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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, 16th of June, 2024

Playlist 16.06.24 (11:00 pm)

Experimental pop, experimental beats, ambient weirdness, Burroughsian cut-ups, remixed classical...

LISTEN AGAIN and keep Sydney weird!(?) Podcast here or stream on demand @ FBi.

Martha Skye Murphy - Need (ft. Roy Montgomery) [AD93/Bandcamp]
Martha Skye Murphy - Kind [AD93/Bandcamp]
I first heard English experimental singer/songwriter Martha Skye Murphy on a duo release with double bassist Maxwell Sterling on American Dreams in 2022. The two long tracks were the result of long improvisations melding Sterling's processed double bass and Murphy's wordless vocals. Martha Skye Murphy's solo work is a stark contrast, with emotive songs using piano and guitar as well as electronics, although nothing is quite so straightforward. The album is, after all, released on AD93, best known for experimental club productions (albeit by no means exclusively), and the home also of Sterling's early solo work. It's full of beautiful, unusual songs, which evoke the likes of Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos, but wilfully go in strange directions or pile on the noise like the end of "Kind". Then there's the delicate collaboration with claire rousay, field recordings and all, and the stunning single "Need" that was created with legendary NZ guitarist Roy Montgomery.

Mary Ocher - Digital Molam [Mary Ocher Bandcamp]
Mary Ocher - I am The Occupation (feat. Serafina Steer) [Mary Ocher Bandcamp]
Mary Ocher - The Rubaiyat Medley (Part I) (feat. Your Government) [Mary Ocher Bandcamp]
Last year's Approaching Singularity: Music for the End of Time from Mary Ocher was a revelation. A Russian Jew who grew up in Israel and has based herself in Berlin for her adult life, her leftwing politics are inescapably intertwined with her music - each album comes with an accompanying text, and this album's essays is "A Guide to Radical Living", which articulates one part of that politics (it's subtitled "Why wealth needs poverty and how not to play along"). On the new album, one song is directly aimed at Israel (the satirical "I am The Occupation" that also features processed harp from Serafina Steer), and please don't miss the excellent single "Sympathize" that I didn't include due to tonight's flow... But there's also the three-part setting of Omar Khayyam's Rubáiyát inspired by Dorothy Ashby's version - and some nice glitchiness too, on "Digital Molam".

KÁRYYN - the REAL [Mute/Bandcamp]
Armenian-American producer & songwriter KÁRYYN has melded her voice with electronics for some years, but the electronics really come to the fore on Calm KAOSS!, the title of which is a tribute to her trusty Kaoss Pad, an effects unit beloved of vocalists. These are strong pop songs that are also strong on electronic manipulation. "the REAL", which I featured tonight, is also remixed by Aussie club sensation HAAi, bumping up the bass and beats to great effect.

John Cale - Funkball the Brewster [Domino]
John Cale - Company Commander [Domino]
Considering John Cale released the uncompromising Mercy last year at age 81, it's ridiculous that he's out with another this year. POPtical Illusion has all the humour and quirkiness - and energy - that Cale's had since being somewhat overshadowed by Lou Reed in the Velvet Underground. I've always loved Cale as a songwriter and singer far more than Reed anyway. This album *is* more poppy than the last, which is perhaps both a good and a bad thing, as some of the songs kind of washed past me, but there's plenty of the pre-post-punk bravado there too. Keep healthy, John!

Kevin Purdy - Rooms Full of Elephants [Soft Records/Bandcamp]
Between 2014 and 2024, Kevin Purdy has released 3 albums, but the time & effort the Sydney music stalwart has put into his new self-titled work clearly shows. His influences, from classic outsider rock, krautrock, psych, folk and more, are all on display with these songs, and on this instrumental tune Kevin has taken old cello sessions I've done with him in the past, er... decades?... and constructed an amazing string section. Pretty great!

Comatone - 81zspcmidiot (1999) [Feral Media]
Katoomba's finest beatmaker Comatone continues his streaming-only series of unreleased-archive-diving - here's a tune from a few years earlier than his first release, One Into One Out. Here he's already a skilled practitioner of skitter IDM beats, made in whatever the tracker software du jour was in 1999.

MICROCORPS - WRM [The Tapeworm]
The first few releases from Alexander Tucker were a kind of psych-folk, acoustic folk with undercurrents of doom metal maybe... Then came his duo with Daniel O'Sullivan, Grumbling Fur, which emphasised the psych rock and experimental elements. In 2023, he employed field recordings and granular processing to create a strangely beautiful homage/collaboration to/with Keith Collins, partner of the renowned queer experimental filmmaker Derek Jarman. And then there's MICROCORPS, an alias he uses for alien minimal techno/sound-art explorations, starting with 2021's XMIT. Having heard that The Tapeworm was releasing another collection of these strange electronic mutations, I was pleased to see that only a couple of months later they unleashed it in digital form. So here's Macrocorpse – 2021-2024, in which Tucker's voice is manipulated alongside machine drones feeding back into themselves and glitching into almost-techno rhythms. It's quite hypnotic.

Tot Onyx - Wrecker [Antibody Label/Bandcamp]
A highlight of Dark Mofo in 2018 was a hypnotic performance by Group A, the duo of two Berlin-based Japanese women, Tommi Tokyo and Sayaka Botanic. The duo has been relatively quiet for a while, but Tommi Tokyo has been developing a solo project as Tot Onyx, which like Group A is based around the organic development of techno-like structures with industrial roots. On her new album Satire of Desire the industrial often comes to the fore, in the vein of '80s industrial artists dragging pieces of metal and concrete around and creating disturbing sound-structures. The album comes from the merging of conscious & unconscious, dream & irreal invoked by the Covid lockdowns, and it's appropriately sinister.

AIR LQD - Take Up From Where They Left Off [Noods Radio/Bandcamp]
Weird Weather - Paint (Mother's Lost Ops Mix) [Noods Radio/Bandcamp]
Bristol's Noods Radio is a bit of an institution that nurtures the left-of-field music scene there in much the way FBi does in Sydney. Their current home Mickey Zoggs (yes apparently that's the building where their studio lives) is under threat of redevelopment, and thus Noods may have to stop broadcasting. This album is a fundraiser, with exclusive tracks from an impressive range of artists from the area and further afield. Looking at the crowdfunder, they've already passed their £70,000 target to buy the venue (that's for the deposit), but it's good to support a sister community radio station, and honestly it's just a great compilation. Justin K Broadrick appears both as JK Flesh and FINAL, Memotone is melodic and woozy as usual, Richie Culver is his own grizzled self, and more. AIR LQD is Brussels-based Mehdi Kernachi, not to be confused with legendary '90s techno unit Air Liquide. Kernachi contributes a piece of bassy minimal industrial techno, a kind of hi-fi updated Suicide, and Avon Terror Corps-affiliated Weird Weather bring twitchy, squelchy percussive dub.

Allis - Everything [The Collection Artaud]
Just last month, Yu Miyashita snuck out another alias on his label The Collection Artaud, this one seemingly an outlet for adding his spoken vocals to the idm/glitch/jungle that he makes under his own name and as Yaporigami. Everything/Nothing is the English counterpart to Alles/Nichts although I'm pretty sure both are partially in Japanese. The lyrics seem to be exploring the contradictory status & experience being an Asian in a European country (he's based in Berlin), among other forms of stereotyping. And the beats are great, naturally!

µ-Ziq - Fogou [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
µ-Ziq - Manscape [Planet µ/Bandcamp]
I was excited, like a little kid, when Mike Paradinas announced the 25th anniversary edition of µ-Ziq's 1997 album Lunatic Harness a couple of years back. That year we had not only the remastered & expanded classic of idm/drill'n'bass but also new material of melodic jungle fun from Paradinas - the man behind the great Planet µ label and so much brilliant music from the '90s and early '00s. So it's pretty rad to have another album in a pretty similar vein in 2024. Grush represents in part a very pragmatic decision: the label needed a cash injection, and it seems its label head tends to bring the ££ in. Makes sense. But there's nothing cynical or routine about this - it's melodic, rhythmically complex, and well produced (better produced than the '97 material all things considered). It's just a joy. Oh and it's worth mentioning that "Manscape" is a µ-Ziq remix of Mike's partner Lara Rix-Martin's Meemo Comma - a super different version from the one on her Cloudscape single. The two have a truly delightful geeky uncle thing on the social meejas - I mean, come on, look at this. Actually that's an announcement about their YouTube channel which is just lovely (later in that livestream you can hear the Slikback remix of "Hyper Daddy" - too rad!)

Abstract Drumz & Optimystic - Energy To the Universe [Transmute Recordings]
With a back catalogue going back to 2005, Transmute Recordings have released a lot of the nu-jungle & drumfunk originators. They've had a few releases a year for the last few years, and the first for 2024 brings four collaborative tracks in fine junglist style. Abstract Drumz & Optimystic' track combines dreamy pads with tough drums to great effect.

David August - Workout IV [99CHANTS/Bandcamp]
Italian producer/composer/DJ David August runs the 99CHANTS label, which over 6 years has released some really interesting ambient music, including from August himself. But he was originally producing tech house & deep house in the '00s, and on the Workouts EP he returns to the dancefloor with four hybrid tracks - a bit of '90s ambient house (Future Sound of London meets Jean-Michel Jarre?) with contemporary percussive beats and sampled vocal yelps. Tremendous.

Latex Pets - Aubade (Time) [Latex Bandcamp]
Sydney musician Latex Pets is also Sydney poet T. Banks-Vittin, although Latex Pets is an instrumental affair - sometimes edging into techno, often drone and ambient. "Aubade (Time)" somehow sits somewhere in betwee. The pretty synth patterns could come from a techno track, but devoid of beats the influence of minimalist composers like Philip Glass becomes audible. It might not be body-moving, but it's a moving, meditative piece of work.

Flirting with Shadows (黑芝麻 Hēi zhī ma & eudegne) - 我想你了 [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
T. Morimoto - cold rock [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
Tracy Chen - Something true (draft) [New Weird Australia/Bandcamp]
Tracy Chen - Dirt [Tracy Chen Bandcamp]
Usually New Weird Australia releases are curated by Stu Buchanan, but the new compilation Worlds Only World is compiled by the ambient/experimental collective Worlds Only. There's a track by the group on the album, but the group's self-definition is as a "transient ambient group", so I take it their output might encompass events, scene snapshots like this and writings even. Here they've collected a selection of artists making quite disparate music - a lot of electronic music, some with beats and some ambient, glitched indie, solo piano (woo Monica Brooks!)... Our first piece was from Naarm-based duo Flirting with Shadows, made up of 黑芝麻 Hēi zhī ma (who was involved with FBi Radio when based in Eora/Sydney) and eudegne, here giving us a lovely piece of drone-pop. Then there's Worlds Only member T. Morimoto, who used to be Thomas William Smith and before that Cleptoclectics, and also used to be based in Eora. His piece is exemplary in bending the space between foreboding ambient, new age and post-club sounds. And finally, from Tarnanya/Adelaide is Tracy Chen, who beautifully opens the compilation with a fragment of a piece with minimalist synth bass, ominous sound design and a female voice that's cut off midstream. I haven't heard anything from Tracy for some years, but there are a few pieces from between 2014 & 2016 on her Bandcamp, fragile songs perfectly glitched out of shape.

David Lee Myers - Riding the Rails [Unexplained Sounds Group]
Allan Segall - The Cities of The Red Night [Unexplained Sounds Group]
New from Raffaele Pezzella's Unexplained Sounds Group is an album called Cut UP. Deconstructing W. S. Burroughs which takes its impetus from Burroughs' technique in the late 1950s into the '60s of cutting up and rearranging texts to bring new meaning and new experiences to the work. Of course tape cut-ups have been present in music since the musique concrète era, and digital cut-ups that were newly riveting in the 1990s are part & parcel of our postmodern era (in fact, they've been a key part of the Utility Fog aesthetic since the beginning). That's not to denigrate anything appearing here though, because a) the tracks are uniformly fantastic and b) they do indeed, in one way or other, interface with Burroughs' own work. Surprisingly few tracks actually use Burroughs' very distinct voice, familiar to '90s alt-culture kids particularly from two 1993 works: Kurt Cobain's noise/spoken word collaboration The "Priest" They Called Him, and Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales, produced by Hal Willner and The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. So... that was a long time ago. Burroughs has long had an influence on the industrial & noise music subcultures because of the frequently transgressive nature of his writing, and that's the natural home of Pezzella's curation, so there's a lot of dark and ominous music here, including Pezzella's own project Sigillum S. Adi Newton time-stretches a phrase from Burroughs over throbbing drones; PBK chops Burroughs' voice along with electronic scribbles and soundtrack-like cues, as does Paolo L. Bandera. On the other hand, composer Allan Segall cuts up, pitch-shifts and otherwise transforms someone else's voice reading Burroughs' words, with sparsely creepy piano chords and flecks of distortion, David Lee Myers glitchily recontextualises easy-listening synth & sax.

Büşra Kayıkçı - The Middle of Nowhere (Jaar Rework) [Nicolas Jaar Bandcamp]
Turkish pianist Büşra Kayıkçı released her album Places on Warner Classics late in 2023, after some early studies on her Bandcamp and a post-classical/electronic duo release with Ah! Kosmos last year called Bluets. Here we find a sensitive reworking of the opening & closing tracks of Places by Nicolas Jaar, released on his Bandcamp, and I'm so pleased he did because now I've been introduced to Kayıkçı's gorgeous compositions, which remind me a little of the harmonic modes found in Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan's work. Her playing is delicate, and aside from Jaar's remix, her own music benefits from her sound design too, which is inspired in part by her qualifications in architecture. Discovery of the week!

Listen again — ~211MB

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