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Utility Fog

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Sunday, 3rd of March, 2024

Playlist 03.03.24 (11:00 pm)

Music of great beauty and mystery, rhythms of great propulsion.

LISTEN AGAIN to the sign o' the times. Stream on demand at FBi, podcast here.

Armand Hammer - Doves feat. Benjamin Booker [Backwoodz Studioz/Bandcamp]
Following a flurry of collaborations, many of which I've played here, Armand Hammer have released a new song - except it's been plonked at the end of last year's We Buy Diabetic Test Strips as a bonus track. Which is weird because it's absolutely incredible, right up with their best. Guitar & very fragile vocals from elusive soul/blues/rock musician Benjamin Booker plus piano lines are gorgeously smeared throughout by the dubby production of Kenny Segal, with a slice-of-life rap from billy woods only appearing halfway through, while ELUCID's lines are buried in distorted noise and echoes... "Is it me?"

Cengiz Arslanpay & Michel Banabila - Stop The Genocide! End The Occupation Now [Tapu Records]
The title says it all: Stop The Genocide! End The Occupation Now. Dutch musician Michel Banabila and Netherlands-based Turkish musician Cengiz Arslanpay have created a beautiful work of electro-acoustic drone; both musicians work with all manner of instruments, and Arslanpay's ney flute and rebab can be heard here among the electronics. All proceeds go to Gaza / Lebanon relief funds, listed on the Bandcamp page.

Persher - Hymn To The Tupperbird [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
The debut album from Persher follows their mini-album from 2022, Man With the Magic Soap. It's unlikely that anyone will sleep well to Sleep Well. Although both musicians come from the dubstep/techno world (Arthur Cayzer is Pariah and Jamie Roberts is Blawan), Persher is their tribute to grindcore, hardcore punk and extreme metal, with the bass elements only leaking in at times. I definitely hear them in "Hymn To The Tupperbird": weird sound manipulation, delay effects and occasional edited grooves lurk behind the guitar & bass riffs and the gruff metal vocals. Sleep Well is not for the faint-hearted, but fans of the heavy will find plenty to enjoy.

Squarepusher - Domelash [Warp/Bandcamp]
So. A new Squarepusher eh? *raises eyebrow* I dunno, but with all the new jungle out, and brilliant "deconstructed club" stuff melding jungle and techno and who knows what else, the drill'n'bass and electric bass on Tom Jenkinson feels a bit outdated. And yet... it's fun, he does love mashing the beats in ridiculous fashion, and he still has a handy way with synth melodies. I guess it's just that, as was mentioned way back when he & Aphex Twin and the rest started making this music, there's not much in the way of (sub) bass here (it was snarkily suggested at the time that they hadn't heard jungle played out in clubs, only in their bedrooms). It's all very much in the mid-range. Still, as I said, enjoyable stuff!

Arcane - Minotaur [Over/Shadow/Bandcamp]
Well here's one of those contemporary purveyors of jungle & drum'n'bass. Bristol's Arcane has a handful of releases under his belt on the likes of Irish label Rua Sound, but debuts now on Over/Shadow, founded to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Moving Shadow label. The Minotaur EP is four tracks of jungle re-tooled for the post-footwork age, with a nod to the hardcore techno that presaged jungle, but eyes forward to the future.

Andy Odysee - Waterblade Warrior [Odysee Recordings/Bandcamp]
Andy Baddaley, on the other hand, goes way back. An old schoolmate of Jim Baker of Source Direct, he joined Tilla Kemal's Odysee Recordings a few years in, lending his jazz & classical chops to the dark & deep sound. He's now co-manager of the label as it revives old releases by Source Direct, Photek and others, while also releasing new music - in particular from Badalley under Andy Odysee (fka Angel Dust, Cloaking Device and other aliases). Odysee Black Volume IV is the latest in a series of releases aimed at expanding the label's outlook, but Badalley's broad musical background always shines through anyway. "Waterblade Warrior" is an incredible exercise in programming skill, an updated take on Photek circa "Ni-Ten-Ichi-Ryu (Two Swords Technique)" which in all honesty should be on all the dancefloors.

Atrice - Multiplex [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
The latest release on Munich's singular Ilian Tape label brings Swiss duo Atrice back into the fold, with an EP that rivals their brilliant Ilian Tape debut Q from 2021. The five tracks on Multiplex span bass forms from breakbeat techno to jungle, always syncopating, always changing. Premium dancefloor stuff.

Morwell - Into the Light [Spiritual TransmissionsBandcamp]
Max Morwell takes a left turn from his usual post-rave/bass/breaks obsessions here - or does he? This is still music with beats, but it's super trippy, with somewhat psychedelic spoken word samples throughout, drawing from free jazz as much as jungle or trap. Morwell's first release on his new label Spiritual Transmissions, it comes in a limited CD form (tasty!) as well as digital, and the first two tracks are streaming now. Recommended.

gorse panshawe - tie me to the maypole [Activia Benz/Bandcamp]
The artist formerly(?) known as Slugabed has been bending his weirdness in other directions as gorse panshawe for a while now, via the Activia Benz label. So where Slugabed laid down wonky blurty bass music, gorse panshawe on earth, air, fire & water seems to go a'wandrin' into the English countryside, where he finds miniature raves happening in forests & streams, and jungle bidness around the maypole. "Pagan jungle"? Sure, why not!

Wrecked Lightship - Hex [Peak Oil/Bandcamp]
The second album from Wrecked Lightship, the duo of Laurie Appleblim Osborne and Adam Winchester, comes from Brian Foote & Brion Brionson's great, unpredictable Peak Oil label. As with 2022's Drowned Aquarium, these are submerged, dub-soaked jams, sometimes with jungle breaks half-audible through the murk. Fascinating, hard to grasp.

Bushranger - Ghost Gum Transmitter [Bush Meditation]
Eli Murray, best known as Gentleforce, has revived his Bushranger alias for an album of twisted field recordings and degraded techno. With Gully Music, Murray melds these two sources together so that you can't tell where the crickets end and the glitched hi-hats begin - although to be fair, there's a lot of imposing electronics here. But the project's aim to make music about - and for - specific places is artfully achieved. Perhaps Murray's greatest achievement is that he's made industrial music about nature. Hypnotic.

Scattered Order - It was a Saturday [Rather By Vinyl]
Scattered Order - The silent dark [Rather By Vinyl]
40+ years into their career (with some minor breaks), Sydney icons Scattered Order have released what to me sounds like easily one of their best albums. All Things Must Persist has a lot of their recent hallmarks: sampled TV or movie voices, razor-sharp guitars, intricate beats, but then also pretty contemplative piano... Mitch Jones' voice rasps over & under these arrangements. All three current members - Jones, Michael Tee and Shane Fahey - likely contribute electronic and instrumental sounds. You might think that they're at an age where no fucks need be given, but Scattered Order has never felt the need to nod to audience comfort or genre norms, slipping & sliding between (post-)industrial, postpunk, sound collage and studio experimentation, and various forms of electronica. It's all here, adorned with stunning artwork from Stella Severain. Get it on vinyl from Bandcamp or at one of their up-coming shows (see their website).

Sote - Reign of Insanity [SVBKVLT/Bandcamp]
Sote - Death-dealing [SVBKVLT/Bandcamp]
By this time, Ata Ebtekar's musical outlet as Sote should be familiar to fans of electronic/experimental music worldwide. It's over 2 decades since his Electric Deaf EP on Warp left listeners gasping for air, and for well over a decade he's been exploring Iranian musical traditions - including adptations of pioneering electronic music from the country, and ways of combining his electronics with Persian instruments like santour, tar and tombak - as well as promoting the work of new generations of Iranian experimental musicians through his Zabte Sote imprint. His latest album Ministry of Tall Tales comes via Shanghai's very internationalist, forward-thinking label SVBKVLT, and as the title implies, deals with misinformation/disinformation, corruption, oppression and so on, all familiar conditions in geopolitics at the moment. The music is not as abrasive as one might expect, however. While drama and anger creep in at times, the emotions expressed here tend more towards confusion and near-resignation, given a kind of resolution with "1401 Beautiful Souls", although even there it's hard to pinpoint whether it's sarcastic or not. Another powerful work from an electronic master.

Ludwig Wittbrodt - Tulpen [Ana Ott/Bandcamp]
The duo of Edis Ludwig and Emily Wittbrodt pairs two musicians from different musical worlds, intersecting in experimentation. Ludwig is a drummer in rock bands and an electronic producer, here on laptop and occasional drums. Wittbrodt is a cellist with a classical background who also works in free improv - last year we heard her unconventional suite Make You Stay, also released by Ana Ott, with a mixture of songs, classical compositions and free jazz - and electronics. For Schleifen ("Grind") the cello and laptop become a mini-ensemble, capable of producing contemporary classical music, drones, and kosmische musik, within a consistent framework. Lovely stuff.

sinonó - qué estará pensando [Subtext Recordings/Bandcamp]
Latinx vocalist Isabel Crespo Pardo lives in New York, where they work with various ensembles in new music and free improv. Their main outlet for their own compositions is sinonó, which pairs their voice with powerhouse cellist Lester St. Louis and double bassist Henry Fraser. This combination of low string instruments makes for powerful and moving music, with haunting melodic lines sometimes played in high harmonics on the contrabass, storms of plucking or tremolo bowing, basslines from either instrumentalist. Crespo's songs patiently unfold, with plenty of room for the musicians to improvise, but with the scaffolding of a bassline here, a strummed chord there, to hold Crespo's beautiful vocal melodies. There are moments of intense discordance, which only emphasise the warmth of the simple-yet-complex arrangements. This may be the first fully acoustic album released on Subtext Recordings, although the recording is sensitively mixed by electronic musician and Subtext boss James Ginzburg (of emptyset). A deeply touching suite of what the composer calls poem-songs.

Oliver Coates - Timp X [Invada/Bandcamp]
TV audiences have just been introduced to the period comedy/dramedy(?) Mary & George, starring Julieanne Moore. Sounds like fun, but what it sounds like is also heavily influenced by British cellist/composer/producer Oliver Coates, who was - fortunately - commissioned to write the score. Coates is comfortable in contemporary classical circles, but has also worked with bands such as Radiohead, Mira Calix, Mica Levi, Leo Abrahams, Clark, MF DOOM and more. He also recently soundtracked the much-celebrated Aftersun. Just before this UFog episode went to air, Invada snuck out a couple of tracks from the Mary & George soundtrack on Bandcamp - but now the entire 2hrs of cues is available, and the previews suggest it'll be sumptuous, smart and a little avant-garde. Can't wait to dive in to the rest!

We Will Intersect - Fragment III [Ugoki!/Bandcamp]
Sydney pianist, keyboard player, composer & improviser Adrian Lim-Klumpes is best known for Triosk and the band we share, Tangents, but he recently convened a new quartet with another unusual line-up, with Microfiche's Nick Calligeros on trumpet & live electronics, Nick Meredith aka Kcin on percussion & live electronics, and Miles Thomas on drums. Their debut self-titled album was released on Belgian label Off, an offshoot of the experimental Stilll label, and new EP Fragments comes via Ugoki!, now the main home for Off's jazz releases. The music is all derived from live improvisations, edited by Lim-Klumpes & Calligeros into four song-length Fragments, which progress from soft drones and tentative piano to, ultimately, the very processed & percussive fourth fragment. Those who've enjoyed these musicians in other contexts, or are interested in Australian improv and electronics, will no doubt enjoy.

Mattia Onori - Spazio Profondo [Southern Lights/Bandcamp]
Out on Friday March 15th from Naarm/Melbourn label Southern Lights is the debut solo album from Berlin-based Italian musician Mattia Onori, who co-runs the Melantónia Collective in Berlin. Tra Vento E Oscurità is an album of sound-art at its most pristine and austere - speech processed into unintelligibility, breath and wind, resonant drones, and perhaps the occasional synth pad floating through these soundscapes. Onori's got a deft touch with organised sound, and takes us deep into the space "Between Wind and Darkness".

Tom Allum - Ø [Tom Allum Bandcamp]
A couple of years ago, I was very impressed by the watery electronics of Western Australian sound-artist Tom Allum on the CANAL ROCKS album released by Boorloo/Perth label Tone List. On his own Bandcamp, Allum has just released Out of Hand, featuring four tracks created for an exhibition by Allum and visual artist & architect Beth George. Drawing machines interact with the sound, and vice versa. Even on its own, the music is immersive, with sounds generated by wavetable synthesis coexisting with recordings of the objects in the space, placed and moving about the stereo soundstage. It makes for gorgeous listening, with the intimacy both of synthesised sounds and of objects in a room, slowly teasing out microscopic melodies and drawn-out rhythms. Listen anywhere, anytime, but consider putting headphones on and turning out the lights.

Ben Frost - Unreal in the Eyes of the Dead [Mute/Bandcamp]
Utility Fog's connection with Iceland-based Aussie composer Ben Frost goes back to the very early days, before Ben left Adelaide and then left Melbourne & Australia altogether (well, he's visited since then). His album By The Throat was UFog's album of the year in 2009. Following his debut on Iceland's Bedroom Community, Theory of Machines, it established Frost as a composer, as well as a master of snarling electronic bass sonics. His latest album Scope Neglect traces a line back to Theory of Machines' sampling of Swans, if not earlier to his Melbourne postrock band School of Emotional Engineering. Guitar riffs and ambient electronics are the scope of Scope Neglect, but here it's metal riffs pared down to their essence and turned machine-like. It can be almost too austere, with none of metal's barely controlled ferocity - not that this isn't deliberate. But I found myself most drawn to the album's final track, in which the riffs have been banished underground, or in the next valley over, leaving the listener with echoes and desolation. There's beauty in that.

Listen again — ~200MB

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