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.

Aug 5, 2016

Fringe 2016: a nod to myself

Written yesterday, posted today... 

I'm writing this in quiet gardens tucked away from a main run of bookshops and cafés. Seagulls are bullying the other birds in the sky above me. If they get into a fist fight, I'm outta here, mainly because of the birds-not-having-fists thing.

I've got half an hour until I see Sam Simmons, whose show last year won the Foster's Comedy Award. I bumped into him after seeing that show last year ("hey, front row guy!") and he was really flipping lovely.

The turnout to my first show was enough to fill the front half of my (larger) venue. A good size for the morning of preview day. I'm happy about that.

The show feels sketcher than last year, pinballing from one idea to another. More rattly but, looking at the audience response, no less funny. Fresher, p'haps.

There's one bit where I sneak in pictures from pieces rejected from the final show (dinosaurs written for Speak Easy, Spice Girls written for First Draft), not that the audience would know. A little nod to myself, that.

Aug 3, 2016

Fringe 2016: Yes I guess I'll keep a diary I suppose

I'm at the Edinburgh Fringe so I thought I'd keep a diary. Why not? Actually there are loads of reasons why not. Let's just press on, shall we?

It's the eve of my first show and I've just done a load of re-editing. I'm much happier now with the running order. In fact, I'm excited. One of my props is a hand-made record in a record sleeve and it's soooo cute.

I spent much of today traipsing around venues putting posters up - or being told I can't put posters up. Big thanks to Beach Hunks Jack for spurring me on and getting wallpaper paste all over my hands. Go see their show.

When I was flyering today, one chap doffed his cap to me and a coach driver gave me the thumbs up. As if to say good luck for the long performance month ahead of you.

If only they knew. I'm only doing four dates. By the time you read this, you may well have missed one of them. Check here for Hey Fat Roland details - or search 'hey idiot' on the Fringe app.

Jul 31, 2016

Published (two times), podcasted (two times), Edinburgh Fringing (four times), no times (a lady)

Here is an update on Things Wot I Done That I Need To Plug. Think of it as a newsletter I've just printed off on one of those blue-ink rolly things we had before Blogger was invented.

I'm in a book. The story is called Panda and you can find it in A Box Of Stars Beneath The Bed, an anthology released to mark National Flash Fiction Day. There are loads of other people in there too: Sarah Hilary, Angela Readman, Paul McVeigh, Nik Perring, Nuala Ní Chonchúir and plenty more. Mine might be the only one with a panda in, though. And a sad, lost one at that.

I'm in a magazine. You can find the latest Electronic Sound in WH Smiths across the country. Yep, a print magazine! And it's really quite lovely. The latest edition has Bob Moog, Paul Hartnoll, Ladyhawke and a free CD. Oh and my 21st column for the 'Sound, and in this one I mention my Brian Eno hot pants. Sorry about that.

I have a new podcast out. Hey Fat Roland is a podcast about meeting people, and in episode two I bump into a chap called Wyl Menmuir who, just hours before we spoke, had been longlisted in the Man Booker Prize. Have a listen: you can get the Hey Fat Roland iTunes audio here or grab it on Podbean here.

Do subscribe to the podcast - and leave an all-important billion star iTunes rating because without it everything will shrivel and die, and we'll be back to those old days with the blue-ink printy machines and letraset and those stinky cans with the spray glue in.

And finally, I am performing four short shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. Hey Fat Roland! 40 Minutes Of Idiot takes place this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings (11.05am). I think it might go full weird and/or total panda, I'm not quite sure. Anyhoo, it's on for just four days so blink and you'll miss it. Free entry, no ticket required.

Speaking of which, expect this blog to be a bit Edinburgh-y for the first half of August as I stagger around the Fringe... watch this space.

Jul 25, 2016

Listen: µ–Ziq & Aphex Twin (Mike & Rich)'s 11 Vodka (Mix 2)

An Atari, a Memorymoog, a couple of old Rolands and some samples scooped from a Casio FZ-10M. 11 Vodka (Mix 2) has some pretty neat building blocks.

Have a good ear-swab by clicking play here. It's a remastered version of a track that originally appeared on the mid-90s album Expert Knob Twiddlers by Mike & Rich (aka µ–Ziq & Aphex Twin).

Mike's brilliant Planet Mu label is rereleasing this chunk of old electronic chunkiness. There'll be new tracks too, including one called Portamento Gosh and another called Organ Plodder. Kinda proper excited for this one.

Jul 23, 2016

Listen: SKY H1's Hybrid

I thought I wasn't allowed to listen to anything from Brussels, what with Brexit and all, but somehow I managed to hack Boris Johnson's racist firewall to listen to SKY H1's Motion EP.

There's a glimmering freshness that's quite addictive here, right from the hopeful gasping vocals of Air through to the mile-wide synths of I Think I Am.

I've featured Hybrid here because of its lightness and beautifully-paced development of a three-note melody. It's just so satisfying. In your FACE, Boris.

Jul 19, 2016

Graham Dunning's got some balls

Graham Dunning used to be Graham Analog in improvisational Manchester act Blood Moon. He's now a guy who destroys vinyl in the name of techno.

Although it's not performed in front of a room of mildly-bored scenesters, this Boiler Room video recorded at the end of June shows his talent for mechanical musical making. Glitching four-to-the-floor stompy clubness. Lo-fi meets DIY.

Just you wait for the moment he opens that wooden box on the right of the screen, next to the keyboard. Can you guess what's in it? Am I going to put a spoiler in the title of this blog post? You bet I am.

Jul 18, 2016

Listen: Factory Floor's Ya

Go on. Do something. Move around. Do a dance. A cartwheel. Anything. Go on. Do something. ANYTHING.

I really like the minimalism of the video for Factory Floor's Ya. It's so stubborn in its refusal to do much more than, well, someone not doing much with a what appears to be a pair of massive modular cakes.

I'm digging that bouncy bassline too. New album out next month: from what I've heard, there's more bouncy minimalism ahead.

See also: Factory Floor in the best electronica albums of 2013.

Jul 11, 2016

Hey Fat Roland podcast: in which I meet people and talk to their faces

As if there weren't enough soundwaves in the world already, this weekend I will launch a new podcast.

Hey Fat Roland is a podcast about meeting people. I'm one of those annoying people with a very wide but sometimes shallow social circle. While I'm skimming across that circle like a greased turtle, I might as well bring a microphone with me.

There will be a few interviews in each episode as I bump into random arty people. Those interviews, er, don't always go well. My producer and old Theatre Of Noise cohort Lee Moore will also yack with me about unusual people we have met in the past.

I'm planning ten fortnightly episodes for starters, with the first episode going out on Sunday 17 July 2016.

You can go to the direct link here if you want to, but don't fret too much because the podcast will feature right here on this website, and also on your favourite podcast subscription service. Or you can catch me in Edinburgh.

How do all the soundwaves fit into the world anyway? And do they tickle if there are too many?

Jul 9, 2016

Blogging versus Facebook: working out where I belong

You may have noticed something of a blog revival here.

The catalyst was Facebook. If you've never heard of Facebook, basically it's a big metal trash can in which everyone yells until no-one can hear anything. All the loud words reverberate and everyone mistakes the resulting shudders for thoughtful stimulation.

I felt sad about discarding my words into the biggest bin in the world while ignoring a perfectly functional web home that I was paying for.

So I developed a habit of pausing before I pressed 'post', often discarding Facebook posts mid-draft. Instead I loaded up my blog editor and neatly filed my words where they belonged - and where they have belonged for the past 12 years. Here.

I've posted every two days for the past three months, and although I'm now going to slow that down to every three days while I turn my attentions more to Electronic Sound, the habit has been quite cleansing.

Of course, I'll keep Facebook because sometimes it's useful for event promotion, and I do like keeping up with friends who use Facebook creatively. And I can cross-post stupid panda pictures from Instagram.

But here is where I belong. If you're new to this blog, hello. This isn't a trash can. More a recycling skip. One of the bottle types that whiffs of last night's excess. There's plenty more to come: thank you for visiting.

Jul 7, 2016

Who (what) appears in the new Electronic Sound?

Robert Moog, Robert Moog's daughter, Vince Clarke, a magic pony, Robert Hood and Ladyhawke. Almost all of these appear in the brand new Electronic Sound.

Plus, says the magazine...
"...our regular contributors Synthesiser Dave, Jack Dangers and Fat Roland, who between them will meet all your technical, archival and, erm, deranged reading requirements." 
You guessed it. The magic pony does not appear in Electronic Sound. Not alive, anyway. That's right, a FREE magic dead pony with every edition. Or a music CD. Come to think of it, it's probably just a free CD.

ANYHOO, it's a beautiful thing with incredible design, and a cracking read even though it does have my column in. I really shouldn't have mentioned the pony thing. This has gone terribly wrong. Pre-order issue 21 of Electronic Sound now.

Jul 5, 2016

I Am Dogboy: Underworld's new book already pleases me no end

I Am Dogboy is already my favourite book of 2016.

It has been written by Karl Hyde, the dancey bloke from Underworld, and it contains diaries, pictures and abstract poetics collected since 1999. Those that have seen me perform my weird fiction or seen my text-heavy exhibition Slow Reader will know how much I'm going to love this.

Because the Tomato collective have done the design work, the book is going to look gorgeous. I also like the fact that Hyde has "done a Bill Drummond" and divided a special painting into 100 separate pieces for the deluxe print-run. I once bought 0.05% of a painting off Drummond once. That's another story.

All this lovely new Underworld wonderfulness can be pre-ordered on their website. It's not cheap, but I reckon it'll be worth every penny.

If you fancy a treat for your ears, there's a Spotify playlist building up in preparation for the release. Click below for more. Brills.