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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, 14th of April, 2024

Playlist 14.04.24 (11:00 pm)

Vocals tonight used in myriad ways from glistening pop to visceral assaults...

LISTEN AGAIN, I know, there's a lot to take in! FBi's website offers stream on demand, or you can podcast here.

9T Antiope - Ready Player One [American Dreams/Bandcamp]
9T Antiope - Canvas Blank [American Dreams/Bandcamp]
Listeners of this show know I've been a fan of 9T Antiope for a long time. The duo of Sara Shamloo and Nima Aghiani are Paris-based Iranians, who also record as Taraamoon, in which Shamloo sings in Farsi - but for the more experimental 9T Antiope her songs are predominantly in English. Nima Aghiani's violin is a frequent presence alongside electronic noisemakers, but Shamloo's lush voice is often juxtaposed against harsh sounds, throbbing drones, digital glitches. Their new album Horror Vacui, out now through the excellent American Dreams (incidentally now based in Paris like 9T Antiope), is possibly their most accessble yet, though no less experimental for that. The "horror vacui" of the title is the fear of empty spaces, but also refers to the spaces in between - the in-betweenness of being expatriates from your country, neither here nor there. These fears, and the void itself, are welcomed in by Shamloo's voice and Aghiani's often rhythmic, looped violin, octave violin and octave mandolin. The crunchy string loops and warm vocals dispell any looming emptiness.

Aether + Vassallo - Desire [Aether + Vassallo Bandcamp]
Tonight we premiere a new song from Sydney duo Aether + Vassallo, from their forthcoming album Unbroken. Bronwyn Eather's poetry & vocals, plus keyboards & electronics, are supported by ethereal slide guitar from Paul Vassallo. Eather's songwriting and poetry emerged after a whole other life as a linguist, including a 10-year stint in Arnhem Land researching indigenous languages. On "Desire" the narrator takes us towards a gathering storm with eerie, ambient washes.

Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling, Andreas Werliin - tre [Drag City/Bandcamp]
The second album from the distinctive Australian guitarist Oren Ambarchi with Johan Berthling & Andreas Werliin (the rhythm section of Fire!) takes off where the last one left off - that is to say, it's more of the same, which is a really good thing! Berthling and Werliin dive right in with one of their trademark circular riffs of fat double bass and drums (no cymbals from what I can hear!) - jazz-indebted, rhythmically driving. Over this, Ambarchi patiently weaves his sounds, which rarely actually resemble guitar. Are those flute lines actually flute? Maybe. In any case, Ambarchi's own minimalist tendencies mesh perfectly with the two Swedes. Brilliant stuff as always!

Domenico Lancellotti - Abraço No Faust (Ricardo Dias Gomes remix) [Domenic Lancellotti Bandcamp/Ricardo Dias Gomes Bandcamp]
Ricardo Dias Gomes - Não Ver Onde Se Vê (Domenico Lancellotti & Eduardo Manso remix) [Domenic Lancellotti Bandcamp/Ricardo Dias Gomes Bandcamp]
Earlier this year, Brazilian musician Domenico Lancellotti released sramba, a modernised take on Brazilian samba, drawing in krautrock and electronica. And last year Ricardo Dias Gomes' Muito Sol grabbed our attention with brilliantly abstracted takes on Brazilian popular music. The two musicians are touring together, and have created a very limited edition cassette (and digital) EP in which they remix or rework each other's music. "Um abraço no Faust" was my favourite track from Lancellotti's album, a hypnotic groove with a seemingly simple guitar refrain with close harmonies that opens up at intervals with a gorgeous major-key change. Gomes is present on the original recording, but for his remix the guitar is replaced by ringing vibraphone. It's a beauty. For his part, Lancellotti works with Eduardo Manso to augment Gomes' songs, more radically on the other two tracks, but here scattering percussion in the choruses.

Banabila & Machinefabriek - A Giant Misstep [Banabila Bandcamp]
Since their self-titled debut 12 years ago, experienced Dutch musicians & sound-artists Michel Banabila and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) have had a fruitful partnership, clearly complementing each other. Banabila has four decades of experience working with all manner of instruments along with tape and electronics, while for at least 2 decades Zuydervelt has amassed a huge collection of works from sound-art and drone to soundtracks and many musical collaborations. A Looming Presence finds them working with more beats than usual, something Banabila is no stranger too, and which has crept into Zuydervelt's work more of late. But the rhythms weave around earthy textures, field recordings, drones, or even voice and viola. This "playful yet dark soundtrack for a crumbling world" is in fact rather comforting, compulsive listening.

Madeleine Cocolas - Drift [Room40/Bandcamp]
Brisbane composer Madeleine Cocolas's new album Bodies uses her synths and voice to explore the connection between bodies of water and human bodies. Whereas last year's Spectral used found sounds and electronics to evoke her surroundings, and various emotions - anxiety, release - Bodies is more flowing (watery) and embodied. On "Drift" her sampled voice joins pulsating synths, pushed onwards perhaps by river currents.

Avalanche Kaito - Donle [Glitterbeat/Bandcamp]
In 2022, the debut EP and then album from Avalanche Kaito were a revelation. Labalou Kaito Winse, an urban griot from Burkina Faso, met noise/post-punk duo of Benjamin Chaval on drums & electronics and Nico Gitto on guitar when he first visited Brussels. Something about their approach to music & sound gelled, and if anything on Talitakum they're even more of a singular unit. Whether Kaito is providing wild vocals, or his Peul flute and mouth bow, these songs are dizzyingly inventive, rhythmically complex and sonically dense.

Axon Breeze - Click [Axon Breeze Bandcamp]
nipaluna/Hobart musician, director and curator J R Brennan is the founder of KIN, an organisation that works on arts projects with people who have experience with the criminal justice system, and is also Co-director of Special Events at MONA. The first track from his "death metal club music" project Axon Breeze, "YOU SNAKE" appeared two years ago, and it's only taken that long for him to release "Click". The death metal part is mostly confined to Brennan's vocals, which growl hoarsely but not unintelligbly, but also provide clean-vox interjections. Both tracks are demented in the best way.

su dance110 - 101111111 Ash [su dance110 Bandcamp]
Dan Su is a dancer and choreographer, composer and producer based in Berlin. Their music and performance works are often intertwined, with the audio coming out under the name su dance110. Shang Can (殇残) extends from their 2021 opera & dance work Gentle Brutality, which explored homelessness and structural oppression. I'm not sure what the binary elements in the artist and track names mean, but it points to a corresponding interplay in the music itself, between the electronics, noise, fractured beats on the one hand, and elements of folk musics from ethnic minorities in Yunan province, and more operatic/classical elements. It's a very now hybridisation, but draws deeply from Su's own experience to produce something very compelling.

bela - 풀이 [Subtext Recordings/Unsound/Bandcamp]
Hard to believe, Noise and Cries 굉​음​과 울음 is the first time bela has recorded their voice. For much of the album it's the centrepiece - wailing, growling, screaming and sometimes singing purely, while industrial electronics and shards of club beats clamour. These works were first conceived while bela was living in Seoul, alienated and unsupported in a society that is, as they say, "slow to embrace those who exist on the margins". Amid their fixation with death, the emotions in these works are often harsh and pained, but bela was adamant that they express the opposing, deep desire to live. And so among the intense, disturbing (and excellent) material there are more uplifting pieces like "풀이" (which they translate as "unwinding"), in which cavernous, distant beats underscore sampled voices that float and soothe.

Use Knife - Ptolemaic (Zoë Mc Pherson Remix) [Morphine Records/Bandcamp]
Belgian/Iraqi trio Use Knife combine Arabic percussion and vocals with psychedelic electronics of all sorts. They released their debut album The Shedding of Skin in 2022, and now Berlin label Morphine Records (run by Lebanese musician Rabih Beaini) has released a 3-track remix EP, Peace Carnival. A couple of months ago I played the excellent rework by the brilliant Palestinian producer Muqata'a مقاطعة. Alongside Beaini himself we find Zoë Mc Pherson working jungle/techno breaks in amongst the electronics and Saif Al-Qaissy's Arabic vocals.

Comatone - XVLab (2004) [Feral Media/Bandcamp]
Katoomba resident Greg Seiler's early releases as Comatone, on the Feral Media label, helped hook our local scene into the international music I was playing. Greg's facility with complex beats and sound design made Comatone's music as exciting as any other electronica I'd play. In 2008 Comatone released an album with Sydney drummer Alon Ilsar as Comatone & Foley, but sometime in the following years he withdrew from the limelight, although Alon has presented the music from that album & its follow-up live with his Airsticks. This week, Greg contacted me to let me know that Feral Media will be releasing a series of EPs catching up unreleased Comatone music from the last untold amounts of time, which is great news. The glitch IDM beats of "XVLab" are the earliest, and there's work from the 2010s and even more recently coming our way - keep an eye on Bandcamp!

Monokle - Turn to Myself [Fuselab/Bandcamp]
St Petersberg Vlad Kudryavtsev's productions as Monokle go back nearly as far as Comatone. It's melodic and comforting music with nods to classic IDM sounds along the lines of Arovane, early Autechre, and hints of the ambient techno of Future Sound of London too. Comforting on headphones or on the right kind of dancefloors.

Lakker - Sparkle In The Dark [YUKU/Bandcamp]
Irish duo Lakker's second EP for YUKU is Pathway. It's got everything the pair excel at - assured rhythms from across bass & rave culture, with sound design to match. On "Sparkle In The Dark" the squashed remnants of death metal riffs hide behind nimble synth melodies and lopsided rhythms that coalesce at the 2/3 mark with punchy bass and skittery beats before dissolving back into stuttery samples.

Stefan Goldmann - Helicon [Macro/Bandcamp]
Speaking of lopsided techno, Stefan Goldmann has been a 4/4 Berlin techno & deep house god for over 2 decades, but is also connected to the classical concert hall via his Dad, composer Friedrich Goldmann, and his interests range widely to take in field recording, abstract sound-art, jazz and more, as attested by the long discography of Macro Recordings, the label he runs with Finn Johannsen. For some time he was interested in strange tunings, culminating in the custom, bent microtunings of 2019's Tacit Script. The same year, Veiki began a new phase exploring unusual beat cycles in techno, repeating in 7, 9 or 11 crotchets (or beats, if you like). This was followed in 2022 with the Vector Rituals LP, in which the strictures of bar lines were further loosened, through the phasing of odd time signatures as well as micro-shifts in tempo and note placement. These rhythm experiments culminate now with the full-length album Alluvium, which blends crossing time signatures with polyrhythms at various tempos. There's everything here: rapid-fire percussion which can sound like tablas, drum machines and even the shadows of cut-up breakbeats; haunted drones and translucent melodies a la Aphex Twin's SAW II; thumping syncopated sub-bass as heard tonight... There are tracks with the beats and rhythms barely heard through the murk of sonic textures, and there are tracks that would be techno slammers if only the bar lines lined up. Goldmann is prolific by any standards, and this is one of many recent works that I'd unhesitatingly recommend.
By the way, Macro has recently launched a subscription on their Bandcamp, which will soon include exclusive content as well as all future releases.

Low End Activist - Airdrop 07 (Tango Skit) [Peak Oil/Bandcamp]
Jamie Russell co-runs Hypercolour Records, and also runs the brilliant Sneaker Social Club, bringing all manner of bass music, jungle, hardcore, dubstep and so on to light. And if you look deep enough you'll find he's also the figure behind BRUK, a record label we've heard of late exploring the experimental edges of those kinds of bass music, including the recent abstractions of hoyah. He's recorded as Patrick Conway (oh hey, let's stop mid-sentence and marvel at the brilliance of 2021's Cellular Housekeeping!) but we know him best as Low End Activist. As the alias suggests, it's bass music, whether it be jungle & drum'n'bass, dubstep & grime, uk garage or whatever else. The brilliant LA label Peak Oil has hooked him for his latest album, Airdrop, which references UK hardcore circa '92 across its nine tracks. This isn't just rave revivalism though: the airhorns, stabs, basslines, hooversounds and 3-note chord riffs are judiciously meted out, and even when the breakbeats get to rattle over bouncing sub-bass they'll be interrupted by synth pads - and there's a through-line of dub delays and reverbs reminding us that we're viewing these day-long dance marathons through staticky VHS tapes and time- and drug-addled memory. Taken as a whole, it's as moving a tribute as Lee Gamble's prescient Diversions 1994-1996 from back in 2012, which built ambient, abstract disintegration loops out of the beatless sections of his old jungle mixtapes. Russell knows what he's doing here, and does it in style.

Brain Rays - Plugs (feat. Quiet) [Acroplane/Bandcamp]
When the much-missed Seagrave brought us Brain Rays & Quiet's first set of jungle/d'n'b/footwork hybrids, 2020's Butter, it took some time for me to realise that I'd been a fan of Benjamin Hudson aka Brain Rays back in the mid-'00s when he was making breakcore & mutant dubstep as Ebola. He's also a co-founder of Bristol's Wrong Music with DJ Scotch Egg and Matt Lambert. Slime, his new solo album for long-lived Irish netlabel Acroplane, brings this accumulated history together with references to jungle, footwork, breakcore, grime, dubstep, hardcore and IDM through its 10 tracks, with feature spots on almost every track. Fittingly, the track with Quiet heads up the album - before Brain Rays & Quiet they were producing weird hip-hop as Baconhead, and the seamless footwork/jungle here is a tribute to their long musical partnership. Come for that, but stay for tracks with experimental ravers Chevron and Neil Landstrumm, and much more.

bagel fanclub - you arrived, pink slap [bagel fanclub Bandcamp]
bagel fanclub - we found a spider with a skull on its back [bagel fanclub Bandcamp]
From first-gen breakcore to The New Generation™, UK/US duo bagel fanclub aka Caybee Calabash and River Everett. They are carrying on, or reviving, the traditions of madcap, hyper-distorted, glitchily cut-up breaks and angelic melodies, but of course the intervening decades have filtered those sounds through videogame soundtracks, while adjacent forms like footwork have gained greater public awareness. Chiptune is also a big influence, so even though they're made on contemporary laptops, they sound like they've come straight out of Impulse Tracker with resampled 128k mp3s. Most importantly, this shit be fun. There's a new album coming, encore county ground, which I'm lucky to have a preview copy of, so I sneakily played the opening track tonight; but before its release they snuck out a new EP with the matching name acorn out of bounds. Thematically similar, its 6 tracks segue on from each other and are both manic and melodic. For additional dizziness, try to read the Bandcamp description...

Sasha Elina - Tomás Cabado – A Song [Sasha Elina Bandcamp]
Different Songs, Vol 1, the new album from London-based Russian singer Саша Елина / Sasha Elina finds her interpreting the music of four contemporary composers, with compositions for solo voice and voice in duos with piano and guitar. The album's opening track, an a capella by German composer Eva-Maria Houben called "My Sweet Love", is captivating in Elina's fragile voice, but directly following it is a song by Argentinian composer & guitarist Tomás Cabado. Or should I say "A Song", as that's its title? Here the duo is with piano, played by Tim Parkinson somewhere else in London from where Elina recorded her voice, but they mesh together again with fragile poise.

Bryan Senti & Dom Bouffard - The Ground [naïve records]
Killing Horizon, the new collaboration between Colombian-American multi-instrumentalist Bryan Senti and Anglo-French gutiarist Dom Bouffard, is set for release on the 25th of October this year - a long while off! But the first single, The Ground gives a window into their music together - improvised and composed non-linearly by each musician in their homes (yep, Covid music!) with a couple of guests. The two are experienced session musicians who've played with a wide range of pop & rock artists, but this is much more on the experimental spectrum, with Senti's murmuring low-end piano overlaid with Bouffard's backmasked guitar washes and slowly joined with discordant string drones and shimmering guitar, before the storm recedes, leaving Bouffard's clean, poignant electric guitar lines. One to look forward to.

Love Is Yes - Somewhere Nowhere [Kit Records/Bandcamp]
New discovery, on London's Kit Records, is a duo from The Hague. Love Is Yes is the name of the duo, and the name of the album, and the music is pleasingly blurry, easily slipping from your mind's grasp, but demanding your close, repeated listening. It's really impossible to describe what's in here, as the instrumentation shifts and changes, or is downsampled and looped unrecognizably. At times Dax Niesten introduces her soft voice, elsewhere it's absent. Is it acoustic here? Well then it's electronica there, now hinting at krautrock, now dissolving away. The track heard tonight, lovely though it is, only gives you one shard of what's found within.

Gina Lo - vocal exercise [Unexplained Sounds]
姚春旸 Chunyang Yao - Remnant [Unexplained Sounds]
Raffaele Pezzella curates the group of labels and album series under the umbrella of Unexplained Sounds Group from Italy. A maker of post-industrial music as Sonologyst (among other names), he has industrial & dark ambient sub-labels, but he's also a keen curator of experimental music from all around the world, bringing word of adventurous artists from Persia, Lebanon, Latin America, the African continent, Scandinavia, Greece and more, and he has collected music from China and Indonesia but here has collected 20 tracks from artists in the "Far East". There are contributors here from Indonesia, Nepal, China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and more - it's worth noting that you can click through each track on the Bandcamp page to find short bios for each artist! There are wondrous sounds here, from imposing drone to punk noise, glitch and more. Berlin-based Taiwanese artist Gina Lo combines extended vocal techniques with processing on her "vocal exercise", and 姚春旸 Chunyang Yao, a Naxi woman working in sound-art and composition as well as voice & electronics, here also processes her voice along with electronic noise. You can easily lose yourself in Unexplained Sounds' myriad anthologies, and it's well worth it!

Listen again — ~200MB

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