Sep 22, 2016

Thinking about winter

I like the summer. I'm a Leo. Not that star signs mean anything, but lions are good (tigers are better) and the sun is a Leo thing. I think: I had a mug once with all the symbols on. Anyway, I like the summer.

I also like the cold. Well. The cool. 17 degrees is my favourite temperature. I also love snow because it's pretty and covers all those ugly plants, trees and birds. If snow was made of sun, it would probably average out at 17 degrees. That's Celsius by the way, I'm not mad.

But what I really don't like is the dark. Not that I have that SAD thing, but my mood is definitely affected by all the good sun chemicals. Which is why the impending winter holds a bit of trepidation for me. And I positively detest Christmas, a festival which can cucoon families and hold up traditions in ways that aren't great for us outsider types.

However, I don't have to let the winter get to me. That's a CBT thing, right? Think about things differently. I need to make a promise as the seasons move away from happy sunny lion time. Here is that promise:

When I open my curtains to an autumnal trudgeful of murk, instead of thinking about the damp and the dark, I'm GOING TO PRETEND I'M INSIDE A BIG CAKE.

A big lovely cake. That's why it's dark. I'm inside a humongous cake. Simple!

One day I will burst out and sing happy birthday to someone, or perhaps a huge knife will tear the cake sky asunder, but for now I am inside a lovely, lovely cake.

I mean. I don't really like cake. It's pretentious, not like biscuits. And cake reminds me of weddings which, by and large, aren't really my thing. And tigers don't eat cake, which is a significant problem.

But. Yeah. The cake thing. Stupid cakes. No, this isn't going to work. Bah. If you have any tips on being happier in the winter, please write them on a postcard.

Sep 18, 2016

Listen: Jam City's Send (with added mixtape nomenclature crisis)

Jam City's new mixtape Trouble sits somewhere between glimmering pop and grimy bass music. It's doing weird things to my ears and I like it.

The London producer is offering Trouble free to download. You can swipe it from his site here. And have a listen to Send above, which is all emo pop and fat horns. Which incidentally are the first few words of my Grindr profile.

This has left me wondering. Can you really have a mixtape anymore? Isn't this a mini-album? An EP? Should you be able to play a mixtape on shuffle? What is a tape anyway? What is anything? Does music really exist? Am I perhaps overthinking this?

Sep 15, 2016

Hey Fat Roland podcast S01E05: The Truth About Rabbit Poo

Yes, I have a new episode of my podcast out. My favourite moments in this latest edition include me saying the word "trousers" very briefly and having no memory of why, the comment "can you tell I'm lying" which was funnier than I allowed credit for during the interview, the breathing method, and remembering the bemused alarm on Lee's face when I started doing accents.

Get Hey Fat Roland on iTunes here. And if you're non-iTunes, grab Hey Fat Roland here. Subscribe, rate or review. No, actually, do. I know people say that, but if you don't subscribe, rate or review then I won't know how good or bad this is. And believe me, it's one or the other...

Sep 13, 2016

A new old thing from Jon Hopkins: Cold Out There

Hey look, a new Jon Hopkins video! Actually, a new video by Dan Tombs to an old song on his reissued and remastered 2001 album Opalescent.

To give a bit of context, this was Hopkins' debut album. It wasn't until 2009's Insides when he became more widely known for the techno experimentalism thing. Cold Out There is still phenomenal though. It was even used in Sex And The City. What? Pardon? No really, it was used in Sex And The City.

Apparently that's Norfolk in the video. If you squint hard enough, you can see famous musicians from Norfolk such as Nathan Fake, Beth Orton and (if you count American Norfolks) Gene Vincent.

Incidentally, Dan Tombs does pleeeenty good bands. Here's a heavy slab of video mulch for Walls' classic track Burnt Sienna.

Sep 9, 2016

Listen: Phono Ghosts' Tsunami At White Hotel

Watch out for Blackpool's Phono Ghosts this year. They've done stuff on Skam Records as the electrotastic Meatbingo, but now they have an album out on their own Fonolith label.

Listen to Tsunami At White Hotel. It's pretty typical of their stuff: a cut 'n' paste of Parisian house, 80s pop and jumpy IDM drum programming that may sound distracting on first listen but builds into some pretty detailed and enthralling collage-tronica.

Yeah, I just made "collage-tronica" up. Anyhoo, their Solar Dream Reel album is out now.

Sep 4, 2016

CJ Bolland's Spring Yard scared the pants off me

I sometimes....

No, wait.

I often fantasise about writing a list of my favourite tracks of all time. In order. One, two, three, and so on. It's a fantasy because I'd find it impossible. However, a potential contender would be a bitey little trance track from 1992 called Spring Yard.

You can listen to Spring Yard below if you want.

The artist is CJ Bolland whose crossover 1996 hit Sugar Is Sweeter was a perfect pick-me-up for Prodigy fans. Before that, in his pre-Polygram days, Bolland was in no mood to hit the charts. Indeed, the R&S album The 4th Sign was a glorious collection of stampeding trance music - the kind of stuff us young beat-heads were listening to while everyone else thought techno was 2 Unlimited.

Bolland was melodic too: stand-out track Camargue was pure, sweet Belgian techno. Indeed I could pick any track off The 4th Sign, but Spring Yard was the one that scared me. That's right. Scared. It was a ferocious number that threatened to destroy my speakers. It taught me - warned me - that techno had no bounds. And although the strings sound a little clunky now, the track was also beautiful.

This alongside Sven Väth's similarly throbbing Accident In Paradise? Definitely in my top ten. Or twenty. Maybe. I don't know. See - totally impossible.

And for reference:

Further Fats: Chosen Words: V is for Väth

Sep 3, 2016

Listen: Three tracks from Gonjasufi's new album Callus

Gonjasufi's new album Callus is designed to send your brain to a very strange place indeed. Listen above to The Kill and Prints Of Sin, one all electric guitar and the other all paranoid beats. And below, throw yourself into the Lynchian world of Vinaigrette.

Six years after A Sufi And A Killer, Gonj is still ploughing a unique furrow. In a field that grows weed. On Mars.

There's talk in these tracks of the cross and heaven and crucifixion. If Gonjasufi was Jesus, I'd probably follow him. Then again, I'm easily led. I saw a roadsweeper lorry once with a round rear end that looked a bit like a face. I followed it for three miles.

Further Fats: Gonja Sufi's a smokin' nomad in sound and soul (2010)

Sep 1, 2016

Hey Fat Roland podcast S01E04: Bear In The Air

The latest edition of my Hey Fat Roland is now out.

In episode four, I chat with Dodo Ink author Seraphina Madsen at the launch of her new book to ask her all sorts of nonsense questions. And for the first time, I chat to a couple of singers in bands: Rocketship Forest’s Thom Hammersley and Monkeys In Love’s Laura Simms-Luddington. Our respective conversations revolve around rocketships and forests, and owls (not monkeys).

And as ever, I chat to Producer Lee about time he did stand-up comedy badly and a time I went up into the air in a piece of wood.

You can find Hey Fat Roland on iTunes here. And if you're a non-iTunes person, you can grab Hey Fat Roland here. Or just search for Hey Fat Roland in your chosen pod app. And if the podcast vaguely entertains you, please take an extra step and leave a brilliant rating on iTunes. That would mean the world to me. Hurrah!

Enjoy Rocketship Forest making some music noise in their studio.

Aug 31, 2016

Listen: Doms & Deykers' It's You I See

Doms & Deykers, otherwise known as electronic knob twiddlers Steffi and Martyn, release their debut album Evidence From A Good Source soon. Already, there is a buzz with Bleep dot com.

Martyn featured in my best albums of 2011: at best, his fluid breakbeats remind me of the glowing warmth of 808 State (see also Falty DL). His music translates live really well: you're never that far from a warehouse rave. I probably know less about Berlin club resident Steffi but I suspect that's about to change.

So this all looks rather promising. Have a listen to It's You I See which came out earlier this year. I'll leave the final word to the Deykers half of the equation.

Aug 30, 2016

Listen: Zomby and Burial's Sweetz

I've been listening to the sweary collaboration between Zomby and Burial, two names with so much weight in the electronic music world, they're practically creating a black hole of excellence.

It's a track which takes its time, almost living in its own vacuum. The rolling bass is so low, it's practically in another universe. The result is some seriously menacing drama.

Zomby's new album Ultra is out on Hyperdub this week and includes a Darkstar collaboration that's all clonky and whizzy. In a good way.

Have a listen to Sweetz: I've had trouble embedding so click through to Bleep or Juno to put Sweetz in your ears. And once you've heard that, go here to hear the Darkstar track, although I warn you now, the DJ does a reeewind. Stupid DJ.

Aug 29, 2016

Electronic Sound 22: drizzling you with my knowledge juices

You should pre-order issue 22 of Electronic Sound. I think I hit 'peak Fat Roland' in this one.

My opening line submitted to the poor ES editors?
"I’m going to tell you how to build a synthesiser mainly because I’ve been snorting Cadbury’s Highlights and I want to drizzle you with my knowledge juices before everything dries up."
Ew. Apologies to Cadbury's. Click here to get your fix of Electronic Sound through your letterbox.

Aug 22, 2016

Listen: Datach’i’s Monarchs

Me not blogging about music is like Piers Morgan not annoying people on Twitter or Eamonn Holmes not ripping the heads of kittens when the camera's turned away. Time to get back into the habit.

The new Datach’i album - the first in LITERALLY a billion years - mixes the modular warmth of labelmate Venetian Snares' Traditional Synthesizer Music with some good old fashioned IDM. Monarchs is one of the highlights: its filtered refrain hugs your heart while the ice-metal snares play straight for your head.

All being well, a full review of Datch'i's System album will be in the upcoming new edition of Electronic Sound. Incidentally, the current Electronic Sound contains a Kraftwerk cover version by Paul Hartnoll recorded exclusively for the magazine. Just thought you ought to know because that's pretty darn cool.

Aug 15, 2016

Hey Fat Roland podcast S01E03 - International Fringe Wazzock

The third episode of my Hey Fat Roland podcast is now out.

Hey Fat Roland is a fortnightly podcast about meeting people. In this third edition, I speak to Daniel Carpenter, the co-founder of the literature organisation I run called Bad Language, I catch up with ex-poet Zach Roddis at the Edinburgh Fringe, and I attempt to have a filthy conversation with performer and comedian Ros Ballinger.

Please do subscribe to Hey Fat Roland on iTunes, or grab Hey Fat Roland on Podbean. Or stream the episodes on this here page here.

Aug 11, 2016

Fringe 2016: the final show, snorted dogs and owl collapse

I realise the whole Fringe diary kind of stopped. This is because I'd booked to attend more shows than that time the Queen snorted a load of Corgi dandruff and went HAM on Ticketmaster.

I also realise that my regular music readers have been starved of audio love, so to keep you going I've embedded a live session of A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld. It sounds nice.

Where was I? Oh yes. The last show. My fourth and final Hey Fat Roland! 40 Minutes Of Idiot got a full house. Someone even entered the room halfway through, looked at the number of people, thought "stuff this" and bogged off.

While last year's show took a preview and four Fringe shows to really get off the mark, this year's show worked pretty instantly. There's a lot of content, and I'm much more attuned this year to laugh-points throughout.

The mixture of stupid cartoons (the sky picture with "pop-up" weather symbols), deliberate failures (the owl / pussycat paper collapse), actual spoken word content ("millions of dogs") and plain stupidity (the lyrics of Desiigner's Panda) seemed to work.

Indeed there's a LOT of content in this one, and my main struggle was to allow time for comedy moments to hang in the air. Like allowing time for the audience to giggle, or allowing a beat for a 'topper' comment, or giving space for a heckle? That. It's a good problem to have.

Overall then, very pleased. I'm disappointed to have to finish after four shows, but I'm utterly grateful to Laughing Horse for the opportunity. I got fantastic audience reactions and twice the average audience attendance than last year. Brills.

Roll on next year, right? Bigger and better. And yes, I'm already writing next year's show in my head...

Aug 6, 2016

Fringe 2016: the gates of hell and/or one more show to go

My Fringe run is nearly over. You have one more chance to catch Hey Fat Roland! 40 Minutes Of Idiot: tomorrow at 11am-ish. After that, the gates of heaven shall close and we'll all be cast into the eternal fires of non-entertainment.

After a quieter second show (to very appreciative people), I'm chuffed as pants to say I've just had my biggest Fringe audience yet. They were laughy from the get-go, and I spent the following twenty minutes in a warm, cozy brain hammock I never wanted to leave.

At the time of writing, I've seen Sam Simmons, Simon Munnery, Cassie Atkinson, Loud Poets and thereminist Hypnotique. They were, in order, anarchic, lovely, hilarious, warm and ooooo.

The Red Arrows just flew past my window. Just afterwards, one of those fancy horse and carts just rode past with the feather hat fascinators that horses like to wear when they're feeling all gitty and showy-off.