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.