We start tonight with electronic music & beats, but it's a bit of a feint, as we fairly soon switch towards organic, live instruments and unexpected post-classical/folk/jazz connections...
Röyksopp - Eple (Sig Nu Gris Fixation) [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]Sig Nu Gris - To Un-know [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]
Starting tonight with Melbourne-based producer Erin Hyde aka Sig Nu Gris, whose "To Un-know" single from earlier this year is a beautiful slab of chopped beats, head-nodding bass, corruscating keyboards and sparing use of vocals. Throughout October she's been releasing a series of what she calls Fixations, which are edits of songs she gets fixated on, to the extent that she wants to take them apart and put them back together in her own special way. Very cool stuff.
Lanark Artefax - Corra Linn [Numbers/Bandcamp]Lanark Artefax - Touch Absence [Whities]Lanark Artefax - Styx [Houndstooth/Bandcamp]Lanark Artefax - Ferthenheap [Numbers/Bandcamp]
With only a few releases under his belt, Glaswegian artist Lanark Artefax (born Calum MacRae) has made quite a name for himself with stunning sound design, an impeccable musical sensibility, and beats that hover somewhere between idm and various dancefloors. His first EP was unfairly brilliant for a new artist, released on the excellent UIQ label - but time is tight tonight, so we skipped to 2017's EP on Whities, which features the seemingly epoch-defining "Touch Absence", apparently inspired by an obscure µ-Ziq track, which sounds about right... In the spirit of every release coming out on a different label, early in 2018 he contributed a track to Houndstooth's In Death's Dream Kingdom, envisaging the river to the underworld as nostalgic synth pads and raging jungle beats. And amen breaks appear on the first track on this new EP for Glasgow label Numbers - Corra Linn, except things go in fairly different directions from there, ending with rather beautiful muted piano with gasps of electronic noise and samples of a child's voice. My only complaint is that we still have so little music from him!
Trouble Books - Aggregate [Lejsovka & Freund Bandcamp]Lejsovka & Freund - Hexations [Bark & Hiss/Bandcamp]Lejsovka & Freund - Return to Emptiness [Bark & Hiss/Bandcamp]Trouble Books - Spider on Moss [Lejsovka & Freund Bandcamp]
This stuff is just so utterly apposite to Utility Fog that it's ridiculous to think it even exists, just about. I actually discovered the work of Linda Lejsovka & Keith Freund through what must have been a Wire Magazine compilation featuring a track from one of their incredible duo albums. We heard a track from each, from 2014 & 2015, which are available in small quantities still as a double-LP. Those two releases see them expanding their own playing with classical & other acoustic instruments, all edited in careful haphazardness, somewhat in the vein of The Books. But they both used to record, along with Mike Tolan of Talons', as Trouble Books, and that group has just gotten back together for an album of simple yet clever songs, with that cut & paste sensibility again of The Books or Lucky Dragons. I love this sort of music, where the artists don't really care about hooks or songs that start & finish in expected ways. I can't recommend these releases highly enough.
BirdWorld - Wicked Waste of Wax [Focused Silence/Bandcamp]BirdWorld - Scintillant [Focused Silence/Bandcamp]BirdWorld - Partials [Focused Silence/Bandcamp]
Last year I was delighted to discover the London/Oslo duo BirdWorld, made up of Gregor Riddell on cello & electronics and Adam Teixeira on drums & percussion. They have now found a home on the English experimental label Focused Silence, who have just released the debut album UNDA. It's beautiful and very mysterious stuff - Gregor said to me of their music that they are "really interested in trying to depict a sound that hovers in between reality and a dream state, a bit folkloric/voodoo, we like the idea that music is capable of hypnotising and evoking a sense of magic." I'd say they have done a pretty good job of that here - whether through distorted bowed cymbals and tremolo cello noise, or softly walking basslines, or decontextualised samples of various sorts. Fascinating sounds.
Jo Berger Myhre & Ólafur Björn Ólafsson – Mimophant [Hubro/Bandcamp]Jo Berger Myhre & Ólafur Björn Ólafsson – Mimophant [Hubro/Bandcamp]Splashgirl - Carrier [Hubro/Bandcamp]Jo Berger Myhre & Ólafur Björn Ólafsson – Atomised / All We've Got [Hubro/Bandcamp]
The 2017 debut of Norwegian double bassist Jo Berger Myhre (who also contributes electronics and keyboards) & Icelandic drummer/percussionist Ólafur Björn Ólafsson (who also plays piano and organ/Moog) absolutely floored me with its heavy, distorted electronics coexisting with jazz-trained but rock steady drums and room-filling double bass. Legendary Norwegian label Hubro (who also released the debut) have now released their new album, which follows a similar path - dark, evocative sounds that hover between acoustic and electric, always driven by the deep bass (often bowed, sometimes surprising as the deft melodic lead) and acoustic drums. Both releases are incredible. Meanwhile, last year Myhre's longstanding trio Splashgirl released their 5th album, with a similar deep and cavernous feel, Myhre's double bass again often taking the lead.
Razen - Adhîsta Ayîk IV [(K-RAA-K)³/Bandcamp]Razen - Ayîk Adhîsta II [(K-RAA-K)³/Bandcamp]
Brussels-based ensemble Razen have been around for almost 10 years now, doing very very weird stuff on the outskirts of contemporary classical, folk/world, and drone. At the core are Brecht Ameel on church organ, bouzouki etc(?) and Kim Delcour on various wind instruments - recorders, single and double reeds etc. Pieter Lenaerts often plays double bass, and here Paul Garriau is found on hurdy gurdy and Jean-Philippe Poncin is found on clarinet and the French folk instrument chalumeau. With this arcane instrumentation they immediately evoke folk musics of Europe and the Middle/Central Asia as well as classical and baroque music, but the compositions tend to favour elongated phrasing and strange discordant harmonies. Add to that the fact that this album is for some reason mixed in mono, and we end up with something disturbing, evocative and moving. There's a sense of ineffable, deep sorrow to this music.
Oedura - Prologue [Empirical Intrigue]Oedura - Reflections of the Fuselage [Empirical Intrigue]
I'm pleased to see that the solo project Oedura of Owen Redmond, who runs Sydney label Empirical Intrigue, has released a debut album. I actually started with a lovely track that introduced the label earlier this year, and then one from the album itself. The project is concerned with subterranean and subaquatic themes, which it evokes using uses analogue synths and other electronics. It's so great that people are making these kinds of sounds in Sydney, and that I can bring them to you.
This is an Australian track.
This is a local artist.