Jan 31, 2011

Blood sugar synths felines: some almost-recent tracks worth your attention

The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Didn't expect that, did you? Red Hot Chili Peppers. There, I said it again.

No, I'm not talking about the tongue-busting offspring of plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanasomething-or-other. I'm talking about the wiley shirtless guitar plodders who appear to have gone afro pop.

Actually, I'm taking about John Frusciante, who dumped the Chilis in 2007 but has now turned up as one part of Speed Dealer Moms with legendary bass-driller Venetian Snares. This is a live experimental project consisting of those boys, Chris McDonald, a bunch of drum machines (gear, pictured) and, in the band's words, "many cats".

Their first release is the Speed Dealer Moms EP, a short and bitter chunk of tapping distracto-grooves recorded as-live in 2010 that will frighten Chili poppers but may sound somewhat familiar to Snares followers.

While I'm perusing recent tracks (mainly from the end of last year), I've been addicted to Rafferties's Rank Functions EP. The title track is a 2step tech stormer on his own Super label that turned my pants brown, but check those warm chords in His Counting House or the out-and-out house snap of Horse Flesh. Suddenly, I feel Raffertie has "arrived" in that really pretentious way some people say "arrived".

Meanwhile, The Black Dog's latest offering is Subject To Delays. That's not an announcement for tardiness, but rather the name of their latest EP in their Music For Real Airports project which features rolling house and drifting ambience in equal measure.

Picture: modified from a Universo Frusciante snap.

Jan 26, 2011

Guest post: Crimes against crimes against keyboards

I asked you for your nominations for the worst crimes committed against dance music, from which I picked a random winner. Jon Mann gets a bunch of mp3s and this guest post on Fat Roland On Electronica...

I would like to nominate The Black Eyed Peas –….I don’t actually know the name of the track although I should probably find out what it’s called before I start. You probably know the one I’m on about already, something about a good day. It’s probably called ‘a good day’.

It’s called ‘I got a feeling’ and it’s good night not day.

O.K so I can’t say that I’ve ever sat down to listen to it but I don’t need to, it was so popular when it was released that it became part of the wallpaper that belonged to time and place. That time and place, that thankfully is now behind us.

The production is actually not that offensive, it’s a poppy, upbeat, forgettable dance track. The most compelling evidence against it is in its lyrics. I might as well have not written anything here other than the lyrics.
Here is a sample which I will now cut and paste from somewhere on interwebs.
“go out and smash it
let go o' my guard
Jump off that sofa
Let’s get get up”
I’m suddenly impressed at just how throwaway and thoughtless these lyrics really are.
“I feel stressed out
I wanna let it go
Lets go way out spaced out
and losing all control”
That’s enough of that. To counteract any harmful side effects here are a few lines from Etchogon-S by Autechre

My point, if there is one, is that despite the song’s protagonist repeatedly claiming to have ‘the feeling’ the song itself is devoid of ‘the feeling’. Its only purpose is to fill a bit of space somewhere for a few minutes. Actually listening to this sort of stuff is a bit like going on a diet where you eat nothing but tile grout. 

Will.i.am is very keen on his band having the right image, I read an interview with him in the Metro and he said so himself. This, I imagine is what prompted him to stop making vaguely listenable hip hop and get a sexy female singer that can piss herself at will while on stage. [Citation needed]

Dance music, electronic music are famously places where the anonymous artist can thrive, knocking out bass odysseys from a sweaty bedsit in Hackney, only emerging at night for skins and cigs from the all night garage. This is where the real shit is at. I’m not against artists having big personalities at all but for everyone’s sake please try to keep the music real and please keep the drums raw.

I suppose ‘I got a feeling’ wasn’t really designed for me. You could say ‘but it’s ok for the feeble minded to shake their limbs at’. Well yes, but we all have to suffer though don’t we? Something really needs to be done about this.

Basically we just need to play more Aphex.

Everyone, now.

This guest post was written by Jon Mann.

Jan 25, 2011

Crimes Against Keyboards: the winner

Roll out the Bunty magazines and spank your carpets until they're dust-free. We have a winner, ladies and gentlemen.

Jon Mann has won the Crimes Against Keyboards competition. He bags himself Bleep.com's top 100 tracks of 2010, which probably means he'll need to build new shelves in his mp3 player to take all the extra weight.

Some fine people didn't win, including Compound Ear who used my logo and said really nice things about my blog and refers to his chosen dance music nemesis as an "aural holocaust". But I'm happy Jon won because I like his rant too. It will appear later today as guest post on Fat Roland On Electronica.

Jon, who describes himself as 29-years-old and an Aquarius (I'm *so* turning this blog into a dating site) says:
"Just really happy to be the lucky one who got selected for the prize. Just dropping it into itunes now :-)
"I've picked up a couple of these tracks over the course of the year but I'm really looking forward to hearing something good that passed me by in 2010."

Meanwhile, Bleep's top 100 is available on their site until February 10th. I know you can probably stream or steal a bunch of brilliant tunes from last year, but downloading this lot at 30 pence a track is a pretty impressive one-hit way of downloading the state of dance music today. Like Keanu downloading martial arts in Something's Gotta Give (editor's note: check this is the right film).

And no, I wasn't paid to say that. Long-time readers of this site know I'm a sucker MC for all things Warp-related.

Watch this space for Jon's winning entry and proof that people who, shock horror, don't have a blog can write blog posts too.

Jan 23, 2011

You have 23 hours left in which to win 100 mp3s

The deadline for my Crimes Against Keyboards mp3 competition is tomorrow (Monday) at noon. If you haven't entered already, here's what you need to do:

- Decide on dance music's worst moment. It could be an awful band, a novelty hit, an established artist getting it horribly wrong, or a wider trend towards crapdom.

- Write about it. Either blog it or email something to dj at fatroland.com. A couple of paragraphs will do, but longer rants are welcome too.

- One entrant will be randomly chosen as the winner. The prize will be bleep.com's top 100 tracks of 2010, worth thirty quid or thirty-five euros or fifty bucks. You'll get a voucher code which I have secretly snuggled in my nappy.

It really is that easy.


Here is a frequently-asked question list for those not yet swayed to enter.

Q. What is an mp3?

A. It stands for music plop-plop-plop, which is the sound mp3s make when they load into the mini record players contained within white i-pod headphones.

Q. Is Justin Biebpipe in the list of 100 tracks included in the prize?

A. Technically no. Although you can re-create the Biebpipe magic by riding a skateboard as you listen. Why not fashion your hair into a bouffanted cowpat? And remember to brush your teeth for that winning Justin smile as you utter the words, "yeah, I'm the white-boy Usher, so what?"

Q. Can I listen to these songs on the train?

A. Many express services have special listening points, in which you plug your CD player into a bucket of cold sandwiches congealed with fake cheese, leaked Stella and the sweat - and other bodily fluids - of a thousand pimply buffet car assistants.

Q. What if I don't like the music?

A. I've done a survey of my teddy bears and 280% of them liked 104% of the tracks. 28% of them also would vote Conservative, but that's neither here nor there. I'm constantly barraged with people asking for recommendations of the latest hippety-grunge popstep disco classics. There's no better way to super-charge your ears with the high-fat cream of the current crop than getting your hairy mitts on Bleep's top 100. I'm a genuine fan of the site and that's why I'm doing this competition.

Q. Why can't think of any bad dance music?

A. You have no ears. And no brain. Just write. You may surprise yourself. And if you don't do this, the Venga Boys have won.

Jan 17, 2011

Crimes Against Keyboards: win Bleep.com's top 100 tracks of 2010

There's a moment in the middle of Eiffel 65's Blue (Da Ba Dee) when you realise all of dance music, from Detroit to Sheffield, from EBM to IDM, has led to this: a bunch of smurfoids that look like they've been CGIed by a blind horse.

Which makes me think: there's a competition in this.

There have been many crimes committed against electronic music over the years. All you need to do is write about the worst moment in dance music, and next week I'll pull an entrant out of my disco hat. That winner will get Bleep.com's top 100 tracks of 2010, worth £30, plus a priceless mention on my blog when I announce the result.

What do you write about?

It could be a sin by your favourite synth god* or the most disastrous diversion in dance music**. And yes, I do mean dance music however you interpret it, from Basshunter to Brian Eno, from the Chemical Brothers to Chromeo, from Aphex Twin to Adamski.

How do you write it?

Post it on your blog. Or if you don't have a blog, email your text to me directly: dj at fatroland.com. Between 50 and 500 words will do. All I ask is your arguments are convincing (even if only in an ironic way) and are non-libellous.

Will I read it?

Yes, every entry. To ensure your entry gets noticed, include "Crimes Against Keyboards" in your title line or near the start of your text. Feel free to publish the above graphic. And if blogging, pop a link into the comments section below this post.

How long have I got?

The closing date is noon on Monday, January 24th 2010. Blog posts or emails after that time will not be considered. No, Facebook is not a 'blog'. Don't post your rant in the comments below this post: that would just be annoying. One entry per person. Usual sensible competition rules apply.

In summary:

- write about the worst moment(s) in dance music;

- blog it, including a link in the comments below this post. Or email it (dj at fatroland).

- after noon on Monday 24th Jan, a random winner will get Bleep's top 100 tracks as a Bleep.com download code.

Oh and thank you to the lovely people at Bleep for proffering such a wonderful prize.

* For example, I always felt Orbital's The Saint seemed like a desperate grab for commercial success - the same feeling I get with Magnetic Man's I Need Air.

** For example, the whole of breakcore, Scooter, or that dubstep moment in Britney's new single.

Jan 11, 2011

Do stop believing: the rock music fad is over

Thank goodness this awful guitar fad has passed. The moment the Beatles clanged out seven years worth of jangly pap, it was over before it started.

It was revealed yesterday that only three of the top 100 tracks of 2010 in the UK were rock songs, the best-selling of these being Glee's Don't Stop Believing.

If you're not aware of the Glee phenomenon, think of Miley Cyrus and Justin Biebpipe doing an ACDC covers tour. Now replace Miley and Justin with a baboon flinging its own excrement, and replace ACDC with every treasured memory you've ever had. That's Glee.

It turns out guitars were just a temporary fad. All those bedroom garage bands banging out noisy chords and committing it to four-track in a cousin's shed? It was the musical equivalent of space hoppers, Tab cola and happy slapping.

Now HMV have a golden ticket for turning their sales around. Have half their shops sell only neo-rave, breakcore and 8bit Kraftwerk classics, while have the other half contain hundreds of burning Fender Stratocasters, constantly on fire like sick Olympic flames and proffered worshipful sacrifices by a rock-hating public.

Here, god of guitar-death, have my collection of coloured Green Day vinyl I just smashed with a hammer, thanks be to Aphex.

Truth is, of course, guitars have never been popular. A quick finger through the UK's top ten best selling singles of all time shows all we really care about is Elton John, Boney M and (shudder) Robson And Jerome. The rockiest tracks are by the Beatles, Wings in Kintyre-mode and those bastians of death metal, Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

The shroud of lies perpetuating the rock myth has fallen and we can get back to good honest dance music like Black Eyes Peas, Basshunter and Doop.

All those annoying acronyms to memorise guitar strings can revert to something sensible like Every Band Goes Dance, Amen Evermore. And we can all have our hair short. And we can wash. With water and everything. We may even use soap. Imagine that.

Rock is dead. Long live Jean Michel Jarre's impending Autechre remix album.

(Please send letters of complaint to Axl Rose, A Hammock, Backstage At The O2 Arena, Londinium, 1LLU 51ON.)

Jan 10, 2011

Fader strokers unite: some recommended compilation albums

Speaking as the UK's leading proponent of the Chicago footwork dance style, I was delighted to see Bangs & Works come out recently on Planet Mu Records.

If you're not aware of the footwork phenomenon, it's halfway between a breakdance stand-off and an epileptic version of the riverdance. Planet Mu, that UK staple of electronic music, spent over a year tracking down footwork proponent DJ Nate in preparation for this album.

Bangs & Works Vol 1 is 25 tracks of bad-talkin' dubstep-influenced dirty Chicago dance music, none of the artists I've heard of, but which brings to mind the evolution of nu skool breaks by Adam Freeland and Burial's more sample-heavy moments.

By the way, I lied. I'm not the leading proponent of the Chicago footwork dance style. If I was, the result would be somewhat akin to the punchline to the old joke, "what do you get if you cross an elephant with a kangaroo".

Another compilation worth its smelling salts is Ghostly International's retrospective We'll Never Stop Living This Way: A Ghostly Primer featuring 11 years of works by artists that have since become bleepists du jour:, including Gold Panda (glitchy and fuzzy), Loscil (floaty and melodic), Matthew Dear (robotic and dark) and Dabrye (laidback and loose).

If you get the album, you also get a Ghostly Book, which inevitably will carry a photo taken in the 1840s of someone you saw at the Morrisson's cheese counter last Sunday. That's how ghostly books work. You see someone in the book and then you die or your hair turns white or Jack Nicholson gets all axey on you.

Meanwhile, Manchester's greatest fader-strokers have come together for Mind On Fire's debut album proper, Great Minds (aka Mind On Fire 005). The bringers of Fire have been promoting nights in God's great city for six years. although this album feels very much like an opening salvo in the war against bad music.

It includes Detroit-smooth beats from XXXY (featured by Fabric before now), G Kut's bhangra-wobble Dance Of The Cuttlefish and Neko Neko's inappropriately-named Fast which takes Plaid's trademark synth sound and smothers it with Boards Of Canada dreaminess. More of the same, please.

The photo above is G Kut at the DPercussion festival and is one of a number of excellent photos taken by Flickr user Rufus A. My favourites are these Durham arches, and eerie singer and this picture of a floating dog trying to fold itself up.

Here's Stephen Hawking's less successful brother Paul to tell you more about Mind On Fire...


Jan 6, 2011

26 Mixes For Cats: gratuitous twits and puns

Twitter is like the entertaining uncle who gets his willy out and stamps on furry animals while old grandfather Facebook sits sullenly in the corner with his hoop 'n' stick and faded photos of a trip to Blackpool he took with MySpace back in the 1920s.

Which is why I ran a competition to win a compilation CD to celebrate my 5,000th tweet. The winners were Rob Gregg, Ani Smith, Lee Moore, Gareth Cutter and Ian Breen. They'll be getting an exciting handmade disc of some of my favourite choons, each sporting arty scribblings aimed directly at them (pictured above).

In other unconnected tweetery, I went pun mad yesterday. Because I've had the phrase "Selected Ambient Worms" in my head for months, I started tweeting some Aphex Animals. It caught on and it saw me 'trending' on Twitter alongside other hot Manchester Twitter topics as Emmerdale, MCFC and One Direction's Zayn Malik.

Here are the Aphex Animals (hashtag #aphexanimals) that my trusty followers and I came up with. If you know Aphex Twin's output, you'll get the idea pretty quickly. Thanks to everyone who dug into their punnery dungeons for this little lot:

- 26 Mixes For Cats
- 26 Mixes For Daschunds
- 54 Cymru Bees
- 54cymru Beast
- Acrid Avid Hamster Shred
- Alpaca (which is based on, I had to be reminded, a Tuss track. Not that The Tuss and Aphex Twin are in any way connected, of course. Not at all.)
- Analogue Puppybath
- Antalord
- Black Widow Licker
- Cock/Ver10 (which is less of a pun and more of, um, an actual track. A track, incidentally, which I accidentally played in a shop at the Lowry Retail Mall without remembering the rather fruity language halfway through.)
- Come On, You Slugs!
- Come On You Stags
- Come To Tabby
- Dodecaheron
- Dododecahedron
- Dolphium (the one of which I am secretly proudest)
- Duckqs
- Dukqs
- Fenix Skunk 5
- Gnu Calx
- Hangable Auto Bull
- Hart as you mean to go on
- I Bear Because You Do
- Kangaridoo
- Lamalord 10
- Laughable Butane Dog
- Mike and Ostrich
- Milklamb
- Monkey Rhubarb
- Moth
- Next Sheep With
- Polynomial Seahorse
- Prezambeetle
- Reunicorn 2
- Richard Bee James Album
- Selected Ambient Worms
- We Are The Gnu-Sic Makers
Edit: Some of these have been added later. See the comments.

All of this Timfoolery (which I have just made up and is a reference to Tim Vine) reminds me of the other time when I went pun mad on Twitter. In July last year, I realised that the whole of rock history boiled down to, well, a kettle of fish.

So I raved about Eels re-recording the Prodigy's Music For A Jellied Generation, and Professor Brian Carps playing keyboards on D:Bream's Things Can Only Get Battered.

My followers and I namechecked Fish from Marrillion, Stingray from The Police, Gill Scott-Watch-Out-For-That-Heron and Mackerel Jazz from the band Hakeless (the ones that had a hit with Cod Is A DJ). And then there were tunes like Future Trout of London's Papua New Guppy and Underworld's album Dubnobasswithmyheadman (which only works if you mispronounce 'bass').

We debated the merits of real non-punning tracks such as Scooter's How Much Is The Fish, Stump's fish-themed Buffalo, Mr Scruff's Fish and also Red Deer Club's The Sound Of Fish mixes.

At one point, I started shouting things like "Injected with a poissons! We don't need sprat any more", "Everybody in the plaice, let's go!" and "Salmon haddock go if you think you're shark enough." Someone warned that my followers might clam up. I ended up promising that "I shoal net post any more."

And they say Twitter is more grown up than Facebook...

Jan 4, 2011

Fat Roland's Oozy Bleeps playlist #2

You've eaten the tinsel and you've spent two weeks farting turkey. Let's clear the air a bit, shall we, with the latest installment of my Fat Roland's Oozy Bleeps Playlist. This is my monthly foray into the grey-green world of Spotify whereupon I upload new and recent electronica to a rolling playlist.

Here's January's fabulous 13... let this be your earworm.

Launch the playlist in Spotify

Raffertie - Rank Functions from the Rank Functions EP (Super 2010)

Subvert - Speaker Humpin (Mark Instinct remix) from Speaker Humpin Remixed (Muti Music 2010)

Lorn - What's The Use from the album Nothing Else (Brainfeeder 2010)

Eskmo - We Got More from the album Eskmo (Ninja Tune 2010)

Darkstar - North from the album North (Hyperdub 2010)

Denis Jones - Clap Hands from the album Red + Yellow = (Humble Soul 2010)

iTAL tEK - Talis from the album Midnight Colour (Planet Mu 2010)

Girl Unit - Wut (Night Slugs 2010)

Teebs - You've Changed from the album Ardour (Brainfeeder 2010)

Eskmo - Moving Glowstream from the album Eskmo (Ninja Tune 2010)

Seefeel - Faults from the album Seefeel (Warp, forthcoming in 2011)

Luke Abbott - Brazil from the album Holkham Drones (Border Community 2010)

Daft Punk - Tron Legacy (End Titles) from the OST album Tron:Legacy (Walt Disney (!) 2010)

Launch the playlist in Spotify

Jan 2, 2011

A very small 2011 preview featuring Radio 1, Planet Mu and Frankenstein

This time last year, I posted a colossal preview where I swept up every bit of electronic music I could find and shoved it into a crystal ball blog piece the size of Jupiter.

The problem with that was twofold. Firstly, there was a woeful lack of decent pre-release information, and it's not as if I have 92,000 press officers on speed dial on my phone, and so I ended up filling in the gaps with records that I would never have otherwise mentioned on my blog.

Despite that, I still ended up with endless snippets of data that had to be bashed into the shape of a blog post in such a short timeframe, which gave me my second problem: I couldn't edit or check the veracity of my facts to the standard I would normally try to achieve on this blog.

And so, despite what I may have promised on Twitter, I'm not doing an uber-preview for 2011. You'll have to stay tuned to Fat Roland On Electronica if you want to find out the latest from Surgeon, Battles, Luke Abbott, Joker, Instra:mental, Teeel, Flying Lotus, the bloke from Metronomy and, um, David Lynch.

I'm not entirely heartless, and I will allow you a wee preview. The first is happening on a radio station that I tend to assume all my readers are too mature or cultured for. Thanks to a top five album by dubstep supergroup Magnetic Man, Adegbenga 'Benga' Adejumo (pictured) and Oliver 'Skream' Jones will join the In New DJs We Trust roster. It makes me wonder what happened to Mag-Man's third leg, Artwork, but it makes Radio 1 at 9pm on every second Thursday worth listening to.

Also in January, Planet Mu (or Planet µ if you're being pedantic) will release 14 Tracks From Planet Mu, which will contain four new tracks as well as known favourites from Ikonika (her huge earworm Dckhdbtch), Floating Points and more. If you're wondering how essential this is, think heroin, think oxygen, think Santa hats at office parties. Now think of Santa inhaling heroin fumes using an oxygen tank. Yes, children, Santa's a junkie.

Finally, 2011 will be the year in which James Blake (MySpace genre listed as "dub / grime / melodramatic popular song") will release his debut album, which everyone will laud as genre-busting and experimental. Blake will steal everyone's fire this year, although if you want a truly modern Prometheus, have a look at what Danny Boyle is up to later in 2011.... google for Underworld and Frankenstein.