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Sunday, 7th of April, 2024

Playlist 07.04.24 (11:00 pm)

It's been four weeks since I was last here! Three Sundays in Japan (amazing of course), in which the excellent Mara Schwerdtfeger kept you company - huge thanks to Mara!

LISTEN AGAIN to all the things! Stream on demand at FBi or podcast here.

Meril Wubslin - Pas là [Bongo Joe Records/Bandcamp]
Starting with a wonderful discovery, courtesy I think of one of the Bandcamp Daily posts. Meril Wubslin are a Swiss trio, singing in French, combining post-rock and krautrock and indie rock and French chanson. The two singer/guitarists, Valérie Niederoest and Christian Garcia-Gaucher, have a history in Swiss indie bands, but when they're joined by French hardcore/math rock/noise rock drummer David Costenaro the band comes into their own: cyclical melodies and guitar lines powered by muscular percussion - probably helped by the production of Kwake Bass here, on their fourth album Faire ça. Anyway, it's always good to be reminded that the Francophone music scene is really rich and creative, and the two albums I've heard of Meril Wubslin easily attest to that.

Aquaserge - Le saut du tigre [Crammed Discs/Bandcamp]
Speaking of, here's the unpredictable French band Aquaserge, who I last heard in 2021 with their postrock/jazz tribute to various 20th century avant-garde composers, The Possibility Of A New Work For Aquaserge (a play on Morton Feldman's "The Possibility of a New Work for Electric Guitar"). In general, though, the band has traded in a kind of French prog/art/psych rock with jazz influences and somehow quite pop. The first single from their forthcoming album La fin de l'economie (released again on legendary Belgian label Crammed Discs) has a percussive backbone with synth riffs and a simple vocal melody echoed on electric guitar - until it opens up with close-knit synth harmonies. Somehow the total effect is not that far from the hypnotic grooves of Meril Wubslin.

Post Neo - Die Verwirrung [Monika Enterprise/Bandcamp]
Staying in Europe for a while still, here's Berlin-based duo Post Neo, aka Pauline Weh and Nicole Luján, whose second EP Alles Immer Wieder combines synths, percussion and vocals in a way that's closer to techno than the previous two acts: programmed beats, slightly robotic vocals and warm percussive bass. But still, the songwriting and even production cast themselves back to '70s avant-pop as much as any contemporary trends. Comfortably housed at Gudrun Gut's Monika Enterprise, it's prime leftfield German stuff.

Sunna Margrét - 4 Year Itch [No Salad Records/Bandcamp]
I first heard Icelandic musician Sunna Margrét (previously known just as Sunna) around 2018 via Wire Magazine. Some six years later, after some smaller releases, comes her debut album Finger on Tongue, via Swiss label No Salad Records. Centred around Sunna's vocal layering and off-kilter electronics, it's understated loveliness.

By The Waterhole with Stephan Meidell - ding ding dong [Playdate Records]
Eva Pfitzenmaier is a German artist, musician and writer based for many years in Bergen, Norway. Her latest album three comes 8 years after two and 11 years after one, but she's been involved with various other Norwegian jazz & experimental projects in the meantime. Her previous solo work has been entirely her own work, with electronics and improvised instruments as well as sometimes improvised vocals, coming together into frequently catchy leftfield pop. Her husband Stephan Meidell, who we've heard here in various Norwegian postrock/jazz/electronic lineups, has worked with her for years, but her third solo album acknowledges the partnership with Meidell as co-creator. The album has had a long gestation, so to speak, as it was begun in 2016, when Pfitzenmaier & Meidell's first child was born. It reflects on family, motherhood and love, but there's a good dose of the oddness that characterises Pfitzenmaier's work, strange electronics, wonky beats, weird structures. There's a lot to enjoy here.

Thea Grant - century caves [Shadow World/Hot Salvation/Bandcamp]
Coincidentally jumping from Bergen to Oslo, still in Norway, here's the extraordinary vocalist/composer/electronic musician Thea Grant, whose album Water and Dreams is largely made up of patient, multitracked vocal pieces, interspersed with heavy electronics of a particularly deconstructed club sound. Her voice is beautifully controlled, and is further augmented with subtle electronic effects, producing an otherworldly sensation - water and dreams indeed. This album should really be on your radar.

Perc - Can You Imagine? [Perc Trax]
I think of Ali Wells' Perc as the hardest of hard techno, and it can be that, but he's someone with wide musical interests - some of his earliest productions were drum'n'bass, although I'm not sure if anything was released. He's remixed early Einstürzende Neubauten, and there's no doubt that there's industrial influences in his sound. But on his new album The Cut Off, the 100th release on his influential Perc Trax and his first album in 7 years, there are rich quasi-choral and ambient interludes (not unusually for his album releases) among the admittedly fierce 4-to-the-floor bangers. "Can You Imagine?" combines the two together, and I do love how the hammering beats glitch in about a third of the way through.

Heejin Jang - Colors: I'm Here! [Venalism]
As her bio on Bandcamp says, South Korean artist Heejin Jang "make[s] something noisy". Her music is spread over many on-point labels, and if you haven't heard last year's Me and the Glassbirds on Doom Trip, you'd best correct that now. Yes noise, but artfully composed & arranged hyperglitch and dronescapes and anything that can make noises really. This track from her new album Dream Signal on Edinburgh tape label Venalism is the best: granulated vocal samples stuttering into almost-rhythm, humour and the uncanny in equal parts.

Hanno Leichtmann / Valerio Tricoli - Brunswick green [Ni Vu Ni Connu/Bandcamp]
Both these artists have some connection to noise music, but also everything from postrock to improv to techno. Cinnte le Dia is the third release from Berlin sound-artist & curator Hanno Leichtmann and Berlin-based Italian musician Valerio Tricoli, a founding member of the legendary Bologna postrock/sound-art/avant-garde group 3/4HadBeenEliminated. The pair's previous albums were released on the legendary Entr'acte in 2016 and 2018, both uncompromising albums of abstract sound manipulation with a very musical core. This album combines spontaneous live creation with post-production and overdubs on synth-bass and Revox tape recorder, the result being music that's informed by dub and techno as much as concrète and sound-art - it's a real pleasure to listen to (as are the two earlier releases!)

Nick Wales, Rrawun Maymuru - Yolngu (Deepchild Vocal Reconstruction) [Motorik!/Bandcamp]
What better way to get into the real techno & dance side of the show but with the wonderful Yolgnu songman from Northeast Arnhem Land, Rrawun Maymuru (lead singer of East Journey), and composer, violist and electronic musician Nick Wales? They've collaborated before for Sydney Dance Company, but this new song, simply entitled Yolgnu, is hopefully the beginning of a bigger project. The song comes with club and ambient mixes from Nick Wales, but also a reworking from Eora/Sydney's own Deepchild that's aimed directly at the dancefloor. The song is a wonderful call for pride of the Yolgnu people, and sitting between the classical and electronic worlds, Nick is a great partner with Rrawun to help bring this music to the world.

Pugilist - Destructor [Pugilist Bandcamp]
Naarm-based sub-destroyer, whether at 170bpm/jungle tempo or 140bpm/dubstep, Pugilist has started putting "Ruff Trax" EPs up on his Bandcamp: Vol 1 was basically jungle, and Vol 2 is 140 stuff - although there are plenty of breakbeats strewn through these tracks. Always quality.

HALFNELSON - Presa [Nina]
Will Yates' best-known alias Memotone, in its early days, was an outlet for leftfield bass music. Even then, though, his incredible skills across drumkit and percussion, keyboards and myriad other instruments were leading him into less dancefloor-oriented sounds. As well as projects like the weird-folk of O.G. Jigg, Memotone itself nowadays is an outlet for Yates' multi-instrumentalism, in jazz/folk/ambient settings, only sometimes veering into beats. Meanwhile, HALFNELSON is the place where you'll find him making techno and 4/4 beats, but also tape-saturated lo-fi hip-hop as is found amongst the four tracks of Yoga Om Knowledge. Yates has released the EP exclusively on Nina, a platform that came out of the NFT hype, but successfully shed the blockchain nonsense (you can pay with cryptocurrency, but you can also pay in normal ways). You can listen yourself, and when you buy it, note that there's a "Bonus material" tab where you can download WAVs.

BEANS - ZWAARD 2 [BEANS Bandcamp]
In the latest issue of The Wire the editorial waxes lyrical about how forward-thinking Antipop Consortium were in the late '90s & early '00s, and I do kind of agree - their mix of IDM and glitch with avant-garde lyricism while staying true to hip-hop was pretty groundbreaking, although I always found their releases kind of hit & miss, and they didn't touch me, somehow. After a long silence, the band is getting back together, which is good news - although when I say silence, that's only as a collective (er, consortium). High Priest of Antipop has been active with experimental sound and melding jazz with electronica as Hprizm, and BEANS, BEANS just does not stop, and dude is dedicated to abstract raps with experimental electronics. In March 2017 he released three albums all at once (see the bottom three albums on his Bandcamp music page), and there's been at least one album a year since then - I recall Nibiru Tut being rad too. Well, BEANS is a good enough reason to check out ZWAARD, his latest album, but there's another hook: the whole thing is produced by Sasu Ripatti aka Vladislav Delay. Crazier still: Mr Delay sent BEANS a bunch of sample tracks to start a collab, material from about 10 years ago, and BEANS insisted on making his tracks directly from those demos - only a little tweaking from Vlad. If we go looking, we'll see that 2013-2014 was when a series of phenomenal tricksy dance EPs came out under his surname Ripatti - they're there on his Bandcamp, Ripatti01 to Ripatti07, footwork/idm hybrids that were the precursors of the recent Dancefloor Classics EPs. So honestly they sound up-to-the-minute, and a perfect sound base for BEANS to riff on. Ridiculously great stuff.

Eks - Os_ag [Opal]
Is Eks hip-hop? Can I say "among other things"? Napoli producer Guido Marziale, who's appeared on the great Italian label A Flooded Need, UK breakcore-adjacent label ADAADAT, and Bristol's Avon Terror Corps, but Throw-Up Concrète is his most high-profile yet - a full album released by Opal (who seem to have just lost the "Tapes", although this album is indeed released on tape!). The "concrète" part is a hint, but then so is "throw-up": this is music as indebted to noise as it is to sound design as it is to hip-hop. There are two guest spots from Sensational, the Brooklyn rapper who like BEANS frequently works in the experimental electronic space, and spots from both D.HAM and Franco Franco of recent Bokeh Versions album Parable Of The Empty Cup. But Eks doesn't need guests to make compellingly oddball noise-hop. Full of weird messed-up sounds and messed-up beats, Throw-Up Concrète is a winner.

hoyah - Dubblebubble [BRUK]
Sam (Shmuel) Hatchwell has worked as sound engineer and producer for some time, and as DJ has found himself in the revered climes of Berlin's Berghain. But his solo music, under the name hoyah, is only now really surfacing. The album Set + Setting comes out on BRUK, one of Low End Activist's labels that has heretofore focused on the more experimental end of jungle/club musics, but hoyah has experimented it way out of the park (sorry for the stretched metaphor). The album is constructed from a base of saxophone samples - masses of them, loaded into his trusty MPC. His self-imposed limitations stipulated that the sax sounds would be the "voice", there would be no "beats", and it would mostly be constructed away from the computer. Nevertheless, here on "Dubblebubble" we've certainly got percussive sounds - maybe not "beats" - around the lushly glitchy sax samples. As for the artist name, as well as a reference to a truly irritating TikTok meme ("can I get a hoya"), "hoyah" is an obscure word in Biblical Hebrew, a feminine form of "to be". As tends to crop up in the current climate, Hatchwell seeks to differentiate Jewish lore, culture and religion from the ongoing genocidal actions of the State of Israel. The conflation of Judaism with Zionism, as a tactic to brand any opposition to Israel as antisemitic, has reached a particularly vicious level of hysteria in Germany, and particularly Berlin, so it's no wonder Hatchwell feels the need to make this statement. Ceasefire now!

Phelimuncasi & Metal Preyers - Gqom slowgen Chant [Nyege Nyege Tapes/Bandcamp]
On their new album Izigqinamba, South African gqom crew Phelimuncasi take their raps and singing, in the isiZulu language, further into experimental waters than they have in the past. Here they have teamed up with fellow Nyege Nyege Tapes artist Metal Preyers, presumably predominately the work of Jesse Hackett, who with visual artist Mariano Chavez has released some of the most original and confounding music on the label. In this collaborative album the abstract tendencies of Metal Preyers are somewhat controlled, and Phelimuncasi manage to be as evocative and exhilarating as ever, even on darker, more downtempo tracks like "Gqom slowgen Chant".

Saint Abdullah & Eomac - Jealous of your defense industry [Drowned By Locals/Bandcamp]
The ongoing collaboration between NY-based Iranian brothers Saint Abdullah and Berlin-based Dubliner Eomac continues apace. Their latest, a full album entitled Light meteors crashing around you will not confuse you, comes courtesy of Jordanian label of exquisite taste, Drowned By Locals. Inevitably this album exists in the shadow of the war in Gaza, and all proceeds will go to UNRWA. Musically it's in some ways more chaotic than the two brilliant releases on Planet µ last year, but at the same time, as Eomac points out, it takes cues from hip-hop's beat tapes, filtered through the experimental sound techniques of the artists, everything crunched and distorted and taking frequent left turns into something else. It's deliberately disorienting, and it's deliberately evocative of loss and upheaval. Another important release from a phenomenal partnership.

Jana - Eb3ed 3ani [Yuku]
Prague label YUKU continues to come through with the goods. Here's a single from London-based Lebanese producer/sound-artist/DJ Jana Saleh, which de/reconstructs the sound of shaabi, Egyptian urban music. But just one track certainly leaves us wanting more!

Christoph de Babalon - Backward Gallop [Midnight Shift/Bandcamp]
Among the many pleasures of the jungle revival and the concomitant breakcore revival has been observing the original artists still around today, or inspired to start releasing new tracks. Christoph de Babalon was an enigmatic and iconoclastic figure in the Digital Hardcore days, where the Berlin scene picked up on that key era where hardcore techno morphed into jungle, and amped up the distortion to the max alongside anarchist/leftist politics. In a way, de Babalon never left - or if he did, it was between 2000 and 2008. But in recent years archival collections have appeared alongside new material, very much in keeping with the dark ambient and jungle/breakcore material he began with. Here, Singapore label Midnight Shift give us four new tracks on vinyl & digital, and we know the drill: hard-hitting cut-up breaks and bass, classical-leaning dark ambient interludes. It's a vibe.

Bankert - brainstorm [Bankert]
Hailing from Liechtenstein, electronic producer Bankert does not reveal very much about themself. They're up to ol05, the 5th release on Bandcamp, and have a contemporary take on idm, with hyper-edited beats and vocal snatches. The releases are all "name your price", so you really should!

Klahrk - &3&4 [SFX/Bandcamp]
London producer Ben Clarke spells himself Klahrk, presumably so that at least written-down he won't get confused with (Chris) Clarke. Blistering is Klahrk's second release on Zoë Mc Pherson & Alessandra Leone's SFX label. These tracks are driven by thundering bass hits syncopating under chittering percussive beats and glitched vocal snippets. Futuristic doomclub.

Aroma Nice - moan [YUKU]
Luke Fashoni started his jungle/breaks/downtempo alter-ego Aroma Nice over 10 years ago, and has collaborated with Earl Grey as Monologue (released on YUKU back in 2022), but now Old Haunts is his second solo release on YUKU and feels like a giant leap. Along with the jazzy samples and junglist drumfunk there's a juddering low-end throughout "moan" that brings a heavy intensity while gentle pads float over the top. Meanwhile "over the top" is a good description of the break-juggling madness. More complex than the drill'n'bass heroes of the mid-'90s, more in touch with jungle's sub-bass, and more nuanced than the breakcore shenanigans that came after... we're living in a golden age, enjoy it while it lasts!

DJ Strawberry - Çıkmaz [outlines]
Turkish producer DJ Strawberry is also harnessing bass energy, here in the context of Polish label outlines' mission of experimental approaches to Chicago footwork. DJ Strawberry put his new album Beyond together in the shadow of the horrific earthquake that hit Turkey early last year, and the music is a kind of escape from those dark emotions. The acid synths burbling under the jittering hi-hats and bass rumble on "Çıkmaz" seem to flow logically out of Aroma Nice's bass'n'breaks.

Michael Vincent Waller - Jennifer (Loraine James Remix) [play loud! productions/Bandcamp]
Michael Vincent Waller - Return from LA II (Moor Mother Remix) [play loud! productions/Bandcamp]
New York (post-)minimalist composer Michael Vincent Waller put out his Moments album on Unseen Worlds in 2019, a lovely collection of piano and vibraphone pieces with beguiling harmonies and hidden melodies reminiscent of Erik Satie or Philip Glass. The same year Moments came out, Waller had been talking with Jlin - who incidentally has a collaboration with Glass on her new album Akoma - and something about their shared aesthetics and thoughts about music sparked the idea for this remix album, Moments Remixes, out now on play loud! productions. The artists range from ambient to rave, glitch-hop to idm, and in keeping with its origins there are a pleasing number of women and non-binary artists - it's really worth checking out for people like Ka Baird, Prefuse 73, Xiu Xiu, Fennesz and of course Jlin, but I can rarely go past Loraine James, and her glitchy cut-ups of the original material with skittery beats are a joy. On the other end of the spectrum, Moor Mother brings heaviness with her rather unsettling spoken word and crumbling atmos overdubbed on the original tender piano.

MIZU - Pavane [NNA Tapes/Bandcamp]
New York-based cellist MIZU began composing the music for her second album Forest Scenes during a period based in São Paulo, and finished it in New York. Initially the album can sound like electronic ambient, but pretty soon you realise how much cello is contributing to the sounds here - there are melodies, processed textures, rhythmic parts. This ambiguity is part of the point of Forest Scenes, which uses the forest as a metaphor for queer spaces, and while the album was coming together, MIZU was herself undergoing physical gender transition. There are rich allusions in the works on this album, and there's a depth to the music too - layers to discover over multiple listens. Avant-garde and future-focused cello music is always one of my obsessions, and it's fruitfully rewarded on this album.

Hochzeitskapelle - We Dance feat. Enid Valu [Alien Transistor/Bandcamp]
We have the brothers Acher from The Notwist to thank for bringing us this understated EP from Munich acoustic/folk (wait, "rumplejazz") ensemble Hochzeitskapelle through their Alien Transistor label. Made up of viola, banjo, tuba, trumpet, trombone, drums, and perhaps other acoustic instruments at times, they have a ruffled, ramshackle sound that instantly lends the music a kind of "authenticity". On two of the four tracks here they're joined by Enid Valu, who is a filmmaker and photographer, usually documenting rather than performing, and her relatively unschooled voice is beautifully touching. Oh and this is a covers EP - indie heroes Pavement, Yo La Tengo and Low, plus German pop-rock band Wir Sind Helden. Initially Low's "Silver Rider" seems a little too bare-bones, with the melody carried on banjo, but at the chorus the trombone takes over, gloriously. This is really special stuff. Tonight I played the cover of Pavement's "We Dance" (the opener of Wowee Zowee), already a languid song from the quintessential slacker band, which effortlessly translates into the band's acoustic world.

Kelly Moran - Butterfly Phase [Warp/Bandcamp]
While New York pianist/composer Kelly Moran's first album for Warp showcased her prepared piano and electronics, Moves in the Field is lush in a different way. Here "clean" piano is in dialogue with a Yamaha Disklavier, which is a kind of digital version of a player piano - it's a mechanical, acoustic piano and can be used to record a performance that can then be played back without the performer. But as Moran shows here, it can be programmed to "perform" the piano is ways that are technically unavailable to a single human pianist - echoing the insanity of Conlon Nancarrow's impossible player piano compositions, punched into the device's control sheet so that it does crazy stuff like this. Nothing on this record is as extreme as Nancarrow, but it lends an uncanny sheen to what are in fact beautiful compositions.

Nadah El-Shazly - Haircut [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. Tonight we celebrate her soundtrack to British-Moroccan director Fyzal Boulifa's film The Damned Don't Cry, released in full now. El-Shazly's music is heartfelt but uncompromising, using harp, double bass and violin along with her voice and production.

Listen again — ~213MB


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