Nov 29, 2010

Did Kerouac have fridge magnets? NO, HE BLOODY DID NOT

I didn't get where I am today without poking things with a stick.

As I get older and bits of me fall off, it takes more effort to stop myself permanently going to seed and dribbling hopelessly in my cot all day whilst watching reruns of Hippies.

And so I poke things with a stick to see if they go squeak, to see if I have any hidden talents or unused opportunities I should be making the most of.

I tried stand-up, which was brutal and scary and strangely refreshing. It didn't go squeak: it was more of a yelp and it gave me the horrors when it came to treading the boards.

So when I did my comedy lecture Gospel According To Aphex Twin earlier this year at Bright Club, I was still recovering from the stage fright and I shook like a leaf. It did squeak quite pleasingly, though. It looked serene on the surface, but believe me, my inner swan was like a firework with tourettes.

My confidence has grown. Since I did a Titanic and garnered way more praise than I thought I deserved at the Manchester Blog Awards, giving me that useful tag of "award-winning" to wave in people's startled faces, my squeaks have increased in frequency to a sort of high-pitched jabber.

On Wednesday, this accumulated in me reading a short story at an open mic session for the first time in my life. It was for the launch of an anthology by Bad Language (I hope to nudge myself a page or two in the next one) and I read a story called Sandra Sue about teenage ultraviolence.

I must say a massive thanks to Socrates Adams for his advice before the event (read something funny, read it slowly). That man is to literary readings what ducks are to deviant sexual practices, and I mean that in a good way.

Because of a mixture of extensive preparation, confidence in my material and sheer bloody mindedness, it went down really well. I wanted it to be a performance rather than someone just muttering into a mic (note the pretentious italics), and I was pleased with what I achieved.

I then went mad. "I know," I thought, "I can do this twice in one week." I found myself reading for a second time on Saturday at Waterstone's Deansgate branch in Manchester, this time with a weird horror tale The People Vs The Tooth Fairies and a comedy piece about Beyonce.

And that's it. I have the lit-reading bug. Hundreds, if not, millions of plans are afoot thanks to my Beatoff Generation chums. We've had a lovely mention in Bournemouth Runner's The Art Of Fiction, we've got fridge magnets thanks to Benjamin Judge and people keep calling me a scenester.

"Scenester." Arf.

Because of the prep for this week's readings and a nasty little throat / eyes / braincells gremlin that has laid me flat tonight (I can't look at this screen for much longer), this blog has suffered slightly. Less of the usual James Blunt-bashing and more new poked beasties that have little to do with the musical side of Fat Roland On Electronica.

Be patient with me, dear reader: I need to keep poking things with sticks. An arrogant bit of me feels that anything is possible right now, especially if I put the work in. This is, after all, the month in which David Lynch (THE David Lynch) released a dance track. Now, that's some brilliant poking.

David Lynch's Good Day Today by threeminutesthirtyseconds

Nov 23, 2010

No more idle speculation: Aphex Twin to play Bloc 2011

Aphex Twin is back at the Bloc festival, as revealed in an announcement today that takes a sideswipe at the internet gossip that has surrounded the appearance.

"This is the kind of lineup that jumps out of the undergrowth bites the back of your head off, like a tiger or something," says an email from Bloc sent out this morning.

It goes on to say, "You'll see a lot of idle speculation online, but check out the first round of showcase announcements to find out who's very much 'in' for Bloc's landmark fifth birthday."

The idle speculation, of course, was started by Bloc when they released an anonymous teaser video featuring the artist. The date they appended, "12 march 2011" fed right into the chatter about a new Aphex LP that's been rife on the internet for some time.

I showed the video on this blog a week ago and liberally slapped my greasy cynicism over any thoughts that it may be a date for a new album, saying "it's an advert for his appearance at the 2011 Bloc Weekender festival. CRASH! That's the rollercoaster falling off the tracks and landing on the candy floss stall."

That roller coaster bit might need some explanation. Go and read the whole post here.

What we're left with is a jolly good line-up for Bloc, which takes place at Minehead Butlin's in the second weekend in March. Richard D Twin will join Four Tet, Venetian Snares, Floating Points, Joy Orbison, Mary Anne Hobbs, Untold, Speedy J, LFO, Daedelis, Beardyman, Moderat, Dopplereffekt, a bloke from Altern-8 and flip-loads more.

I do sometimes us internetters would speculate as much about releases by the likes of, for example, Joy Orbison. I'm as guilty as anyone for making it all Aphex, Aphex, Aphex. In fact, screw Aphex Twin: I've changed my allegiance. If One Direction aren't playing Bloc 2011, I'm not coming.

Creative Tourist is the bezt website ever

Creative Tourist, the leading cultural guide to God's chosen city, has splurged a feature about me all over its pages.

It's part of a new feature about the best arts and culture blogs in Manch-- no, Bez, get back under your table, you can have your food when I'm ready. Where was I? Oh yes, it looks like I'm the inaugural victim of a new series.

They say "this is a blogger who writes passionately and in informed detail about electronica, without straying into hyperbole or hype." They're absolutely right, of course. I never hype anything.

(Wavy lines, fade to dream sequence.)

"The album is officially dead. Kaput. Extinct. Its tongue is lolling. It has crosses for eyes. The album is exactly six feet lower than the soles of your shoes. It is dead." January 2010

"Magnetic Man's impending chart success is more exciting than electrocuted nipples." July 2010

"The Mercury Music Prize is the best prize in the history of EVER." September 2010

"All we can humbly offer is this manifesto for our future massive greatness... All literary movements are over" November 2010.

(And we're back in the room.)

You ain't never gonna fookin' find me you rozzer scumGET OFF my keyboard, Bez, and carry on with the grouting. I want that finished by dinnertime.

The Creative Tourist feature blows any anonymity I may have left, but I wanted open and transparent with them. Also, I like the name I was born with because it's an anagram of "narrating icon"

Speaking of narrating, a selection of my other writings across the internet can be unearthed by clicking on the big "fat fiction and other writings" logo on the right of this post, or by clicking here. I've had an immense amount of fun scrawling for other sites recently and long may it continue.

You can also catch me reading one of my stories as part of the open mic slot at Bad Language's Scattered Reds book launch at the Castle pub, Oldham Street, Manchester this Wednesday night.

And I'm one of the speakers at Bright Club at Nexus Art Cafe on December 16th, where I'll be presenting my new talk, Boy Band Family Tree.

Right, there was something I'd forgotten. I hate it when that happens-- oh, of course. Bez.

Bez? Hello? Where have you gone?

There you are. Hey, get down from that chimney, the police will see you. No, you are NOT Father Christmas. Yes, you do look like him, but just because you're covered in red paint, that still means you're naked. Oh Bez, not down the chimney, use the toilet like everyone else. Do you want me get Shaun again? Do you? What do you mean he's on holiday?

Sorry about this, I need to see to Bez. Are you okay letting yourself out?

Nov 20, 2010

The Beatoff Generation: Our Future Books Shall Bleed From Your Shelves Like A Hardback Elixir Reddened From An Embarrassment Of Grammatical Riches

This is a manifesto.

2011 is the year of the Beatoff Generation, a collective of writers converging on the city of Manchester and yet looking past its bricks like herons scouting for prey beyond the tower blocks where the tower blocks are rivers and the herons are what I just said they are in the middle of this sentence.

Writing is our oxygen. Words are our blood cells. Pages are our imaginations and pens are, well, they're just pens, really. We are the sycophantic courtiers of narrative: our protagonists are our emperors and we bow down with short stories, nascent novels, cultural reviews, blog projects, stage readings and inane tweets.

Blackwell's in Manchester, Waterstone's on Deansgate, our future books shall bleed from your shelves like a hardback elixir reddened from an embarrassment of grammatical riches. Until then, all we can humbly offer is this manifesto for our future massive greatness.

All literary movements are over. Apart from this one, because this is the one we made up when sozzled in Common last night.

Ah, yes, the real reason...

When numerous writers spilled out of the blog awards a month ago, some of us began writing for each other's websites, or at least upped the ante slightly. 330 Words doubled its number of scribblings, a few got stuck into Write In For Writing's Sake, while others bombarded Do A Barrel Roll then Screen150 with their Barry Normanisms. New friendships blosssomed. Collaborations abounded. Babies were made. Wait. Not that last one.

It brought to mind the giggles and inspiration of the much-missed reading night No Point In Not Being Friends, and the Offbeat Generation literary scene mostly consisting of people who know people who know people we know. And for one intense moment, we dallied with the idea of our own literary scene.

We laughed like insane, dribbling hyenas at thought of taking on such a self-referential and masturbatory label.

So we did it. We are the Beatoff Generation. You are the Beatoff Generation. We'll be inclusive, we'll be positive, we'll publish each others' stuff. We are beatoff, you are beatoff, everyone who snuggles our words in the warmth of a website, in the past or at any point in the future, you are, we are, they are beatoff.

To mention names would be reductive, so there's no way I'll talk about Bad Language, B&N Magazine, Fell House, I Thought I Told You To Wait In The Car, Pantheon, Roy Keane's Lucky Scarf, Voices From The Below, Who The Fudge Is Benjamin Judge, Words & Fixtures, the many blog awarders, everyone I couldn't fit into one blog post - or the poor souls that simply humour us when we're coming up with stupid #beatoff ideas.

Maybe using "beatoff" as a hash or blog tag will help us coalesce, or give us that little nudge when wrestling with word counts, or maybe it'll become a magazine or a blog or a book to disgust those perturbed by its sordid name. Maybe it will become something massive, even though none of us are at all serious about any kind of a 'scene'.

Or maybe we truly are "forever doomed as the literary scene that gave itself the worst name ever".

When you next see Jupiter glowering beside the cheerful moon, think of it as the dot in the i of Beatoff Generation, the imaginary letters spanning the night sky like colossal typeface balloons. Climb onto your roof and sing to the letters, like a wordsmith wolf howling under the weight of literary history. And then hit 'publish' and see what happens.

Nov 18, 2010

This picture of Fred Durst is offensive

Bread Durst.

Get it? I'll say it again.

Bread Durst.

This picture, made by Ian Breen and uploaded to the world by Anclove, is deeply disrespectful about Fred Durst and his oeuvre.

Fred Durst's debut opus was Three Dollar Bill, Yall$ (pronounced "three dollar bill you all dollar sign") as a member of the Limp Biscuits. He changed music forever with his version of George Michael's 1972 hit Faith, and without his canon, we wouldn't have Eminem, Muse, Jesus Jones or The Rutles.

To compare Lord Durst to something as plain as bread, and not even interesting bread at that, is like comparing John Lennon to cheese strings, or comparing Mark Owen to a piece of furry calamari dropped behind a disappointing fridge.

I encourage you to follow Anclove and Breen on Twitter to ensure no more of this nonsense is spewed out of their pus-infested internet tubes. Keep an eye, lest they delve into dangerous spoonerisms like Rid Kock, Stinchy Trousers or Blan P.

Nov 16, 2010

Aphex Twin's new Seaside Specials album does not exist (sigh)

Edit: everything in this post turned out true, like a Disney film with a junglist soundtrack. See the update on Aphex Twin here.

Like a ricketty rollercoaster at a termite-infested fairground, we're back round the Aphex Twin speculation loop and, quite frankly, the seatbelt's digging into my ribs.

As I revealed on Fat Roland's Oozy Bleeps yesterday, electronic music site Hyponik blurted out a teaser video designed to sign people up to its mailing list. It was entitled AFX Seaside Specials From Aphex Twin and was a mass of promenade camera footage, decaying film reel and that trademark Aphex grin. This was all set to an Aphexian dense drum-and-bass track.

The longer downloaded video (see above) ended with a date that clanged massive bells with every Aphex fan, as if Hellboy was taking out his frustration on a test-your-strength machine inside your eardrum. "12 March 2011", said the date. CLANG! It's a new album! CLANG! It sounds like Aphex Twin! CLANG! It looks like Aphex Twin! CLANG! It's a new album from Aphex Twin! CLAAAANG!

The truth is as disappointing as a house of horrors with crying middle aged men in white sheets going woooh as armless plastic skeletons lean awkwardly in damp plywood coffins. Aphex Twin's March 2011 Seaside Specials album does not exist. There, I've said it. That's another notch on my google ranking for "Aphex Twin's new album does not exist".

The track in the video is not an Aphex Twin tune. It's by dgoHn (pronounce it as a harder "John"), an artist played live by the 'Twinned one before being signed to the Rephlex Records label. It's a 2005 tune called Vase and you can stream it here. The one in the Aphex Twin video is slightly different (the cut-out before the beat drops in the video, the voices on the original), so it's prob'lee an excerpt from a live DJ set, a remix, or both.

Which leads me to the reason for the video's existence in the first place: it's an advert for his appearance at the 2011 Bloc Weekender festival. CRASH! That's the rollercoaster falling off the tracks and landing on the candy floss stall. Let's sift through the bloodied sugar puffballs for evidence, shall we?

1. The video makes a reference to seasides. The Bloc Weekender is at Butlins in Minehead.

2. The video makes a reference to 12th March next year. This is when Bloc will take place.

3. Aphex Twin has played this electronic-music-friendly event before, and even played dgoHn's Vase in his set in 2009. (At the 99 minute mark, if the comments here are to be believed.) I would love to hear a recording of that bit of the set...

4. The video contains exactly the kind of visuals Aphex Twin uses in his live set (see more about this at Brainchops' excellent blog post).

5. This was posted by Bloc on their Facebook page as an obvious teaser about their 2011 line-up.

6. The internet loves Aphex speculation, whether it's his new album, or The Tuss, or his new album, or his new album, well, mostly it's his new album.

So what are we left with? A mangled wreck of carriages, candy floss and carnival folk and no more clues as to the whereabouts of Aphex Twin's latest release. We're on the edge of Blackpool's north pier in the bitter wind and sea spray with no-one to guide us other than hardened half-naked pensioners in sagging deckchairs.

Let's hold on to the fact that Bloc 2011 looks proper smart, dgoHn is flipping good and Hyponik deserve lots of people on their mailing list. Meanwhile, if Aphex Twin doesn't get his shizzle together soon, I'm blowing this theme park sky high.

Nov 15, 2010

(Slight hiatus)

I'm not being lazy. I've been on holiday.

As I get back into my blogging groove this week, please amaze yourself with these fascinating Fat Roland facts:

- Because of his recent media trawl, I am starting to find James Blunt quite entertaining. I think that makes me a bad person.

- I fear that when Aphex Twin finally produces his comeback album, it can only be a disappointment. I think that makes me a bad person.

- The last two music videos I snorted on the digital cocaine that is YouTube were Panjabi MC's Mundian To Bach Ke and Adamski's Bass Line Changed My Life. That's right. Adamski. I think that makes me a bad person.

- I *want* people to play music on their headphones too loudly on public transport. I like the distraction and I feed off other people's frustration like fat gay Dementor. I think that makes me a bad person.

- I once sneaked up behind a hedgehog and said "boo!" just to make it curl into a ball. I never asked its name. I think that makes me a bad person.

- I started a 2010 film review series in March,. Like a New Labour spending programme, I immediately mothballed it even though I see films at the flicks most weeks. I think that makes me a bad person.

- I use words like "flicks" and "LPs", yet most of the music I consume is streamed like a proper modern fella. That's called hypocrisy. I think that makes me a bad person.

- I still haven't forgiven Apple for their DRM disgustingness with iTunes. I never want to have an iPhone as a result. Whenever I see someone with an iPhone, I stamp on their head. I think that makes me a *good* person.

- Anyone that feels the need to *stress* certain words with *asterisks* clearly isn't working hard enough at sentence structure.

- Er...

- ...that's it.

Nov 6, 2010

Aphex Twin's six new albums: "Maybe I can get Basshunter to remix Selected Ambient Works..."

Edit: Since this post, there has been further speculation about AFX's new album due to an enigmatic Aphex video that turned out to be an advert for Aphex Twin live.

Aphex Twin, who says he has completed six unreleased albums, is like Michael Douglas in Wonder Boys. His desk drawers are crammed with material and it's only a matter of time before it all blows away uselessly into the ocean, lost to the fishes for all eternity.

Maybe he can't stop writing tracks, or more importantly, he can't finish the one's he's started. Maybe the curse of the Aphex Twin Comeback is too much to bear and when he finally releases an album, it will just be the sound of him crying into a supersize tub of Ben And Jerry's.

Since Aphex Twin's last long player proper, Drukqs, Venetian Snares has churned out fourteen albums. We've waited such a long time for this new 'phex LP, it led me to speculate that yes, Aphex Twin's album doesn't exist in February 2009, that no, in fact Aphex Twin's album absolutely does exist in March 2009, or hold on, Aphex Twin's new album may or may not exist in December 2009, or sack it, I'll make some money from his reputation anyway throughout 2010.

Here is the quote he gave fashion magazine Another Man. You'll have seen it in WH SMith: it's the edition with the grizzly looking Keith Richards on the front. To help you with the quote, I've added my own subtext in italics:
“I’ve got six completed (at least I think they're completed, I'm not sure where music begins and ends any more). Two are very non-commercial, abstract, modular-synthesis, field recordings – those I finished four years ago (next to Analord, they sounded crap so I binned them).

"Another one is Melodies From Mars, which I redid about three years ago (my Bowie tribute album could be my big comeback after all). There’s one of stuff I won’t go into (it was my linedancing phase: I'd better not mention that); a comp of old tracks which is never really finished and always changing (maybe I can get Basshunter to remix Selected Ambient Works); and then one I’m working on now (as soon as I can learn a fifth chord on this guitar)."
He added: "There are also loads of tracks which don’t belong anywhere.” Really? If I don't get anything less than a massive fourteen hour concept album with artwork showing Richard 'Twin' James riding naked on a horse with naked Aphexes sprouting from each finger as music tumbles from his many crotches like sticky fairy dust onto a million dogs in Windowlicker outfits, I will be severely disappointed.

Anyhoo, you can read his fashion mag interview in lovely jpeg format here and here.If you can't be bothered to read it, the interview can be summed up as follows:

Are you superstitious? No. I'm bored of this now.
What do you do before gigs? Have a beer. I'm bored of this now.
Favourite noise? Wind. I'm bored of this now.
Describe your music. dflaghaozoushiduqwd. I'm bored of this now.
What scares you? My imagination. I'm bored of this now.
What can we expect from your next album? Which one? I've got six, beeyatch. Did I tell you I'm bored with this interview?

Or words to that effect.

Nov 2, 2010

Advanced 12k audio quality: the Buddha Machine is back

As that modern-day prophet Heavy D once said, "Blessin' like Buddha, Buddha as the bless, you can lay down on the lover, put your head on my chest."

Mr D clearly predicted in 1991 the rise of the Buddha Machine, those multi-coloured boxes you can buy from Piccadilly Records that make ethereal ambient sounds.

If you've never happened across one of these before, a Buddha Machine is a small box that generates ambient sound loops. Technically, it is an album by Chinese experimental duo called FM3. But it is an album like no other.

The Machine first came to prominence some years ago, when I proclaimed it as my new crappy plastic friend. That first unit loped around with me everywhere, and I even used it in a gig.

The second machine from a year or two ago made as much impact on me as a fart sandwich and it's probably still in its box somewhere. But now, its third incarnation, called Chan Fang ("Zen Room") is set to claw for my affections like a friendly, annoying monster that won't go away.

What's nice about this third generation is they have translucent casing, so you can ogle the gremlins inside making all the music for you. And it boasts - wait for it - "advanced 12k audio quality".

The biggest potential is now you can line up all three Buddha machines and start to make genuinely complex music from the simplest of sound generators. You will truly be blessed. The Buddha machine is out later in November.

Edit: this was the 500th blog post for Fat Roland On Electronica, so I've gone done a little medallion thing to make me feel better about life. The background is a shiny silver Warp Records slipmat I spotted someone using in Sand Bar in Manchester. I asked him his DJ name so I could credit him when I published the picture and he just said Steve or Dave or Clint or something.