Dec 31, 2007

And the winner is "I am a blithering hypocrite and you should pap me on the nose with the back of a spoon"

While I continue to search for my work / life balance, here's what has tickled or tackled me in the last 12 periods.

Oh and unlike last year, don't expect a 'record of the year' post. Most of this is about me, myself and what I've written, and my favourite things about me and myself and what I've written. You have read this blog before, right?

My DJ moment of the year: I've DJed less this year than you've had hot McDonald's chicken nuggets (they don't exist), but the impromptu gig at the Greenbelt festival has to lay the smack-down on anything I've ever done.

My video post of the year: It's stupid to take credit for plonking down a signpost towards other people's work, but then again I am a DJ. Here is the link which made me realise there wasn't such a difference between the Scratch Perverts and Delia Smith.

Blogs I have enjoyed with my eyes, part one: Here are five blogs that struck me in 2007. Like a freight train. And while my head is flung 600 yards down the track, let me reassure you I have missed a lot of favourite blogs off this list. But here goes the list, including links to their most recent entry. James and his blue cat was The First Blog I Ever Really Got Into, and while we're at it, Patroclus brought a beautiful humanity to the blogocube. Chinglish went round in linguistic circles while Fiction Bitch dotted the js and crossed the eyes. Nine Tenths Full Of Penguins made so many of my best moments of 2007 happen due to his annoying persistence of organising things.

My own blog post of the year: Stupidly prophetic because HMV went on to sell some of their Fopps and the Klaxons scooped the Mercury, and a notch above the rest because I don't know any other blogs that used the phrase "Fopp's flopped shops", my favourite post this year is I'm Quietly rooting for the Klaxons but this is a post about Fopp's flopped shops and not the bloody Mercury Prize.

My own phrase of the year: Because it projects the false impression I am a humble monk-like gentle giant and not an egotistical fame-felching starfucker, my piece about r 'n' b rises to the top for the opening phrase "I am a blithering hypocrite and you should pap me on the nose with the back of a spoon". It's amazing what a nonsensical word can do to a sentence; just ask Anthony Burgess.

Blogs I have enjoyed with my eyes, part two: Five more doozers, whatever a doozer is. No-one could touch George Monbiot for making me think until it hurt, so thank goodness for the soothing You Have Got The Wrong Person who, quite simply, got the wrong person. Get Weird Turn Pro pressed a cultural ear onto the tracks of electro funk-daddiness. Cultural Snow pimped his book (and my blog, to my surprise) and was still interesting. And the Manchizzle did what the Guardian says it does on the tin.

Other crap: It's has been my first good year for a long time. I went to counselling and it changed my life. I had the privelege to work at Greenbelf FM. I got too fat. I got lucky and paid off all my debts. I've already mentioned the Greenbelt gig. My cat turned 18. I forgot people's birthdays. I became Formula One pundit for a local radio station. I bought red trainers. I got a new job for the first time in nine years. I saved someone's life because I remembered my first aid course from years ago. I worked my bum-bum off at Refresh FM and loved every minute.

And now it's that part of the post where I put my self-centredness to one side and start awarding prizes to other people. Sorry? What's that? I've exceeded my 2007 bandwidth?

See you on the other side.

Nov 25, 2007

It's a magic carpet ride, every door will open wide to happy people like you

Sesame Street

I've just burned my thumb by shoving my hand in the oven*, which was painful but on the bright side has lessened my chances of being murdered from hitchhiking**.

And it reminded my fast food-addled brain that I have itchy fingers or feet*** or whatever the saying is because I haven't run a music night for months.

My last foray into live Manchester eventdom in which I was the organiser and, naturally, the star was a moderately successful ABC-themed event with a punter-led video installation and big, colourful buttons for the public to select which Sesame Street clip they watched.

Part of the reason is this: I haven't had time. Strike that from the record; that was a putrid bile-dripping lie. If the truth be told, and this is the internets so it's always true all the time, I think I have become lazy.

So lazy, in fact, that here is a list of words I couldn't even be bothered to type on this blog:






See? So the plan is to click my heels and land back into the colourful world of electronica arts, with the added expertingness of my Squeaky Productions cohorts. The last Squeaky Productions night, called Two, is dead in the water, although you can dredge for bodies on these blog posts.

Watch this space. Because at this rate, that's all my blog will become.****

*when I say "the" oven, I mean my oven. There's isn't some special oven shared by everyone like the sun or the air.

**I'm reading On The Road, which probably also explains ***.

****If I do too many of these asterisked post-scripts, it will also become an anemic imitation of James Henry's blog.

Nov 18, 2007

Reviving my shrivelling grandma and getting out of my depth with Mahler

Jay Z in graph form

Just because I've been adjusting to a new job for the first time in nine years, that's no excuse to leave my blog shrivelled on the edge of the pavement like an old forgotten grandma.

Still, there's nothing better to distract you from your blogless disappointment than some nice charts. Above is a bar chart interpretation of Jay Z's 99 Problems, and you can see plenty more here. If anyone can tell me the collective noun for charts, tell me using a graph.

Because blogging is the way I speak, I've kept silent about lots of music. Not least Sun Electric's Lost & Found (1998 - 2000). The tracks were rediscovered on an old CD-R, as the title suggests, and it's a welcome reminder of a band that have been dormant for donkey's.

Sun Electric always lacked the crunch of their techno peers Orbital, and perhaps the production talent of some-time Orb dabbler Thomas Fehlmann lent their music too much whimsy.

When it's not trying to be Brian Eno's Nerve Net on a little too much horse tranquilizer, Lost & Found works wonderfully, not least in the flapping rhythm of Echelon which sounds as though the whole thing was recorded inside a pipe.

A hop over to the Leaf Label now, and Murcof have thrown a curve-ball with their new album Cosmos.

Their glitchy precision has been buried in favour of ambience sweeping from Mahler-inspired moodiness to Wagner-inspired pomposity. (All the other reviews have mentioned György Ligeti, but I don't know who he is and I'm bloody useless at classical comparisons).

It's either quiet, or it's the ambient equivalent of a guitar solo. It's certainly not worth buying it on its own, which is good because apparently it'll be fully realised as an audio-visual project.

In fact, stuff all this lot. Screw it. If you're looking for something on which to spend your hardcore pimp wage, plump for Luke Vibert's Chicago, Detroit, Redruth. Playful acid rave has never been so listenable, and it's the first album I've owned dedicated to a Cornish town.

mpSunday: Pole's Stefan Betke remastered the newly found gems on Sun Electric's Lost & Found. Pole are seriously underrated, so here's a free track. Grab it while you can, because as soon as I post another mpSunday, this mp3 will be kicked to the kerb like gran. POW! This mpSunday is no longer available - click here for the latest mpSunday

Oct 30, 2007

It's coming home, it's coming home, it's coming, Fatboy's coming home

Oklahoma open sign

I am a lying philandering whore.

Okay, I take back the 'philandering' bit. And 'whore' may be overstating my case.

But you may tattoo my bonce with the word 'liar', for that is what I am. My Blogger profile details pin me down as a "Manchester writer, DJ and man about town". This is disingenuous.

The 'town' I was referring to was Macclesfield. It has been my place of work for the past three years. It's a strange place, inward-looking and not really sure what it is. But it's picturesque in some places, and the charity shops offer treasures for which Gollum would kill.

However, Macclesfield is not Manchester (photo of Oklahoma Cafe door by Dullhunk). I am a proud Mancunian. I have been risking life, limb and lobes on long public transport journeys into the Cheshire town, often feeling I should be working back home, in the holy city that gave the world Shameless, the Hacienda and, er, Jay Kay from Jamiroquai.

So... I'm proud to announce the birth of my new-- oops, sorry-- I'm proud to announce I will be working back in Manchester from tomorrow. I have a new job with Blackwell's university bookshop. It should afford me more time for blogging, writing, shopping lists, scratching, stabbing and anything else that can be done with a pen.

It's nice to be back home. I see you've kept the place tidy.

Oct 7, 2007

A low-denominator, low-rent scally by any other name would smell like sweets

Warehouse Project Posters 2
Warehouse Project Posters 1

When I was young and unwrinkly, I went flyposting to promote a night called Automa.

In my misty dreamcloud memory, I wore a hooded top and tried to look street despite spilling wallpaper paste all over my trousers.

It was a partial success. Manchester was plastered with Automa posters right up to the point where I got chased out the city by some bad boy gangster types.

You try running when your legs are stuck together.

It was no surprise, then, to find these Warehouse Project posters discarded near my house. They advertise the weekend just gone, headlined by the leg-end in his own lunchbox Dave Clarke.

The perpretrators of this oft-tolerated crime of flyposting have probably been strangled by some razor sharp bling or, even worse, been made to listen to a 50 Cent album all the way through.

Or maybe, just maybe, they couldn't be arsed and went to the pub instead.

There's an art to a good poster. These ones promoting the Warehouse Project are instantly recognisable thanks to a basic template they use for all of them.

Thank goodness too for Bill Drummond's understanding of a poster that does what it says on the tin, or Underworld's eye for a brilliant image.

Just save us please from the anti-Christ of quality, the Bop.

This infernal itch of a night continues to drown Manchester in low-denominator low-rent advertising that promises, "whilst the rest of club land goes high class, the Bop remains true to its roots... drinks prices are still dangerously low."

They add, "a relaxed dress code means you do get the odd scally". There is no other kind of scally, surely?

This blog post has been brought to you by my inflated middle-class Grauniad-reading ego. I'm off to clean my trousers.

Oct 4, 2007

You can take the cinema out of Michael Owen but you can't take Michael Owen out of the cinema, not without force

It's been a while. The last time I posted pub quiz questions on the Fat Roland blog, men were boys, sheep were lambs, and Virgin Pendolinos were loo rolls with jammy dodgers for wheels.

Last night, my bearded cohort Nine Tenths Full Of Penguins and I hosted a quiz in Ye Olde Cock in Manchester, where 'Olde' is pronounced to rhyme with 'mouldy'.

So here are the questions. It's about sport, of which I know little. A brace of questions have been felched from other internetwebsites, but most of it is my own work, miss.

If you reply with answers, I will mark you - no googling please. The real factual answers will materialize in a few days in the comments below this post.

Question one. What’s the perfect score in ten pin bowling? (1 point)

Question two. Let’s play Soccergram! Rearrange the letters of a football personality to find the longest word you can, e.g. from 'Michael Owen', the longest word you can get is 'cinema'. The football personality is: Sven Goran Eriksson. (1 point, plus a bonus point if you can find a nine-letter word)

Question three. The first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896. How many women competitors were there? (1 point)

Question four. Part one: who was the last Formula One driver to die at a grand prix (whilst driving in practice, qualifying or a race)? Part two: which past or present Formula One driver has a name that contains nine consecutive letters spelling out a London borough? (2 points)

Question five. The exact distance of a marathon please, in miles and yards. (1 point)

Question six. Let’s play Soccergram. Rearrange the letters of a football personality to find the longest word, e.g. from 'Michael Owen', the longest word you can get is 'cinema'. The football personality is: Ruud van Nistelrooy. (1 point, plus a bonus point if you can find a nine-letter word.)

Question seven. Andy Murray is the UK number one singles player. In what is Jamie Murray the UK number one? (1 point)

Question eight, and yes this one was taken from another website. Part one: black is always with blue, red is always partnered by yellow. What is the sport? Part two: throwing stones at houses. What is the sport? (2 points)

Question nine: Rugby Union. Wales vs Fiji on Saturday. What was the score? (1 point)

Question ten: Match these people with their sports. The people: Barry Bonds, Beth Tweddle, Bobby Dazzler, Yesica Bopp. The sports: Baseball, Boxing, Darts, Gymnastics. (1 point for each correct match)

Sep 30, 2007

Like, clockwork monkey bands are so September it's untrue (a vid from mum)

Let's end September on a distinctly odd note. Or rather, let's end September on a distinctly odder note.

Instead of my previous scheme to review the fourth múm album Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy, I've decided to thrust upon you, my unsuspecting reader, the promotional music video to a single from that record, the disquieting They Made Frogs Smoke Til They Exploded.

With muted brass and whirring beats making them sound like some kind of clockwork monkey band, it's quite a departure from their classic Finally We Are No-One.

And this oddly mesmerising vid is going to do nothing for PETA members or anyone of a fickle disposition. You can tell from the title. Frogs. Smoke. Explode.

Sep 27, 2007

Store Street blues: waddling with the scrotes, the clubbers and the tokers

Store Street
I'm trotting under a brick-clad bridge down what feels like a road to oblivion when a wiry scroat of a man asks me for money.
Or rather, he asks me for the time. Then money.
I put on my skint face, apologise and walk on. He summons all his fury and describes what he's going to to with my skull if I don't cough up cash.
With a dark but open street ahead, I hurry on to safety with his threats ringing off the brickwork behind me.
Store Street has never been my favourite road in Manchester. I have to make it safe somehow.
If only I'd had The Tattooed Bouncer with me. He was a vicious looking gentleman with ink all over his head, and he impressed me once at a Plaid gig by dragging a casual drug toker out of the Music Box by his throat.
When I say 'impressed', I mean 'terrified'.
But sadly he has died, a claim the deceased bouncer has since owned up to according to local news reports. Fat use for next time I waddle down Store Street.
Here's another idea for making Store Street safe. When there's thrills and pills in abundance, you don't get threats of violence, so maybe someone would be kind enough to convert the street into a clubber's paradise.
Maybe, just maybe, we could bribe some of the great names to spin some plastic mp3s: Armand Van Helden, Layo & Bushwacka!, Dave Clarke, High Contrast, Jeff Mills, Aphex Twin.
I'm free this weekend, so it could run from then until, say, New Year's Eve. It's a crazy idea, and it will never happen. Hold on, the phone's ringing...
...yes? Store Street, yes. Behind Piccadilly train station.... they're doing what? The Warehouse what?
It seems my Store Street blues are over for a while. Maybe now I could walk arm in arm / headlock with the Deceased Bouncer, with scroats fleeing in the other direction down my brick-clad road to oblivion.
Thank you, Warehouse Project: you are about to make the city a more magical place.

Sep 23, 2007

mpSunday: Mouse On Mars' Do It

Mouse On Mars' Jan St Werner

So many chaffinches to tar, so little time.

In between abusing small creatures, I like to make a few tweaks to my Fatblog. So I've put all the photos from the right hand column into a metal bin and burned them (along with a baby budgie) because they were adding nothing of value just sitting there for months comtemplating their digital naval.

Instead, I have nailed a blogroll onto the side of this page (using bunnies as hammers) and given it an utterly pleasing name: Fat Roll.

I don't want to list every one of the 60 sites I store in my electronic reader sprocket machine, so I will list ten at a time and rotate. And after I have turned myself 360 degrees, I will rotate the blogroll. Oh, the humour.

So a million apologetic camels if your blog isn't there yet, especially if you link to me; you will get on there, honest.

Time for a free ditty. mpSunday is my semi-regular series of free mp3s. I am slowly giving away my entire record collection, although you have to be snappy because as soon as I post a new mpSunday, the mp3 from the previous mpSunday is deleted.

Twiggy-fantasist Patroclus said I have "awful lot to teach the world about Autechre and Mouse on Mars (pictured)" on the Tim Footman blog post that inspired me to install said blogroll.

So here is a five-year-old Mouse On Mars track that had the crowds a-bobbing and a-picnicking (on chaffinches) at a festival gig about a month ago.

mpSunday right-click and save target as: PLOP! This mp3 is no longer available. Click here to see the latest mpSunday.

Sep 19, 2007

Brian Eno's garter, a lack of gurning mentalism, and Kraftwerk transvestites

Valgeir Sigurdsson

A decade of pushing buttons for Bjork, including shaping sound on the stunning Dancer In The Dark, has not done Valgeir Sigurdsson (pictured) any harm.

Quite the opposite. He has stepped from behind the knobs to produce Ekvílibríum, his debut album on his own Bedroom Community label.

His LP starts with feet on safe glitchy chill-out land, but he eventually hoists himself up onto Brian Eno's garter and catapults high into heavenly string-laden non-anthems, especially on the spacious Equilibrium Is Restored.

Sigurdsson can't tell eerie from airy, so some of this album lacks the intended atmosphere, but it works if you like Bjork and Sigur Ros' more ethereal moods.

And while we're on an Icelandic tip, I'll get round to reviewing múm's Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy when I can be bothered to get out of my curry-stained threadbare armchair. I bet they can't beat Finally We Are No-One.

High on a cloud somewhere, just above Eno's flying garter, is a surprisingly chilled out Mu-Ziq and his new record Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique.

He has locked away his gabba-gabba-hardcore-wherez-me-light-stick breakcore of previous offerings in favour of a sound that made me as sick as my cat (see past post) within three tracks.

The album's suffocated in detuned Boards-style melodies, which creates a see-saw effect right where your dinner's settling. Each track induces a sense of nostalgia, but only it sounded just like the last one.

Bring back the gurning mentalism, please Mr Ziq, because you're making us, er, siq.

It seems a little late to be reviewing Simian Mobile Disco's Attack Decay Sustain Release, but I need to up the tempo somehow. And it damn well should get the blood pumping thanks to more than a slight nod towards the jacking acid of Daft Punk and the energetic nerdiness of !!!.

I shudder at the thought of being A. N. Anonymous 4-pill clubber sweating over Mixmag on the bus going to my office job in the morning, so I avoid this kind of obvious house music party fodder.

However, it is simply addictive.

Plugged into the mains and with more quirky savvy than Kraftwerk transvestites, Simian's album of hurricane-force dance funkers deserves to have sex with every festive celebration's mp3 player this Christmas.

Sep 15, 2007

Narrating icon presumes a little too much, i.e. an ability to actually narrate

I can't tell a Picasso from a Punto, but watching Formula One motor racing makes me as excited as playing Wipeout 2097 with Future Sound Of London's We Have Explosive pummelling my ears. (Yeah, I still have a PS1.)

This Sunday I become an F1 pundit on a sports show called Talking Balls. I'll be foaming at the mouth about the race at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, my favourite F1 track, and fuming at the ears about McLaren and Alonso spying their way to success.

If F1 isn't your thing, and why should it be, then don't fear. I won't start blathering about it on this site when I've got another site to do that.

But if you do tune in, then do it on Wythenshawe FM from 7pm this Sunday September 16th. Lock on to 97.2FM if you're within a gnat's thong of Wythenshawe, or listen online on their website.

Oh and I'll be using my real proper full name, which is an anagram of 'I on racing rant' and also 'narrating icon'.

Sep 13, 2007

Stinking heave and hoik-encrusted walls: how Cylob saved my sleep

My 18-year-old cat puked in the middle of the night. It's what cats do.

Except she connived to sit on a chair and projectile vomit at a height before switching direction twice to complete a scattered ring of her her brown, festering insides.

And so with my bedroom covered in stinking heave while the rest of the universe was sleeping, I retreated to Youtube to find a remedy for my predicament.

Skimming neatly past the 'how to clean vomit from carpets' tutorials, I bumped into Cylob's mid-90s single Cut The Midrange Drop The Bass. This was a playful splatter-rap of rave lingo over cheery melodic electronica, and playing it at full volume at three in the morning somehow rendered my hoik-encrusted walls immaterial.

Just on the strength of the video, though, take a look at Cylob's Rewind (above). The unofficial sister single to Cut The Midrange, it features martial artist Chloe Bruce who bizarrely shares a name with a former Hollyoaks character. Apparently.

For the full Fat Roland experience while watching this video, please imagine the smell of rotting, regurgitated meat, some of which is still dripping from your computer screen.

If you are duly enchanted, then set your mouth to 'O' for 'wow' because I have exciting news*: Cylob's human alter-ego, former trombone player Chris Jeffs has set up his own label Cylob Industries.

In other words, one of electronica's creative clever men has a license to print records.

That means three Cylob albums in three months. Yes, wow! Trojan Fader Style is already out, Bounds Green came out on Monday, and next month sees the release of Formant Potaton. Find how to grab a copy of any of them here at Cylob's blog.

I slept easy after getting all excited about Cylob on Youtube. I don't know about you, but a pillow lumpy and slippery from feline barf isn't so bad once you've recovered from the brain-damaging smell.

*when I say 'news', I mean in the sense that it happened ages ago but still may be news to people that haven't heard of him

Sep 10, 2007

A ticket to ride: bumbling into MC Tunes and putting the green suit away

Herbal Tea Party ticket

She bounces up to me like Tigger on catnip and starts squatting on the dancefloor. Her bum is pointing in all directions at once and, with alarm bells clanging in my head, I scan the room for a precautionary mop.

She says to me, "You need to dance with your hips. Like this."

For a scruffy haired loser who shuffled around in a painful green suit and wine red tie, a dancefloor was very much like a barbeque is to a penguin; it was a new thing to me and the heat was causing chafing.

It's the Herbal Tea Party in mid-90s Manchester and I'm being taught to dance by an enthusiastic stranger. I must have looked as stiff as a door if I needed a punter to dive in and rescue me from complete humiliation.

The Tea Party stands now as a monster club night in darkest Hulme that has never enjoyed the continuing exaltation of its bigger counterpart, Manchester's Megadog. It's a shame, especially for HTP's very own Dr Frankensteins, co-creators Ian and Rob Fletcher.

Thanks to them, electronic music bowled me clean over, especially when:

(a) I bought Orbital's brown album purely based on an amusing review in the NME;

(b) as a hack, first interviewing one of the Fletchers (I forget which one) but being drawn by a One Dove record playing in the background. I'd never heard proper, creative dance music before, barring the KLF, The Orb and assorted chart rave bands.

There isn't much about the Tea Party on the internet near me. A few forum mentions, but then this gem of a photograph (above).

It's a ticket, posted by Armcurl. It shows (then) South Manchester's finest DJ Justin Robertson lined up beside Charlie Hall and his Drum Club. And there they are. Resident Rob Fletcher plus Inner Sphere Space which, if I remember rightly, was his brother Ian.

Okay it's just a ticket, but this photo represents my bumpy (and grindy) ride into the clubbing world.

I never really became 'cool'. I was frightened by the owner of Birmingham's Beyond club once because he offered me a beer. And I once bumbled into MC Tunes, who threatened my very life just by casting me what he thought was a casual glance.

And I never got into tea either, despite the best efforts of Mr Scruff to make it the tipple of choice for Manchester clubbers.

But I did learn to dance a bit, and the Herbal Tea Party turned a scruffy haired loser into a shaven-haired loser with a penchant for Higher Intelligence Agency, Drum Club and Sabres Of Paradise. Thank goodness I never needed the mop.

Sep 7, 2007

Sound the klaxon for Gloria Hunniford's cleavage and something about the Waterloo line and dogging in tube trains

The Klaxons

The Klaxons once got caught pouring treacle down Gloria Hunniford's cleavage while dressed in inflatable saxophone suits as they supposedly prepared for a Dadaist sound poem version of J B Priestley's An Inspector Calls.

Such revelation should come as no surprise here on the Fat Roland blog. On a July post with the beguiling moniker I'm quietly rooting for the Klaxons but this is a post about Fopp's flopped shops and not the bloody Mercury Prize, I not only suggested HMV could invest into Fopp (they did), I plumped for the new rave protagonists to win the Mercury (they did).

This makes me into some kind of messiah, so it seems shrewd to spread my insight and present my top ten of fascinating facts about the Klaxons.

(If you're not quite sure what a top ten is, it's the kind of thing bloggers post when they don't give an arse about their blog any more. Before you worry, I do give an arse, sometimes at half price.)

The treacle saxophone thing can't count as fact number one because I may have made it up. I do know, however, that they are the fourth biggest band ever to come from Dumfries and their Golden Skans single is something to do with x-ray machines and urine.

Okay, no, wait, I can do this.

Fact number one: Steve Lamacq is a former member of the Klaxons but was politely asked to quit because of his boy band looks.

Fact number two: The genre 'new rave' was originally coined by Bob Monkhouse to describe the up-and-coming comedy act Hale and Pace.

I've checked Wikipedia, and neither of those facts are on there. So let's just rewind:

Fact one. Something about the Waterloo line and dogging in tube trains. They have light sticks but 87% of the band are colour blind. Fact one. Their next single is Lady In Red in a non ironic way. That rumour about Connor Nichols, James Righton and a blow-up doll of Leo Sayer. The Klaxons were going to call themselves The KLF; they stopped spelling at the third letter. Fact one. Two of the band members' middle names is Susan.

I can't do this. This is a post about the bloody Mercury Music Prize. Fact one: The Klaxons won it. Facts two to ten: The Klaxons deserved it. There, that'll do.

Minus ten Roland points for any journalist who concludes his or her article promising great things for the band with the derivative final line, 'it's not over yet for the Klaxons'.

Sep 4, 2007

Berlin's Vector Lovers are marching like an army with pinheads for shoes

Vector Lovers' Martin Wheeler

Vector Lovers' (pictured) spanking new album Afterglow is just a little too pristine, like Future Sound Of London's rambling era without the ever-present peril of descent into hell.

At first listen, it seems to live closer to the surface than the usual subterranean Soma techno, but the shallow end is deeper than you think.

Half-Life is all breathless synths and sinister crackles, while Last Day Of Winter is watery and hesitant.

A Field marches like an army with pinheads for shoes. The delicate Piano Dust is heart-breaking and intimate, and that's the key; the album is so well produced, every padding bassdrum and swooshing chord pours straight into your eardrums.

Afterglow will reward you with what it says on the tin. Go buy.

At the other end of the spectrum, maybe on a secondary spectrum complete with its own biohazard label, is the tumultuous mayhem of Shitmat's new offering Grooverider.

Don't be hoodwinked by the reference to the drum and bass legend; this is old skool Britney-sampling jungle cut and pasted into fresh genres that didn't even exist five minutes ago.

It's inevitably formulaic: cranked-up breaks stabbed with broken vocals and sporadically laid to waste by doom-mongering sirens or pant-wobbling sub-bass.

But it's fun tee-hee, just like his earlier track Agricultural Ardcore, which was the god-awful Archer's theme tune hacked to a stump.

If Shitmat is Red Bull laced with amphetamines, Bola's latest album Kroungrine is peppermint tea laced with nothing. Not so much a downer as, well, a bit boring.

It lies somewhere between DJ Shadow and lounge jazz, but it is certainly neither. They should nick a trick or two from the Vector Lovers.

Sep 2, 2007

mpSunday: Gescom's Keynell Mix 1

Spir (Fuse Factory)

Glitchbelt hit the buffers before it started. Am I complaining?

Let me tell you my Greenbelt story.

Greenbelt Festival is an annual Christian arts event in Cheltenham. This year it featured Billy Bragg and Coldcut, and in the dark, distant past has accommodated Lamb, U2, Bill Drummond and, er, Midnight Oil.

My task was to present programmes on Greenbelt FM, the on-site radio station, and help run the main Sunday morning communion service.

Me and the radio got on like a house on fire, without the screaming victims. I did five hours of showing off, otherwise known as presenting, plus various reporting bits and several hours of editing. I also teamed up with Lee to host games in a live radio show with a real audience, the highlight of which was Lee mopping up like a loon after a spectacularly messy game while grasping the mic because we were still live on air.

My Glitchbelt gig was cancelled as a favour to that venue's programmer Ben. I was busy enough anyway, although I felt sorry for friends who said they were looking forward to it.

But the good Lard taketh away and the good Lard giveth back in spades...

Greenbelt's main communion service has a congregation of somewhere up to 15,000. As the festival grew, they set up an 'overflow' Arena stage with big screens so you could partake in the main event albeit from a distance.

My job was to 'remix' the service for the Arena with the hugely talented Spir (pictured) from Fuse Factory. We messed around the dry feed with extra audio and visual elements. For example, during the collection, the main stage sang something hippy, while our stage rocked out (correction: nodded out) as I played a Gescom track while VJ Spir produced some trippy visuals.

The ambient backing we gave to the rather traditional communion service seemed to be appreciated by most people on the Arena stage.

The best bit came when the guys running the stage asked us to do an impromptu half-hour gig at the end. So Glitchbelt hit the buffers before it started, but instead I DJed with Fuse Factory to a crowd of somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000.

Am I complaining? You can't complain when you're on cloud nine.

Thanks must go to Sanctus 1 for letting me do the service in the first place, and to the Arena personnel for putting the cherry on top with the gig. Respect to Spir too; it was a pleasure working with you. Oh and big up to the Greenbelt FM massive for making the weekend so much fun.

Here's my first mpSunday freebie for ages. It's Gescom's Keynell Mix 1 remixed by Autechre. I used it during the service, and it was the first moment I thought "damn, this is going down really well, it's sunny and hot and I deserve a 99 after this".

>Right click and save target as for the mpSunday download: GUTTED! This mp3 has gone according to my rules of mpSunday. Click here for the latest mpSunday instead.

Aug 23, 2007

There's an erroneous glitch in the space / time continuum, and it just so happens to be in Cheltenham

Glitchbelt logo

So I've been a smidgeon busy with things and stuff and that, but normal blog action will be resumed when the holiday season is over in September.

Meanwhile, the flood-hit plains of Cheltenham are next in the Fat Roland diary. I will be hosting Glitchbelt, an hour of electronic musing at the Greenbelt Arts Festival, in the New Forms cafe this Sunday from 9pm.

Glitch is a sub-genre of electronica / IDM. Wikipedia describes it as "comprised of glitches, clicks, scratches, and otherwise 'erroneously' produced or sounding noise". So expect me to get erroneous with the likes of Gescom, Pole and The Books, as well as new material from the Vector Lovers.

Must go. I'm counting the pockets n my new rucksack, and I'm up to four so far.

Edit: You had better read the next post...

Aug 13, 2007

Gentlemen in their mid-thirties shouldn't wear tiaras: my totally official state-funded birthday post

Tell the world, tell the world, today is my birthday!

And like a more famous Queen than I, the urge to give a formal address to the nation is a little too self-indulgent to avoid. So please allow me to offer you a little snapshop of my life at 34. Right here, right now, sitting at a computer surrounded by streamers and cake, this is what comprises my life:

>a long to-do list on my mobile phone, a sore little finger, beer, black clothing, candles by my bath, Bleep dot com, broken decks, Chris Moyles' autobiography, debt free for the first time, designing a blog for my company, F1 Losers League, friends that I love dearly, Glitchbelt, Greenbelt anticipation, Heroes, jacket potatoes for lunch, lots of lovely electronica, looking for a way back into the hustle and bustle of the city, more CDs than I can count, my 18-year-old cat, notepads, new trainers, occasionally writing letters for Amnesty International, on the cusp of needing a hair cut, Piccadilly Records, piles of neglected paperwork, planning an art project with the working title Trash, radio presenting, Sanctus 1, slow computers, some rarely used studio equipment, Squeaky Productions, still feeling the benefits of a brilliant shrink, thinking I need a new mattress, this blog, travelling to Cheshire daily, trying to moderate my time on Facebook, waiting for a reason to drink the bottle of champers I got for a previous birthday, and wondering about using the Oxford comma more often.

So there you go. I'd better press 'publish' before midnight...

Aug 11, 2007

RIP Tony Wilson aka "Mr Manchester" 33AD to 2007AD inclusive

Tony Wilson RIP

BBC News website: "Anthony Wilson, the music mogul behind some of Manchester's most successful bands, has died of cancer. The Salford-born entrepreneur, who founded Factory records, the label behind New Order and the Happy Mondays, was diagnosed last year. He died on Friday evening at the Christie Hospital surrounded by family."

I only managed a third of Anthony H Wilson's egobiography 24 Hour Party People before I flung it across the room. That'll learn that self-obsessed narcissist, I thought. You can only go so far when someone constantly refers to themself in the third person, as though they were some separate entity, like a god or an ancient spirit.

Fat Roland was not impressed.

But Wilson has a right to be arrogant. Today, the netosphere will be full of talk of his greatest achievements, including working with Richard and Judy, starring in the hilarious Cock And Bull Story and, of course, living with a former beauty queen.

Apparently, he also set up a club and a record label or something. I might have to google that one.

My iconic image of Wilson will be his early television career, hacking for Granada Reports then fronting the punktastic So It Goes.

My radio co-presenter (and now producer) Lee insists the role of a "mike jockey" is simply to be a talking box for the producers' genius ideas. He's right, of course. But Wilson held his own (oo-er) and you knew he was never an autocue slave.

I'm not sure of my Manchester credentials. I am a Mancunian, but I live in the posh bit. I was into Madchester, but at that time was just as likely to rave on to Candy Flip. I never loved the Hacienda; I only really hooked onto the place in its dying days.

That said, Wilson's passion created the Manchester I know, with its minimalist record covers, ill-fitting clothes and awkwardly placed pillars in clubs.

Rest in peace, Anthony H Wilson, Manchester's modern-day Jesus H Christ. Generous blog readers can give money to the Christie hospital by clicking here.

Aug 8, 2007

This is the future: some pilled-up nutter going wild as a retro dance-rock beat combo plays a dead festival

I think we all learnt something from this year's DPercussion.

The demise of this fabulous festival has taught me Manchester is no longer a place that wallows in past glory. We have slain Maine Road, consigned Factory to history, hacked the Hacienda to pieces. The Warehouse Project at the doomed Boddingtons brewery was as much of a goodbye as a hello (although the Project is back soon).

And now the live music extravaganza that rose from the IRA explosion of 1996 has at last imploded. The drum has ceased beating for DPercussion. The band has put its instruments down. The dancing is but a shuffling memory. The metaphor has stretched far beyond the field of flogged horses.

So good job then I got round to discovering The Whip. They remind me of Underworld, Lo Fidelity Allstars and, yes, even Apollo 440. Fresh from their appearance at Manchester International Festival, they rocked the roof off DPercussion, which is damn impressive in an open air arena.

Above, there's a video of The Whip performing Trash, my highlight of the DPercussion set, although this particular show is in somewhere called "Bris-Tol".

And below is a fellow raver at the DPercussion Whip gig caught on the Fat Roland mobile phone. I suspect some wag swapped his Nytol for battery acid.

It ain't what you've got, it's how you shake it.

Aug 3, 2007

It was written by Pal Waaktaar you know, and not the good looking one

Super_Collider's Message Coming EP

One of July's most significant electronic releases was Chromeo's Fancy Footwork, their follow-up to 2004's She's In Control.

She's In Control passed me by, like a fart in a strong breeze, but this new album hit me square in the face like a juggernaut full of crap, and the juggernaught itself is made of crap too, just like the whole metaphorical street scene which is made entirely of crap.

If I wanted uber-cool 80s electro funkdaddy disco, I would screw my eyes up like that Japanese guy in Heroes and transport myself to a multi-coloured disco floor full of bad mofos robodancing to the break-down bit of A-Ha's The Sun Always Shines On TV.

Please forget that last paragraph; I never said it.

If faux-retro Prince-wannabe lifeless post-Mika pap is not your bag, then let's move on to look at Night Of The Brain's debut album Wear This World Out.

This leftfield rock album earns its place on an electronica blog because it's the brainchild (geddit?!?!) of Cristian Vogel from Super_Collider (Messagesacomin artwork pictured).

The Theme, puked out as an EP a few months ago, owes a debt to tight post-rock, but much of the rest of Wear This World Out is Pixies-style noisiness with brave side-steps into odd neighbourhoods, such as the disco guitar in Dark Lady.

Vogel's weedy vocals, in strength and drug effect, make this record all-the-more likable.

While I'm doing a bit of catch up, it's worth a skip and a hop back to May's releases and my mobile phone alarm, which is Apparat's Not A Number.

Every morning the drip-drop insistence of that track shoe-horns me into the real world. It's a shame then that Walls, the album it's from, is liable to send you back to the Land Of Nod faster than you can say "quick let's fill this blog with antiquated literature references".

Walls is a hugely listenable album. My ears have even sent me a thank-you card. But it works as backing music for movies, not as a huge artistic statement.

TV and radio producers take note; you need Apparat in your collection. And if you use it in a programme as a result of reading this, make me look really smug and leave a comment.

Jul 28, 2007

Rihanna will knock out a cover version of Hangable Auto Bulb as soon as she claps her eyes on this pile of blog waffle

Hangable Auto Bulb

I am a blithering hypocrite and you should pap me on the nose with the back of a spoon.

I was going to excrete a post about chart-topper Rihanna making the dullest r 'n' b since R Kelly and Aaliyah. (No disrespect to the deceased, but Aaliyah's music was the very epitome of r 'n' b medocrity.)

The post would have been magnificent, and would have finally exposed r 'n' b for the drivelling middle-of-the-road dross it is.

But then, I am the sort of manchild who spends hours listening to clicks and beeps and barely distinguishable melodic themes. My music taste by nature means I can get lost in a repetitive mantra which, essentially, doesn't change for six hours. My middle road is so narrow, I have to build bridges over the cats eyes instead of going round them.

And I confess to liking some r 'n' b, no more so when I saw The Ladyboys Of Bangkok do Usher's Yeah routine at the Lowry a couple of years ago.

It does seem strange that the very week Rihanna claims this decade's record of the longest run at number one whilst simultaneously releasing her own range of umbrellas in the wettest period of UK history, the queen of r 'n' b she is hoping to depose Beyonce Knowles "falls down some stairs" in Orlando, Florida.

Actually, the umbrella move is shrewd. You see, her single is called Umbrella. And she has released a range of umbrellas. Her single is called Umbrella. Umbrella. And she has released a range of umbrellas. Umbrella. Umbrellas. Subtle, isn't it?

This could be the start of a new and startling range of cross-promotional opportunities. All sorts of records could be used to shift product. It's the kind of business acumen Tesco would kill for. No, seriously, they actually kill people. With hammers. This sounds like bad stand-up, but they do really kill people with hammers.

I have trawled the backlist of Warp Records, and sifted out some electronica albums that are desperately needing some merchandising spin-offs. Rihanna had better watch for that discarded roller skate at the top of the stairs...

>AFX's Hangable Auto Bulb (pictured): a light connected to the ceiling that is somehow turned on remotely, maybe with a switch.

>Boards Of Canada's In a Beautiful Place Out In The Country: estate agents

>Aphex Twin's Windowlicker: a rather unpopular window cleaner.

>Autechre's Amber: Jurassic Park tie-in, a new range of actual dinosaur DNA in actual amber.

>Autechre's Anvil Vapre: a tool for converting unwanted blacksmith equipment into gas.

>Squarepusher's Big Loada: trucks, obviously.

>Squarepusher's Budakhan Mindphone: a microchip in the shape of Chaka Khan dressed as the Buddha inserted underneath the skin in the forehead and enabled to take telephone calls.

>Squarepusher's Burningn'n Tree: cigarettes.

>Squarepusher's My Red Hot Car: Ferrari dealerships. You're getting the hang of this now, aren't you?

Jul 25, 2007

Reqing out* to retina.IT gets the headnod over stalking Sven Väth and Andrew Weatherall in The Orbit


So what musics have been troubling me ears?

Let's begin with Cylob (pictured), who made his name in the 90s remixing the likes of Aphex Twin and Mike Flowers Pops, both of whom sport more hair than they deserve to. The 'lob span his first reel-to-reels in The Orbit club, Leeds, a venue which arguably spawned my Fat Roland career. I remember watching DJs Andrew Weatherall and Sven Väth with intense interest, hovering behind them like a stalker. As I left the club, I had a lucid moment when I decided, with a theatrical flourish, that yes the world needed my DJing skills. (It didn't, but I went into DJing anyway.)

Cylob's new track Rock The Trojan Fader isn't as immediate as his lovable classic Cut The Midrange Drop The Bass, but it has the same playfulness and eccentricity. Vocoded voices dance up and down analogue keyboards while everything else collapses into a heap of flurried beats.

It bodes well for new album Trojan Fader Style, which I haven't bothered to listen to yet because it's all one long track.

On to everyone's favourite aging relative, Unkle.

The moment Unkle persuaded arch-miserablist Thom Yorke to wail about rabbits and headlights, I was transfixed like a rabbit in some headlights. Yeah, neat simile, I know. Since that high point last decade, we haven't had much output from the band founded by James Lavelle and David Holmes-collaborator Tim Goldsworthy. So the new Unkle album War Stories should be a rare elixir.

It isn't. It is a decent rock album, and comparisons to Kasabian and Stone Roses are fair. The opening tune Chemistry reminds me of Puff Diddly's ridiculously entertaining Come With Me: that's not necessarily a good thing.

But the Fat Roland blog is about electronica, and when Unkle are collaborating with the likes of Josh Homme and The Cult's Ian Astbury, it just ain't gonna ring my bell.

Like former member DJ Shadow, they seem to have found a formula that works. Generally. Most of the time. Kind of. They just need to move on from trip-hop rock crossovers, which were vogue about 52 years ago.

Back to the good music. When I played retina.IT's infectious Tetsub at Manchester's TV21 bar recentlly, I was overwhelmed with a head-noddy Req moment. Anyone who's got into Req will understand me.

retina.IT have now released Semeion, a greatest hits of sorts, full of mid-tempo glitchy bleeps and distorted yet distant funk.

Their studio lies within erupting distance of Mount Vesuvius, and I wonder if they haven't got a satellite or two picking up the sinister clicks and scrapes sprinkled across this sparse, lunar album.

It's such a pleasing effort, lying somewhere between the coldness of Robin Rimbaud and the chunkiness of Clark, that I'm going to give this the head nod over Cylob and Unkle.

I'm careful about who I hyperlink to on this site. Thankfully, I got through this post without mentioning that Unkle used to record in Meatloaf's recording studio. Ah dammit, there's a link to Meatloaf. Oy, stop linking to Meatloaf. Aaw look, Blogger's gone and put a label down there too...

*yes, Reqing out. I just invented it.

Jul 17, 2007

I'm quietly rooting for the Klaxons but this is a post about Fopp's flopped shops and not the bloody Mercury Prize

Terribly upset customer at Fopp Manchester

My fabulously funky friend Julez sent me an invitation to join a Facebook group dedicated to saving the trendy music shops Fopp (upset customer pictured, taken from Admanchester).

I declined.

It doesn't matter that Facebook has as much power to save anything as Richard Dawkins has of becoming Archbishop of Canterbury. It's more a case of feeling utterly pessimistic about the future of the record shop.

The closure of Fopp has been covered extensively elsewhere on the internets, so in short it went something like this:

Step One. It doesn't matter how much you take through your tills; if your cash flow dries up, you're done for. A private company buys MVC from Woolworths. It cost them their cash flow. They went under.

Step Two. It doesn't matter how much you take through your tills; if your cash flow dries up, you're done for. Music Zone buys MVC. It cost them their cash flow. They went under.

Step Three. It doesn't matter how much you take through your tills; if your cash flow dries up, you're done for. Fopp buys Music Zone. It cost them their cash flow. They went under.

There's a business lesson there somewhere. Maybe you can spot it. Write your answer on a postcard and send it to HMV before they fall into the trap.

I liked Fopp. The one in Manchester had a cafe. It didn't feel cheap like Music Zone. And if my grey cells are firing on all one cylinders, the fallen Fopp stands pretty much on the burial ground of the old Piccadilly Records. I'm going back a few years here, to the days when punks used to growl at passers-by between the shop and the old sunken toilets, in which lay interesting brown treasure.

Anyhoo, let's just blame Prince and move on, shall we?

Breaking news... the Mercury Music Prize nominations have just been announced. Last year I was horrifically wrong in my predition, so for now I'm just going to list the nominations and then think about it a bit more:

>The Arctic Monkeys' Favourite Worst Nightmare
>Basquiat Strings featuring Seb Rochford's Basquiat Strings
>Bat for Lashes' Fur & Gold
>Dizzee Rascal's Maths & English
>Jamie T's Panic Prevention
>Klaxons' Myths of the Near Future
>Maps' We Can Create
>New Young Pony Club's Fantastic Playroom
>Fionn Regan's The End of History
>The View's Hats Off to the Buskers
>Amy Winehouse's Back to Black
>The Young Knives' Voices of Animals and Men

August update: Fopp has reopened because HMV bought it. The postcard must have got lost in the mail.

Jul 15, 2007

No apologies just vague ideas, buffalistic non-sequiturs and a cool video for Italian plumber fans

Ever since spaceship Roland landed on the blogosphere two and a half years ago, I have avoided those tiresome apologetic posts which go something like this:

Sorry I haven't been blogging for a while, I really should blog more, I mean I only set this thing up because I wanted to comment on Shazney's post about afterbirth and dieting, so anyway I've been soooo busy what with downloading porn and getting addicted to Facebook blaaaaah...

Suffice to say the Facebook bit is possibly true, but otherwise I have been run over by a buffalo of lethargy when I'm not dying inside on my increasingly long commutes to work. And you know when I use a strange buffalo metaphor, I must be serious.

I think I need to reassess my priorities. It seems just to be work, work, work right now, which is silly because my staff are lovely, it isn't exactly rocket science, and cool things happen most days. But I think I am falling victim to A General Malaise, which is usually a sign I am not spending enough time doing the things I really like doing, or seeing the people I really like seeing.

Jeez, this is turning into the Big Brother diary room. On the positive side, I am playing a one hour DJ set in Cheltenham in August, I will be presenting several shows on Greenbelt FM, and as a third string to my crossbow, I have spent some time recently writing funny things in a wild and wacky notion that I would quite like to try out a bit of stand-up comedy.

That last idea is based on the notion that (a) I am essentially an egotist and a show-off; (b) I get a huge kick out of making people laugh; (c) my imagination tends to run riot and I have spent the last year capturing it all in notebooks; (d) sometimes when I see a stand-up comic, I think I can do better, which brings us full circle to (a).

Anyhoo. Here is a clever party trick, using high voltage sparks to trigger sounds. Extra points for spotting the Nintendo tune. (Clue: it's quite easy to spot.)

Jul 1, 2007

mpSunday: Puzzleweasel's Shrtwv Lkage

The truly European Puzzleweasel is the latest subject of my occasional free mp3 series, mpSunday.

Just a couple of days ago, I enthused about this artist by using clumsy shredder and typewriter similes. Now it's time for you to feast your ears on Puzzleweasel proper.

Peter Dahlgren is a native of Switzerland, Sweden and Holland, depending on which slice of his life you look at, and he now he lives in Denmark surrounded by bacon. He's always been a bit of a raver, but his music is a kind of un-rave.

It is the anti-rave:

PTAAANG! This mp3 is no longer available. Click here for the latest mpSunday.

Jun 28, 2007

White GLOVE, white GLOVE, white GLOVE, hello? hello? is that ITV?


Like a one-legged marathon runner, I've got a lot of catching up to do. Refresh yourself with a lightning review of some recent releases; your ears will thank you for it.

I gushed about Last Step a few weeks ago, and the album is worth more than a sly glance.

Fizzing with analogue goodness (think 303s and 808s for those with a passing knowledge of music technology), this is a conflagration of Giorgio Moroder-inspired dance burners. It shines when he's not trying to sound like his Venetian Snares alter ego, but Ceephax does this better. And faster.

I keep forgetting to tell you about Puzzleweasel.

The techno police call his Exo-Grid LP breakcore, but for those not acquainted with Saddo's Dictionary Of Obscure Musical Genres, it sounds like the following in turns: (a) battling typewriters; (b) electricity on metal; (c) a drum machine being fed through a shredder; (d) a collapsing house and (e) the sound of this blog being eaten by flatulent zombies. In other words, thoroughly engaging.

Speaking of Ceephax (pictured), which I did a few paragraphs above this one, so this isn't one of those comedy non-sequitur moments, I really was speaking about Ceephax, anyway, speaking of Ceephax, there's a new Ceephax release you should listen to.

Ceephax's Megalift EP is a pert four-part package of hurtling jungle, Tellytubby acid and hypercoloured rave.

It's like living in a video game, only there are no winners or losers, just gurning freaks who stay up all night munching washing powder tablets and phoning night-time quiz shows saying "white GLOVE, white GLOVE" over and over again until the presenter ends up crying.

That's my night sorted, then.

Jun 17, 2007

This post is brought to you by the number twelve

ABC tracker 2

As promised on my last postette, here are more photographs from our letters and numbers themed II event.

First off, let me announce a winner. We held a cute little competition where every DJ had to write their track list on an ABC wall poster (pictured above). So if they played Squarepusher, they had to write Squarepusher on the S square.

Every punter on the evening was invited to pick a random letter. Those whose letter corresponded to the most-written-in square were put into a prize draw.

The most played letter was B (specifically Big Wells, Bjork, Boyz Noize, Battles, Bird And The Bee, Boards Of Canada and Boom Bip). However, whoever had a B didn't put it in our prize draw box as instructed:

The same went for the second most played letters, S and T, so it ended up being a draw between those who had pulled A, M and V. (W was disqualified because a DJ wrote Yellow Wallpaper in the W square instead of the Y square.)

So anyway, here is the winner...

Here are some more pictures. From our live feed edited by visitors on the night:

From our random picture switcher:
And several strange visitors. A dalek, a woman who went around in black and white, and somewhere in the gloom is our wonderful resident DJ Kid Mingus.
Last but not least, the DJ booth had wonderfully homosexual fairly lights (no, seriously, they only flash in time to songs from South Pacific), while the Counting To 20 poster balanced out the emphasis on letters:

Jun 14, 2007

One, II, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve

This post will be exactly like Deirdre's Photo Casebook, except for the bits where it's different.

Last night, Squeaky Productions and Sanctus 1 hosted II, an occasional night of electronic music and creative visuals.

If that sounds vague, let me put some hundreds and thousands on top of that metaphorical ice cream for you. We have DJs play non-guitar-based music and we festoon a dizzying array of themed projections and games around the place, while punters drink beer and laugh about the internet.

The theme this time was ABC / 123. Here is the story of that night through the magic of mobile phone pictures, pictures, pictures... (Blogger: an ability to look up and tilt the blog into a cloudy dream would be useful for moments like this.)

We arrived at our venue, Manchester's glorious TV21, in the pouring rain. The raindrops were quite literally the size of planets. We were offered the use of an umbrella by caring bar staff, but of course we scoffed, being hard and that.

TV21 is a very well equipped venue. It's nice to be able to have equipment that doesn't fall apart upon being breathed at, and to have a room which allows for awkward wire routings and ceiling-hangings.

The first challenge is finding places to project onto. The basement of TV21 is bright and jazzy with swirling lights and Dr Who monsters hidden in unmentionable places. It is also quite cluttered, so we set about covering a wall with a sheet. This would have the equivalent effect of sticking a single Elastoplast onto one of Hannibal Lecter's victims, but you've got to give it a try.

Above, you see Fil nimbly putting up said sheet. You can tell he camps.

We then wired a laptop to three large, round buttons. Pressing a button chooses a video. The videos were a magificant mix of Sesame Street and geeky Youtube vids about things beginning with the letter T (tights, tablets, toaster). We projected this onto the Elastopl-- er, the sheet.

Here you see Stephen creating art, like God playing around with ideas in Genesis ("now, where should I put this sausage thing?"). The multicoloured letter box was then rigged with a camera and projected onto the other side of the room, so people could create 'art' in real time.

You will see some of those 'artistic creations' in another blog post in the next few days.

Stephen was our enterpreneur for the evening. He flogged bead necklaces for 50 pence a throw. The bead set cost us £10 and we made £10 back. It might not impress Alan Sugar, but I'd hire him.

And finally, we bedecked the tables with various letter-based games. And yes, the game pictured above (Letter Link, £7-ish, Woolworths) is exactly like Connect 4 but you have to spell words rather than match colours. Richard Whitely will be frolicking in his grave.

When I say "we", I really mean Stephen and Fil because they did all the hard work while I barked orders and acted like a primadonna disc jockey.

So how did it go? The second half of the story will appear on an internet near you in the next few days.

Jun 10, 2007

mpSunday: Last Step's Baby Powder

Venetian Snares

Here's another free mp3 which will only be here until my next mpSunday post, so nab it while you can.

Venetian Snares has made his name from producing tricky electronica that has ranged from the orchestral to the ridiculous. He is a punk revelutionary amid a largely anodyne genre, hence his insane time signatures, harsh percussion and frenzied samples.

So imagine my surprise when I came across his pseudonym Last Step. It's melodic, quite beautiful and not at all what you would expect from Snares.

So I'm including Last Step here. Here's a mid-paced electro track called Baby Powder from Last Step's eponymous album on Planet Mu records. The revolution is on hold for now.

YARGLES! This mp3 is no longer available. Click here for the latest mpSunday.

PS - factoid: Venetian Snares is apparently known as Gonk The Eight Legged Viking. Oh and Last Step is a secret pseudonym; you're not meant to know it's Snares. Don't tell anyone, will you?

Jun 8, 2007

Two little boys had two little toys... (me and Lee doing a pub quiz, then)

Pub quiz red styleee

I wouldn't want to distract you from buying new pantalons for your date with me on Wednesday, but here is the latest pub quiz news from the world of Fat Roland.

Here's the music round I foisted upon the suffering public this week. Ogle more quizzery at Nine Tenths Full Of Pingpongs.

I'll splat the answers in the comments hole below this post in about a week's time. And no googling, you flips.

Question one. Rolf Harris' Two Little Boys goes like this: "Two little boys had two little toys. Each had a wooden horse. Gaily they played each summer's day, warriors both of course. One little chap then had a mishap, broke off his horse's head, wept for his toy then cried with joy as his young playmate said--" What's the next line?

Question two. Which musician’s publicity department was known as the Bilk Marketing Board?

Question three. According to his old nickname, what vegetable does Bronski Beat star Jimmy Somerville look like?

Question four. Name the four principal members of the Goons. (Only a music question because the first single I ever owned was by them.)

Question five. So then, Cyndi Lauper. Cyndi is partially from Lucinda, but what does Lucinda mean? (a) Bringer of light; (b) Physician; (c) All-seeing.

Question six. Kylie Minogue likened it to being hit by a nuclear bomb. What was she talking about?

Question seven. Avril Lavigne had a hit about a "skater boy". Spell her his single correctly.

Question eight. Name the men with the surname Stewart that had a hit with the following singles. (a) Donald Where’s Your Troosers; (b) There Must Be An Angel Playing With Your Heart; (c) You Can Make Me Dance Sing Or Anything (Even Take The Dog For A Walk, Mend A Fuse, Fold Away The Ironing Board, Or Any Other Domestic Shortcomings)

Question nine. So, then, Thin Lizzy. Mad Lizzie kept us fit on TV-AM but who was her rival on the BBC? (This is a music quiz, honest. You have to imagine me playing music clips then veering off on a tangent in a comedy stylee.)

Question ten. On Friday June 1, what did anniversary did Beatles fans celebrate?

Question eleven. In terms of their big hit singles, who's the odd one out? Avril Lavigne, Bronski Beat, Cyndi Lauper, Rolf Harris, Thin Lizzy. There may be a clue if you scan over these questions...

Back to planning our date. Were you really thinking of going out in those shoes?

Jun 6, 2007

II is back: June 13, 8pm, at TV21, Thomas Street, Manchester

Northern Quarter

My seminal electronica music night II is back after a nine month break.

Do come down to TV21 in Manchester's northern quarter (wonderful graffiti pictured, not far from TV21) next Wednesday June 13 for an evening of electronic music and themed visuals and gimmicks. (Multimap reference here.)

You will get to hear a lot of the kind of music I crap on about on this blog, as well as tapping into the Fat Roland psyche of what constitutes a good night out.

This II will offer a deep, intellectual study of the modern use of numbers and letters. We will be posing questions such as:

- can a vampire really count to ten?

- just what is your favourite letter?

- what happens when you press this button?

We will have DJs, props, interactive visuals and it all happens from 8pm til midnight. I will be DJing, and Kid Mingus will be joining us, along with any other DJs I find wandering drunk outside my house.

It's a new venue for us, so do make it a good crowd.

I should point out that it is also acting as an after party to an art exhibition called Last Orders: A Celebration Of Manchester's Night Life at Nexus Arts Cafe. And the whole thing is brought to you by Squeaky Productions in conjunction with the legendary Stephen Devine.

Jun 3, 2007

Faerie's at the bottom of your piano: harpists please stand up and wait

Faerie’s Aire And Death Waltz

I used to be a musical prodigy, you know.

No, not that kind of Prodigy. Keith and his rave monkeys were always musical, even to the point of getting mashed up with Enya.

No, I was the next Mozart. When I popped out of the womb, I was straight onto those ivories, tinkling them until they were totally tinkled out. My parents booked me lessons in piano and music theory, and, do you know what, I was a bit of a whizz.

But then rave happened. Pianos were 'establishment' and synths were 'underground', so I dropped the classical in favour of amazing Junos that could make helicopter sounds.

Which brings me to the reason for this post.

Faerie’s Aire And Death Waltz isn't a real waltz. It is the most wonderfully ridiculous musical score. I've included it in this post (above), but you can see a bigger version here.

I knew enough about scores to know that andante wasn't a way of cooking pasta. But I'm sure these notations weren't in my lessons, including instructions to "moon walk", "untie slip knot", "release the penguins" and for the harpists to "stand up and wait".

It's frigging genius, which is something I would say if I was the type of person to use pretend swear words.

See more fun and imaginative surrealist scores at Thrilling Wonder. The first person to prove they have played any one of these wins a Fat Roland slow dance.

Did you just shudder?

May 30, 2007

Mark E gets it on with Mouse On Mars while Amon Tobin gets it on with a spoon and pans of varying sizes

Mouse On Mars

If you slashed me in half, maybe with a machete or a surprisingly sharp no-entry sign, you would realise the word MANCHESTER is written through me like BLACKPOOL through rock.

So when guitar electronistas Mouse On Mars (pictured) teamed up with the legendary Manc combo The Fall to form a whole new group called Von Sudenfed, I was bound to froth at the mouth whether or not it was any good.

Thankfully, it is any good.

Their debut album Tromatic Reflexxions is a clattering, shattering mess of bleeps and beats and Mark E Smith yelps. The LCD Soundsystem-style bedding is not as experimental as other Mars material; it is immediate and urgent and fits so well with Smith's distorted ramblings.

All counted, The Fall have released over 90 albums. Von Sudenfed's album stands as a highlight in that swaggering legacy. If you like The Fall, buy it.

Less successful is Telefon Tel Aviv's Remixes Compiled.

This is a tottering pile of production work stretching back to the days when they were in short underpants. It includes a Nine Inch Nails remix, but only because Aviv were bumming studio space from Trent Reznor. It's an adequate compilation, but it won't last more than a handful of plays on your bright green Tomy CD player. (What do you mean you haven't got one?)

Thirdly, Foley Room is Amon Tobin experimenting with 'found sound'. In other words, he has been capturing noises with the magic of microphones rather than ripping from other records.

The result is a collection of sporadic sheep bleats and cutlery clinks that goes on for two hours.

I am, of course, lying. It's the usual blunted cinematic denseness from Tobin, keeping your head in the reefer clouds and your feet in rock and roll hell. Bar a few extra oddities (lions!), there's nothing new here, But that's the point; he's not allowed to change because he's good.

'Though it does include kitchen utensils, so I was almost right.

May 27, 2007

mpSunday: Luke Vibert's remix of A Little Bit More

Jamie Lidell

It's been like a ghost town round these parts recently, so let me warm your chilled heart by swaddling you in free music.

In the second installment of my occasional series of free mp3s, here's a singer who has one finger on the pulse of electronica and another on the pulse of classic soul. Probably with separate hands.

Jamie Lidell (pictured) is 36 days younger than me and sounds 62 times better than he normally does thanks to this stupendous Luke Vibert acid remix of his A Little Bit More track.

The jabby, almost ADHD synths match Lidell's frenetic performance style. Consider yourself swaddled:

ZOIK! This mp3 is no longer available. Go to the latest mpSunday here.

May 17, 2007

Shake that 'tushel, theremin lies a mystery, and other pale punnery

This is the dullest video I have posted on this blog, but a weird vicar playing Debussy on a theremin is worthy of anyone's time.

It's actually performance artist Eliot Fintushel from the wild and wacky land of California.

It isn't exactly the best example of theremin playing. This unique instrument has been used to much greater effect by a million people from Led Zeppelin to Marilyn Manson. And there was a band I saw at the Roadhouse once but I can't remember their name, so let's move on, shall we?

No, comedy theremin is okay by me. Bill Bailey does comedy theremin well - and a damn sight better than this other video by Fintushel. I think he's trying to get all Sinead O'Connor on our ass, but it's about as effective as a chocolate fireman.

May 15, 2007

Let's get quizzy - the answers

Well, chafe my trousers and call me Henry, it must be time for the answers to the pub quiz I posted last week.

Q1 The First Commoner of the Land is the Speaker of the House of Commons, a.k.a. Michael Martin

Q2 Tony Blair is the UK politician that has been played (or parodied) by Michael Sheen, Robert Lindsay and David Tennant.

Q3 Paddy Ashdown’s first name is Jeremy, Obviously.

Q4 The Sun prefered to call Paddy Ashdown Paddy Pantsdown in the early 1990s.

Q5 In his own words, Iain Duncan Smith was a quiet man.

Q6 In the 2006 local elections, (b) Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern ended up with the most councillors out of them, The Christian Peoples Alliance and SALT.

Q7 William Pitt The Younger’s father is called William Pitt The Elder. Minus a thousand brownie points if you got this wrong.

Q8 In no particular order, Simon Hughes, Chris Huhne and Sir Menzies Campbell came first, second and third in the 2006 Liberal Democrat leadership contest. No, not Lembit Biscuit or Mark Oatcake.

Q9 Dennis Skinner called the Minister of Agriculture a "slimy" and a "wart", said the only thing growing in the 1980s were “the lines of coke in front of Boy George and the rest of the Tories”, told the House of Lords to go to hell and called Dr. Owen “a pompous sod” – after which he offered to withdraw the word “pompous”. His infamous nickname is the Beast of Bolsover.

Q10 David Cameron has been an MP for six years.

Q11 David Cameron's constituency is Witney, in Oxfordshireland.

If you got 10, you are Mike Paradinas and you are the foremost genius of electronic music. If you got 9, you are Max Tundra, which makes you a genius, but just not as recognised. If you got 8 or less, you are Adamski, the keyboard wizard.

May 13, 2007

mpSunday: Clark's Ted

Every few Sundays, I'll pop an mp3 onto the site which you can download and listen to until you sick up noise from the very depths of your ear drums.

The series, which may or may not last, will be called mpSunday. Every time I post a new mp3 for mpSunday, I'll delete the previous mp3.

So get 'em while they're hot.

The first track is Clark's Ted. He's signed to Warp, his first name is Chris, he's from St Albans and he played Futuresonic last night. Ted seems kind of upbeat, almost dance-floor friendly, but it's just.. a little squinted.

PING! This mp3 is no longer available. See here for the latest mpSunday.

May 11, 2007

Scroll for guff and you'll get stuff. And be chuffed. You won't be duff. Sorry...

I should just point out that I have a squirrelsworth of mp3s in the right hand column of this site (now deleted).

These are full recordings (or "podcasts" if you will) of several shows I co-presented last month.

When I say full, I don't mean full. We've had to edit out the music because if you don't edit out the music, the tubes of the internet become entangled and Donald Trump sues you because he owns Google. I think.

If you are going to listen to them, right-clicky your little mouse and 'save target as'. I wouldn't want the interweb service provider dude to get upset because my twenty million readers start streaming my guff.

Now, guff my streams, that's a different matter. You are more than welcome to do that at any time. If I knew what it meant.

May 8, 2007

Let's get quizzy: just when you thought the local elections were over

Lee and I waded through a mire of pedantry and trivia last week in the latest of our pub quizzes.

I'll post the general knowledge quiz in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, here is the politics round with some of the more boring questions bitten off and spat out onto the sawdust floor of best-forgotten memories. Answers on the Fat Roland blog in about a week's time.

Oh and before you switch your brain on, you'll notice some Google things around the site. It's just a bit of fun and I'm fascinated to see what links the Google ads throw up.

Speaking of throwing up, quiz until you are sick at Nine Tenths Full Of Penguins.

Wading boots on; here we go:

Q1 Who is the First Commoner of the Land?

Q2 Which UK politician has been played (or parodied) by Michael Sheen, Robert Lindsay and David Tennant?

Q3 What’s Paddy Ashdown’s first name?

Q4 What did The Sun prefer to call Paddy Ashdown in the early 1990s?

Q5 In his own words, what kind of man was Iain Duncan Smith?

Q6 In the 2006 local elections, who ended up with the most councillors out of these three parties: (a) The Christian Peoples Alliance, (b) Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern, (c) SALT.Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern

Q7 Name William Pitt The Younger’s father.

Q8 In no particular order, who came first, second and third in the 2006 Liberal Democrat leadership contest?

Q9 He called the Minister of Agriculture a "slimy" and a "wart". He said the only thing growing in the 1980s were “the lines of coke in front of Boy George and the rest of the Tories”. He told the House of Lords to go to hell and he called Dr. Owen “a pompous sod” – after which he offered to withdraw the word “pompous”. Who is this controversial MP and what is his infamous nickname?

Q10 For how long has David Cameron been an MP?

Q11 Name David Cameron's constituency.

May 5, 2007

In Southport and not quivering under the duvet hiding from Franco frolickers

Quinoline Yellow's Dol Goy Assist

Luke Williams usually quivers under the duvet pretending he's Quinoline Yellow, a melodic electronic artist attached to the seminal Skam label and now to his own Uchelfa. (Dol-Goy Assist album pictured.)

But now he's under the bed with the bogeyman pretending he is someone else. Now, he answers to Tatamax, and he's just blurted out a superb album of cut-up sounds and dream noises.

It's called Wells Sentry and it's his debut album as Tatamax. Some will label it 'musique concrete'. This is where lost souls frolick through the long grass with a mini-disc recorder, a microphone and several large Francophile pretenses.

It is indeed a disc full of detailed found-sounds; there's a great snooker ball clack which bounces around the inexplicably-christened 54434D iadem.

But with the exception of the Venetian Snares-lite Kill Switches Demo, this is a haunted house of wafting dynamics and cheap plastic sonics that will keep you entertained long after the ambience has tip-toed back to spook your nightmares.

While you're in HMV confusing them with your request for this particular piece of digital tomfoolery, why not ask for Emissions: From The Archive?

This is a compilation of early Two Lone Swordsmen tracks. When I say early, I mean it's way before they started sounding like PiL. The 'Emissions' bit refers to the label they ran before they were scooped up by Warp Records.

It could be very standard upbeat mid-90s lounge dance, if it wasn't infused with late-night-smoky-clubness. Expect your clothes to smell in the morning.

And remember - this is from the same production brain that brought you Sabres Of Paradise extra-orgasmically-gorgeous Smokebelch.

Finally, I would type about Matthew Herbert's new offering Score, which is a big pile of music he's written for films, musicals, ballets, jazz clubs and scouting jamborees. I lied about the last two.

But I don't like it much. Instead let me spend the last few lines of this internetular missive telling you I am writing this from an internet cafe in Southport (time used 46min, balance £2) inbetwixt running a bookshop for a chorus of Salvation Army people.

I bet Aphex Twin's never done such a thing. Run a bookshop for the Salvation Army, that is. I'm sure he's been in an internet cafe. I don't know. You'd better ask him. Don't ask me--

--damn, that's £2.50.