Dec 31, 2006


Oh go on then, have a musical review of the year. Rather than drown you with a flood of recommendations from 2006, here is a simple six-fold selection to ensure salivation through sonic satisfaction.

For the first time, I have included 30-second sample mp3s for you to listen to. Just click on the link and your Quicktime player will summon up the fairies that make music happen on your screen. The mp3s will only be up for two weeks, mind.

(Artists that I considered but didn't include in my top six: Isan, Battles, Dabrye, Susumu Yokota, Monolake, Hot Chip, 000, Boxcutter, Wagon Christ, Biosphere and Quinoline Yellow.)

Artist: Squarepusher
Title: Hello Everything (album)
Label: Warp
[site] [mp3 no longer available]
Those who prefer Squarepusher's harder drill 'n' bass fare should stay away. Otherwise, this is a playful pot pourri of some of 'Pusher's biggest weapons: junglism, ambience, jazz, stupid synths and frenetic bass guitar mayhem. And it's ever so melodic, which means this is a good album for those tentative souls yet to foray into the strange world of Tom Jenkinson.

Artist: Luke Abbott
Title: b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b (track)
Label: Output
[site] [mp3 no longer available]
Now come on, this is just silly. The reviews call this an "8bit adventure", which basically means there is zip all quality to this repetitive bit of nonsense. This was also one of the few moments of absolute genius in 2006. Luke manipulates the circuits of electronic toys and produces the kind of results only found between the matrix and the real world. B,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,brilliant.

Artist: Nathan Fake
Title:Drowning In A Sea Of Love (album)
Label: Border Community
[site] [mp3 no longer available]
As you would expect with a "sea of love", listening to this album is like being hugged by a hundred marshmallows while having your feet massaged by clouds. Electronica / IDM has not been this warm and inviting since The Orb's last party in hell. Jump in, take your socks off, and absorb yourself in what I hope will be considered an masterpiece by the time I'm selling drugs to my grandchildren.

Artist: FM3
Title: Buddha Machine (album?)
Label: FM3
FM3 are a Chinese experimental music duo who decided to spurn the usual format of CD or mp3 or whatever, and instead released their new album in its own dedicated piece of hardware. The Buddha Machine is a small plastic box with a speaker that emits nine short drones that you toggle between using a switch on the side. And that's it. And it's one of the best things I have ever bought.

Artist: Clark
Title: Boddy Riddle (album)
Label: Warp
[site] [mp3 no longer available]
Clark, who used to be known as Chris Clark but had his Chris stolen by hoodies, is an electronic artist, but his music encompasses post-rock, musique concrete and the dishwasher to boot. I don't know whether to file this under disco, ambient, krautrock or space music. Alls I do knows is this is Clark's most complete album to date and it will happily stick out of your CD racks like a native American on a psychiatric ward.

Artist: Boards Of Canada
Title: Dayvan Cowboy (track)
Label: Warp
Forgive me for including a third Warp artist in my top six, but I can't ignore the monster that is BoC. Dayvan Cowboy spilled forth from their Trans Canada Highway EP and, well, see it for yourself... with THE MAGIC OF VIDEO. With this ends my blogging year. See you on the odd side.

Dec 29, 2006

Knobs, cocks and boils: my review of the year

>Cheese of 2006

Wensleydale, as it is every year.

> The most wonderful public figure of 2006

This is a difficult choice; 'wonderful' is not a word I would use to describe most celebrities. Lily Allen was both 'street' and pedestrian, while Chantelle and Pete Doherty were either OMG like sooo cool or complete morons, depending on your take.

We were forced to think about Chris Tarrant and Mark Oaten's sex lives (not together, although they would make a delightful couple). Michael Richards and Mel Gibson destroyed our faith in Seinfeld and Braveheart respectively.

Tony Blair and David Cameron annoy me so much, I want to gnaw the back of my knees off. Paris Hilton, Catherine Tate and The Feeling are also boils on the bottom of life I want to lance with the needle of justice.

In fact, the only public figure that didn't want to make me grate my eyeballs and syringe them back up my nose was Mr Lordi (pictured), whose band stormed to a well-deserved Eurovision success with this glorious number.

>Knob of 2006

I think butter just about edges the victory here, over the bed and door variety.

> Film of 2006

Bond took a menacing turn for the better, but I still can't take those films seriously. I missed any films to do this year's overriding theme of animals and planes, so I lost out on United 93, Snakes On A Plane and any one of the million films about penguins. The Departed, Superman Returns and Children Of Men were pleasant surprises, and A Cock And Bull Story made me giggle lemonade out of my nose, if only for Stephen Fry's impressive "cock!"

My favourite film of the year came right at the beginning, as the turkey and stuffing was still swilling round my insides. From the opening bomb explosion, Munich was unsettling and brutish and shied away from moralising, and thankfully avoided the usual saccherine Spielberg fare.

>Near death experience of 2006

Sankeys Soap in the summer. Yeesh. At least, it felt like near death. I'll tell you over a beer some time.

>Post of 2006

Yes, from my own blog. I really am that vain.

Autechre sell tinny frog-puke enducing cancer machines always seems to come up on Google searches and provoked an anonymous commenter to call my post "a load of sniffle", although the whole post was cheapened by my use of a Dilbert cartoon. My Misadventures In Sound series chronicled my DJing on Refresh FM last Easter, although I never quite finished it. Filter: Beckett & Taylor, Luke Abbott & 000 provoked a respectful mention on a record company website. A little less respectful was It's 3.30am and this is what I think of Da Vinci, which was written in a fury after wasting good sleep over an appalling film. Five things I don't want you to know about me was similarly heartfelt.

I have to plump for the Fatbelt series as my favourite, in particular Fatbelt: notch 3 which saw a whole nation take Saffron the goat to its heart. Well, about three people anyway. My favourite phrase of the year was from that post: "Friday waltzes in to the room like it owns the place." I like that, I must use that again.

Is that smug enough for you?

>Smug git of 2006

Yes, okay, I'll go away now.

Dec 27, 2006

Will the David Attenborough of electronic music please step forward?

I'm not exactly what you call a man's man, although I fall effortlessly into realms of life traditionally spurned by most no-tails, such as Formula One, modern computer video games and long conversations about early Warp catalogue numbers.

I get as annoyed at male chauvanist pigs as I do at wimmin's libbers who spout things like "typical man!" and "You think that hurts? You should try childbirth." Sexism is from the same root as racism, so if you want to be my friend, keep your petty prejudice to yourself, lest I sulk quietly for three days before developing man 'flu*.

>Women in the field

This blog is meant to be about electronica / IDM music, which is male dominated like most areas of popular music. There are women in the field, such as Goldfrapp, Bjork, a bit of Mum and a smidgeon of Telefon Tel Aviv, but they are mostly standing on the touchlines watching the main action. See? That was a sporting analogy, which is so manly*.

In the spirit of political correctness gone mad, I would like to declare January 2007 as the month that Mira Calix will make it big. She is a glitch artist who dillies with found sound, and dallies with orchestral experimentation.


Her new album will be called Eyes Set Against The Sun, and it features samples taken from her garden. Audio samples, that is; she isn't flower pressing, even though that is very womanly*.

Australia's In The Mix magazine describes her as the David Attenborough of electronic music, and a particular quote from their interview with her (read it here) gives me hope that electronica artists' obsession with audio trivialities is not just a male fascination.

>Amazing creak

Here's what she says: “There’s a tree near where I live that has this amazing creak all of its own, and every little twig you hear sounds different if you bash it or step on it or rub against it, and because they are different types of wood they all make different types of sounds...

"I made a [musical] piece out of snow melting but it ends up sounding like water running because it obviously turns into water when it melts. Because it was all melting at different speeds and times, though, it sounds bizarre – maybe, to people, it could sound like I just turned the shower on! I enjoyed it, but in the end I got too cold and had to leave my recorder outside and keep popping back. I have no idea why I find it fun, but I do.”


Her childlike fixations sum up my thought processes about most things most of the time, although I'm not sure if that makes me a man's man, a woman's woman or just a Roland's Roland.

*irony in action

Dec 25, 2006

Never mind the baubles, here's James Brown

It seems only inappropriate to wish all my readers a stupendously average Christmas with perhaps the occasional moment of lucidity about where it all went wrong and how you want things to be different next year and oh my god I'm so fat.

Fear not, my tearful Tiny Tims; put your regret in your jacket pocket and don't bring it out again until New Year. In the meanwhile, gorge yourselves on sweet yule logs, stodgy Christmas pudding and glass baubles.


An angel once told me the true meaning of Christmas, but I can't remember what he said and anyway he had a girl's name. Christmas for me is about having a few days off work, eating things made from fat, and getting all my old Adamski records out.


I must mention the sad loss of James Brown, probably the first true legend to die on Christmas Day. When I say "first true legend to die on Christmas Day", I don't know that for a fact, and please do correct me. I can think of WC Fields for a start...

Anywii, I tried to post a JB vid from Youtube, but since I upgradified to Blogger Beta I've not been able to stick illegal videos on my blog. So I've learnt a bit of HTMLTML and here is, hopefully, James Brown as I'll always remember him: high and funny.

Happy Christmas.

PS - The blasphemy at the top is by WibblyWobbly and his (NSFW) B3ta profile is here.

Dec 23, 2006

Reviews: Rollercoaster Project, Squarepusher & Plan B

Artist: The Rollercoaster Project
Title: Drone 1 (single)
Label: Dreamboat
[site] [listen]
If I wanted to hear screaming men and wailing guitars, I would set a tiger loose in Dawson's music shop. Or I could listen to the Rollercoaster Project, which is a strange little single by a strange little Yorkshireman with angry synths on one side and furious axe-weilding on the other. It's oddities like this that keep me interested in music - a small pleasure, like sex on the top of bus shelters.

Artist: Squarepusher
Title: Venus no 17 (single)
Label: Warp
[site] [listen]
My mouth has oft raved about Squarepusher's Welcome To Europe album, with its willy nilly bass spanking mayhem. Yet, spin the globe back Superman-stylee to the ancient year of 2004, and here is the 'pusherman at his more straightforward, ADHD best. This re-release includes a car-crash of an acid mix (that's a good thing, by the way) and an epic called Tundra 4 which sweeps as it beats as it squeals.

Artist: Plan B
Title: No More Eatin (single)
Label: 679 Recordings
I get easily annoyed at hip hop, and because of this I tend to ignore most of the genre. Bitches and guns and cars don't really shwing my bling - Plan B is no better. Not only does he look as though most of his life experience has consisted of hanging out at Stockport bus station, he also got the seal of disapproval when my rap fiend mate Stefan saw him live and wasn't too impressed. And what Stefan says goes.

Dec 21, 2006

Five things I don't want you to know about me

Internet memes are, like, sooo 2005, but I'm willing to give Ben Edson's tag the time of day because (a) he's a good egg, (b) one of his five things profoundly disturbed me and (c) I'm waiting for pizza.

So here are five things you probably didn't know about me, although if you have been with me when I'm drunk, I have probably confessed most of these things at some point.


I used to be a spendaholic. I would stroll round music shops and make impulse purchases with hard real money cash. One of my better decisions was the beautiful Roland JP-8000, from which I got my DJ name. At one point, I went sledging and realised afterwards I had £1,300 in cash in my back pocket. I peeled the notes carefully onto a radiator, and once they were dry, I spent every last pound on something-or-other.


I am a founding member of the Manchester Boy's Choir. I remember having a strict choir master who would make us learn a whole bunch of songs and then tell us just before a performance which ones we were going to sing. I sang with the Halle orchestra, and once walked into a pillar at the Free Trade Hall because I was nervous. I also learnt the piano and trumpet and I was a 100% wizz in theory exams.


I have almost no sense of family. My mother died when I was revising for my A-Levels, and my father died ten years ago. I had old parents, so many grandparents, aunts and uncles had shuffled off this mortal coil long before I had a chance to know them. This practical non-existence of my extended family may partly explain why I don't value 'family' as much as other people. I am not close to my two brothers, although I like them both, and I hardly know my seven neices and nephews. And if that wasn't enough, I have a half-sister I have never met (so make that ten nieces and nephews). This sounds very sad, but I fill the gap with wonderful friends, of which I have always had many.


My two worst fashion disasters are (a) my green suit and wine red tie I used to wear when working as a pop columnist on the South Manchester Reporter in the early 1990s and (b) my dangerously tight orange trousers, complete with orange jacket, I wore when I was going through my conceptual orange-and-blue-only phase. Everyone had a conceptual orange-and-blue-only phase, didn't they? They didn't? Oh...


I am going to counselling in the new year. By some people's standards, I've been through some tough times, and despite having depression for as long as I can remember, I have retained my optimism and humour. However, I don't think laughing my way through things is working any more. I am very nervous about counselling, but I do believe a broken brain has as much right to be mended as a broken arm, and believe me, some arms are more broken than others.

And now the tags: Blonde Janet, Daniel, Geekmonster, Lee, Sarahcontrary.

Edit: Welcome onboard, Patroclus. It's always nice to hear who's reading. May your 2007 be totally 2007ish.

Dec 15, 2006

Dirty tree and a turd

If you were looking for evidence that all DJs are ponces, then look no futher than the Bay Horse last Wednesday.

I had the audacity to celebrate my 33 1/3rd birthday with a Squeaky Productions event called 33 1/3. In all fairness, I didn't ask for cards or presents, although the lovely Lev gave me a treat I shall never forget. It was... erm... hold on now, it'll come back to me... oh yes, bubble blowing stuff that will no doubt liven up my Christmas parties this year as well as providing a serious health and safety hazard. Hurrah!

>Final insult

Back to Wednesday. We pushed the 33 1/3rd theme as far as we could be bothered. We showed Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. We had vinyl LPs all over the tables and walls. We had a tombola with 33 1/3rd prizes.

And we also had a quiz with 33 questions. All the answers relate to the numbers three, 33, a third or, for festive fun, Christmas. You can play the quiz now on the Fat Roland website. Go on. It's really hard (said Santa to the elf) but give it a try anyway.

For those who submitted their answers on Wednesday, we now have a winner with a score of 16 out of 33. That is Rob Telford, and he has won a copy of Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult on Digital Versimilitude Discette (or "DVD" as my great great great great grandchildren call it). Rob and everyone else can also find the answers by clicking on the quiz at [link no longer available].

>Vinyl info

Finally, here is my track listing from Wednesday. I DJed for three hours, and these are the tunes for the first hour only. The second hour was pure vinyl request heaven, so we had such classics as The Cure, Paul Hardcastle and A-Ha. And the third hour was me putting on really long records so I could play pool with my chums.

Boards Of Canada: Alpha And Omega
Deadly Avenger: Black Sun
Up Bustle & Out: Ninja's Principality
Req: Upstairs
EU: Tanya
EU: Sm
Plaid: Get What You Gave
Autechre: Rae
Richard H Kirk: Velodrome
Primal Scream: Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts)

PS - thanks must go to Kol and Fil for making the event happen. I can't live, if living is without you. I can't liiiiive, I can't live anymooooore. Altogether now...

Dec 14, 2006

Bex at Nex(us)

My chum Bex is performing her latest dance piece at Nexus this Friday. And here is the flyer.

She's a great creative spirit, and is more lovely than a jar of candy floss puppies. (That was meant to sound like the cutest thing ever, but it makes me feel ever so slightly queasy.)

View a larger flyer here.

Dec 5, 2006

Merry pissmas

Felched from Sarah's blog. I hope this is the first and last time I'll mention Christmas on this blog.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper. Gift bags are ridiculous unless they're home-made, and then they're ridiculous and home-made.

2. Real tree or artificial? Real. Killing trees upsets Dogmatix and I hate dogs, so that's okay.

3. When do you put up the tree? I don't, I get my male au pair to put it up for me.

4. When do you take the tree down? I'm strongly in favour of keeping Christmas decorations up all year round.

5. Do you like eggnog? Nog. Er, I mean, no. I don't know what it is, but Starbucks sell it, and I don't like most things in Starbucks, so I probably won't like it.

6. Do you have a nativity scene? No, but I do sell them for a living. I'd recommend the Brush Art Nativity set made entirely out of toilet brushes, or something. (Google it.)

7. Mail or email Christmas cards? Neither, complete waste of time. Have a party instead and invite everyone you know, where ever they are.

8. Favorite Christmas Movie? It's A Wonderful Life every time.

9. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Turkey and all the trimmings, sometimes Belgium, but mostly Turkey.

10. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I spit upon your American spelling, but "colored" it is.

11. Favorite Christmas song? I'll Be Home For Christmas by Starflyer 59 or if I'm feeling really cheesy, then Stay by East 17.

12. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Home. Travelling is for, um, travellers.

13. Angel on the tree top or a star? A beautiful angel with a pink dress, glittery wings and a curly moustache.

14. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? The problem with opening them the previous evening is I'm usually pissed on Christmas Eve, so I'd open my presents then wake up the following morning not remembering a thing. I would find all my opened presents, blame it on burglars, and I'd phone the police. I'd spend the whole of Chrimbo Day with the rozzers looking for anyone matching a photofit of a drunk Fat Roland, and essentially that means I would end up having Johnny Vegas arrested and the whole world would hate me forever for robbing the world of comedy. So I open my pressies on Christmas Day.

15. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Red. Green. Red and green.

16. Favorite for Christmas dinner? I've had enough of your American spellings. Go away now

Dec 2, 2006

Do you know Squarepusher? You do now

Here's Squarepusher on BBC2's The Culture Show. Lauren Laverne clearly has no idea who he is, and a researcher has fed her a bogus line that he is mainly known for DJing.

Whilst I'm in BBC-slagging mood, it's interesting to see Radio 4 has just shown a documentary on Jay-Z. They've ignored him for years, but now he has serious money and business behind him, he's respectable enough to be covered by Radio 4. In fact, Jay-Z: from Brooklyn to the Boardroom seems a lot more concerned with his business acumen than the fact he knows how to punch out a great lyric or two.

Nov 30, 2006

It's a project; it's in a warehouse

Time for a Fat Roland night out! Sequence held part two of their Warehouse Sessions last Friday, featuring Autechre, LFO and Massonix, with support from DJs Surgeon, Rob Hall and residents Mark Turner and the Computer Controlled DJs.

Fil and I arrived in the pouring rain at Boddington's Brewery, which has been converted into a haven for lightstick-waving gurners. The Warehouse Project is a great name for the venue on two counts: (1) it's in a warehouse and (2) it is a project, so it won't last forever.

Unusually for us, we got there too early. This is okay because as middle-class toffs, we would have been mortified if we had arrived too late for the watercress sandwiches and the green tree and stilton soup.

>Arms & legs

After wasting time thinking about how we were going to last 'til six in the morning, we each cut off an arm and a leg for a three-quarter pint of beer. It was cheaper to buy a meal than drink a beer.

Half way through the night, we bumped into two guys who were here for the house music night next door. We invited them into our techno ghetto, but they said something along the lines of they would rather cheese-grate their eyeballs whilst being fed their own liquidised fingers. Or they said they'd rather hear music to dance to. One or the other, not sure which.

Apparently, Maggot from the Goldie Lookin Chain was there. This is a random fact and had no bearing upon our evening.


I'd better talk about the music. The soundsystem is notoriously quiet, but I expected as much, so I wasn't disappointed. Unlike a few months ago when I went to Alton Towers to find Rita was shut. I mean, really.

I hadn't heard Graham Massey's Massonix before, but I was more than au fait with his 808 State beat combo. It was much of the same: rich, complex, beautiful, a man clearly enjoying throwing everything into the mix and smoothing it over with analogue fuzziness.


LFO were suitably over-serious, with monotone visuals reacting to every metronomic bleep. But the highlight for me was Autechre. Accompanied by a great lazer show (wooo!), their usual fare of disjointed percussion and clattery clicks sounded absolutely fabulous darling. You could hear every whir and every spap. ("Spap" is the only way I can describe Autechre's sound sometimes.)

I didn't gurn, nor did I wave a light stick, but it was nice to hear some top quality electronica / IDM at a gig for a change. And this is someone who went to Take That earlier in the year, so I know me gigs, me.

Nov 26, 2006

Reviews: Repeat Repeat, Soma Compilation & Gescom

Woo, I'm still buzzing from seeing Autechre, LFO and Graham Massey on Friday. But more about that later. Have some reviews to keep you going.

>Filter this
Artist: Repeat Repeat
Title: Squints (LP)
Label: Soma
Listen like a mother here

I don't waffle much about 4/4 house music on the Fat Roland blog, but I'm willing to make an exception for Repeat Repeat. Here we have a debut album of hypnotic grooves, with beats that snap and click rather than stamp and punch. It's mesmerising and ever so slightly different from anything you have heard before. As subtle as the film Fargo and as off-kilter too.

>Filter this
Artist: Various
Title: Soma Compilation 2006 (LP)
Label: Soma
Listen like a sister here

And while we're on a Soma tip, this compilation album is the cream of their smooth techno releases from 2006 and therefore is as essential as a badger handbags (which are very essential indeed, especially if you're a badger). Featuring among others Alex Smoke and The (legendary) Black Dog, it's made even better by top techno-nobs Slam and Modeselektor on remix duty. It's a little housey for me, but its quality cannot be underpanted... er, I mean, underestimated.

>Cut off this
Artist: Gescom (a.k.a. Autechre)
Title: Mini Disc (LP)
Label: Touch
Listen like a mad uncle here

I have absolute respect for Autechre, and the fact they released this, the first ever minidisc-only release. In fact, I really like this album because it's the only record I know designed to be played on a 'random' setting, but I absolutely can't recommend it because the Fatblog is all about getting people to salivate over electronic music, and this sequence of 88 short noises just ain't going to get the juices flowing. Having said that, I can't resist giving you the entire track listing here. Deep breath: 1 Cut Begin 2 Cut Begin (Continued) 3 Cut Begin (Continued) 4 Cut Begin (Continued) 5 Cut Begin (Continued) 6 Cut Begin (Continued) 7 Cut Begin (Continued) 8 Amendment 84 9 Helix Shatterproof 10 Newer Beginning 11 Newer Beginning (Continued) 12 Polarized Beam Splitter 13 Polarized Beam Splitter (Continued) 14 Polarized Beam Splitter (Continued) 15 Polarized Beam Splitter (Continued) 16 Polarized Beam Splitter (Continued) 17 Inter 18 R M I Corporate Id 1 19 Pricks 20 Pricks (Continued) 21 Pricks (Continued) 22 Pricks (Continued) 23 Devil 24 Is We 25 Is We (Continued) 26 Dan Dan Dan 27 Dan Dan Dan (Continued) 28 Dan Dan Dan (Continued) 29 Dan Dan Dan (Continued) 30 Shark 31 Shark (Continued) 32 Shark (Continued) 33 Shark (Continued) 34 Shark (Continued) 35 Shark (Continued) 36 Shark (Continued) 37 1D Shapethrower 38 Shoegazer 39 Vermin 40 Vermin (Continued) 41 Vermin (Continued) 42 Hemiplegia 1 43 MCDCC 44 Gortex 45 Alf Sprey 46 Interchangeable World 47 Interchangeable World (Continued) 48 Interchangeable World (Continued) 49 Cranusberg 50 Cranusberg (Continued) 51 Cranusberg (Continued) 52 Raindance 53 Horse 54 New Contact Lense 55 Of Our Time 56 Crepe 57 Crepe (Continued) 58 Crepe (Continued) 59 Crepe (Continued) 60 Wab Wat 61 'MC 62 Peel 63 I G E 64 Knutsford Services 65 Fully 66 Fully (Continued) 67 Squashed to Pureness 68 Squashed to Pureness (Continued) 69 Squashed to Pureness (Continued) 70 Squashed to Pureness (Continued) 71 Yo! DMX Crew 72 Go On 73 Stroyer 2 74 - 75 (Continued) 76 Shep 77 Langue 78 Poke 79 Poke (Continued) 80 Poke (Continued) 81 Poke (Continued) 82 Hemiplegia 2 83 Territory of Usage 84 Territory of Usage (Continued) 85 Tomo 86 Tomo (Continued) 87 R M I Corporate Id 2 88 Pt/Ae. Did you get all that?

Fat Roland recommends Boomkat for your music purchases.

Nov 22, 2006

Boobah humbug

If you thought the Tellytubbies were surreal, then you have never seen Boobah.

Here is a video of the children's telly programme Boobah re-edited, set to music by two artists I have been dribbling about this week on my blog - Autechre and the Aphex Twin. Oh and there's a bit of Goldfrapp too.

Behold, the collision between cultures! Well done, creator Dave Rowland. You freak, you.

Nov 20, 2006

Ten places I want to see Autechre played

I'm off to see uber-techno-super-gods Autechre on Friday. I'm as excited as pink buckets because you never hear Autechre played in regular pubs and clubs; it's usually all Beyonce Aguilera and the Arctic Monks and suchlike.

Here are ten places I want to see Autechre played:

>At the final of the X Factor. I want to see Ben / Bobby / Betty / whoever warble You Raise Me Up to the sound of synthesisers mating over hot coals.

>At the start of most Sanctus 1 services (this already happens - I'm just plugging them).

>In the heels of every trainer shoe ever sold in the UK. The frequencies should phase out anything that comes out of a scally's mobile phone speakers.

>From speakers fitted into the side of planes, so when they fly low over your house, instead of getting the roar of the engines, they would emit a deafening analogue C major seventh.

>On the Quite Early Show in April 2007, although I doubt my co-presenter Lee would allow it as he likes girl's music.

>As muzak in the lobby of the entrance hall to the parallel universe to which I have been digging a tunnel for the past sixteen years. I've been digging with Christening spoons and hiding the soil in Paddington Bear toy coat pockets, so that my escape plan from this universe won't be discovered by Barbie and Ken who watch over me all day from their ivory watchtowers made not of ivory, but of lego and poo.

>On the moon. Obviously.

>Behind Bjork's voice. She's used Graham Massey and Mark Bell as producers, so the Autechre boys seem like a logical step.

>On a stage in a big Ten Mile-style stand-off between Autechre and 808 State. The Manchester band that comes up with the most original, fartiest sound wins, and the hyped-up audience will mimik TB303 sounds in celebration.

>On my CD player. Well, technically, in my CD player, not on it.

I may have to settle for that last one, although I'm still holding out hope for the parallel universe.

Nov 18, 2006

µ faces*

I'm not a huge fan of forums, but I am a member of the We Are The Music Makers forums. These are for dedicated fans of the holy pentangle of electronic dance music, namely Aphex Twin, Autechre, Boards Of Canada, µ-Ziq and Squarepusher. (I hasten to add, I am not very dedicated because I don't post much.)

One clever bugger, who is very dedicated, has swiped a load of photographs of forum members and built an impressive collage. Have a look at the collage here and see if you can spot me.

There is a clue - all the photos have names on.

*It's meant to be a pun on 'New Faces'. Yes, I know, sorry.

Nov 16, 2006

Come on my Selected

The Aphex Twin album I am most fond of is Selected Ambient Works 85-92. This is for two reasons.

Firstly it reaches sub-atomic frequencies that can only be heard by wildebeest and Brian Blessed. If you don't believe me, turn the bass button to "really bassy" on your ghetto blaster and stick track four on. Ageispolis is likely to turn your trousers brown - not from your poo, but from all the angels' poo in heaven. It's that loud. Seriously.

Secondly, We Are The Music Makers contains a sample from the original Willy Wonka film with Gene Wilder. Nuff sed.


I also love the album's simplicity, an attribute lacking in later tracks like Windowlicker. Technically, this is a third reason, and therefore the first paragraph of this post is looking a little shakey. Never mind, I shall continue.

The album was a mammothian influence in my life. I would have killed puppies to have made music that great. I mean, how easy would it be? Just play one note, put it on a loop, then plonk a keyboard riff over the top, wazz in a few chords and give the whole shambles a name by tossing a box of Scrabble into a Kenwood BL440.

>Pickled Onion

If only Pickled Onion* had been around then. He produced an online Phase Box, which might as well be called a Make Your Own Aphex Twin Tune box. I would recommend you play with it vigorously by following this link*. (If you haven't got Shockwave 10.1, download it now.)

Another tyrannosaurusical influence in my life was The Orb, and I am fond of them for seven reasons, all of which I won't list now.

* original links no longer active

Nov 13, 2006

Reviews: The Flashbulb & Hecker/Voafose

>Filter this
Artist: The Flashbulb
Title: Flexing Habitual (LP)
Label: Sublight
Listen with your ears here
Boots the chemist saw fit to use The Flashbulb's drugged-out sonick magick in their Campaign For Real Beauty advertising campaign (see the video here). There is something truly beautiful in Flexing Habitual, an offence of maimed breakcore in the best Squarepusher tradition; it's as digital as war. There is melodic songwriting here too, but the velvet glove isn't big enough to hold this grenade. Go buy.

>Filter this
Hecker / Voafose
Title: Kit001 (10")
Label: Rephlex
Listen with your ears here

Like someone whispering your name from the other side of a football match, these tracks from two upcoming albums on Rephlex are hardly going to trouble the airwaves. However, this sort of minimal frappery and subtle sonic distortion makes me more excited than a clown car hooter. It's Salvador Dali's Persistance Of Memory in sound. Distorted bells, flappy clicks and echoing drips. You can't go wrong.

Nov 11, 2006

Now wash your hands: it's the Toriton Plus

If you have never thought of sound as a waveform before, well, blow my physics hat off, here are some actual waves making sound. The Toriton Plus comprises a bowl of water, a bunch of lazers and a dose of magic. Oh, and someone's hand.

My mate Ed told me once he was going to buy some lazers to make a lazer harp. He would fire the lazers across the heads of an audience and people could reach up and cut the beams with their hands, setting off MIDI samples and thereby creating their own unique orchestra.

All this triggers two thoughts. Firstly, I would be impressed at anyone who can make a lazer upright piano. And secondly, I wonder what the Toriton Plus would sound like if you replaced the water for milk, and you surrounded the whole thing with kittens.

Nov 9, 2006

Note to self: must make blog more readable and stop faffing around with language

Do you remember the days when everything had wires? Radio used to have wires. Phones had them too. And cars. And lions. And wires. Wires had wires once.

These days, nothing has wires. Everything is portable. That's why some people still call radio "wireless", because it means you can carry your radio by pushing it around on a trolley with no fear that any wires will get tangled with the wheels.


As I get older and bits fall off, I have become increasingly fond of radio ("wireless"). From my humble beginnings with community radio station Refresh FM, via my flirt with the BBC with Greenbelt FM, to more humble beginnings with Refresh FM, the medium of radio ("wireless") is a drug I now find it difficult to kick.

I will be presenting and producing shows on Refresh FM next Easter. The station is only on air for two weeks, but the carthorse of momentum needs to bolt now for the broadcast to be a success.


With that in mind, my co-presenter-in-drag Lee has set up a Myspace page for us. You can find it at You will find blog postings by Lee (co-presenter) and my evil self (Eyan) about our plans for the radio (wireless) shows next year (2007). We also have downloads (mp3s) of interviews (chats) we did. I am very (overly) excited (giddy) about it (it). Enough parentheses (brackets).

Please "friend" us, despite my previous pathetic pilfering petty protestations at such a verb.

I say arse to alliteration.

Oct 26, 2006

Fatbelt: notch 6

As you join me on the last of my blogs about the Greenbelt Festival (yes, it really has taken me two months to write this blog series), you find an ill man, a DJ at death's door, a broken soul tearful at the terrible prospect of being too poorly to finish a final day working with the BBC on Greenbelt FM.

Fellow DJ and twin brother Lee (aka NineTenthsFullOfPenguins) had told me a story about eating spicy food then working up a sweat on a football pitch. He said this was a great way to kill off any nasty viruses in your body.


I decided to take his advice. I staggered to Manna Mexico, one of many fast food vans at Greenbelt that excel in both scrumptiousness of food and, like all the food vans, heftiness of prices. Grabbing the counter with both hands - partly for drama and partly for support as my legs were beginning to give way - I made my demand.

Me: I want a burrito with loads and loads of jalapeno peppers.
Manna man: How many? Five? Six?
Me [makes cowboy-tough-guy face]: How many have you got?
Manna man [making the burrito]: You'll kill the taste, you know.
Me: I don't care. I'm ill and I want you to make me well with just one meal. Just ONE MEAL! [Flourishes camply]
Manna man: Ah, a challenge! [Makes a pile of peppers not entirely unlike the mashed potato mountain in Close Encounters]

I ate the hottest burrito this side of The Titty Twister, if 'tasted' is the right word. Belching fire, I retired to my tent. That night, clothed in everything I could find, I sweated through pores I never knew existed, and by morning I stank like a rotting buffalo that had drowned in a vat of sewage after a night out with a skunk and John McCririck.

And I felt great. Like I was never ill!


My final lunchtime show - and my last job for Greenbelt FM - was almost a serene affair. There was one hiccup - a bunch of Daniel Bedingfield fans, who had won in a pop trivia quiz, turned up to collect a prize I had never promised them. Lee actually bought them a CD, but their mum looked at the one CD, then looked at her three girls, and said: "Oh. We'll just have to copy it". Ungrateful cow.

I am immensely grateful to the Greenbelt FM crew for the chance to mess around on radio for a long weekend. And I will be forever indebted to the BBC crew that supported us on the pretense of it being something to do with the Beeb's regional religious commitment, but really it was everything to do with giving a committed bunch of radio hacks the boost of a lifetime.


I had time off in the afternoon. Bill Drummond talked about The 17, and I caught some decent music. I got my trainers muddy, and poked a sleeping pig with a stick ("zzzzz grrrrrrnt zzzzzz..."). I enjoyed the beer tent for the first time. And as I left the site at Cheltenham, a thought edged its way into the corner of my mind...

"Hmm, what if I was to do a series of blog posts about my experience at Greenbelt? I wonder if it would be interesting enough?"

...and now we know, don't we?

Oct 19, 2006

Reviews: Squarepusher, Mary Ann Hobbs & Badly Drawn Boy

Filter this
Artist: Squarepusher

Title: Hello Everything
Label: Warp

Light sticks and jazz hands ahoy, it's Squarepusher's most enjoyable album to date. Still sounding like a tin of angry spanners attacking a robot giving birth, the Pusherman hasn't strayed into any new territory. Yet this new album seems rooted in more joyous melody and frenetic bass guitar performance than ever before. I haven't had this much fun since I shot JFK. Highly recommended.
Listen here.

Filter this
Artist: Mary Anne Hobbs
Title: Warrior Dubz
Label: Planet Mu
Mary Anne Hobbs isn't John Peel (apparently), but she does stick up for some good music. Warrior Dubz is a Laahndan thing. It's dark, grimy, wallowing in filthy beats, and makes you want to stride across the dancefloor as though you have super-elastic underwear. The intensity of this compilation matches its diversity, and if you want your beats a little, well, lowdown and dirty, this is definitely worth a shot. Listen here.

Cut off this
Artist: Badly Drawn Boy
Title: Born In The UK
Label: EMI

I respect Damon Gough because he's from Manchester and he wears a hat, and he has produced his new record with Nick Franglen from the lovely Lemon Jelly. But really! U2 lost all cred when they made an album consisting almost entirely of advert backing music, and now Badly Drawn Boy has done the same. He's gone too safe. All he needs do now is write a song in tribute to some dead tart and he is officially the new Elton John. Listen here.

Oct 16, 2006

Orbital's One Perfect Sunrise

Oh so sad.

Orbital's legacy is they made the world a sadder place. This is not a bad thing, and it beats bloody Armand Van Helden or women squealing about taking them away to another place blah blah.

This track, from their Blue album, was the last tune of the last set played by the Hartnoll brothers before they retired as Orbital. Which increases the sadness factor nicely.

Cry, damn you, CRY!

Oct 13, 2006

Fatbelt: notch 5

Candles have only one end for a reason. If you burn both ends, you not only get covered in wax, but you find yourself wading in a horribly overused metaphor.

The saga continues (finally). After DJing at a Sanctus 1 event at Cheltenham's Greenbelt Festival, I scuttle back to my tent in the early hours of Sunday morning. After a smidgeon of sleep, I am woken up by a phone call.

"We need you in the studio by 9am. At the latest."


It takes a few moments for me to remember I am in a tent and I'm working with the BBC on Greenbelt FM, the festival's on-site radio station. You can see previous posts on this here. I carry my groggy body to the studio and within moments I am miked up ready to co-present a broadcast of the festival's two-hour communion service.

It was a bit like commentating on the Queen Mother's funeral. I've never actually done that, so I could be guessing. There was the sense of fevered anticipation, bolstered by my lucid descriptions of people gathering in a field doing exciting things like sitting down and looking at grass and thinking.

When the event was underway, it was all hushed tones and snipped descriptions ("And that was Reverend Randy Bottoms and his flashing cassock. And now, the prayers...").


It was immense fun. You had to know when to speak, and you had to watch the tone of your voice, depending on how sombre the mood of the communion service was. And yes, 'sombre' is the right word; it is the best word to describe most church services I have sat through.

I have always been waiting to put on a serious 'radio voice'. At times I was just seconds away from lapsing into Mitchell and Webb's languorous snooker commentators.


The afternoon was fraught with activity, what with having lunch in the rain and interviewing peacenik pensioner and former Iraqi hostage Norman Kember. Well, 'fraught' wasn't quite the word. But I did get stressed when I was bellowed at by a colleague for no reason at all. And with stress, long hours, tiredness and tight deadlines comes only one thing.


By early evening, I looked like death. I worried a few people. I felt like crap. My throat was a war zone, and I passed from dizziness to muzziness with all the finesse of Alton Towers' Pirate Ship ride. I could hardly walk without feeling like that scene in Trainspotting where the ground swallows up that druggie bloke. My dulcet timbre and positively dashing vocal chords were evicted without notice. A tight, wheezy cough had moved in, shacked up with his squatter mates Captain Phlegm and Major Aching Shivery-Bones.


I don't know exactly when my immune system collapsed that night. But I nearly cried when I realised that I was heading towards my last day on Greenbelt FM. My final chance to impress the BBC and follow this crazy dream of being the next Brand / Moyles / Radcliffe / Peel (delete as inappropriate) could be a complete wash out.

It was a few hours before bed and I could only see myself getting worse.

This is the cliffhanger bit, when you post comments like "oooh, how exciting" and "do tell me more" and "hey Fats here's my photo hows about a date do you mind if my grandfather comes along". See you on the next post.

Sep 17, 2006

It's the snot that makes it seem so familiar

Fluffy elephants, almost-dry glue, snot-encrusted duvets, wombs and your uncle's trousers may be some of the most comfortable things known to mankind.

However, none of them are as comforting as the de-tuned fuzziness of
Boards Of Canada. Perhaps there is something about the woozy nostalgia of their downtempo drummery that feels haunted by the ghost of 70s ambience.

>Cheese strings

Their 1998 debut Music Has The Right To Children sounded like the whole back catalogue of Ninja Tune had been fed through cheese strings and dictaphones before having its spliff diet replaced with a morphine drip. The thrill of hearing that album for the first time was like meeting a new friend you felt you had known all your life. Like when Richard met Judy. Or when Punch met Judy. The other Judy, not that one.

In the past eight years, I have grown fatter, stoopider but more optimistic. No such progression for BoC. They have a few guitars on recent album
The Campfire Headphase, but they're still living the same lolling retro-daydream.

>Kriss Kross

So respect due to a chap called Kaini who has set up a Boards Of Canada wiki site. 'Wiki' is the sound DJs make when they scratch records and is thought to originate from 'wiggida wiggida wack' from Kris Kross' 1992 hit single Jump. This is a lie.

A wiki site is a website anyone can edit (not a lie), and you should check out the BoC wiki site now. It needs content, so get writing, people. Or you could just copy stuff from their Wikipedia page. I would write stuff myself, but I have no fingers.

>David Koresh

And while I'm bigging up the Boards, What The Hell Is Up With Boards Of Canada is a wonderful summary of their Geogaddi album, including all the David Koresh references, back-masking tomfoolery and, um, Pascal's Triangle of Binomial Coefficients.

BoC are the best thing to come out of Scotland since Shooglenifty (not so much as a lie, as a post-post-modern ironic reference). Like a spent pipe-burst, I'll stop gushing now.

Sep 12, 2006

Fatbelt: notch 4

You've had notches 1, 2 and 3 of my Greenbelt Festival shennanigans. It seems appropriate to follow that with a fourth notch.

It's Saturday, our first full day of broadcast. Greenbelt FM is in full swing, with presenters, producers, editors, reporters, techies and groupies working ten to the dozen to keep the thing on the air. Lee (of Penguins' fame) has been working since 4am, when he staggered out of the organic beer tent smelling of stale beer and pie juice. That is a lie, but it's a fair assumption that he worked as hard as he drank that weekend.


I roll in at 11am, an hour before my first presenting slot, to discover that Lee is live-producing my lunchtime show. This is good because I am his radio bitch. We have good intuitive sense of how the other works, although nothing prepared us for complete flabble that lay ahead.

The two hour lunch show is designed to have a live feel, so there's a lot of spontonaeity, stacks of special guests, and only one chance for me to impress the BBC with my interviewing skills.

We glance at the running order, I get a thirty second training session on how to use the desk, and we're off. We have live links to a roaming reporter around the site, who at one point seems to be interviewing a barman from Eastenders. Guests are scratching on the door desperate for their moment on radio, and Lee is frantically organising them into orderly queues as well as writing cues and prompts for me so I don't dry up on air.


The guests take their place in the interviewee chairs, one after the other like speed-job-interviewing. A woman with fire in her eyes tells me how Israel sucks. A bunch of Daniel Bedingfield fans answer inane questions about their hero, although it amounts to me filling in airspace while they um and ah and blush. A man gets killed in Africa (not part of the show) and I speak to his widow about her quest for justice.

Bands litter the studio with flyers and CDs, gasping for fifteen minutes of non-fame. Some I interview, others are turned away. I remain calm, keeping my voice level and professional; I am the calm air hostess to co-ordinated Lee's pilot, while all around us is turbulence.

And then it gets really strange.


Who the hell are you? In the chair in front of me is a straggly man in a leather hat and beads for clothes. He is staring at me through a hairy face and we're about to go live. I didn't even see him sit down, as though he entered the room through his own special trap door. Behind him is a circle of musicians, a rag bag mixture of middle-class hobos - I can imagine them playing the Bridgewater Hall then nicking your wallet on the way out.

Lee passes me a blurb they have written about themselves. I think of questions to ask while scanning the blurb, as well as trying to maintain eye contact to keep them at ease. I learn this is a folk band comprising Greenbelt vets, but what I didn't know is they invaded the studio demanding half an hour air time. They get about two minutes, and then I feel guilty because they were very nice about it.


I felt relaxed behind the desk. Presenting is definitely for me. Greenbelt FM ask me to co-commentate on tomorrow morning's communion service. It is the prime presenting spot, like the BBC covering the Queen Mother's funeral.

I say yes and then wonder how you commentate for two whole hours on Greenbelt's biggest event of the weekend. What do I say? And why do I keep thinking back to the pub the other night when I declared: "I'm not going to that bloody communion service, this year."

I begin to stress. And this is where things start to go horribly wrong...

Sep 10, 2006

Big Dog Small Dog Fox

A metaphorical box of thank you chocolates must go to everyone who turned up to II this week.

'Tracks' was the theme of II, which is held quarterly at Manchester Bay Horse pub famed for its disturbing horse photographs and intelligent graffiti in its spectacularly collaged toilets.

So we had a Thomas the Tank Engine Big Track set - see a video of it in action
here. We had two real-life train sets in action, including my £1 set which went like a, er, train all night. It's amazing what you can get in pound shops these days.

>Picture switcher

A particular favourite of mine was a video switcher box set up by Fil, where you can select between video clips of toy motorbike races, a miserable child on a kart track, and a hugely dull man demonstrating tracks for fridge doors. Other visuals included a large rollercoaster CG vid and my own abstract train-track thingy based on the pic shown on this post.

Thanks must go to DJ Raven, Kol the train conductor, The Thin Controller who played a 'track'-themed set, and to Stephen Devine for joining us on set-up.

>Free CD!

Here's my track listing for the night. This will be available on an un-mixed compilation CD called Big Dog Small Dog Fox, strictly for home-listening purposes only, you understand. If you want a copy, ask me next time you see me. (It's not available over tinternet or post.)

1 BILL VANLOO Tunes (For Sarah)
2 FRACTION Waiting For Josh
4 APPARAT I Lost My Shit In Tel Aviv
5 WISP* Beadumaegen
7 MR 76IX* Streetbeatz
8 PROEM Long Distance Tiara
9 SQUAREPUSHER** Welcome To Europe
10 PLAID Get What You Gave
11 MU-ZIQ Brace Yourself Jason
12 LUKE ABBOTT* b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b
13 THE RUSSIAN FUTURISTS** Let’s Get Ready To Crumble
14 ORBITAL Input Out

*featured in my 'Filter / Cut-off' posts.

**featured in Top Tunes on the main Fat Roland website

Sep 5, 2006

Fatbelt: notch 3

I didn't have time to blog at Greenbelt, but I can give you a retrospective look at the weekend. This is the point where you ensure you have read notches 1 and 2 of this thrilling blog serialisation. A bleralisation, if you will.

I haven't a cat's chance in Hull of competing with Nine Tenths Full Of Penguins' comprehensive day-in-the-life, but I'll have a go anyways. All times are inaccurate and most probably wrong, as is almost everything else in this report.

>Get on with it, then

I arrive at Greenbelt on an overcast Thursday. I take six hours to put up my tent, take three minutes to have a biscuit, then go and meet the Greenbelt FM team. Someone tells me in hushed tones that working for the on-site radio station means "your time is no longer your own". My lazy bone quivers with anxiety.

I have already met the team on a training day, so there is little ice to break. It's a friendly group, although the stress could easily pile on because the BBC's regional religious team are shadowing us for the weekend.

>Standards with an S

Since this is BBC personnel I am dealing with here, I would have done well to remember they have Standards. With a capital S.

I suggest to Jackie, one of the more outspoken members of the BBC team, that we get the Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain into the studio. "Get them into the studio" isn't good enough. She throws paper clips, ring binders and mixing desks at my head and shouts: "THAT'S NOT AN IDEA, COME BACK TO ME WHEN YOU'VE GOT A BETTER IDEA, THAT ISN'T A GOOD ENOUGH IDEAAARGH!" And we're not even on air until tomorrow.

Also on Thursday, I go to a general Greenbelt organisers meeting which is meant to be motivational, although the only thing I can remember thinking is that stewards with beards deserve more respect than stewards without beards. I get in a cheeky heckle ("twenty-five!") to a rhetorical question, the specifics of which are lost in the fabric of the night.

>Grim reality

Friday waltzes in to the room like it owns the place. We have another radio meeting first thing, and this time we face the grim reality that there are just four hours to prepare the first programme of the weekend's broadcast.

This means generating content and lots of it. I run around interviewing random people about random things on a random hand-held recorder, until I am distracted by a cute baby goat eating a rake in the on-site children's farm, Miller's Ark. I consult my ABC Guide To The Food Chain and calculate, using a flow chart, that goats aren't meant to eat rakes. I tell it to stop eating the rake, and it trots over to my bit of the fence with a vague smile on its lips. I wonder if goats eat people, but it is too late as the stupid kid has wriggled under the perimeter fence - actually waggling its shoulders to give itself purchase against the bottom of the fencing - and it's ready to make a bolt for freedom. I panic. I grab the goat roughly with my left arm, while my right arm grabs the hand-held recorder from my pocket. I press record and, with casual yet goat-ish panache, to present a piece that eventally gets edited and put out on air. 'Greenbelt FM reporter catches goat.' Her name was Saffron, by the way. Hello, Saffron.

The rest of the day is frittered away pre-producing other people's shows. This is laborious because it's like office work.

>Vocal / loop heaven

Unlike Gloopy Music, which was a welcome distraction at the end of the day. Stephen Devine took to the stage to lull an audience into vocal / loop heaven, in a kind of midnight mantra. It was my job to be a roadie and tech geek. It went well, although the audio on a Jim Morrison documentary clip didn't work. I was on stage when I realised the error, so I stood stock still and glared meaningfully at the mute black and white footage as though It Was Meant To Be That Way.

Also on Friday, I discover the Barn Bacon Company's bacon and apple marmalade sandwiches. God is in my mouth. On the next notch of this serioblog, I will tell you how my first show gets invaded by hippies, so please have your Eric Cartman impression at the ready.

Sep 2, 2006

Fatbelt: notch 2

Working on Greenbelt FM was like being hit by a freight train carrying a hundred hippopotomi who each had swallowed a tonne of feathers which in turn had fallen off an angry hoard of overweight ducks whose sole diet for six years had been anvils, chainmail and dark matter.

Only, a lot more enjoyable.


I came back from the Greenbelt Festival on Tuesday. I never did succeed with my on-site blog, as promised on my previous post here; I didn't have time. I've worked at Greenbelt before, as a journalist in the 90s, but nothing quite compares to what I achieved at the weekend.

It was an equally heavy and enjoyable experience. Heavy because of the workload and the ridiculous hours - 13 hours on the first day with two 15 minute breaks really is like being hit by a train. Heavy in the sixties sense because it was one of the strangest things I have done - £1,000 of free BBC training while esconced on a sodden racecourse.


But enjoyable because in effect I got to present programmes for Auntie Beeb. Enjoyable because of the really nice team, because of the sheer intensity of it all, and because of all the thumbs-up I kept seeing when I looked up from the desk during a show.

I missed Bill Drummond's The 17. I missed Sir Lord Bedingfield. I missed everything I wanted to see, and perhaps I'm most gutted about The Seven Basic Plots Of Storytelling and The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain.

But I did get to produce and present programmes, interview an escaped goat and Norman Kember (not together), live-commentate on a two hour event, and help run a brace late-night shindigs in the process. I also discovered a remarkable one-night cure for the common cold.


I could keep waffling, and often do, but I'm going to pretend to be the Daily Mail and serialise my Greenbelt experience.

So then, coming up next on 'notch 3' of my Fatbelt blogs will be me being shouted at by the BBC, me catching an escaped goat, and me standing on a stage wondering why Jim Morrison has lost his voice. But before that, here's Dexy's Midnight Runners-- oops, hard habit to break.

Aug 23, 2006

Fatbelt: notch 1

Like a concrete-booted dwarf at the wrong end of a swimming pool, I may be getting in over my head here.

I'm going to attempt a
Greenbelt Festival blog. I tried it when I DJed for Manchester's Refresh FM (see the last post I did here), but I fizzled out at the end of the first week.


I've been addicted to Greenbelt since 1992, when a hurricane destroyed my tent and the main Sunday service went seriously belly-dancy.

This year will be different because I am helping run two events and also working on the on-site Greenbelt FM radio station (read more on my Fat Roland website).


I fear two things.

Firstlibold, I will be too busy to blog. This officially makes me un-geeky, but I would like to keep you, my fine-feathered reader, updated on my weekend.

Secondifically, I'm worried I'll miss out on the potential highlights, which include but are not limited to The 17, Daniel Bedingfield (well, I might as well), Blindside, John Bell on homosexuality, various writing workshops, The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain (no, seriously, they're unmissable), The Seven Basic Plots Of Storytelling, Candi Staton, comedian and magician John Archer, and anything by Steve Stockman.


Watch this space. Or not, depending on whether I can get to a computer. And the intertubenet. And a seething bag of furry parsnips, I must have my seething bag of furry parsnips.

Aug 22, 2006

Web gloopiness: Final Destination

Keep your beadies peeled for me on the first night of the Greenbelt Festival on Friday.

I'll be helping out Gloopy Music for an event called Final Destination, an alternative act of meditation led by Stephen Devine.

See the main website for details.

Aug 21, 2006

Filter: Beckett & Taylor, Luke Abbott & 000

Filter the good stuff, cut off the rest...

>Filter: Beckett & Taylor - Hired New Hands (single)

I interviewed Mr C of Shaman fame once, and he vibed in my face like no other man could. He was pimping his London club The End to the press. I kind of shared his taste for The End's smooth tech Layo & Buskwacka! electro, but wished the shiny production was a little more, er, dented. Thanks to Beckett & Taylor, I finally have what I want. Some of this is like Prince in rehab, but it's mostly Very Interesting Techno (TM).

>Filter: Luke Abbott - B,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b (single)

Stick a bunch of synths into your washing machine and press record. The result is manic atonal silliness from a man who probably has square wheels on his car. Luke Abbott is a circuit bender of some distinction, extracting from his machines the kind of sounds that only happen When Something Is Going Seriously Wrong. This is a great 1980s Spectrum work-out and is enough to raise the terror alert to r,r,r,r,red.

>Filter: 000 - Aether Dynamic (album)

O, Triple O, shall I compare thee to Future Sound Of London's Lifeforms? Yes I shall, for two reasons. Reason alpha: a beautiful sonic explosion leaps from the cover, prompting us to buy the vinyl because the design is a thing of outstanding scrumptiousness. Reason mu: this album's sonic strata is a rich and complex update on Lifeforms; play it from start to finish and you'll have the best coma you've ever had.

>Cut off: Keane - We Might As Well Be Strangers DJ Shadow Remix (single)

Let's be clear about this. We are fighting a force of evil and his name is J*mes Bl*nt. But his messenger is Keane, and we should be no less wary. We must unite against this new terror. I stand on the battlefield, flanked by Autechre and LFO - but what's this? One of ours has defected to the other side. DJ Shadow, what are you doing? Please tell me it was just for 30 pieces of silver, and not for any artistic reason. Come back, Shadders, rejoin the winning side.

Aug 15, 2006

Web updatingness: urban is the new urban

I'm going urban, and no I don't mean grime, R Kelly or concrete schoolyards.

The urban experience is the theme of an event called Shameless taking place at this year's Greenbelt Arts Festival.

Yours fatly will be providing an electronica soundtrack to the whole proceedings. You can read more about when, where, why, what and huh on my freshly updated website here.

If I bump into R Kelly wiping grime from concrete schoolyards, I'll let you know.

Aug 12, 2006

The Herberts between my Hardys and Heller

I've been tagged by James with something called a Book Meme.

That means I have to answer the same ten questions already answered by my tagger. I hated tag at school. I kept drainpipes up my sleeves so I could batter to death anyone who tried to touch me. Ever.

I was a very lonely child.

Anyhoo, here are the ten questions, ending with the five people I'm supposed to tag. It's like a chain letter which is a bit like chain smoking which is a bit like smoking which kills you much more slowly than being pummelled with piping.

>One book that changed your life: Dave Tomlinson's Post-Evangelical.

>One book you've read more than once: Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy.

>One book you'd want on a desert island: Stephen King's The Stand.

>One book that made you laugh: Stephen Fry's The Liar.

>One book that made you cry: Anthony Burgess' Clockwork Orange (pictured).

>One book you wish had been written: Mine.

>One book you wish had never been written: most celebrity biographies.

>One book you're currently reading:
Warp's Labels Unlimited.

>One book you've been meaning to read: I've a stack of James Herbert to be read. I tried one and didn't like it, and now my collection stands unloved between Thomas Hardy and Joseph Heller. Yes, I collect books I don't read and yes I store things alphabetically, albeit not that strictly as Herbert should be after Heller. What am I, a librarian? No. I'm a bookshop manager and that's, er, a totally different thing.

>Now tag 5 people:
James Henry, Sarah Contrary, MQ, Blonde Janet, Lee.