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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, 28th of January, 2024

Playlist 28.01.24 (11:00 pm)

Tonight we have catch-ups from 2023 and wonderful new stuff, including previews and early singles, ranging from post-jazz and experimental indie to breakcore and chiptune drill'n'bass.

LISTEN AGAIN for the details you missed the first time. Podcast right here, stream on demand via FBi.

Yirinda - Nyun (Brother) [Chapter Music/Bandcamp]
I was very pleased to get to see the full-band version of Yirinda, the duo of Butchulla songman Fred Leone and double-bassist/composer Samuel Pankhurst at the Woodford Folk Festival over the new year, with an ensemble of strings, horns and keyboards. It's a magical combination of Leone's songlines and Pankhurst's arrangements, creating something that I'm pretty sure has never existed before. In the leadup to their self-titled album's release on Feb 16th, the third single "Nyun" (Brother) has been released, and it's as lush as the predecessors. Much recommended.

The Smile - I Quit [XL Recordings/Bandcamp]
I'm a longtime signed-up Radiohead fan, and so I came to The Smile with open ears, and by and large enjoyed their first album. The addition of Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner is well-chosen, but much of the time his drumming doesn't stand out compared to Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood's usual drummer Phil Selway. And is The Smile distinct enough to be a different matter from Radiohead? I'm not sure. It's certainly a lot closer to Radiohead than Thom Yorke's excellent solo work, or Jonny Greenwood's composition work. For the first half of the new album I was struggling to find anything that stood out (even the obvious Robert Wyatt-ism of "Friend of a Friend"), but the last three tracks are excellent. Funnily enough Pitchfork singled out "I Quit" as the only dud on the album, so fuck them. The stuttering guitar and acoustic piano are joined by a programmed bassline, barely-there beats and soaring keyboards and at times discordant strings. Sure, it doesn't have a contrasting rousing chorus, but I'm sorry if you expected standard song structures from these guys...

Astrid Sonne - Say you love me [Escho/Bandcamp]
Astrid Sonne - Do you wanna [Escho/Bandcamp]
The third album from Danish composer Astrid Sonne is perhaps her most "pop" work, complete with her own vocals along with electronics and her trusty viola. A few other musicians join her on a few tracks, but the drums, where they are appear on two tracks, are her own, muscular and steady. So I should note that my choices - one track with drum machine and one with live drums - are slight outliers on an album that's mostly orchestrated with new age synths and acoustic instruments. While her vocals are unassuming and cool, there's power in these songs: "Do you wanna have a baby?", she asks on the second track, but that refrain is sharply reframed with her last words: "I really don’t know". Sonne's strengths as composer & arranger are easily supported by her songwriting talents here.

Marla Hansen - Chains [Karaoke Kalk/Bandcamp]
American violist/violinist Marla Hansen has played with Sufjan Stevens, My Brightest Diamond and others in the indie world over many years, and that hasn't stopped since she's been based in Berlin. In 2007-8 I played her debut EP Wedding Day quite a lot, a collection of indie/folk songs based around her viola and voice. Her last album Dust came out on the Cologne label Karaoke Kalk in 2020, an album of full band and electronics alongside her string arrangements, with musicians sourced from the Berlin scene. Follow-up Salt comes out from the same label in March, produced by Berlin-based English violinist Simon Goff, featuring string and brass arrangements along with electronics. First single "Chains" is just a beautiful song, a yearning melody with electronic pop backing that folds down to simple strings. No doubt we're in for something special when the full album drops.

Elena Setién - Surfacing [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Elena Setién - Coloured Lizards [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
Basque singer and multi-instrumentalist Elena Setién has recorded three albums now for the legendary Chicago label Thrill Jockey, as well as two earlier solo albums and albums as part of the jazz duo Little Red Suitcase with pianist Johanna Borchert formed when based Copenhagen. Her previous albums mix folk and country with thoughtful arrangements, but Moonlit Reveries finds her back in Spain, and working with (legendary Chicago) drummer Glenn Kotche of Wilco (and so much more). Here her folk tendencies reach to Latin music - "Coloured Lizards" in particular has a samba feel - but also sidle in avant-garde directions. The moonlight here represents motherhood and the feminine, but also the half-seen, disquieting sense of dream states. Put this album on in a quiet room let it gently distort your sense of reality.

Domenico Lancellotti - Um abraço no Faust [Mais Um/Bandcamp]
Domenico Lancellotti - Diga [Mais Um/Bandcamp]
The intentions of Brazilian innovator Domenico Lancellotti's album sramba can be found in the title of the second track, "Um abraço no Faust". A repetitive groove of close Latin harmonies (with a gorgeous major key middle-eight), it's named for João Gilberto's instrumental "Um Abraço no Bonfá", but where Gilberto offered a hug to guitarist Luiz Bonfá, Lancellotti here is hugging the strangest of the key krautrock bands, Faust. Working with Ricardo Dias Gomes, another Brazilian familiar with the classics but very willing to mutate them, Lancellotti takes samba into new directions - "samba de máquina" - but as his clear forefather Tom Zé proved more than four decades ago, samba deconstructed is still samba.

DJ Swagger - Off The Dime [Kommerz Records/Bandcamp]
Lutz Reineke has been releasing music since he was only 18, starting with house and moving through deep house, techno and breaks. But of late (at the ripe old age of 25) he's been making a sharp left turn into neo soul and indie, as will appear on his Chemistry Forever on Kommerz Records in March. Single "Off The Dime" is a smooth r'n'b/soul song that switches gears in the last third into a kind of low-slung digi-hip-hop mode, which reminds me of later Funkstörung. Nicely done.

STATIC CLEANER LOST REWARD - Mirage Game [Low Company]
STATIC CLEANER LOST REWARD is one of many aliases of Naarm/Melbourne musician Tarquin Manek - one in fact that was last used (and first used?) 10 years ago for a cassette on Nipaluna/Hobart label Altered States Tapes. Tarquin's a member of noise/weirdo band Bum Creek, was in F ingers among other things with Carla dal Forno, and Kallista Kult with Y L Hooi - many of these also involving Sam Karmel of CS + Kreme. Oh and he played in the band version of Evelyn Ida Morris's Pikelet yo! All of which is to say that Tarquin's underground-Melbourne cred couldn't be more impeccable. Breathing Under Honey is the last release on London's Low Company and it's absolutely a minefield of weird left-turns, while still being some of the most focused work from Tarquin. A kind of dubby post-punk techno thing permeates the productions, with zonked-out vocoded vocals slivering around in the murk. It's rhythmic - except when it isn't - and whatever else it may be, it's never conventional.

LOUFR - dark [Pointless Geometry]
LOUFR - h0pe [Pointless Geometry]
Polish composer Piotr Bednarczyk has recorded a few albums now as LOUFR, inhabiting the space between contemporary classical, post-club and other experimental electronicism, as well as a very leftfield kind of electronic pop. New album FEARS is out this coming week from the adventurous Polish label Pointless Geometry, and you can hear all of that here: seemingly ambient music with sharp glitch interruptions and seemingly acoustic strings; UK bass-influenced beats with vocoded vocals. There is a surprising amount of vocals on this album, but like everything else it's morphed and blended so that all those elements are hard to tease out. And because of that, it's striking when those contrasts do happen - the heavy glitch, the acoustic piano or string instrument, the straight beat. Bednarczyk knows what he's doing and has the skills to make it work beautifully.

cadeu - slow fade [Hyperboloid Music]
Broosnica - Ways Of The Underground [Hyperboloid Music]
From Poland to Latvian label Hyperboloid Music, who released their Hyperboloid 2024 on the 31st of December 2023. Here are experimental electronic artists from all around Europe and beyond, covering plenty of genres but generally dancefloor-worthy. German producer cadeu is a good example, with hyperpop vocal samples and an infectious bass-heavy groove, while from Russia, Broosnica takes things into proper drumn'n'bass territory with a well-used rap sample and breakbeats. Leading us into...

When 2 - Away [Blorpus Editions]
You might know Mike Meegan for his music as RXM Reality, usually released on on-point labels Hausu Mountain or Orange Milk Records. Meegan's music is a hyper-everything stew of metal, pop, rock, whatever, all banged together into shapes resembling IDM, jungle, footwork and techno - and plenty of glitch. So on paper you'd think that his new project When 2 - whose debut album Here is released on Blorpus Editions, run by Max Allison/Muqks, one half of Hausu Mountain - would be just an extension of RXM Reality. Here Meegan is directly inspired by the genius of Carl Stone and his specially-developed Max/MSP patches the let him create skittering glitchscapes. And what we get is indeed like the bastard son of Carl Stone and RXM Reality - hyperspeed granular rides through samples of pop and rock, which I mostly can't identify, stuttering and crashing into kaleidoscope visions of jungle or footwork - see how comfortably "Away" segues out of the drum'n'bass ahead of it. Really this is masterful stuff.

bagel fanclub - smeegle premonition [Maulcat/Bandcamp]
rkgk - train2catch [Retrac Recordings/Bandcamp]
rkgk - you4me [Retrac Recordings/Bandcamp]
apollo bitrate - sequels that nobody asked for [slut punk]
Big thanks to Miles Bowe, whose Acid Test column in Bandcamp Daily introduced me to the music of River Everett and Caybee Calabash, who together make up bagel fanclub. Last year's how are your cars driving? is an intense ride through chiptune breakcore and idm, heavily reminiscent of the Kid606/Datach'i/OVe-NaXx/early VSnares days. Harsh but with heart, seen through a hyperpop-smeared lens, this is fun and cheeky music that sometimes mines beauty from its relentless distorted digital maximalism, and the same goes for their recent separate work. River Everett, based somewhere in the US, makes ultra-lo-fi hypnagogic ambient synth stuff as New Mexican Stargazers, but as rkgk contrasts those tape-distorted longform wanderings with breakneck digital cuts'n'breaks, and like his predecessors from the '90s and '00s imbues every track with genuine melody. I recommend you go4it. The other half of bagel fanclub is Caybee Calabash, across the pond somewhere in the UK, whose many aliases can be found at slutpunk.bandcamp.com. Her music tends towards the noiser end of the breakcore/glitch spectrum, but as amply shown on "sequels that nobody asked for", can pull emotion from the chaos, with lovely harmonic progressions in a slow 3/4 time signature splattered with distorted breaks. World's End Girlfriend eat your heart out. Calabash's despectral maid (as apollo bitrate), and Everett's rkgklp came out this week and last week respectively.

Rutger Zuydervelt - Malheur 7 [Machinefabriek Bandcamp]
Out this coming Friday is the latest all-electronic beats work from Rutger Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek, which like the last few will be available on a limited 3" CD as well as digital. Malheur has some of his best work yet in this space - informed by decades of refined sound-art, drone, and collaborations across free jazz, modern classical and minimalist postrock. You can feel Zuydervelt's appreciation of drum'n'bass and IDM in these tracks, affectionate tributes to the music of his youth despite their crunchy rhythmic darkness.

Sote - River of Pain [SVBKVLT/Bandcamp]
By now, Ata Ebtekar aka Sote ("Sound" in Farsi) is a firm fixture on this show, going right back to his quasi-breakcore debut EP on Warp, and through his many gorgeous, uncanny explorations of Persian classical & traditional music and Iran's extremely fertile electronic & experimental music scene. His new album Ministry of Tall Tales will be released on the influential Shanghai label SVBKVLT on February 29th, with the beautiful single "River of Pain" available now. It's entirely electronic, but its microtonal motifs evoke traditional Persian music played in a dream-space. Following 2022's Majestic Noises Made In Beautiful Rotten Iran, Ministry of Tall Tales reflects more on the corrupted, oppressive situation in his homeland and its surrounds - made all the more desperate by the governments of "Western" countries.

Nadah El-Shazly - Breakup By The Sea [Asadun Alay Records/Bandcamp]
Now Montréal-based, but a pivotal figure in the Egyptian experimental music scene, Nadah El-Shazly is a composer, multi-instrumentalist and singer: most recently she made a stunning vocal contribution to Algiers' 2023 album Shook, and back in 2019 she joined the Egyptian/Lebanese/Turkish psych-rock/jazz supergroup Karkhana. Out late March is her soundtrack to British-Moroccan director Fyzal Boulifa's film The Damned Don't Cry. El-Shazly's music is heartfelt but uncompromising, using harp, double bass and violin along with her voice and production. We'll hear more from this closer to the release.

Mike Cooper & Pierre Bastien - Tuangku [Keroxen/Bandcamp]
From Keroxen, a sublabel of Discrepant based in Tenerife, in Spain's Canary Islands off the north-west coast of Africa, comes Aquapelagos Vol.2: Índico, the second volume in the label's series reimagining archipelago life with emphasis on the watery surrounds. And who better than the pioneer of watery experimental exotica, Mike Cooper? Here Cooper's processed guitar tones are joined by the distinctive, always bizarre sounds of Pierre Bastien's musical robots and his expressive, eerie trumpet - especially on "Tuangku" where the trumpet is heard in an impossibly low register, sounding out from beneath waves of looped guitar. Incredibly evocative.

Open to the Sea - The Room of the Hungry Blind Sheeps [Matteo Uggeri Bandcamp]
One of the various sound-art and experimental electronic projects of Matteo Uggeri, Open to the Sea initially saw Uggeri join with instrumentalist and sound-artist Enrico Coniglio and a host of guests, making gentle, mostly-instrumental music redolent of folk, postrock, jazz and post-classical: music in the vein of Rachels, Piano Magic, Dakota Suite or Astrïd. Lately they've been joined by Saverio Rossi aka leastupperbound - of course, along with many guests. The beautiful Ten Rooms Under The Sea (fortuitously echoing the previous track's themes) is some of their best work yet, and the drums of frequent Uggeri collaborator Mattia Costa enhance the ambient jazz of two highlight tracks.

BlankFor.ms, Jason Moran, Marcus Gilmore - Little Known [Red Hook Records/Bandcamp]
BlankFor.ms, Jason Moran, Marcus Gilmore - Tape Loop D [Red Hook Records/Bandcamp]
Stepping from Open to the Sea into "real jazz" to conclude tonight's show, we find ourselves nevertheless in a strange liminal world, in which accomplished jazz improvisors Jason Moran (piano) and Marcus Gilmore (drums) are captured in the grainy magnetic spools of BlankFor.ms' tape manipulation. The music on Refract, released on Red Hook Records in September last year, sometimes favours the jazz phrasing of Moran's virtuosic piano lines and its interplay with the nimble, sensitive drumming of Gilmore, but their live playing is always sampled, looped and manipulated by BlankFor.ms. Much of the material seems to rise up out of the abstractions of BlankFor.ms' tape loops, but what's particularly special is the restraint from all three musicians. On the album closer, the anonymously-titled "Tape Loop D", the tape rumble is allowed to spin out for almost half a minute before the delicate piano re-enters. It's a gorgeous moment on an album full of delicious surprises.

Listen again — ~204MB

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