Jun 30, 2018

YouTube tops the singles chart

This week, the UK chart changed forever. Watching a YouTube video will now count towards a chart position. No seriously, it's true - here's Dua Lipa explaining all about it.

With this in mind, I can now announce the brand new top ten UK singles:

1. James Corden
2. A cat falling off the edge of the world
3. Damp memes (like dank memes but wetter)
4. More James Corden
5. A dog playing Fifa 18
6. A 76 minute video of someone unboxing a Pot Noodle
7. Jimmy Carr laughing like an unoiled trampoline
8. Donald Tru--- oh actually it's James Corden
9. Logan Paul videoing his knee for a full weekend
10. Boards of Canada lyrics videos

Jun 25, 2018

Hey hey hey, it's a short story remix by The Hillside Curation

I once made a blue-tac sculpture of Fatboy Slim. At least, I think it was blue-tac. I found it on the floor.

I don't think Fatboy Slim would have been impressed with my sculpture. The embedded fag ends and dead spiders made it pretty horrible to look at. And also it was fifty foot tall, and I think it would have made the real Fatboy jealous of the fake Fatboy.

Sometimes it's best to leave the original thing alone. The world would be a lot better with one American Pie, one version of the Sugababes, just one of the Jedwards. As it is, people insist on trying to "improve" things until everything that is "good" falls into a "burning pit of sadness".

In an entirely unconnected note, here's a remix of one of my short stories. AHEM. A while back, I wrote a tale called Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey about a person pressing a button in a factory. This is a mocking blog post, but I couldn't be more pleased with this stellar work by Rickerly and David Hartley for The Hillside Curation. Seriously, it's damn good - more literature should be like this (assuming you can call my stream-of-consciousness "literature"). It kind of made me whoop with delight. Check out the Jack Nicholls and Ada Hoffmann pieces too.

The episodes are all named after a cluster of streets from the curators' home town. One day, I will build a blue-tac sculpture for every street. One day.

Jun 1, 2018

The doctor (Adamski) will see you now

Doctor Adamski's Musical Pharmacy was the 1990 debut album from Adam 'Adamski' Tinley. (Not an actual pharmacist.) I seem to remember Smash Hits calling him a keyboard wizard. (Not an actual wizard.)

I first got into Adamski when he released the fizzy NRG,  a Lucozade burst of squelchy rave. So when he got to the top of the charts with Killer, a tune I was obsessed with, it seemed the keyboard wizard was working his wand overtime. Wait. Not an actual wizard. I keep forgetting.

Doctor Adamski's Musical Pharmacy was the first big rave album I owned, but it was before folks like Orbital and the Prodigy showed us how excel at making dance music albums. I wanted a sweaty club experience but the clubbier elements were squeezed out by what felt like extended jokes. Tinley doing an Elvis impression. Reciting the alphabet ("E is for electro, and that's quite serious"). Adam's strained punk singing.

Then again... Listen to the choppy bassline of Eighth House. The Detroity surf of Squiggy Groove. There's a whole heap of rave sensibility still in there, and the naive sound of his bedroom keyboard set-up is utterly charming. Despite its flaws, I was fond of the album and the 17-year-old me played it loads.

The Pharmacy shut up shop pretty quickly. The album only spent five weeks in the charts, compared to, say, 25 weeks that year by fellow chart-toppers Snap. It doesn't even have any reviews on Discogs. Adamski has been active this century as Adam Sky, plonking out sparky house music and dirty punk electro. Forever the keyboard wizard - just not necessarily remembered as a pharmacist.

May 31, 2018


Someone playing Take On Me.
Kid to dad: "This is such an obscure tune."
Dad to kid: "Obscure? It got to number one!"
Me: holds tongue.
Me: holds tongue.
Me: holds ton-- "Actually, it only got to number TWO."

Yes, this happened. I really shouldn't be allowed out in public.

To be fair, the dad was then joyfully forced to hear me launch into my favourite bit of pop trivia, which is this: The act beginning with A that had a UK number one hit with Take On Me was, in fact, the boy band A1 in 2000, and not, as you'd think, A-ha in 1985.

How's that for a bit of slightly depressing pub quiz trivia? It's such a poor cover version as well.

To be honest, I think he stopped listening at "actually".

May 27, 2018

A whole Seven Inches of reflections

I did a theatre show. I did a big thing on a stage and, amazingly, people came.

After two Edinburgh Fringe shows and a stack of spoken word / comedy performances, it was great to expand my own brand of cartoon stupidity to a larger stage. My third show Seven Inch was a surreal and silly story about a failed record shop, which happened to be a 3D cartoon. The four performances, commissioned by The Lowry, were part of their Week 53 festival for the creatively curious.

What an absolute joy it was. 160 people on the opening night, a five star review, and a riotous closing performance on Friday in which I lost my temper at the audience. All acting of course - in real life, I have the temper of a ketamined sloth on holiday.

It was also a fantastically rewarding experience to collaborate with proper clever theatre people, especially stage manager Mark Croasdale who, I suspect, is an actual angel. Next time I meet him, I'll check for wings.

I'm not quite sure I can process how big of an experience this was just yet. I'm writing this in bed by yapping into my phone. Maybe I just need some sleep, and to get my blogging and social life back. A touch of normality, and some space to reflect.

Then what? It would be great to go on tour with my little record shop show. For now, though... to bed.

Apr 30, 2018

A bit of showing off plus added VMTs

What's Fat Roland up to? Where is he hiding? Why is he wearing that tutu?

I've been up to lots of things, reader. Here's a bit of an update. I'm aware I've been too busy to blog about music (catch my Twitter feed if you want to hear more from me, or read my column in Electronic Sound), so I'll pepper this news with Vague Music Thoughts (VMTs).

I've mostly been prepping for my show at The Lowry, which is fast approaching so you'd best bag tickets quickly. I've added a couple of extra dates, so you've no excuse to miss it. Unless you're a million miles away. Or in another dimension. Or a dog and therefore have no concept of theatre shows. Here's me in my performance space...

VMT: The Prodigy's Music For A Jilted Generation is a cracking album. I know the one after that got all the plaudits and number one singles, but cor, it's a belter.

I compered a scratch show at Waterside in Sale, in which thesps try out new ideas on a crowd. Nights like this are always wonderfully messy, and if compered right, a real joy for the audience. Plenty of new faces too at Bad Language - packed as usual, with the brilliant Deanna Rodger headlining.

VMT: Boards of Canada's Music Has The Right To Children turned 20 this month. One of those albums I remember hearing for the first time. Those detuned chords. So good.

I popped to the Lake District to perform at Verbalise. Lovely crowd, and I spent some time scuttling through the Serpentine woods looking for adventures. I found a massive caterpillar so I ran away.

VMT: Have a listen to Jon Hopkins' new stuff. Emerald Rush is all dirty and squishy and uplifting. I'll embed it below.

Finally, I have a track on a compilation album. There's a robot-themed CD with the latest Electronic Sound, and you can find my Hounds of Hulme track Rise Of The Dead Robots alongside Devo, Meat Beat Manifesto and John Foxx. This is quite a big thing, really, so I should have led with this. Ah well. Too late now. Have some Jon Hopkins...

VMT: Music's good, innit.

Apr 13, 2018

How do you write a theatre show? #SevenInch vlog 4

How the heck do you write a theatre show? I've come up with an amazing hack. Here's how to write a one-person theatre production instantly, with as little effort as possible.


This is a roundabout way of saying my two-date Week 53 festival run at The Lowry is now a four date run. Pilter some lovely new Fat Roland: Seven Inch tickets here.

Apr 5, 2018

What can we learn from Eric Morecambe's paper bag trick?

We all know Eric Morecambe was a special talent, and his partnership with Ernie Wise is pretty much universally acclaimed. The glasses waggle. The stripper song at breakfast. The speeding 'ice cream van'. All the right notes, not necessarily in the right order.

But when analysing the depth of someone's performance skill, I don't think the big routines are enough. As with Les Dawson's tiny glances off camera, Morecambe made the best of his talent in the small stuff.

Take his paper bag routine, as seen in this video. Skip past the David Frost stuff and watch Morecambe and Wise on stage in Croydon.

Eric's laughing at Ernie's song. Some ad-libbing about Eric's wig. Earnest carries on in, er, earnest as Eric gets out the paper bag. The audience is laughing because they've seen it before. It's a signature Eric prop. Eric begins to catch the imaginary ball, as the ever-straight Ernie presses on with the "singing, folks".

Then comes the twist: Ernie grabs the bag, and of course, he fails to replicate the trick. And then a lovely bit of audience interaction which gifts Ernie the funniest set-up line of the routine, where the bag itself becomes a pun.

But hold on. Rewind. We've skipped my favourite bit. It's a part of the routine that lasts ten whole seconds, but you wouldn't notice it because the Sooty line distracted you.

After Eric laughs at the Sooty line, he decides to get out his trusty paper bag. He's half-ignoring his partner as his attention wanders. The paper bag will liven things up, he thinks. Eric then reaches into the wrong pocket. Eric then reaches into the wrong pocket.

Morecambe knows exactly which pocket the paper bag is in - watch him retrieve it with ease back in the Frost studio. Yet he has the confidence to bumble clumsily for the bag while the routine picks up pace. This is the same Eric who trips over nothing, who flinches at imaginary goosings, who second-guesses everything for that extra laugh. It's the same Eric who asks Ernie to move along the sofa, then sits on the chair instead. An inexhaustible supply of sleights.

His deliberate mistake elevates his performance into something that's deeper than the big-hitting gags and comedic face slaps. Every time I watch that routine, I'm so grateful for the moment of Cooper-esque humanity. If Eric can make an error, albeit very small, then I'm okay too.

Except it's not an error. It's pure professional dexterity that keeps the audience hooked. All performers can learn from this. What extra can you do between the things that are there to be noticed? What can add a pleasing ripple as we go from A to B?

All the right moves, exactly in the right order.

Mar 31, 2018

Fat Roland's out-of-context March 2018 supercut

Here are ten sentences I've written this month. Each line is from a different thing I've written during March, whether it's a piece of journalism, social media post or mere note on my phone. I would provide the context… but it's more fun without.

1. The parpy one, the screechy one, the one that goes ting, and the big one made out of elephants.

2. A pizza hut and a bowling alley, the best kind of secondary school.

3. A horn of eggs.

4. Then you sacrifice the words to the moon God Crathalpffrpt.

5. All these tunes are my real friends,” I say to the dog, but all he hears is “woof woof woof” because I am a dog too.

6. The phrase “more cowbell” has never been less appropriate.

7. Phlenk. Garrup. Fanhoodle. Birra-birra-mancho. Liaoeoume. Hank.

8. Putting a rock on an animal skin. Putting a rock under an animal skin. Putting a rock next to an animal skin.

9. I once made a willion bitconks hawking double-A drugpills to shash-faced childreds.


Mar 25, 2018

This Bonobo / Kiasmos video is definitely better than "weird and trippy"

I've not had much time to post this month, so have some hold music.

It's a Bonobo remix of Blurred by Kiasmos. I've woofed on about Kiasmos before: you can read about the original release of Blurred here. And Bonobo did a good video a while back which I called "weird and trippy" because I was short of words that day.

This Blurred video came out a couple of months ago, and sets the rousing remix to a Faroese love story. The directors Arni & Kinski did a load of stuff with Sigur Ros, including Hoppipolla, so you know the vibe before you even put a donk on that play button. You'll want to hit repeat - it's wonderful.

Feb 28, 2018

Take That Record Shop

Gary Barlow From Take That is shopping at a record shop, fingering through the sleeves, looking for Barry White.

He goes to the counter and behind the counter is Howard Donald The Duck From Take That. You are Howard Donald The Duck From Take That says Gary Barlow From Take That.

“Yes I know, Gary Barlow From Take That,” says Howard Donald The Duck From Take That. “I work in a record shop now.”

“Yes I can see that,” says Gary Barlow From Take That.

“I’m glad we got that sorted,” says Howard Donald The Duck From Take That

“I would love a copy of Greatest Hits by Barry White,” says Gary Barlow From Take That.

“It is rubbish,” says a voice from near Death Metal & Gospel. It is Robbie Williams From Take That holding a mop. “I am the cleaner in the record shop,” says Robbie Williams From Take That still holding the mop.

“But it has got a carpet,” says Gary Barlow From Take That.

“Look who is here too,” says Howard Donald The Duck From Take That, pointing to over there in the window.

Over there in the window is a boy-man from Take That who is suspended on a pulley and has a soapy bucket what is suspended from the boy-man. “I am Mark Owen The Small One From Take That,” says Mark Owen The Small One From Take That with the pulley and the bucket, “and I am a window cleaner now.”

“These record shops seem to take a lot of cleaning,” says Gary Barlow From Take That.

“Good joke,” says Howard Donald The Duck From Take That.

“Yes,” says the final one from Take That, whatever his name was, not sure what he is doing in the shop, insert this bit later.

“Have you tried Reputation by Taylor Swift instead,” says Howard Donald The Duck From Take That.

“I didn't even know she cleaned,” jokes Gary Barlow From Take That.

“Get out,” says Howard Donald The Duck From Take That, and Gary Barlow From Take That leaves the Take That record shop to the sound of a sad tattooed man rubbing the carpet with a mop.

Feb 27, 2018

Bibio: music for a snowy day

All the snow fell from the sky and now everything's white.

But not good white. Not the kind of white you can colour in with a crayon like in a book. This is a cold white made of sky fluff. You just have to look at it and wait for it to turn to slush.

In honour of all the snow everywhere, here's a haunting video by Bibio. It was posted on Christmas Day last year, which definitely was not snowy, and is from their ambient album Phantom Brickworks.

Jan 24, 2018

Fat Roland: Seven Inch - tickets on sale now

I'm doing a show at the Lowry theatre in Salford, and you should come. I don't care if you're reading this in China. You should definitely come.

The show is called Seven Inch, and it's my third solo show. Here's the blurb:
Surrounded by a set built entirely from cartoons, Fat Roland’s one-man show is a hilarious and touching spoken word comedy about music, loneliness and not-quite-teenage kicks.
This all came about because I won a national pitch for inclusion on the theatre's Developed With scheme. I get to do two nights as part of the Lowry's Week 53 festival, and I get extra stuff like a special hat, access to a secret shark pit, and the ability to drop buttered toast the wrong way round and still pick it up and eat it.

It's going to be mega, and if you buy tickets now, I'll totally keep a picture of you in my wallet forever, and not in a creepy way. Okay, In a SLIGHTLY creepy way.

Jan 16, 2018

Fat Roland does jury service (uh-oh)

You think you had a miserable start to 2018? I started it with jury service.

At 9am on Tuesday 2nd January, I found myself in court trying to look as suspicious as possible so I'd get let off. Even with the stripy jumper, eye mask and teetering swag bag, they still made my do jury duty.

On the positive side, they were VERY impressed with the barrel roll I did when entering the court room. "Cool moves, dude, quack" said the judge who also happened to be a six foot duck. It helped that the made the guilty people dress as as Hamburglar.

On a slightly less stupid note, I found jury service fascinating. I got to sit on a trial, and even managed to be foreperson of the jury. After all, why would you pass up the chance to be the bloke who reads out the verdict? Dead exciting, right?

Parts of it were tough. We were faced with a split jury, with most of us leaning towards a legally correct but morally unpleasant verdict. Announcing the decision in court felt like dropping an incendiary bomb into the lives of real people. But I did my job well, as did all of my fellow jurors, and during deliberation I managed to lead a group of people through a field of decisional cowpats without getting poo everywhere.

The final result was as follows:
guilty 3, innocent 1
adjourned 0, dismissed 2
robes 1, wigs 0 (late result)
guv'nors 1, m'luds 1 (5,4 pen.)

If you're facing the prospect of jury service, my guidance is simple: research your role and do it well, keep a logical head, make friends, bring a pack of cards, don't continuously moan about taxpayer money, get fresh air when you can, and don't expect wifi. Oh and judges rule. Even the one in my cartoon.

Jan 13, 2018

Remember when Boards of Canada remixed Colonel Abrams?

Before they released their amazing Music Has The Right To Children debut album, Boards of Canada produced some odd remixes.

Firstly, here's BoC taking on Colonel Abrams' 1985 hit Trapped. I'm a big fan of the Boards, but this is kinda horrible.

Secondly, here's an alternative take on Trapped. The original song is almost incidental as Boards get all Autechre on us. In fact, it's so Autechre-y, it doesn't sound much like BoC at all.

On this third remix, they get it right. This time they're taking on Midnight Star's 1986 song The Midas Touch, a minor hit in the States but a top ten hit over here in the UK. The BoC beats are upfront and centre, as is the original track. The dour electronic workout juxtaposes nicely with the glittery video.

I can forgive all this not quite working: they were unofficial remixes under the alias Hell Interface.

Incidentally, the Hell Interface alias appeared again on a 1997 Christmas compilation called Whine And Missingtoe, with a spooky track called Soylent Night. If BoC were the Whine, then V/vm Records' James Kirkby was the Missingtoe: for the album, he produced a terrifying Chipmunk version of Hark The Herald Angels Sing and a truly Satanic version of Jingle Bells called A Sprig Of Holly On The Electric Turbine. Ho ho ho!

Jan 10, 2018

#SevenInch: Buying some Ed Sheeran from a record shop

I want to keep a video diary. A totally accurate video diary.

So I did this.

It's a Seven Inch video diary in which I, Fat Roland (me), talk about something for a minute, In this first edition, I go to a record shop to buy a song by Ed Sheeran. All the cartoons are by me.

The audio's a bit loud, so watch those delicate ears of yours.

Jan 7, 2018

A peaky Brainwaltzera blinder from Luke Vibert

Original Hate Brother and jolly acid plugger Luke Vibert did something quite impressive with a track called Muddy Puddle Trot by Brainwaltzera.

You might remember Brainwaltzera for their starring role on this blog a week ago in my run-down of the best electronic music of 2017.

Vibert turns the original's trippy breaks into a peaky blinder of punchy electronics. Listen here.

Further Fats: Audio lampposts: Luke Vibert straightens up his Rhythm (2009)

Further Fats: Best electronic albums of 2017: Brainwaltzera (2017)

Jan 4, 2018

Something short and nasty from Not Waving

Here's something short and nasty from Alessio Natalizia, otherwise known as Not Waving and as one half of acclaimed ambient duo Walls. Me Me Me is taken from Not Waving's second album Good Luck (Diagonal).

The homemade film featuring children prancing about is straight out of the modern Aphex Twin video stylebook. In this case, the children are skeletons, and their skull faces are a perfect match for the snarly acid.

Contains balloon swears.

Further Fats: The 7 best moments in Ryan Wyer's video for Aphex Twin's CIRKLON3 [ Колхозная mix ] (2016)

Further Fats: A final tune for January: let Not Waving's dirty disco pickle your bones (2017)

Jan 1, 2018

New New Year number one singles

Welcome to 2018, readers. We are now in the future: it's official.

New Year's Day is a strange way to start a year. Everywhere's shut, no-one does anything, and it just feels like a final hiccup before we get cracking with our lives again. They should move New Year's Day to later in the year, when we need a break. July or something.

I spent a bit of time today researching UK number one singles that are bona fide New Year's Day chart toppers: in other words, they reached number one the week *after* Christmas, replacing whatever was official Christmas number one. A new New Year number one, if you like.

There aren't many.

1955: Dickie Valentine With The Stargazers - Finger of Suspicion
1956: Bill Haley & His Comets - Rock Around The Clock
1957: Guy Mitchell - Singing The Blues
1963: Cliff Richard & The Shadows - The Next Time / Bachelor Boy
1969: Marmalade - Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da
1979: Village People - YMCA
1989: Kylie Minogue & Jason Donovan - Especially For You
1991: Iron Maiden - Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter
1999: Chef - Chocolate Salty Balls (PS I Love You)
2010: Joe McElderry - The Climb
2012: Coldplay - Paradise
2014: Pharrell Williams - Happy
2015: Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk
2016: Justin Bieber - Love Yourself

Considering it's a quiet time of year for record sales, there are some pretty massive hits in that list. More so than if you chose a random week later in the year, I'd say.

The current UK number one is an Ed Sheeran track that was number one for Christmas last week. So no new New Year number one this year: nothing to add to the list.

However, if this list was based on streams only, today would have a brand new New Year number one. Hurray! What's the song? Last Christmas by Wham.

Oh great. Even New Year can't totally get rid of Christmas.

Dec 31, 2017

Best electronic albums of 2017: joint number one

1 – Clark – Death Peak (Warp Records)
1 – Jlin – Jlin – Black Origami (Planet Mu)

Two things to say right off the bat. Firstly, I missed out doing a number two because that's what you're meant to do when you have two big number ones. Secondly, it's such a cop-out to have two joint winners of album of the year.

Let me explain. It's a head / heart thing, and no two albums summed up that tension more than the two I'm presenting here.

Jlin's Black Origami is a perfect expression of percussion, where all the fury and fire of 2017 has been propelled into a clinically devastating work. You know you're in a different world altogether when you have a child saying into your headphones, "you’re all going to die down here" and for a moment, you believe it.

This album may be abrasive on first listen, but let the beats become the music: let the spikes of sound become waves. That said, this is not an album you feel. It seems to plug itself into you physically - body music full of sub-bass and minimalism. An album for the head that just happens to have rewritten the footwork genre.

Meanwhile, Clark's Death Peak twanged my heart trumpet like no other. I've shown plenty of love for Clark before, whether I'm digging up facts about him, awarding him the second best album of 2014, or the best album of 2009. So it's no great surprise to see him here again.

The reason is simple: Death Peak was the one album throughout 2017 I returned to again and again. I played it to pieces. I couldn't escape the "buzzing arpeggios, ambient fogs, analogue snarls", as I said in my review for Electronic Sound. And, like Jlin, more terrifying children, this time in the form of a choir singing "we are your ancestors". I'm beginning to think that this Clark album, in equal parts baleful and hopeful, is his most complete yet: an emotive journey from start to finish.

Jlin for the head. Clark for the heart.

It's much better having two at the top. Yin and yang. Sweet and sour. Shock and awe. Ant and Dec. Little and Large. Mitchell and Webb. Morecambe and-- wait, hold on, I'm just naming comedy duos now.

Thanks for reading my blog in 2017. With the help of today, this year I've totalled 165 blog posts, which means it's my most blogged year ever. Views range from a couple of hillbillies and their can of beans to hundreds of salivating music addicts, and just this week I've had over a thousand clicks for an old blog post about Autechre. Probably a bot. Every reader is huuugely appreciated, so thank you.

Hur hur. Bot. Sounds like bottom.

Sigh. See you in 2018.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: the final also-rans

You have been so patient waiting for me to parp out this long list. We're nearly there. In fact, I can reveal that this year's NUMBER ONE BESTEST ALBUM is a joint number one. It'll be the first time the top spot has been shared since Andy Stott and Lone split the accolade in 2012.

Before we get there, here are some big and big-ish names that didn't make my list.

Perhaps Sampha's soul is too straight-up to be considered for inclusion here, but the instrumentation on the Mercury-winning Process (Young Turks) was top notch. I also fell for the alluring ethereal pop on Colleen's A Flame My Love, A Frequency (Thrill Jockey). I was perhaps less personally taken with the prog tendencies of James Holden & The Animal Spirits' The Animal Spirits although it's clearly a very good album indeed.

Mount Kimbie surprised me (pleasantly) with the post-punk vibes of Love What Survives (Warp Records). Vintage synth fans take note. I found Clap! Clap!'s A Thousand Skies (Black Acre) in some ways exhausting, but then again that album is a spaceship ride, not a Sunday drive. And I doff my hat to Fever Ray's Plunge (Rabid Records), a trip for fans of quirky pop and big fat keyboards.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith got plenty of accolades this year for her new-agey The Kid (Western Vinyl) vocal-led, as did Kelela on the astonishing debut album Take Me Apart (Warp Records). Both albums are worth your time, particularly if vocal-led albums tickle your tassels. And finally for this section, maybe start your 2018 resting in the hot dappled glow of lackadaisical sounds on Laurel Halo's Dust (Hyperdub).

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.