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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, 25th of February, 2024

Playlist 25.02.24 (11:00 pm)

Oddly tonight we have a bit more weird-ass rock stuff than usual, and garage jazz, and... post-jazz? But also breakcore and lots of jungle/drum'n'bass influences in some more experimental settings, as well as some mesmerising pump organ and voice.

LISTEN AGAIN, don't be scared! Stream on demand on FBi's website, podcast here.

Kim Myhr & Kitchen Orchestra - V [Sofa Music/Bandcamp]
Kim Myhr & Kitchen Orchestra - VI [Sofa Music/Bandcamp]
I've been a fan of Norwegian guitarist Kim Myhr for many years. He's a distinctive guitarist but also an excellent composer & orchestrator - he's recorded with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and the Australian Art Orchestra, neither of which are typical orchestras, made up as they are of talented improvising musicians (and both with flexible lineups). The "Kitchen Orchestra" credited on his new album Hereafter is based in Stavanger, a city in the south of Norway, again a versatile group of musicians from jazz, classical and other contexts: there's a horn section and strings, two of whom play electric bass and electric guitar as well as double bass, a drummer, and then there are musicians credited to synthesizers & organ, voice and cassette player, and laptop. And Myhr plays drum machine, various keyboards and contributes voice as well as his guitar. As usual these are beautiful, rich arrangements, with jazz at their heart but drawing on Indian ragas, postrock and electronica, krautrock and glitch. The roman-numbered sections flow one to another, taking the listener through a meditation on mortality and transience.

fire! - the dark inside of cabbage [Rune Grammofon]
Testament, the latest album from Swedish free jazz powerhouse Fire!, is their first to only feature the core trio, playing their core instruments. Over the years the band has made albums with various experimental music legends - Jim O'Rourke, Oren Ambarchi and more - as well as convening the incredible Fire! Orchestra with Scandinavian jazz musicians aplenty and a group of brilliant vocalists. Here, recorded by the one & only Steve Albini, they've taken the Albini approach of stripping down to basics, recording material live to tape. And these three are masters for sure: Mats Gustafsson making his saxophone squeal and squall and sob in the way of Peter Brötzmann but very much his own; Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin being rhythm section to die for, holding down krautrockish grooves and riffs in tight lockstep. Hypnotic and exhilarating.

The Body & Dis Fig - Eternal Hours [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
The Body & Dis Fig - Dissent, Shame [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
A considerable part of The Body's career has been collaborations - so much so that 2021's I've Seen All I Need To See, with not a single guest and just guitar/drums/vox, was a sharp surprise. I first heard Felicia Chen's astonishing work as Dis Fig on her solo album Purge, linking her operatically-trained voice with industrial and noise music, but her collaboration with The Bug, In Blue, rightly brought her further notoriety. Orchards of a Futile Heaven is a suitably horrifying and moving piece of work, not a departure for either artist but a perfect synthesis. Rhythmic noise sputters into noisescapes of guitar or electronics; Chip King's high-pitched squeals lurk within, but Chen's voice can scream as much as sing melodies or provide a multitracked choir; Lee Buford's programmed and live drums thunder; but you really can't tell at any point who's responsible for instruments or production, and that's great. It's some of the best material from either act.

Hatis Noit - Jomon (Preservation Rework) feat. Armand Hammer [Erased Tapes/Bandcamp]
London-based Japanese singer Hatis Noit released a remarkable vocal-only album on Erased Tapes in 2022. But prior to that, she'd released music in Japan that married her self-schooled but powerful vocal techniques with electronics. So it's not too surprising to see Erased Tapes trickling out some remixes of Aura. Best so far is from seasoned underground hip-hop producer Preservation, who preserves much of the original "Jomon" but along with the controlled beats & bass invites billy woods & ELUCID aka Armand Hammer to add their own voices. They're masters of fitting in with strange music of course.

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Silverfish [Avant Night/Bandcamp]
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - S.P.Q.R. [Avant Night/Bandcamp]
I would never have expected that in 2024 I would be playing the new Sleepytime Gorilla Museum on this show. After all, their third (and previously last) album In Glorious Times came out in 2007. But last year the band setup a Bandcamp and hinted at the long-rumoured album of the Last Human Being was on its way. During the long gap, I followed the work of violinist/singer Carla Kihlstedt (of whom I've been a longtime fan) and percussionist/drummer/etc Matthias Bossi in their Rabbit Rabbit Radio project, and that's where I first heard "Silverfish", under the name "Paper Prison". Kihlstedt's double-stopped violin refrain is insanely brilliant, as is her songwriting, and it's great hearing it with SGM, as it was always intended. The band's strength is that the jazz/classical aspects fit seamlessly with the theatrical metal & prog, but even with all of that, it's a surprise to find a cover of This Heat here - but maybe it shouldn't be, as a band that bridges late-period political art rock and punk/post-punk. "S.P.Q.R" is one of my favourite of Charles Hayward's songs (admittedly there are a lot), and the breakneck, heavy rendition here pretty much does it justice.

Sergeant Bestfriend - molehills out of mountains [200+]
Df0bad - Vichysois [200+]
Breakcore was always central to Utility Fog's mission from the start in 2003. At the time breakcore and ragga jungle were keeping the faith for rapid drumbreak destruction, and I always enjoyed the fuck-you illegal sampling and marrying of ugliness with - well, often - prettiness. Breakcore never died, but I feel that with the all-powerful jungle resurgence, it's getting a bit more prominence too. Eora/Sydney's own 200+ are dedicated to all things ultra-fast rave, and also carry on the anarchist political ideals that often came with this kind of hardcore music. So from the river to the sea and the sea of blood between is an impassioned protest against Israel's increasingly undisguised fascism (while emphasising that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism). It's also a great compilation of breakcore, gabber and hardcore techno from Sydney and across the country. Naarm's Sergeant Bestfriend gives us fun, melodic drill'n'bass, while Sydney's Df0bad brings us a journey through IDM.

ophélie - Pipa Pipa [hundert/Bandcamp]
French DJ based in Berlin ophélie drops their debut EP on the Hamburg label hundert here. Two tracks influenced by drum'n'bass & dubstep as much as IDM - the halftime/jungle feel here is reminiscent of the mid-'90s like Subtropic's Homebrew. Lushly melodic with intricate programming and bassweight, a sign of great stuff to come.

POD - Trip2Fantasia [Kinetic Vision]
POD & Tamen - Subvert [Straight Up Breakbeat/Bandcamp]
Last week I played a track from Naarm/Melbourne's POD, an alias of JXTPS for bass genres. Spacer is out on Kinetic Vision now, and "Trip2Fantasia" is even more jungle-influenced, albeit in a bass-techno context. But POD has also been collaborating with Naarm-based jungle mastermind Tamen, and one track from their forthcoming EP is available Finnish label Straight Up Breakbeat's Zero Four compilation - absolutely wikkid.

Source Direct - A Different Groove (T-Mirage V.I.P.) [Odysee Recordings/Bandcamp]
Odysee Recordings go way back to the early jungle days, but relaunched a while back to bring back material from the label's artists as well as excellent new recordings from label-head Andy Odysee and others. One of the strengths of their catalogue is a long relationship with jungle/d'n'b legend Source Direct (an old school friend of Andy Odysee's), so the label has been gradually drip-feeding remastered Source Direct tracks with some new remixes. The brilliant '95 tune Stars is remastered here along with a stompin' remix from Finnish master Fanu, but the also excellent b-side "A Different Groove" appears as a V.I.P. from T-Mirage aka Tilla Kemal, the label's founder and collaborator for Source Direct's Jim Baker. Continues the classy, dark & sharp quality from Odysee.

Alan Fitzpatrick & Reset Robot - Mule Subjective [Shall Not Fade]
Techno bigwig Alan Fitzpatrick here appears on Shall Not Fade with the Headphone Lullaby EP, exchanging high energy 4/4 kicks for breakbeats and bass syncopation. It's lovely and more than a little epic, but I was drawn to the collab with Reset Robot on a jungle/halftime tip.

re:ni - Blame is the Name of the Game [Timedance/Bandcamp]
Following an excellent debut on Ilian Tape, UK DJ Lauren Bush aka re:ni drops four tracks of techno/bass/breaks on Batu's Timedance. Suffused with dub bass and atmospherics, it's music for discerning dancefloors everywhere.

Lord Spikeheart - REM FODDER ft. James Ginzburg, Koenraad Ecker [HAEKALU]
Back in 2020 Nyege Nyege Tapes unleashed the intensity that was the self-titled album by Kenyan noise metal/grindcoreinfused duo Duma. Now Duma's incendiary singer Lord Spikeheart is launching his HAEKALU label with The Adept on April 19th, with a full house of experimental producers and collaborators throughout. "REM FODDER" brings both James Ginzburg of Subtext Recordings & emptyset and Koenraad Ecker of Lumisokea & Stray Dogs, with jackhammering beats, heavy bass and Spikeheart's voice fed through reverberating delays. Clearly the whole album is going to be intense as fuck.

aya - Dexxy Is A Midnight Runner [YCO]
Lip Flip is 4-track EP from aya to raise money for her Facial Feminisation Surgery. But basically it's four tracks of her typically savvy, well-produced deconstructed bass music - recommended!

Alan Johnson - Portal [YUKU]
We had Alan Fitzpatrick earlier, but Alan Johnson isn't a person at all - they're a duo. Between 2013 and 2020 they released just three EPs, but both 2022 and 2023 gave us excellent four-track EPs on Sneaker Social Club. They now find themselves on YUKU, a label whose aesthetic is not that dissimilar to SSC, but tends to take the bass & breaks into more experimental territory - which is reflected in the 6 tracks on Glory Days, their longest release yet. Like the Stillness EP's sampling of Bro. Samuel Clayton with Count Ossie's orchestra, Glory Days uses Jamaican voices through various tracks, and the dub side of bass music is strong, as is the sense of space.

Terminal 11 - Racing To Nowhere [Opal Tapes]
Since the early 2000s, Michael Castaneda has been making idiosyncratic breakcore as Terminal 11. It might initially seem odd finding his latest album Suffocating Repetition on Opal Tapes, a label better known for techno, industrial and noise, but they're not so far away from breakcore anyway, and as usual it's arguable whether that genre fits here. But yes, it's full of dense electronic textures and crowded, restless rhythms. As the album title may imply, it was written during and about the Covid lockdown times, and it really does evoke some of that anxiety-inducing homogeneity...

Lachlan R. Dale - Revealing a silver stream feat. Bonniesongs, Joseph Rabjohns [Art As Catharsis/Bandcamp]
It's been a long time coming, but Art As Catharsis boss (and my colleague in Black Aleph) Lachlan R. Dale will release his ambitious collaborative album Shrines in April. Every track is structured around contributions from musical friends from around the country, each a very distinctive musician themself, reacting to some initial loops from Lachlan. I suspect most of the responses were fairly abstract too, and Lachlan then de- and re-constructed the material into these final pieces. Speaking for my own, it's quite a lovely feeling hearing something that's almost entirely unfamiliar but clearly has me in there - so hopefully that goes for everyone else. On the first single, multi-instrumentalist Bonniesongs' voice and guitar are stretched into ambient textures, as is the guitar of Queensland's Joseph Rabjohns. Keep an eye/ear out for further extracts!

FUJI||||||||||TA - M-3 [Hallow Ground/Bandcamp]
One of the unquestionable highlights of last year's Volume Festival at the Art Gallery of NSW was the performance in The Tank (a cavernous underground space) by Japanese minimalist FUJI||||||||||TA. Yosuke Fujita played various self-made instruments including bells and pump organ, as well as projecting his voice into the space. Whether with his carefully-made field recordings or gorgeously close-mic'd instrumental recordings, Fujita's recordings are unfailingly absorbing. I was introduced to his work in 2020 when Swiss label Hallow Ground released the astonishing iki, fragile recordings of his pump organ, wheezing and clunking through unusual harmonies and discords. His second album for Hallow Ground, MMM, begins with a slow-evolving drone of that pump organ, with the air now pumped electrically, freeing Fujita to generate strange sonic shifts by moving his microphone around it. The second track is built from his remarkable extended vocal technique, breathing in and out in a way that creates a "third voice" from the interference patterns. It's very eerie. But tonight we hear the third track, which combines these two elements into something different again - as if the warbling sounds of organ and voice again generate some spectral Other. It's minimalism as always intended - seemingly static, but ever-changing. Masterful. Mmm.

Listen again — ~212MB

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