From folk to electronic, with some weird improv and post-classical oddments along the way...? It's Utility Fog.
Richard Youngs & Raül Refree - Nil By Mind [Soft Abuse/Bandcamp]
Glasgow musician Richard Youngs is one of those incredibly versatile people who is known as a pioneer in the noise & experimental music scene for solo & collaborative albums stretching back to the ’80s, but also for a stunning run of vocal albums that explore the English folk tradition, electronic pop and more through a very idiosyncratic lens. He has a lovely, light, yearning voice that can’t help but imbue his song-based music with emotion. Here he’s working for the first time with Barcelona musician Raül Refree across four wonderful tracks that augment Youngs’ usual repetitive, exploratory techniques with a host of instruments including warm, melodic, agile double bass, piano and interlocking acoustic guitar patterns.
Stick In The Wheel - down in yon forest [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]Stick In The Wheel - the over (feat. lisa knapp) [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]Stick In The Wheel - nine herbs charm [Stick In The Wheel Bandcamp]
Let’s continue immersing ourselves in English folk music, albeit again from a very strange perspective. Members of Stick In The Wheel were involved in London’s electronic music scene, contributing to 12”s from Various Production among other things, but formed Stick In The Wheel and their From Here Records as a vehicle for exploring centuries of the English folk music tradition. Many of their releases treat this mission with the utmost respect and authenticity, with extraordinary raw vocals and acoustic instrumentation, but alongside this they have released two “mixtapes” which allow them to play faster & looser with their approach. So we have electronic beats, sound design, spoken word mixed in – yet the ultimate result is still a rootsy, folky oeuvre.
Ninoosh - Voice X [Synth Babes/Ninoosh Bandcamp]Ninoosh - To Play [Synth Babes/Ninoosh Bandcamp]
Melbourne-born Anya Trybala, now based in Sweden, is the founder of Synth Babes, a collective for female & non-binary electronic musicians. She also makes music as Ninoosh, and her new album Floodgates has just come out. It manages to balance itself between more club-oriented techno tendencies, glitchy broken-down soundscapes and songs, and I particularly enjoy when these three combine, with shuddering stretched vocals crescendoing into 4/4 beats, or the beats themselves crunched into acid snow.
Gail Priest - Orographic Lift live 07-03-2019 [Subsequence Radio]Millie Watson - Improvisation and Interference live 07-02-2019 [Subsequence Radio]
For some years, great Canberran experimental musician Reuben Ingall has presented Subsequence Radio on Canberra’s community station 2XXFM. Along with Chris Finnigan, he also curates a monthly performance night called Sounscapes at Smith's Alternative, and the latest annual compilation from Subsequence showcases a number of recordings from these nights. It’s varied, challenging and beautiful. Tonight we’re hearing from Sydney (now Blue Mountains) sound-art master Gail Priest, with a typically rapturous piece of electronic beats and vocals, and Canberran musician Millie Watson (now based in London) with a brilliant piano improvisation accompanied by field recordings.
Masonik - The Dolt [Masonik Bandcamp (soon?)]
Perth collective Masonik have now been around for over 13 years, with a dozen releases under their belt. Current lineup is Basil Psanoudakis on bass, electronics & video, Wheldon Thornley on keyboards & electronics, Alia-Enor Bath on cello and Patrick Bindon on electric cello, but I'm sure I still hear Pax Andrews on saxophone in there too. Although there is a clear jazz influence to some of the work, their music is surprisingly hard to pin down, with aspects of weird psych, postrock and industrial electronic fuckery involved. Their new album is their first to be pressed to vinyl, out now although not quite up on their Bandcamp yet.
Ot to, not to - Apaxionado [New Info/Ot to, not to Bandcamp]Ot to, not to - Harpist [ACR Bandcamp/Ot to, not to Bandcamp]Ot to, not to - Apaxionado (Machinefabriek Remix) [New Info/Ot to, not to Bandcamp]Ot to, not to - Blanc [New Info/Ot to, not to Bandcamp]
A late discovery for the year, which I was reminded of because Machinefabriek did a remix for him, but it slipped my mind at the time! This is ridiculous because if I’d checked I would have realised that Ian Mugerwa, the main character behind Ot to, not to, frequently harnesses his cello in amongst the artfully mislaid samples, instruments and vocal melisma of his mysterious lo-fi-hi-tech deconstructed r'n'b. His first album came out on Nicolas Jaar’s Other People label in 2016, but I’m only going back to 2017’s these movements i & ii cassette released on London’s ACR. Despite the UK & Irish labels, Mugerwa and bandmate Noah Smith are from Virginia in the USA. I can only think of Lucky Dragons and The Books as precursors to the unorthodox structures and seemingly-accidental arrangements here, but the r’n’b element brings it closer to Micachu or Tirzah.
Clark - Diamond Body [Deutsche Grammophon]Clark - I'm Pulling My Face Off [Deutsche Grammophon]Clark - Volatile [Deutsche Grammophon]Chris Clark is a real oddity in the Warp stable, starting out as a young artist extremely beholden to the greats of early ‘90s idm – Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada et al – and like Richard D James, mixing piano with acid techno at will. Clark’s musicality has always been evident, and his interest in the classical end of the spectrum means that he’s taken naturally to soundtrack work. The previous soundtracks have been a little too toned down and straightforward for me, but his work for new psychological horror movie Daniel Isn’t Real, ironically his first released on classical label Deutsche Grammophon, welds his bass-heavy electronic productions back on to the creepy piano and orchestrations. It’s not just a collection of cues – it works well as a more classically-inclined Clark album, and is all the better for it.
Bersarin Quartett - 2287 [Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]Bersarin Quartett - St. Petersburg [Lidar/Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]Jean-Michel - Hello Narita [onpa)))))]Bersarin Quartett - Alles ist ein Wunder [Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]Bersarin Quartett - Ist es das was Du willst [Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]Bersarin Quartett - Das Prinzip der Entsprechung [Denovali Records/Bersarin Quartett Bandcamp]
Thomas Bücker started off making downtempo, breaks and idm under various monikers in the 1990s, but really broke through when he evoked the austerity and romanticism of classical music with his Bersarin Quartett moniker, starting in 2008. Although it's not a quartet, let alone say a string quartet, and it's not your familiar post-classical piano & "subtle electronics", it nevertheless manages to conjure up the feeling of the concert hall, with cleverly manipulated and designed orchestral samples and a just-so atmosphere, despite its willingness to still drop glitchy beats and deep bass. It's too beat-heavy in my opinion to be ambient music, but it works as such for fans of the genre too. But dig that doomy first chord on "2287" – this is not your average anything music! We went back to the first Bersarin album, and then heard a fun bit of drill'n'bass from his Jean-Michel alias's last album Tons Of Fun, and some more dark electronics from 2012's II and 2015's III. It's been 4 years since that last album, and Methoden und Maschinen is a very welcome return.
This is an Australian track.
This is a local artist.