Aug 13, 2018

Top Four Tips Of Writing Good


Do you like words? Do you like making words with a pen, or perhaps with a keyboard?

Here are some writing tips in the form of a brand new video I've recorded and edited (below). It's only two minutes long and it's hardly sophisticated, but it took me about six weeks to make. Lawks. Please, Gods Of Simple Animation, make the next one quicker. The music you hear in the background is also by me, using my magical musical fingers.

It's all a load of stupid, but for people doing creative writing, there are pretty solid tips in here. I'm your mother, sneaking in vegetables with distraction techniques.

Open wide...

Aug 4, 2018

Cain's Savan comes with dashings of Delhi


Back in early 2015, when all this was just fields, I praised the "epic playfulness" of Cain's Savan EP. Cain is a Scottish DJ who's played with Amon Tobin and Mike Paradinas, so my blog comment must have been, er, just the boost his career needed.

I recently revisited the EP and now I'm obsessed with it. I'm playing it over and over again. I don't know what it is - it's so tuneful, so fun, and drizzled with dashings of Delhi-style melody. Nagan is especially brill.

It's funny how a record can reappear from the past and grab you more than ever before .The same thing happened with Death In Vegas's Dead Elvis album. Have a listen to Cain below.

Incidentally, Cain is back with a new extended play. The Eshu EP came out a couple of weeks ago and is positively tribal.


Jul 31, 2018

A special message from thingy from the Prodigy


Hello there, I am Kevin from the Prodigy or whatever my name is. I would like to tell you about Need Some1, my brand new single wot is out on gramophone.

Need Some1 sounds like Jilted Generation on spice, and it's got guitar riffs, sirens and an extended kazoo solo.

Excuse me, I just need to get the phone. Hello? Oh hi Tarquin. We're losing the kazoo solo? That's a shame. Okay bye, love to Elspeth.

Where was I? Oh yes. My brand new single contains a sample from Loleatta Holloway. You might remember her from being the shouty voice from Black Box, or from being the shouty voice from Marky Mark, or from being the shouty voice from that time I hid in her garden pretending to be a gnome.

I like being in the Prodigy and when Fat Raymond (it's Fat Roland - FR) asked me to write this, I was dead excited. I created a new Word document and began to write because I'm a file starter, a twisted file starter.

Thanks for reading everyone. Yours sincerely, Steve from the Prodigy whatever his name is really must google it before publishi--

Jul 30, 2018

From ammunition tunnels to veganism: it's Orbital's PHUK


Yesterday, I flapped on about ancient techno titans Underworld's new single. On a related note, Orbital are back with a track called PHUK (see video below).

According to this interview with Consequence of Sound, PHUK is about:

> bankers
> demons
> Brexit
> empire
> ammunition tunnels
> the 1990s
> middle age
> veganism
> inclusivity
> trousers

I may have made that last one up, although I'm pretty sure PHUK stands for "Paul Hartnoll, Underpants Killer."

Their new album Monsters Exist is out in mid-September. It features the voice of Professor Brian Cox, which I presume is him just going "wow, these synthesisers are amazing, they've got buttons, look at the buttons".

Jul 29, 2018

Teatime Dub Encounters - Underworld and Iggy Pop get shashed on gronk


Iggy Pop and Underworld tried to drum up a track for the Trainspotting sequel T2, but they failed because they were all honked up on skag.

Actually, they weren't, but their new collaboration Teatime Dub Encounters did arise from Trainspotting-inspired studio sessions in a London hotel room.

"Hello, is that room service? Yeah, have you got a spare jack to XLR lead, we've run out. Oh and Ableton Push. Just leave it outside the door."

The result is an EP that doesn't much feel like a continuation of Underworld's previous album Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future.

Instead it feels more the kind of ephemeral collaboration you got in the mid 90s, when Begbie first chucked his pint glass off a balcony. When Iggy Pop or Lou Reed or even flipping Pavarotti turned up in other people's stuff.

In other words, odd, awkward, not cool, but kinda charming.

My favourite on the EP is Trapped. It feels like Johnny Cash trying his hand at disco, if it was mixed by Fluke. Jump over to YouTube for a listen.

I can only hope there'll be more bleepy stars giving ageing singers a chance. Skrillex and Dolly Parton. Orbital and Vera Lynn. Autechre and the Keyboard Cat meme  I know that last one doesn't fit the joke - I just really want to see Autechre perform with Keyboard Cat 

Jul 23, 2018

BlueDotBlog: Love is all

On my final day at the BlueDot festival, I checked out a couple of science talks. By which to say, I sat snoozing and caught occasional words like "protozoa" and "pulsars".

Actually, Jodrell Bank's astronomer Tim O'Brien gave a great talk about sounds from space. He once bounced Stephen Hawking off the moon, using our lunar partner as a giant delay pedal for the scientist's voice. It was, as astrophysicists would say, well good.

I caught tiny bits of Warm Digits, Crazy P or Little Dragon, but the Sunday will be remembered for three particular music highlights. I'm going to rank them in order, like Top of the Pops. This is Top of the Bands that Played BlueDot on the Sunday...

At number three, if you can get through the cloak of weed shrouding the tent, it's The Orb. Alex and his chums dug into his ever-pulsating back catalogue, and I'm glad he appended his Little Fluffy Clouds remix with a big chunk of the original. Tuuune.

Straight in at number two is Vessels. You can still hear the beating post-rock heart in their rollercoaster climbs and swoops, their techno electrified by the inclusion of a live drummer. In going to be playing Vessels a lot this next week.

Still at number one, because they've always been there if you're honest about it, it's the Chemical Brothers. Tune after tune after tune, eye-smooshing visuals from start to finish, and a five-minute cameo from robots with laser eyes. Stupidly entertaining.

I think that's everything. Oh yeah, I finished the festival seeing Rob Kemp's The Elvis Dead where he reimagines Evil Dead 2 through Elvis Presley songs. Not seen the film, not bothered about Elvis, but crikes it was funny. And an utterly surreal place to be when you're sitting in the front row still sweating from the Chemicals ten minutes previously.

This year, BlueDot lit a rocket under their line-up and sent us all to somewhere cosmic. It's an experience like no other, the Lovell telescope's constant presence connecting us all to something more important than wristband checks, portable toilets and chafed feet. "Love is all" said the Chemical Brothers' final graphic, and that pretty much sums up BlueDot, the nicest, friendliest festival in the UK.

Jul 22, 2018

BlueDotBlog: Welling up at the Workshop

Seeing the Radiophonic Workshop perform the Doctor Who theme tune had me welling up a bit on my third day at the BlueDot festival.

I guess it's just a mixture of childhood memories, their own history, and the fact I once had a painful breakup with a Dalek. They say they'll call, but they never do.

I saw The Long Now, an Eno-inspired soundscape project by Finnur Bjarnason and Richard Norris, aka the bloke from The Grid, and a bit of Hookworms too. Has to be said, I wasn't overly fussed about catching Gary Numan, and instead found myself quivering to the whiplash wit of comedian Josh Jones. Love that guy.

I watched my writer chum David Hartley perform a rare feat of making two fifteen-minute stories thoroughly engaging. I'm actually camping with Dave, and if I'm not nice about his writing, he'll poke me in the eye with a tent peg. (Seriously though, thanks for the camping company, Hannah, Dave and Debs.)

My dirty techno fix came courtesy of Ralph Lawson and Helena Hauff's excellent inner city electronic takeover. I was equally baffled and impressed at the modular mock-Erasure music of Look Mum No Computer.

I have two bestest highlights yesterday. Lamb's showstopping Gorecki, a perfect example of how to overcome technical problems - they had to stop the show at one point - and go on to bring the house down. And Future Islands, whose feather-light synth pop seems to feed singer Sam with all kinds of demons. My favourite move of his is the sideways bowling ball. Try it sometime.

That's all for yesterday's BlueDot fun. No pictures this time because I'm trying to save battery. More tomorrow - I really need to tell you about the man whose hat was on fire.

Jul 21, 2018

BlueDotBlog: Dub hits and fun Lips and puppets


I saw too much yesterday at the BlueDot festival for one blog post. However, it's one blog post you're getting today, so you'll have to make do. Do you think I'm MADE of blog posts?!

I went to a talk about Jodrell Bank's Lovell telescope. You'll know the white lattice dish from the mock-up fictional version that killed off Tom Baker in Doctor Who. Apparently if it snows heavily, they tilt the dish to make an avalanche. I realise it's July, but I'm willing to sit here and wait for that to happen.

I caught Pop-Up Cinema's Flash Gordon. They do frenetic puppet show remakes of classic films. Imagine Alfred Hitchcock doing Punch & Judy on a runaway train. Flash (pictured above) was a delight.

I have two absolute highlights of the day. Mad Professor plumbed the depths of dub with cheery playfulness, ripping up Stevie Wonder and, er, Robin S with delay turned up to 11. And a solo Roni Size beamed his way through a bass-shredding drum 'n' bass set that reprazented (geddit?!) the earliest and latest elements of his career.

I enjoyed the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band with all their Bollywood sass, and I was wowed by a fire-breathing puppet parade.

Brian Eno collaborator Tom Rogerson kicked up an ambient storm, while Afrodeutsche and Not Waving cranked up enough techno to bring the rain clouds in.

I saw Alexis from Hot Chip, which I quite enjoyed. I liked his cheese hat. I didn't really connect with Public Service Broadcasting. And the Flaming Lips were every bit as rambling, wild and immersive as I'd come to expect. Wayne had a special message for us in balloons (below). You can figure out the full text. Amazing.

I met old friends and made new friends, and had a pretty neat katzu curry. I told you this was way too much for one post. Phew.

More tomorrow.

Jul 20, 2018

BlueDotBlog: Take THAT, sealions


Hey, I'm at BlueDot festival, a weekend mash-up of music and science in the shadow of Cheshire's Lovell radio telescope.

I've not been very bloggy recently, so let's pep things up with a daily live blog parped out from my tent. It's barely breakfast time and I can already hear someone in a nearby tent taking about hydrogen fusion.

Or something. I'm not very sciencey.

BlueDot started in spectacular fashion. The Halle Orchestra blasted out some grand classical music to the sights - and sounds - of the Blue Planet telly programme


I can now say I've seen killer whales battering sealions to death to the glorious swells of an orchestra. They even did a Christmas melody set to the crazy antics of polar bears and penguins.

For personal reasons, it was especially pleasing to see the Halle pull this off. I sang with them as a founder member of the Manchester Boys Choir. I am that sealion, squealing in whale-walloped harmony with that astonishing collective.

A highlight of BlueDot is the eerie art that haunts the woods at night. I love the massive suspended globe, surrounded by the sounds of everyone on the planet chattering away in an Underworld-style stream of consciousness. It glows in the dark - you'll have to make do with a daytime picture for now.

More BlueDot today. Hope I get to fuse some hydrogen.




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

A-ha-actually...


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.

Ahem.

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.

10. I'M JUGGLING CHAINSAWS.

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.