lady Lykez for a grime-meets-dancehall bounce.

Toumba - Duel [Toumba Bandcamp]
The UK-based Medical Aid for Palestinians is an organisation I've seen reliably mentioned for helping Palestinians in Gaza. Jordanian producer Toumba makes beats that fit with UK bass and club forms, but with a lot of input from Levantine music - rhythms and scales and instrumentation. He released For Palestine, a collection of dubs and unreleased material, to raise funds for Medical Aid for Palestinians, and the tunes are well up to the standards of his official releases. There's a nice remix of Palestinian MC/producer Julmud on there too.

Morwell - Loving You [Morwell Bandcamp]
Max Morwell released five EPs in 2023, from bootleg remixes to various rave adaptations and mutations, On a mixtape called Resonance he explicitly placed the breakbeats and vocal samples of rave into a short non-stop mix (split across 3 tracks on each side of the cassette). As with Morwell's usual strategies, the music here is redolent of '90s rave styles, but could only have been made now. The vocal sample is perfectly chosen - the "um" never fails to make me smile. A little bit later he remixed the Resonance tracks with pitched-down stretched out versions, very nice too.

Kahn & Neek - Rally (feat. Riko Dan, Killa P, Irah, Long Range & Armour) [Kahn & Neek Bandcamp]
Bristol's Kahn & Neek have worked together for years - both are members of legendary post-dubstep collective Young Echo and together previously formed Gorgon Sound - but 2023's Lupus et Ursus (Latin for Wolf & Bear) was their debut album together. There's a selection of more abstract textures a la Young Echo (always heavily dub-infused), but lots of lovely dubstep, with many guests from UK grime crew including the big team-up on "Rally". It's altogether prime UK bass music, not to be missed!

E S P - Open Mind [Infernal Sounds]
Stoke-on-Trent-based label Infernal Sounds is a specialist in 140bpm bass music - thus generally dubstep. Their Future Forms comp came out in late Januray, featuring mostly young artists from all around the world, but it was especially nice to find Brisbane's E S P there, with a blissful piece with smooth bass tones, bell-like synths and burbling dub effects through out.

Wraz. x PAV4N x ILLAMAN - Yung Ghost [4NC¥/Bandcamp]
Quebecois dubstepper Wraz. is joined by two UK rappers for "Yung Ghost": Foreign Beggars frontman PAV4N and the versatile ILLAMAN. It's hard-hitting dubstep with thick bass and amen breaks clattering away in the background, merging dubstep, jungle and grime in one song. I was introduced to Wraz via the Wraith EP released by Artikal Music earlier this - killer sounds too.

Somah - Eve 2 [Somah Bandcamp]
Joe Somah's someone I tend to think of in the dubstep context, but this year dropped a number of white labels on his Bandcamp, along with the excellent Memory Screen EP, that hibridized dubstep & drum'n'bass in really nice ways.

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.

The Bug - Drop(Machine Sex) [Pressure]
In 2023, Kevin Martin aka The Bug dropped four Machine EPs on his Bandcamp - bass-destroying tools custom-made to test the limits of his Pressure rig wherever he can take it with him. The basslines and crunching beats are unmistakably Bug-like, and for all their ferocity, these tracks evoke desolate cityscapes as much as crowded dancefloors.

3Phaz - Shoulder Dance [Discrepant/Souk Records/Bandcamp]
Discrepant sublabel Souk Records preserves the parent label's world-ranging interests but with a beat focus. Souk's very first release is where I discovered Palestine's Muqata'a, and now they bring us the second album of Cairo's post-shaabi anonymous producer 3Phaz, whose debut album Three Phase took Egyptian urban genre mahraganat/electro-shaabi and threw it in the blender with harddrum, jungle and techno. Ends Meet certainly carries on from where the debut left off - indeed one of the tracks appears in a reworked form here - but lessens the distortion and pulls back from explicit references to UK & US dance music, so that North African percussion and melodies lead the music (alongside hefty 808 kicks and sub-bass). This is futuristic Arabic dance music.

Skrillex, Nai Barghouti - XENA [Skrillex via Warner Music]
Time was when I would've laughed in your face if you suggested I'd play Skrillex on my show. That American kid who redefined dubstep as "EDM at any tempo with big drops for drunk white college kids to flail around to". And yet, he always had good taste, just with an ear for mass appeal. I'm not the only one to note that Sonny Moore has maybe gone and worked out how dubstep really worked in the time between his original stuff and 2023's Quest, and so not only do we get the absolute don of grime, Big Flowdan, on two tracks, we get a lot of nice syncopation and low-slung bass. Of course the album's choc full of collabs, and there are both canny choices and out-of-leftfield lightning strikes - featuring Palestinian prodigy Nai Barghouti, a flautist, composer, singer and activist, is a stroke of genius. Elsewhere on the album, both Flowdan tracks are great, but "Rumble" is pure fire, both because of and despite the presence of phenomenon-of-the-moment Fred again.., whose Boiler Room set it appeared in, and which wowed all the kids who are presumably too young to have ever seen someone mashing an MPC. And what the hell, let's just throw in Missy "Misdemeanour" Elliott reworking an old refrain (among other self-quotes) alongside French tech house/electro prankster Mr. Oizo, and make it a ridiculously huge banger with, yeah, That Drop? Sure.

nickname & Tim Shiel - Druidz [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]
Heading to Naarm/Melbourne now on our jungle quest. Young producer nickname released a couple of great EPs last year mixing up genres with bass & breaks and syncopation galore. This single track "Druidz" is possibly the furthest into jungle that the good Mr Shiel has headed, but it's equally sweet on those jungle-tekno 4/4 kicks. Whatever it is, it's a whole lot of fun.

Scuba - Mr Anderson (Digital Underground) [Hotflush/Bandcamp]
In April, Hotflush Recordings boss and dubstep don Paul Rose aka Scuba released a 12" called Hardcore Heaven for Record Store Day. For the non-vinyl-lovers among us (or those just not lucky enough to score a copy before they sold out), he later put out a selection of the tracks in "Digital Underground" versions, and also released a mix CD with the digital versions. These are apparently different from the vinyl versions, but they live up to the EP's name, with bouncing breakbeats and synth stabs and bass weight. "Mr Anderson" is a highlight, with classic rave energy and sounds. I can't find any Matrix samples in it, but it's got that '90s future vibe to it for sure.

Many Seg - i guess [zzaapp records]
Non-binary Melburnian-via-Darwin Serge Balaam released 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!

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 in 2023. 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 some kind of 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 in 2024.

NERVE - Zendo [Heavy Machinery/Bandcamp]
Here it is! Courtesy of the ever-industrious Heavy Machinery Records, here is the debut "proper" EP from Naarm/Melbourne's Joshua Wells under his NERVE moniker. For the few years, Wells has been releasing excerpts from live sets and other tracks via AR53 and A Colourful Storm. It does feel odd to declare this a debut of any sorts, but it does collect four fantastic NERVE tracks together in a traditional 12" format - and it's all heckin' good. The NERVE style is a special sauce of tightly programmed beats that somehow speak of drum'n'bass while being techno, captured in electro's straitjacket and smothered in industrial noise. It's a mixed metaphor for a reason alright? That's what NERVE is, you need it, don't deny it.

Toumba - Duel [Toumba Bandcamp]
See above for the full text - Jordanian producer Toumba appears here twice, purely because his beats work so well at multiple tempos and at this spot he's helped guide us into footwork and jungle territory. The EP was one of many releases raising funds for Palestine/Gaza charities, and the horrible asymmetric war carries on yet still. Don't let us close our ears to the human suffering in Gaza.

DJ Manny - Control [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
Planet µ released the Control EP by DJ Manny in August and followed it up with Hypnotized in November. A more recent member (relatively) of Chicago's Teklife footwork crew, Manny is a highly musical producer, one of my faves in the genre. Both releases extend Manny's sound from the expected footwork into jungle and r'n'b influences. It works incredibly well.

Meemo Comma - Loverboy [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
After her 2021 album Neon Genesis: Soul Into Matter², which combined Jewish mysticism with cyberpunk & computer game aesthetics, Lara Rix-Martin aka Meemo Comma now takes us back to '90s raves, drawing from jungle, breakbeat hardcore and trance as well as melodic IDM such as her husband Mike Paradinas likes to make. Rix-Martin's agnostic relationship to gender norms is is neatly encapsulated in the album's title - and protagonist - Loverboy. Indeed, while "she/her" is used in the album's write-up, "they/them" is used the artist bio, so. The production here is first class, easily evoking rave stylistics with style & humour, even on the more experimental glitched-up tracks like "Crisis". Honing their own artist craft has meant less time for Rix-Martin to give to their Objects Limited label, but they are also involved in A&R and press for Planet µ, and to my mind instrumental in pushing the label to address its own gender balance problems.

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, Overlook and Abstract Drumz all contribute great tunes, but tonight I included Nectax from Quadrant 4, on a dark & heavy tip.

Baby T - Ultrafunkiller [Banshee]
London-based Canadian DJ Brianna Price is best known as B.Traits, as a DJ, promoter and radio presenter, but has flipped the name to Baby T for her own jungle & drum'n'bass productions. The first release on her Banshee label is four cuts of hard-hitting drum'n'bass to make your subs shudder.

Sully - Stop [Uncertain Hour]
In 2014, Jack Stevens aka Sully, who had heretofore made grime and 2-step-inspired music, released the extraordinary double EP Blue on Keysound, in some ways kickstarting the jungle revival. In 2023 there were only a few split releases from Sully other than this, the third 12" on his Uncertain Hour label. Proving again what a master Sully is of jungle beats and pacing, they're both killer tracks worthy of dancefloors anywhere & everywhere.

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 no longer 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...

Wordcolour - Volta [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]
Of recent UK DJ producers mixing jungle with other dancefloor forms as well as impeccable sound design, contemporary jazz and classical, Djrum immediately comes to mind - but he's been joined in the last couple of years by another young Londoner, Wordcolour. His album The trees were buzzing, and the grass. was among the very best of 2022, and in 2023 he was back on Houndstooth with the first two in a series of Ratios EPs. A variety of club sounds are dissected and examined from strange angles, and from the first EP, "Volta" is experimental junglism with shiny vocal stabs and jazzy chords over a 6/4 jungle groove that eventually switches to what the label copy describes as 4-to-the-floor but I would class as 3/2. Regular kicks anyway, but grouped in 3s folks! A nice switchover anyway from an artist brimming with creativity.

dgoHn & Badun - Not Just A Best [Love Love Records/dgoHn Bandcamp/Badun Bandcamp]
I first heard of Danish producer Badun aka Oliver Duckert via a split release between Badun and Icarus back in 2011. Badun makes a kind of wonky electronic jazz that's somewhat adjacent to the post-drum'n'bass electro-acoustics of Icarus, so it's not all that strange to find Duckert collaborating with English drumfunk/jungle master dgoHn on new EP Talk to the Planets, released on Love Love Records. The syncopated drum patters created by dgoHn don't need much coaxing to fit in with jazzy keys and more psych-ish passages, so if that sounds like your jam, you're in luck.

Pugilist & Tamen - Extract [RuptureLDN]
Perfect liquid junglism from Pugilist & Tamen, from NZ & UK respectively but now based in Naarm/Melbourne. Pugilist's roots in dubstep inform the bass weight here, and footwork and techno bubble under the chattering rhythms.

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.

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

Architectural - Clothed In Light [R&S Records/Bandcamp]
Spain's Architectural is not a name you'd usually associate with jungle or breakcore, with a background in beautifully immersive minimal techno, but for his second EP on R&S Records the 4/4 beats are spattered with amen breaks in an almost breakcore fashion. That said, under his well-known Reeko moniker he released an intense EP of percussive d'n'b on Samurai Music in 2023 too.

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.

Chimpo - Screwball Scramble [GutterFunk]
Manchester's Chimpo is a charming character whose personality makes it into all his tracks. So much character, in fact, that I played the excellent "All of the Above" in the "vocal"-centred Best of 2023, Part 1. Here, though, is a filthy, bouncy piece of d'n'b with ragga samples and an incredible swooping, sliding bassline, released on Bristol's GutterFunk.

Saint Abdullah & Eomac - Lonely Is Our Non-Existent House Yard [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
Collaborating with Eomac has really allowed NY-based Iranian brothers Saint Abdullah to bring their IDM love to the fore. Weird beats abound on Chasing Stateless, their second album together, and second Planet µ release following the excellent EP A Vow Not To Read earlier this year. The beats and occasional pretty synth melodies coexist with the middle eastern melodies and rhythms, spoken samples and field recordings that the brothers have always featured in their work, whether underpinned by epic dubby breakbeats, free jazz samples or arcane experimental electronics. Ian McDonnell is also well credentialled in the use of traditional sounds, whether the Arabic/Islamic samples used in the two Bedouin Trax albums, or the Irish bodhrán and other percussion on Reconnect. These collabs are certainly up there with the best releases from these talented artists.

RSD - Let's Go [RSD Bandcamp]
Rob Smith has been active in the Bristol music scene since the 1980s. One main outlet was the groundbreaking duo (sometime trio) Smith & Mighty, who helped forge the Bristol sound of hip-hop, r'n'b and dub-reggae soundsystem culture that also birthed Massive Attack. In the '90s Smith was also highly active with More Rockers, a DJ & production duo with Paul D (also much involved with Smith & Mighty) who released many incredible early jungle 12"s and dubplates which have found themselves in countless DJ mixes over the years, and were collected in various ways on mix CDs, but unsurprisingly as incomplete versions. So it was something of a miracle (or rather a gift) to find Smith loosing TWO massive compilations of his jungle productions on us on Bandcamp in early 2023 - grab Jungle Archive Collection 1 first, get the 50% off code for Jungle Archive Collection 2 and you're set. Everything's basically credited as RSD - i.e. "Rob Smith Dubs", under which Smith continues to release dub, dubstep, jungle and whatever else he likes - but it's possible to piece together the probable original credits from the relative timeframe of a lot. "More Rockers" tracks were always just Smith or Paul D (not co-productions), so many of these would be More Rockers by any other name. A third archival jungle comp came later in the year too. All in all this is an important missing link from UK dancefloor history, and just a whole lot of absolute bangers.

The Blood of Heroes - New Orleans [Ohm Resistance]
Kurt Gluck's Ohm Resistance label has provided consistent fodder for Utility Fog basically since the start. In the early-to-mid 2000s, breakcore was a big part of the show's genetics; a little later there was dubstep, and industrial influences have always been favoured too. Gluck's own music manifests in solo form as Submerged (it was very briefly a duo at the start), with tough, heavy drum'n'bass that's moved with the times and has room for other heavy musics like metal guitars and industrial textures, and at times some respite from the storm. Submerged re-emerged in 2023 with FURY, an intense & angry album over 2 CDs with clever rhythm-work and sonic detail that initially masquerades as a relentless tumult of beats and distortion. The second CD holds something magic though, with a 20-minute and a 12-minute track which cast the net wide, capturing classical samples and almost-calm sorrowfulness as well as further bouts of FURY.
But that wasn't Gluck's only release for 2023: it was followed by a new album from the brilliant The Blood Of Heroes, a supergroup of sorts that began in 2010 with an album featuring Bill Laswell on bass (a frequent collaborator with Submerged on many of his own fusions of jazz & other genres with drum'n'bass), the ever-great UFog favourite Justin K Broadrick on guitar, Enduser providing beats & textures alongside Gluck, and Dr Israel on vocals (there are more but that's the core). Dr Israel's lyrics base themselves around the rich post-apocalyptic world of the Australian-American cult movie The Salute of the Jugger (released in the United States as, yes, The Blood of Heroes), which featured not only Rutger Hauer, but also Joan Chen & Vincent D'Onofrio among others - oh, and it was written & directed by David Webb Peoples, co-writer of Blade Runner and later co-creator of 12 Monkeys. If you're choosing a film to immerse your industrial metal/breakcore/dub supergroup in, you probably couldn't choose better - but really, the self-titled debut of this group easily transcends the "supergroup" concept as well as its Mad Max-ish setting with the evocative thrums and thrashes of Broadrick's guitar (somewhere between Godflesh and Jesu), Laswell's bass grounding, the dub/dubstep/drum'n'bass beats rising and falling (along with Balázs Pándi's live drums on a few tracks)... and Dr Israel's righteous delivery. There was a second album from the collective in 2003 and then it seemed to be over... yet here we are in 2023, gifted with Nine Cities, once again with Broadrick's guitars, Dr Israel's further vocal riffs on the movie's setting, both Submerged and Enduser along with Mick Harris (Scorn), Fear Factory's Burton C Bell, and many others. Again it's that kind of massive collaboration that suggests overblown overreach, but thanks to Gluck & co's good judgement, it's just another collection of great songs merging these very sympathetic genres together. Long may they reign!

Fiesta Soundsystem - diaphphanousdiaphophresis [YUKU/Bandcamp]
In August the mighty Czech label YUKU released their 3 Year Birthdizzle Compadoodle (Pay What You Want), a massive 50-track intro that more than adequately makes the case for YUKU as a trailblazing label for experimental electronic music, with jungle, dubstep, breakbeat and other bass musics sent through the blender in myriad ways. I was glad to be forced to look into the back catalogue of UK's incredible Fiesta Soundsystem, who's amassed a sizeable corpus on YUKU and various other labels, in many different genres but especially bass musics around dubstep & drum'n'bass, and moreso breakcore and idm/drill'n'bass. The insane programming here is a case in point.

Ruby My Dear - SHA [Blue Sub Records/Bandcamp]
French breakcore producer Ruby My Dear has always liked to mix classical (or classical-ish) arrangements in with his breakcore & acid shenanigans. Sometimes that's involved quoting Chopin, Debussy, Ravel and others, and sometimes they seem like his own compositions. The piano phrase that's looped and pitch-shifted in "SHA" is reminiscent of something, and maybe someone will tell us what. But it's classic Ruby My Dear - prettiness and breakneck breakbeat mayhem, always fun.

Buttress O'Kneel - Great Attention (Yo Mama Mulched Mix) [BO'K Bandcamp]
In the first decade of Utility Fog, I discovered Melbourne mashup/breakcore/pop culture-jammer enigma Buttress O'Kneel through a series of themed mixes they created that worked perfectly for FBi's Sunday Night at the Movies show that was on before me for many years. BO'K is a genius at re-contextualising spoken word and other people's music for politically incisive purposes, and she's also highly adept at complex beat programming and at granular glitch-processing, often using the Australian-created software AudioMulch. The BO'K Bandcamp is choc full of a dizzying array of brilliant madness, and near the end of 2023 she put out a gradually-expanded collection of adaptations of Doja Cat mashed up with NIN. Called Great Attention, it took a drunken rant from Doja Cat mixed with her superb "Attention" and Nine Inch Nails' "The Great Below" (hence the title) - but slowly it was transformed further, so that on the "Yo Mama" mixes we find a sample from Finn The Human from the greatest TV show ever, Adventure Time. Equal parts genius and irreverence.

Yunzero - Invisible Dog (Slo Version) [.jpeg Artefacts/Bandcamp]
Suddenly one weekend in July, a new album appeared from Naarm/Melbourne iconoclast Yunzero. His 2022 album Butterfly DNA came out via Huerco S's West Mineral Ltd but here he was back on Naarm's influential .jpeg Artefacts with Donkey Laundromat. The music here was created for a "video + meme compilation" presented just last week at Collingwood moving image agency/venue Composite - and when you purchase the album on Bandcamp you get a link to download the entire 40-minute video. The funny thing is, Yunzero's music has always been made up of lo-fi YouTube snippets and other cultural detritus, rearranged and built into hi-fi post-club concoctions. The music here is as compelling and strange as ever, whether it's bass-heavy beats or unsettling atmospherics. It's also funny that this is the "Slo Version" of "Invisible Dog", somehow sitting perfectly in the end-parts of the drum'n'bass/jungle/breakcore part of the mix.

Wakati - Wak [Wakati Bandcamp]
Naarm/Melbourne's John McCaffrey aka Part Timer introduced new alias Wakati in 2023 - in fact three Wakati EPs appeared in quick succession on the Wakati Bandcamp! The closest comparison would be Plaid, with minor key piano-ambient morphed into joyful cyclical beats and back again. Seriously great, ridiculously considering this is a throw-away side-project!

Tristan Arp - A Livable Earth [3024/Bandcamp]
Tristan Arp is a brilliant purveyor of percussion-heavy techno, based in Mexico City. His 2023 EP End of a Line, or Part of a Circle? came courtesy of Martyn's 3024 label, but it's basically vintage Tristan Arp - studio-perfect percussive rhythm play, judicious bass weight, lovely bloopy sounds. It's like micro-house but syncopated and with subs. So, you know: great.

Pole - Stechmück (Version) [Mute/Bandcamp]
One of the original European glitch pioneers, mastering engineer Stefan Betke aka Pole has long been a master of electronically-degraded dub. 2022's Tempus was another exercise in abstraction and minimalism, and in 2023 was given the remix treatment by... Sleaford Mods? Yes, "Stechmück" is sped up to suit Jason Williamson's funny-but-serious raps, while Rrose reshapes the same track into minimal techno, and Nine Inch Nails member and modular synth devotee Alessandro Cortini stretched the title track into an ambient dirge. But Betke himself also versioned Stechmück, thickening the bass and emphasising those freaky klaxons.

Sunken Foal - Esmeralda [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. Never not blissful.

Listen again — ~225MB

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