Your Utility Fog tonight takes in jazz, postpunk, industrial metal, industrial dub/hip-hop, industrial techno, with classical references and lots of strangeness.
Tomeka Reid Quartet - RN [Cuneiform/Bandcamp]Tomeka Reid - Jizz and Jazz (Ray Yoshida) [Pentimenti Produdctions]Tomeka Reid Quartet - Glass Light [Thirsty Ear]Makaya McCraven - Tall Tales (feat. Tomeka Reid) [International Anthem]Tomeka Reid Quartet - Old New [Cuneiform/Bandcamp]
We start tonight with the brilliant cellist Tomeka Reid, whose second quartet album has just come out. Reid played with Jaimie Branch (featured next tonight) when both were in Chicago, but Reid doesn't appear on Branch's new album, now that they've both moved to New York and become much in demand. Reid's quartet is a remarkable collection of musicians, with the recent MacArthur Genius Mary Halvorson on guitar, Jason Roebke on double bass and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. Halvorson's guitar playing is incredibly expressive, and along with Roebke's warm bass melds and contrasts with Reid's versatile cello. I went back to 2014 and a solo album from Reid adapted from her soundtrack to a documentary about Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists - and actually the earlier quartet piece "Glass Light" is a version of a track composed for that soundtrack too. Reid appears on the "New York Side" of Makaya McCraven's wonderful Universal Beings album from last year, bringing free jazz into the beat tape world. Although there have been some cellists in the jazz world before (Erik Friedlander and Hank Roberts among others), Tomeka Reid is really pioneering the idea of cellist as jazz leader, and it's a delight to behold.
jaimie branch – theme 001 [International Anthem/Bandcamp]Anteloper - Ohoneotree [International Anthem via The Wire/Bandcamp]jaimie branch – prayer for amerikkka pt. 1 & 2 [International Anthem/Bandcamp]
I first discovered Tomeka Reid through her playing on the first album from Chicago (now New York) trumpeter Jaimie Branch, and we hear her inventive playing on the first track here, from 2017's Fly or Die. Branch shot to fame after this album, and deservedly as it's amazing, with infectious rhythms (possibly partly derived from her half-Colombian heritage), strange but brilliant arrangements (and experimental ambient interludes) and great playing. The experimentalism comes out further in her Anteloper duo with drummer Jason Nazary from last year, featuring dubbed out rhythms and electronic processing - all tracks are very long, but luckily there's a Wire Magazine edit! Branch's new album has all the virtues of her first, and also vocals on two tracks, including the stretched-out dirgey blues number here that (just about) starts the album, calling out "a bunch of wild-eyed racists" (and also paying homage to various other songs throughout) with singing that's as passionate and distinctive as her trumpet playing. As previously mentioned, Tomeka Reid's own burgeoning career means she had to step out of playing with Branch's ensemble, but she has been replaced by another amazing cellist, Lester St. Louis, an improv specialist whose contributions are absolutely central to this music too.
Carla dal Forno - Heart of Hearts [Carla dal Forno Bandcamp]Carla dal Forno - Don't Follow Me [Carla dal Forno Bandcamp]
Melbourne-via-Berlin artist Carla dal Forno's second album proper is released by herself (as Blackest Ever Black seems to have pretty much shut down?) and follows the subdued-but-incisive tone of her earlier work. While dal Forno has a beautiful voice and writes catchy songs, she has little interest in pandering to pop or even indie expectations, imbuing her work with a melancholy-but-detached sensibility. There are some lovely instrumentals on there too, with some cello (or possibly pitched down viola?) to call back to the start of our show. There's a distinct postpunk feel as usual, with some fairly explicit references to The Cure among others. Recommended.
Kim Gordon - Earthquake [Matador]Kim Gordon - Sketch Artist [Matador]
It's amazing that this is the first solo record from Kim Gordon, one of the most inventive and influential musicians of the last few decades. It comes a few years after the breakup of Sonic Youth, and after a number of other band projects from Gordon, but this album definitely screams "solo record". "Earthquake" here is pure Gordon - guitar either wobbling with whammy bar or varispeed tape, creating a lovely bed for her raw vocals; meanwhile Justin Raisen produces some intense almost industrial hip-hop beats for a few tracks, which is just chef's kiss brilliant.
the body - Hallow Hollow (remixed by Lingua Ignota) [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]the body - Off Script (remixed by Moor Mother) [Thrill Jockey/Bandcamp]
US duo the body are nothing if not adventurous - ostensibly a black metal band, they work with samples and heavy electronics, but the aggression always hides a sensitivity (although Chip King's ultra-high-pitched screaming is never intelligible) and most albums also feature vocals from women - some regular collaborators, and some guests; Kristin Hayter featured on a recent album, and on their new Remixed album appears reworking a track as Lingua Ignota. Here the noise is mostly kept in check, replaced by plangent piano and Hayter's classically-trained vocals. The remix album also takes in the sound-art of Peter Rehberg (featured in last week's playlist), the intense techno of Container and more, including a superb take by Moor Mother of "Off Script" which is both very faithful to the original and completely different.
Zonal - Catalyst ft. Moor Mother [Relapse/Bandcamp]Zonal - S.O.S. [Relapse/Bandcamp]Moor Mother let us segue into the next segment, with her menacing and beautiful collaborations with Zonal, the reconstituted duo of Justin K Broadrick (JK Flesh, Godflesh, Jesu etc) and Kevin Martin (The Bug). The duo released a slew of groundbreaking music as Techno Animal throughout the '90s - not actually techno (although Broadrick's JK Flesh inhabits that space nowadays) but sludgy dub and hip-hop informed by their backgrounds in metal and sonic experimentation. Zonal's new incarnation started with a performance at Unsound Festival in Poland at which they were joined by Moor Mother, whose delivery is perfectly suited to these dark dubbed out industrial hip-hop beats. The Zonal material marries Broadrick's recent slo-mo industrial dub techno tendencies with Martin's grainy, heavy-as-fuck head-nodding beats and the mournful tendencies of both artists. It's the soundtrack for the world as it is now.
PYUR - Cheperer [Subtext Recordings/Bandcamp]PYUR - Jumping Trails [Subtext Recordings/Bandcamp]PYUR - Manta Ride [Subtext Recordings/Bandcamp]
The second album from German artist Sophie Schnell aka PYUR, after a debut on Hotflush Recordings, is a dazzling, ambitious work fitting for Subtext Recordings, combining idm, bass and industrial techno with classical composition, new age, and even pop among other elements. It's a kind of wordless storytelling (the vocals, when present, are still often wordless), as implied by calling it an "oratorio", invoking myths and legends of the past and possibly the future. Ever-changing beats swoop in and out of synthetic and live orchestrations (including cello from Teresa Alvarez and violin from Juan Zalba Fuentes), and vocals range from classical layering (with more than a little Enya to them) to almost-pop to textural. It's all hugely impressive.
This is an Australian track.