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experimental electronica
electric string quartet

Utility Fog

Your weekly fix of postfolkrocktronica, dronenoise, power ambient, post-everything improv... and more?
Sunday nights from 9 to 11pm on FBi Radio, 94.5 FM in Sydney, Australia.

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Sunday, 23rd of June, 2024

Playlist 23.06.23 (11:00 pm)

Tonight we journey from underground hip-hop through hyper- and infra-pop, folk-reggae, jungle, breakbeat, jazz-classical-electronic hybrids, post-rock and post-classical. Come with us!

LISTEN AGAIN if you know what's good for you. Stream on demand from FBi Radio, podcast here.

John Glacier - Cows Come Home [Young/Bandcamp]
John Glacier - Satellites (with Kwes Darko) [Young/Bandcamp]
I'm a little behind on John Glacier. The UK rapper put out her second EP of the year this week - Duppy Gun - following February's Like A Ribbon. Various underground hip-hop and experimental luminaries have appeared, including Eartheater on the earlier EP, and Kwes Darko (fka Blue Daisy), who also produced the entirety of the new EP. There are murky textures and glitchy beats - both EPs are rad.

Grasps_ - The Bridge [Grasps_ Bandcamp]
Grasps_ - To Be Faced One Day With Great Relief [Grasps_ Bandcamp]
Eora/Sydney's Christian Whitwell has been Grasps_ since at least 2016, and co-ran the rad Eternal label with Ptwiggs from 2018-2021. Among many other places, he's put out two EPs through the very on-point LA label TAR (subsidiary of Brainfeeder). His latest album, When Will You Be Here Again?, mashes up certain types of vaporwavey ambient and field recordings with passages of beats referencing grime, jungle and other bass musics, distorted bass and the like... and into that inserts Christian's own voice as well as Sydney icons Marcus Whale and Bayang (tha Bushranger). There's a vulnerability to this work, found in the album title and lyrics, but also in the way the music swings between hardness/heaviness and softness/haze. Out on Grasps_' Bandcamp and presumably wherever you like to stream from Friday the 28th of June.

Panoptique Electrical - For Piano [sound in silence - CD edition/Panoptique Electrical Bandcamp]
Panoptique Electrical - For Bells [sound in silence - CD edition/Panoptique Electrical Bandcamp]
Of late, Jason Sweeney, Adelaide icon of ambient, idm, indietronica before it was a thing, etc etc, has been delving into the experience of growing older as a queer person, approaching the questions this raises from many angles. Recently there was an album of songs under his Sweeney moniker: Ageism. But as Panoptique Electrical he's in instrumental mode, usually making drawn-out windswept music, whether drone or shoegazey postrock, so For Years (available on CD-R from Greek label sound in silence, including a limited edition with bonus tracks) is a collection of sound-art explorations, the titles playing on different ways the first word operates in phrases: "For Years" describes time, "For Em" is dedicated to a person, "For Piano" is performed on that instrument... It's nice to imagine that "For Ruins" is composed for ruins as an instrument... Even so, the piano and the bells here are drawn out into deep drones. Contemplative, spacious music.

Seduna - Please [Seduna SoundCloud]
Alex Hollis, a few years back, presented a show on FBi called Glitches, that was initially on after Utility Fog, so I'd see her around the station a fair bit. The playlists are still up on the FBi website for now, focusing on bass music, instrumental hip-hop, broken & experimental beats, so there's some overlap with UFog. Now, after about as long as the gap since Glitches finished, Alex's own music project Seduna returns, with a lovely song featuring her own vocals accompanied by garage/jungle-influenced beats, synth pads and sax.

Elijah Minnelli - Soulcake (feat. Shumba Youth) [FatCat/Bandcamp]
Elijah Minnelli - Swaggering Dub (originally Wind & The Rain (feat. Joe Yorke)) [FatCat/Bandcamp]
There's a high concept behind Elijah Minnelli's work in general and specifically the Perpetual Musket album, his first on FatCat. Minnelli's work claims to stem from initiatives of the Breadminster County Council, but unsurprisingly the internet is unaware of Breadminster outside of his releases. Previously he's released a series of 7"s like traditional reggae records with the dub version on the flip, with source material from Eastern European folk, Western folk or even cumbia. This album - four tracks and their four dubs - brings into focus four folk songs made popular by the folk preservationist and revivalists of the mid-20th century, but here sung by four reggae/dub singers. Shumba Youth sings a version of A'Soulin' - here's a version by Peter, Paul & Mary, but Minnelli and Shumba Youth slow it down to suit the dub setting. And Joe Yorke sings a version of "The Wind and the Rain", a song whose lyrics come from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, although it may have already been part of the folk canon then. I played the "Swaggering Dub" version. There's a story that goes with the album, about folk movements and pacifism, and it's obviously a (delightful) tall story, but the jokiness belies a real depth of heart in these versions, and a dedication to dub as transformative.

Emilíana Torrini - Black Water [Grönland]
Icelandic singer Emilíana Torrini has a strange secret history with me and many IDM fans from the turn of the century... In 1999 she released her third album Love in the Time of Science on One Little Indian (as it was called then, home of Sugarcubes and Björk), and the folks at FatCat arranged for a selection of their artists to remix songs of the album, in a series of 7"s dubbed the E-series. In fact I think it wasn't evident immediately who the original "E" artist was. Some of the remixes were also available as 128k downloads from a now-defunct website. They were a mix of IDM, glitch and postrock (Mice Parade made an appearance), many of which only used shards of Torrini's voice. Torrini's own work can be folky and singer-songwriterly, but also electronic pop: along the way she's collaborated with Kid Koala on an ambient album, been remixed into glitch-folk by Atom™, and written for Kylie Minogue and for the second Lord of the Rings film. So it's always interesting to hear what she's up to, and on Miss Flower she's written a lovely tribute to her friend Zoe's mum, Geraldine Flower, composed around letters written to the eponymous Miss Flower (never married) and found after her death. Zoe Flower's partner is Simon Byrt, longtime collaborator with Torrini and co-producer of this album, lending it even more of a personal feel - don't skip past the end of the album, where there's a (semi-)hidden track of piano and sound, solely by Byrt. And right at the start is one of the darkest pieces, the mysterious electronics of "Black Water". Lovely work.

KÁRYYN - the REAL (HAAi Remix) [Mute/Bandcamp]
Last week I played the original version of this song, by Armenian-American electronic producer and singer KÁRYYN, from her Calm KAOSS EP that pays tribute to the venerable KAOSS pad effects unit. The beats are turned up and buffed up to a club-ready shine here by HAAi, aka Teneil Throssell, an in-demand techno DJ originally from Karratha, WA.

Qant - Holditdown [Qant Bandcamp]
French bass producer Qant released his second Diced Bits EP this week, spanning jungle and dark tech-step, all produced on the Digitakt hardware sampler/sequencer. Expert beat-juggling and atmospherics.

HLZ - Black Core [Utopia Music/Bandcamp]
And here's some brilliant jungley d'n'b from Italian producer HLZ, released on Bristol's Utopia Music - incredibly moody, with precision-tooled beats and sinister bass drops. Up there with Photek & Source Direct circa '96-'97.

T5UMUT5UMU - 武者 Musha [Sneaker Social Club/Bandcamp]
You can never tell what Japanese producer T5UMUT5UMU's going to sound like, except that it'll be exceptional bass music with complex percussive beats at any tempo. That stays true on his first release for Sneaker Social Club, 玄 Gen. The opening track, heard tonight, drives forward with its syncopated bass, sparse beats, and spoken Japanese samples. In fact whether it's flute or percussion or words, each track on the EP has some kind of element that evokes T5UMUT5UMU's home country, even if glancingly.

ZULI - A Birdie [early reflex]
Tooth Rust - Slimy Fingers [early reflex]
Four years in, Turin-based Alec Pace's early reflex releases Flex005, it's 5th compilation, championing the gnarlier end of electronic club music. Among the younger artists, Egypt's ZULI contributes a chaotic vocal-sample-based track, while London-based Tooth Rust comes closer to the dancefloor than she did on her Glut EP on the label in 2022.

Pearson Sound - Hornet [Hessle Audio/Bandcamp]
David Kennedy is one of the co-founders of legendary dubstep/techno label Hessle Audio, with Ben UFO and Pangaea. First as Ramadanman and then Pearson Sound, Kennedy is an influential force in UK bass music. Back on Hessle with a single track here, Kennedy brings an insectile buzz to the dancefloor with Hornet, a classic in the making.

Skee Mask - Reminiscrmx [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Skee Mask - BB Care [Ilian Tape/Bandcamp]
Since his days as SCNTST, the Münich producer now known as Skee Mask has liquidly flitted between techno formations, drum'n'bass syncopations, and ambient soundworlds. His latest full-length for Ilian Tape, Resort, contains plenty of breakbeat-like rhythms but is mixed with the beats further back than club music would do, even once the beats gain a foothold three tracks in. It's more like a well-worn cassette mix kept in the car for those long drives - there's definitely a Boards of Canada feel. Truly lovely stuff from a contemporary icon.

Kronos Quartet with Jlin - Maji [Red Hot Org/Bandcamp]
Kronos Quartet with Nicole Lizée - The Furthest Out Things [Red Hot Org/Bandcamp]
More than 4 decades after the Red Hot Org started raising funds to fight AIDS with an incredible Cole Porter covers album, they're still going strong, now widening their remit to "promoting public health and diversity through equal access to care". Since last year, they've released a series of tribute albums to Sun Ra, with a focus on climate justice. Kronos Quartet already appeared on an earlier edition, on a remix of Sun Ra produced by Joel Tarman. Now there's a whole album, Outer Spaceways Incorporated, billed as "Kronos Quartet & Friends Meet Sun Ra". Kronos are avid collaborators and explorers well outside the bounds of what, at least 5 decades ago before they began, would have been considered the arena of string quartets. On this album, as well as the quartet performing arrangements (I presume) of Sun Ra compositions, they collaborate with many musicians, from the likes of Laurie Anderson and Terry Riley to folks like noise/experimental turntablist Evicshen, footwork producer RP Boo *and* underground hip-hop innovators Armand Hammer, Zachary James Watkins of free/noise act Black Spirituals, and 700 Bliss (DJ Haram & Moor Mother). Among others! Jerrilynn Patton aka Jlin has always stretched footwork into new shapes, and Kronos appeared on her latest album, so it's no surprise to find her here, chopping string samples into rhythmic patterns alongside Sun Ra samples. Canadian composer Nicole Lizée embodies contemporary composition's genre-permeability, writing for turntables, glitchy electronics and live vocal manipulation alongside orchestras and string quartets - she's written quite a lot for Kronos in the past. Her track samples multiple Sun Ra works and features the composer on vocals, synths, kazoo and party poppers, along with the string quartet. For more Lizée, I played a composition of hers for Canadian cellist India Gailey back in February.

Memory Drawings - Divisible By Three [sound in silence/Memory Drawings Bandcamp]
Back to Greek label sound in silence, their second release this month is the new album Deathbed Requests from international postrock band Memory Drawings, a band that I'm fortunate enough to be considered part of (my cello has appeared on all their albums bar the first). The band is led by Minneapolis' Joel Hanson, whose dulcimer is the key ingredient (often augmented by another dulcimer-playing Joel, surname Smith). Along with them are guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion, and strings from Sarah Kemp (Brave Timbers) from way up north in the UK, and yours truly on cello. There's a lot of indie rock & postrock in the veins of this music, but also notably Joel's brother Bradley Hanson, who plays bass on the album, is a longtime fan of Peter Hook, which you can hear in a post-album track that finds the brothers covering Joy Division's last recorded track - or one of New Order's first - In A Lonely Place (click through to hear it, with vocals from Birds of Passage's Alicia Merz). But anyway, I think Deathbed Requests might be the best Memory Drawings album yet, so do check it out.

Insect Ark - Ascension [Debemur Morti/Bandcamp]
Dana Schechter first hit my radar as a member of Angels of Light, M. Gira's band after he first broke up Swans. She's played with an impressive array of heavy and less heavy bands, beginning(?) in the late '90s with her band Bee and Flower. Insect Ark came into being as her solo project over 10 years ago, always with doomy riffs and psychedelic noise, whatever the line-up. The latest is a duo with drummer Tim Wyskida of Khanate, and it's still heavy as fuck, even on the closing track here with backmasked guitar chords as crescendoing drones.

Euan Alexander Millar-McMeeken - Hibernate II [Sleep In The Fire]
Euan Alexander Millar-McMeeken - Nobody's Free Without Breaking Open [Sleep In The Fire]
Some years ago Euan McMeeken fronted a Scottish indiefolk/postrock band called The Kays Lavelle. For many years he's made intimate piano music as Glacis and released music with fellow Scotsman Matthew Collings as Graveyard Tapes among other collaborations. The experimental sound-shaping of Graveyard Tapes finds its way into the scratched piano and emotive vocals of his new solo album All The Weather Of The Human Heart, released under his full name Euan Alexander Millar-McMeeken. It's a stunning album, deeply personal, but it does feature various guests including both Tony Dupé and Claire Deak, from Naarm, and on one track, my cello. This album could easily be missed, and deserves your attention.

Matthew Bourne - précipice / précis [Leaf/Bandcamp]
English pianist & composer Matthew Bourne appeared recently on this show with electronic duo Nightports, with electronically-manipulated improvisations on the very rare keyboard instrument the Dulcitone. That instrument appears on his new album This Is Not For You., out on July 12th from The Leaf Label, but it's mostly a soft piano affair. More surprisingly, and gorgeously, Bourne picks up the cello at times, like in the second half of tonight's closing track, bringing a muted yearning to a meditative piece. Very keen to hear the full release.

Listen again — ~204MB

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