Sep 29, 2011

30 tusks, 25 blogs, 5 votes

Because I won Miss World or something at last year's Manchester Blog Awards, I get to be a judge this year. Imagine American Idol's Randy Jackson melded with 15 dead walrii. Yes, walrii. That's me.

The shortlist, for which you should be voting in your droves even as you read this sentence, is intimidating because there is so much good stuff in there. I only found out recently I'd be judging, so I've had to swill my buckets of dripping bitterness down the drain of perfectly balanced pragmatism and instead adopt a clear decision-making head.

I am now practising a mature opinion about everything. Thus:

- A lot of Orbital's stuff is excellent, but some other bits don't half go on a bit;

- Production techniques in r'n'b often set the tone for all sorts of music in the future in the same way the Nazis were good at car building, but that doesn't stop me even now from envying the production in Cry Me A River;

- Hooded tops are a wonderful way to express the rave culture of my youth, although they make me look a bit like 15 dead walrii;

- Some songs with guitars in can be good, while others can be bad;

- Some other things are good while some other things are bad. You should be getting the point of this list by now.

Short of setting fire to the internet and deciding the winner from the last blog standing, I don't know how I can judge the shortlist. But I'll have a go and I'll enjoy it immensely.

Not that winning last year did anything to my stats other than make me so busy, I've let this blog go a bit. Just look at the stats:

I did some writing, and then I did some more writing. This was in the days when everything was rosy and puppies frolicked in metaphorical fields. Fat Roland On Electronica got as many as four readers, then look: I won the award and suddenly I'm at minus one and, as you can see from the extrapolation above, things are set to get totally walrus.

15 hoodied walrii feasting off the corpses of frolickless puppies. Do you want that, dear reader? Yes you do, so get voting in the Manchester Blog Awards. Your votes get combined with judges votes and then we all have a massive booze up later in October.

Sep 21, 2011

Flashtag writers: fancy a quick 'un?

After I've trodded the boards with my #flashtag writing gang at Bad Shoes Festival this Sunday (there we are in the 2pm slot), I get to release a book.

We Flashtag writers, last seen running the Flash Mob Writing Competition, have produced an anthology of dirty stories.

Quickies has 30 authors, 72 pages and a gaudy lilac cover. Read more about its production over at my fiction blog, Italic Eyeball.

We'll host the launch of the book on Wednesday 28th September for Didsbury Arts Festival. Go to the Arts Festival website for more details... although do get there early as I suspect we'll fill the venue.

I'll be reading, probably, a strange situation piece called Slow Movement, Hard Plastic.

And then you get to buy the book. We'll even do a Kindle version. More details soon.

Which brings me to another point. FatRoland dot com is ten years old in a few months. I intend to do something special to mark the occasion. Curious? You should be. *walks off, whistling innocently*

Teebs, Babe Rainbow and Ital Tek tattooed onto a pop star's innards

I barely wordpuke about electronic jams in this here netspace, even though the whole reason for this website is to delare the word of the beat, of the resonance filter, of the wob-wob-wob.

Instead, I'm either banging on about pop music (OMG JUSTIN BIEBPIPE GOT A TATTOO OF POL POT ON HIS LARGE INTESTINE OMG) or simply not posting at all. This, lovely reader, is not good enough.

So what has been performing syncopated rhythms on my ear drums?

Teebs (pictured) has joined Soundcloud, which is about bloody time because I'm fed up of searching for the deadlocked skate dude on there and not finding him. Seriously. Just last weekend, I couldn't find him so had to punch Soundcloud in the face yet again. His first track posted there is about a year old, but it's sunny and dancy and deserves an embed below.

Anchor Steam by teebsio

Speaking of ambient jams that wouldn't look out of place spread over Brian Eno's bald head, I do believe I haven't told you about Babe Rainbow's Set Loose from his Endless Path EP.  It's simple and sad and deserves repeat clicks.

Babe Rainbow - "Set Loose" taken from Endless Path EP - OUT NOW by Warp Records

Also, Brighton's Ital Tek (or iTAL tEK or iTaL tEk or whatever his shift key is doing on any one day) has teamed up with London's Om Unit. Mr Unit, as it's only polite to call him, has been known to make music in the back of an RV before now. His pairing with Ital Tek is a persistent little bugger: a remix of Mr Tek's War Of The Ants. I'm having those tiddlywink snare effects tattooed on a pop star's pancreas.

Ital tek - war of the ants (om unit remix) Coming Soon (Atom River) by omunit

Sep 18, 2011

Five-point Manchester survival guide for freshers

Welcome to the straggly-haired slaughter, you fresh-faced lambs. Here is the official Fat Roland guide to being a fresher.

You arrived in Manchester today lugging your duvet under your spindly arms after doing that passive-aggressive eye thing as you left your parents behind for good. You have chosen the right city: Manchester invented computers, music, politics, card games and the Nintendo Wii.;

But how do you survive in the Northern capital that also brought the world Madchester drug casualties, murderous Hacienda bouncers and, shudder, more than a few members of the BeeGees?

One. You need to know where to hang out. One wrong move, and you'll be bundled into an alley and piddled on by a tramp. These are the only places you should hang out in your first year of university: your halls, the Student's Union, anything with a Wetherspoon's logo, Tib Street, Ancoats and, after two in the morning, Deansgate train station.

Two. You have to listen to the right music. Generally, if it's got a guitar and sounds needy, it's middle-class pseudo-angst and you might as well get minute Laura Marling faces tattooed on your nipples. If it's got keyboards and the players of the keyboard sport cool hair, it could be hipster, in which case you might as well hang out at Common Bar in a cloud of your own farts. Any other kind of music is acceptable.

Three. Don't get in my way. Don't use buses. Don't walk down streets. Don't sit in bars, although if you really have to, for goodness sake don't talk. Only go to the cinema on Orange Wednesdays because that's exactly the day I don't go to the cinema. Do come into my bookshop and buy some books, but only if you're fit / cute / might be fit when you're 25.

Four. Catch as many diseases as you can, and ensure you pass them on to as many Manchester residents as possible. Illness reduces crime (and let's be honest, you're going to get robbed blind in those shoddy student digs), boosts immune systems, and I really like laughing at people thinking their world's going to end because they've got a cold. Yes, women, you do it too. Incidentally, I don't intend to catch the cold virus ever again, so this doesn't affect me. You get extra points for sexual diseases, especially if picked up on the dance floor of 5th Avenue / Cruz 101 / the Christian Union Christmas party.

And finally, five. Don't use anything digital. Unplugged is cool and preserves the 1950s culture in which Manchester truly thrives. You don't think the Happy Mondays used electricity, did you? It was all done with tooth 'n' comb and a kazoo doused in liquid LSD. Ditch your modern appliances. Buy your singles on seven inch. Get proper books. Wash your clothes using poorly-dressed maidens in a scullery. If you need to learn something, go to a library or ask a busker. And stay off blogs, because the amount of effluence dripping from their so-called good advice guides would be enough to turn Doctor Crippin's stomach.

New students: welcome to Manchester. We gave you M People, Dolly Parton and Kraftwerk. (Probably, I dunno.) Now what are you going to give back?

See also: my top 20 Manchester albums of all time (2009)
See also: my students' guide to new music (2010)

Sep 3, 2011

They catch me in the beer tent, you sound the alarm

DJing in a beer tent at Greenbelt Arts Festival is probably the best fun you could have with your trousers on your head.

I've been going to Greenbelt almost every year for the past 20 years. It's my spiritual and artistic home and it's even Mark Thomas' second-favourite festival.

This year, I had two DJing slots in the Jesus Arms organic ale tent, which gave me the chance to do a dark set (techno and IDM on the Saturday night) and a light set (ambient and 4/4 beats on the Monday night). My co-DJ Dan flipped things in a different direction with the likes of Desmond Dekker and Prince.

Being in such close proximity to beer attracted the usual punter comments:

- Have you got any Beatles?

- Have you got any Abba?

- Have you got anything with a tune?

That last comment, dear readers, really means "have you got anything that I recognise" because most people want spoon-feeding with the same old mulch. It's a minority view, so I didn't compromise: back-to-back Autechre tracks were a personal highlight.

The picture shows the free software we used to DJ with. A massive thanks to Dan (who really needs a snazzy DJ name, like DJ Dan The Destroyobot or something) who not only brought proper good choons but also brought the kit to make it all work.