Nov 22, 2017

Music nerds obsess: it's Bjork time

The spirit of her 2001 album Verspertine is alive and well on Bjork's latest track Blissing Me.

In this video, she appears to have her dress stitched into her face and some significant fungal ear growth. I'd have that looked at if I were her.

It's impressive stuff, and the lyrics have a delightfully ordinary moment:
"Is this excess texting a blessing?
Two music nerds obsessing"
Funny how texting seems retro now. Enjoy the stitching and the growth and the obsessing.

Nov 20, 2017

Listen to Legowelt's Its Midnite And You Are Spaceweed

Have a slice of gentle acid courtesy of Legowelt. This is one of those musicians who has quietly amassed a huge discography under this name and numerous aliases including Polarius, Smackos and Nacho Patrol.

This is called 'Its Midnite And You Are Spaceweed' off his new album 'Legendary Freaks In The Trash Of Time'. That's not the best track title on the album - that accolade goes to 'My Life In A Bush Of Spaceweed'.

Nov 12, 2017

Digging Burial's Untrue


Burial's Untrue album turned ten last week.

The album is feted by critics. The BBC calls it "powerful". Drowned In Sound called it "unspeakably romantic". Pitchfork just banged on for ages and used the word "sophomore" six hundred times.

Burial's mystique helped. It took the press five years to discover Burial's identity. "I wanted to use the sound of the earth," said Alan Titchmarsh after being exposed by Homes & Gardens magazine. "If you listen closely, it's mostly trowels."

His production techniques have been much copied, although we seem to forget that, famously, Untrue was produced by ghosts. This posed difficult logistics for studio staff. "They couldn't use the water cooler," I remember one assistant saying in an interview, "because their hands kept going through the little cone cups."

The album is a beautiful listen. Here's a Resident Advisor tribute to the album, which is a pretty good primer for those yet to get into Burial. Long may Alan's (and his ghosts') excellent work continue.

Nov 2, 2017

Name that tune? I wish I could

By and large, I can lance my ear-worms pretty quickly.

You know what an ear-worm is. Those snippets of music that get caught in your thoughts. The "oh oh oh oh oh" of New Kids On The Block's Right Stuff. The "I don't want a place to stay" bit of Technotronic's Pump Up The Jam. Little audio hooks by Alice Deejay, MGMT, Drake or flipping Adele.

Usually when I can name an insistent melody, it slowly fades.

But I had a tune in my head all day yesterday I couldn't name. A cheesy melodic wash that was tickling me something rotten.

I can't explain it here, but it went "da doo do doo de doo doo". I'd heard it somewhere before, maybe from Spotify's New Music Friday service.

Was it new, though? I tried to put lyrics to it, but I couldn't tell if it was a shiny recent single or something dusty from my youth.

Last night, I went to bed with it in my head. I yearned for a good sleep so I could wake afresh and immediately declare "yes! it's so-and-so b-side from (insert obscure indie band)!"

I slept. I dreamt. Then in the morning, my phone alarm woke me up.

The ear-worm was my chuffing Samsung phone alarm.

Flipping heck. The cheesy melodic wash I couldn't identify was in my pocket all along, set to go off at 8am the next day.

Consider this particular ear-worm lanced, skinned and boiled into mulch.

Oct 31, 2017

The gorgeous t-shirts I once wore

My favourite t-shirt when I was younger was an 808 State 'Gorgeous' t-shirt, mainly because I got to walk around with 'gorgeous' written on my chest.

The picture you see here is from the 808 State website, but there's a pretty neat photo of me online somewhere sporting the tee in my early 20s, gurning and looking very young.

I also had a t-shirt for their 'Don Solaris' album which said, emblazoned on the front, "there is no love stronger than that between a man and his cock". I never wore it because of any braggadocio - it was just, y'know, cock, hur hur.

Sigh.

You can see that t-shirt design here (from the Attic Raider blog) - click to see it bigger. I believe this was a design by music journalist Paul Morley, who had signed 808 State to the ZTT label.

It's been so long since I wore band t-shirts. I had a great Smashing Pumpkins "ZERO" long-sleeve, a spacey-looking System 7 shirt, and no doubt a few Orbital ones here and there. I also had a couple with flashing LED lights because they looked great at raves.

It's the 'Gorgeous' one I think of most.

That is, if I ever sit gazing into the distance reminiscing on the t-shirts I loved, which I flipping DON'T.

But if I could get back together with one of them... ah, Gorgeous, we were good together.

Wait.

Hold on.

Found it!


Oct 22, 2017

Watch Plaid soundtracking a slow-motion Leonardo DiCaprio



Someone set Plaid's haunting track Host to this clip from Inception.

If you look too closely at this clip, you'll fall inside your screen and you'll be inside the video and everything will be half the speed or twice the speed or however the heck it worked in the film.

Anyway, despite the low YouTube resolution, I thought this was nice.

Oct 18, 2017

Soaking up the rays with Way Out West


The Bristol underground scene spawned some big hitters that were heavy in sound and in influence: Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, Timmy Mallett. Wait. No, not Timmy Mallett.

Way Out West came from that scene too, but their sound was lighter. A music meringue. They straddled trance and drum 'n' bass, and I think they hit a particularly sweet spot on their 1996 singles The Gift and Domination. The latter sampled three different John F Kennedy speeches, all for just three words: "madness, power, domination". Not that we have any of that kind of nonsense in today's political climate. Ahem.

I had a chat with the Way Out West chaps today. We talked about the old days, when all this was just fields. They both mentioned their love for LTJ Bukem, and their recollection of playing on Top Of The Pops was particularly amusing - although you'll have to wait for a future edition of Electronic Sound for that story.

Just like Timmy Mallett, they're still going. Unlike Timmy Mallett, they haven't taken up fine art. (Seriously: check out Mallett's Palette.) Way Out West's latest work has a distinctly Balearic feel, which is probably a reflection of soaking up all that sun on their international DJing schedule. I live in Manchester so I have to ask Timmy Mallett to paint my suns. He really brings out those yellows.

Have listen to recent track Oceans and old track Domination below.



Oct 8, 2017

EVENT: Mother's Bloomers at the Royal Exchange

Mother's Ruin: Hey Fats, would you like to compere this event at the Royal Exchange?

Me: I AMM SELLOTAPING A HROSE

Mother's Ruin: That's fine, but would you like to compere Mother's Bloomers in November?

Me: I CANNOTE LISTEN TO YOU BCAUSE I AM PUTTING SELLOTAP ALL AROUNDD THIS HORSE

Mother's Ruin: It's the best event to see bold, brave new queer performance, and as Manchester's leading gay spoken word cartoon prop comedian, we think that--

Me: I HAV RUN OUTOF SELLOTAPE BECAUSE HORSES ARE VERRY BIG OMG

Mother's Ruin: We'll take that as a yes, then.

Buy tickets for Mother's Bloomers at the Royal Exchange on November 14th here.

Oct 6, 2017

No more harrumphs: Kiasmos are back


I've been feeling a little fragile of late. An ongoing medical niggle mixed with danker evenings, I guess. My head's full of an American Beauty style turmoil, which is why I've been turning up in your bed scattered with roses.

I woke up miserable this morning. Just now, I saw the bin lorry collecting my paper recycling, and I harrumphed. Who harrumphs at a bin lorry? Bin lorries only do good in this world. I really need to get this head-funk sorted out.

And then I saw something telling me Kiasmos are releasing a new EP today.

I remember Kiasmos, I thought as I scowled at the bin lorry's compacter winch mechanism. Their astonishing 2014 debut on Erased Tapes was one of my bestest albums of that year. I wonder what they sound like now. Oh my. Have a listen below to Blurred, taken from the Blurred EP.

It never fails to astonish me how music lets light into the darkness. Props due to Erased Tapes who, alongside bringing back Kiasmos, also release an album from Gus Gus chap Högni this month. That's a corker too - I can't help thinking of him, somewhat reductively, as a male Björk. Have a listen to the evocative and eccentric Crash below.

Things feel brighter. Now... do roses go in the paper recycling or what?



Oct 4, 2017

Make your ugly gaff nicer with these Electronic Sound prints

One of the best things about working for Electronic Sound is their design aesthetic. Holding the physical magazine in your hands literally makes your hands look better.

This is despite my regular attempts to sabotage the magazine with my ugly words. Oh boy, they're ugly. When I'm in draft mode, I have to put bags over the letters' heads. Especially the g's. I write very ugly g's.

Electronic Sound makes everything beautiful. If you have an ugly home - and I'm sure you do - you can introduce a bit of Electronic Sound style with some luvverly cover prints.

Have a browse here. I'm in all of these issues, so it will be just like having a bit of Fat Roland in your home but without breaking the restraining order.

Oct 2, 2017

Daphni, the house music stripper with a heart of gold


You remember Daphni from Neighbours, right?

There was Kylie Minogue the curly-haired mechanic, there was Mrs Mangel and her invisible husband, and there was the amiable couple Des and Daphni.

Turns out Daphni has just released her second album Joli Mai, which is made up of a bunch of rejigged tracks from her recent Fabriclive appearance. From what I've heard so far, there's a nice loose feel to the house tracks here, although what Bouncer the dog makes of it, I have no idea.

What? Pardon? Daphni is nothing to do with the Neighbours soap character Daphne Clarke, the "saucy stripper with a heart of gold"? Dammit.

Listen to Daphni's Carry On here. You'll know him better as Caribou.

Sep 30, 2017

Dicky ticker bloke, I hope you are okay

Flipping heck. First thing this morning, I found myself chatting to a bloke having an apparent heart attack. We had a difficult and, frankly, dark conversation as he slumped to the pavement.

That kind of makes it seem I was watching on as if he was a telly programme, expecting A Big Brother narrator to chip in at any moment. Prodding his nose to see if the channel changed.

Actually, someone else was nattering with 999, and my sum contribution was gaining some pertinent medical detail to pass onto the paramedics, sheltering him with my umbrella because Manchester city centre was piddling down, and nipping to Spar to see if they stocked aspirin. They didn't.

He was way too young to kick the bucket, and I'm hopeful that Manchester Royal Infirmary will stitch his ticker up good and proper and send him on his way. Although the Tory conference is in town at the moment and they're probably burning down all the hospitals within a ten mile radius.

Weird day. Look after yourselves, blog chums. Don't make me have a difficult conversation with you on a rainy Manchester street.

Sep 29, 2017

This pastoral Four Tet track reminds me of a sad Plaid


Cor. It's not been a bloggy month. A lot more silence than words. A whole load of white space rather than brain-splurges on your screen.

I was doing so well writing regularly too. Don't worry, I've not been skiving. I've been running stuff at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, penning words for Electronic Sound and Manchester Wire, and working on that Lowry show I've been banging on about.

Am I too busy? You're probably right. I should take it easy. I should make a hammock, hammer it into the walls of my writing shack, and lose myself in Four Tet's pastoral new track Scientists.

The track is taken from his new chill-out album - yes, I said chill-out album - called New Energy. The album release follows a few equally meditative singles in recent months. I chose Scientists to preview here because it's beautiful and reminds me of a sad Plaid.

Right. Enough listening to this track. Let's write about it! *presses publish*



Picture: Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns/Getty Images

Sep 17, 2017

I'd explain the alpaca thing but it's a long story

I've been quiet for the past week because I've been busier than Mr Busy running a busy business in Busytown.

My cartoons got an airing at The Lowry when I performed fragments of my 2018 show to a room of theatre bods. I've been planning event bookings at the Burgess, which almost derailed when I had to go to hospital with a poorly leg. And I bogged off on a retreat with writing friends to recharge, revive and re-e-wind the crowd say bo selecta.

Things I've learned in the past week:

> The recording of Factory Floor's album 25 25 was delayed by a spider.

> When you pick a kicked-over Mobike off the floor (the hire bicycles that can be found across Manchester), they bleep at you angrily.

> I know way more LCD Soundsystem tracks than I realised.

> Children don't know what cassette tapes do.

> If you join the syllables of Nickelback, Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, Menswear, Air and Aerosmith, you get NickelbackstreetboyzIImenswairosmith.

> Cumbria community hospitals are very friendly and have doctors whose first name is Johnson.

> Never google the lifespan of an alpaca.


Sep 8, 2017

FINALLY, here's what the 'LCD' in LCD Soundsystem stands for


You know what the LCD in LCD Soundsystem stands for, right?

I was in Lidl shopping for lightbulbs and I bumped into James Murphy. Typically for him, he eschewed the customary trolley or basket, and he was clutching at least a dozen polar bear plush toys to his chest.

"What does LCD in LCD Soundsystem stand for?" I asked James.

James frowned. His reply was a bit muffled. He was struggling a bit with the polar bears and I think the fluff was tickling his nose. "Mffmmfff mfmfffff," said James Murphy.

"Pardon?" I said. "Loud Clashy Drums? Lairy Chorus Drawling? Lazer Computer Dance? Lawks, Calamitous Din? What did you say, James Murphy?"

He then said something else, but it could have been anything to be honest. I would have shifted one of the cuddly polar bears from his nostril, but I didn't want to drop my lightbulbs.

I punched past him to get to the front of the queue, and once I'd shouted at the cashier, unplugged the card machine for a laugh then scooped an out-of-date bus pass from the bin outside the front door, I'd almost forgotten about my chance encounter with James Murphy.

Almost.

"He probably said Lovely Compact Discs," I said to the bus driver as I tried to blur the expired bus ticket in front of his angry face.

Lovely Compact Discs. The LCD in LCD Soundsystem stands for 'Lovely Compact Discs'. You read it here first.

I've written a review of LCD Soundsystem's latest album 'American Dream', which may or may not be available on compact disc, for Electronic Sound. Here's the single 'tonite' you've probably already heard but probably should hear again.

Sep 6, 2017

The baron's back: Dave Clarke to return with The Desecration of Desire


John Peel called Dave Clarke the "baron of techno". Which probably makes me the jester of journalism. The butler of blogging. The scullery servant of scribbling about electronic music.

I first happened across Clarke with his Red recordings from the 1990s. His debut album 'Archive One' came in a red cardboard case with a perforated strip. I still remember tearing that strip. I do the same on washing detergent boxes, but the powder inside doesn't sound as good as techno.

Dave Clarke is back with his first full-length album since 2003. 'The Desecration of Desire' will be out next month on Skint Records. Yes, THAT Skint Records. The lead single 'Charcoal Eyes (Glass Tears)' a fairly functional stomp with a nice elastic bassline - listen below. There's a Terrance Fixmer remix that pumps up that bassline with some kind of industrial Viagra - worth desecrating your ears on that too.





Sep 1, 2017

Zombie'ites! Going underground with Transglobal and Banco De Gaia


I'm off to see Transglobal Underground at Band on the Wall tonight. Their 1993 album 'Dream Of 100 Nations' has always been a favourite: full of forthright pan-Afrasian techno, and a great introduction into the world of Nation Records, Natasha Atlas, Loop Guru and Dreadzone. Fusion techno that's as agitated as it is celebratory.

Below, I've plopped down some YouTube embeds for you to listen to, all taken from that album.

Banco De Gaia is DJing too: his 'Last Train To Lhasa' album is a modern ambient masterpiece that, thanks to dreamy samples, changed the way I heard choo-choo trains forever. The same way The Orb made fluffy clouds magical for evermore.

Put aside your chores - grouting the cat can wait. Listen to Banco De Gaia's Kincajou below.

So much of my blogging seems to look back to the 1990s, and this post is no different: but I'm proper looking forward to seeing this lot right now in 2017. The world needs their trippy madness more than ever before.








Aug 27, 2017

Fats at the Lowry: my last day at the Edinburgh Fringe

I probably should tie off these Edinburgh Fringe witterings with a nice big bow.

On the last day attending shows at the Fringe, I saw Sofie Hagen. She was really good, with plenty of warnings about the power of men in family units. I then popped off to see 'Parsley', which was by Michael Brunström and it was all about parsley. He even had someone making parsley sauce.

I decided to end my Fringe experience with Transit, a big ole circus performance with lots of people jumping about. You'd think I'd find no inspiration for my own show here, but even that had structure and audience interaction and oodles of light and shade. After 20 shows in three days (technically three days and four hours), I became an expert in picking apart the building blocks of the stuff I was seeing.

Performance elements I liked throughout my time in Edinburgh:

> Unpredictability. Brian Gittins's volatility on a double decker bus as he allowed the audience to almost ruin the show is something that will stay with me for a long time.

> Failure. It was okay if things went wrong. Some phone responses during Siri seemed to misfire, and the balloon-throwing finale at Tape Face missed a beat because the 'victim' didn't follow his instructions. Indeed, the circus performers made mistakes. Doesn't matter. The ideas still worked.

> Generosity. From John Luke Roberts' ramshackle props to Joe Morpurgo's frenzied hijacking of his audience, my favourite moments were when the performer seemed to give abundantly to the audience. The ideas and jokes came quickly.

And things that turned me off:

> Just watching. I was less keen on performances that seemed a static, in which we were only onlookers. It wasn't so bad, though, if there were interesting things to look at - or if the performer(s) was a powerhouse.

> Laziness. By this, I mean, ideas that weren't explored enough. Bolting a theme onto already-written routines, or ideas that didn't go far enough. Wasted opportunities. Not that there was much of this - overall, I'm very happy with the shows I chose to attend this year.

I've been back from Edinburgh for a couple of days. I've been in a bit of a comedown funk, which is probably natural. I've had the Will Smith single 'Wild Wild West' going around my head. Which, as I commented on a friend's Facebook feed, is a tragedy. This is the curse of Will Smith. Despite 'Men In Black', 'Summertime', 'Miami', 'Boom Shake The Room', Gettin' Jiggy Wit It' AND the Fresh Prince theme, his weakest hit 'Wild Wild West' will always be the one that sticks.

Poor guy.

This is the kind of thing I dwell on when I'm on a Fringe comedown.

This Edinburgh Fringe trip was an attempt to gain inspiration for my new show for The Lowry, which will premiere in May. Read more about all that here.

Aug 24, 2017

Fats at the Lowry: meeting a dog at the Edinburgh Fringe


I came to the Edinburgh Fringe to chug Windowlene and get inspired. And I'm fresh out of Windowlene.

Today got me fired up about my own show. I saw seven things and they were all great. Well. Sort of. Anyhoo, it led me to a conclusion about my planning process, which I shall share at the end of this blog post.

I caught a bunch of stand-up comedians. Tony Law was in typical free-wheeling mode with added shadow puppetry... which was also free-wheeling. With this being Tony, the puppetry didn't really need to lead anywhere. It was just fun to watch.

Speaking of not particularly leading anywhere, Simon Munnery's on form this year. 'Renegade Plumber' made me want to central heat my tent. I even got to meet his dog (pictured). Like me, Munnery has props, and he isn't afraid to furrow a particular niche thought, such as his long technical explanation about inventing a new water heater.

I caught Richard Gadd's show during which he runs. A lot. On a running machine. This was a frenetic, dizzying work with a solid emotional payoff. He got a standing ovation. The audio track must have been huge fun to work on - and hugely time consuming. I don't think I'll run in my own show. I'll be doing well if I even stay standing upright.

I've seen some amazing comedy this year, but Brian Gittins had me laughing the most. His show was on the BlundaBus, brought to the Fringe by quickly-expanding newcomer promoter Heroes. Brian was, in short, terrifying. Okay, we were packed in on the top floor of a double-decker bus, but this truly was close-up comedy. Volatile, awkward, and superbly silly.

If Brian Gittins isn't winning the big comedy awards, the system's knacked.

And now non-comedy stuff. I saw a show about Siri. I've never used Siri. Did everyone's phones become sentient? Not quite. Siri, a one-woman and one-digital assistant show, was a compelling tech nightmare that felt very real. Too real. She had two projection screens - one translucent, leading to a deeply sinister big-face moment.

I saw a mind-reading show, which was great fun, but I could have explained everything that happened in the room. Especially as I saw the mind-reader asking the audience questions before the show. "Your name's Sally Smith and you were born on 31st October." The audience goes "wooo". Yeah. He, in disguise, asked her. She was next to me in the queue. Pah.

Luke Wrights Frankie Vah was an accomplishment. Effectively, it's a one-hour poem disguised as theatre. The narrative was bound in 1980s left wing politics, with all the frustration, fire and fury that entailed. At one point he acted out someone performing at their first open mic night - whimpers of recognition from me.

What else? Puppetry, plumbing, running, bus, big-face, fakery and fire. I think that's it. Enough for one day.

I've had numerous thoughts about my own show today. I need to work harder. I need to be better. I need to match my game with all the amazing people I've seen. But most of all, I'm left with one over-riding thought:

There are no rules. I've seen naked Chaucer, a fake Q&A, a tape-faced man, a treadmill tragedy and I've thrown raisins into Brian Gittins' face. There are simply no rules. Just do what works for you.

I'd imagine that's Simon Munnery's dog's mantra for life too.

I've more Fringe to go, but I'm taking it easier today. I may catch one show. Maybe three. To be honest, I'm now desperate to return home and do show writing. Stay tuned.

(This blog post is dedicated to Domino, the wonderful woof-dog who is my boarding companion during my stay in Edinburgh. Hello, Domino, if you're reading.)

Aug 23, 2017

Fats at the Lowry: Morpurgo's done it again


I'm farting about at the Edinburgh Fringe, but it's not entirely for pleasure. I'm on the look out for inspiration, information and even the occasional omen for my next show. These blog posts are acting as a virtual think board as I traipse around Scotland's streets.

I started today with some proper theatre: 'Action At A Distance' was a play about a data analyst and a plumber betting on terrible things. They took drone strikes, cancer and financial desperation - all the fun things (!) - and filled the hour with humanity and levity.

Despite the horrific subject matter, the harshest brutality was in the acidic mother / daughter relationship: a volley of verbal drone strikes. It reminded me that human stories resonate most strongly, especially in a domestic environment - home is where the hurt is. Oh and they drew on the floor, which gave me ideas.

I then saw a standup show and an improv show. Both shall remain nameless because this is not a review and being negative isn't the point.

The standup show had a clever gimmick which made me buy the ticket: in reality, it was a straight-down-the-line observational comedy set with the gimmick tacked on. If only it had been braver.

I've not seen much improv, but the improv show left me a little annoyed. When I've seen Paul Merton do improv, he grabs a lot of ideas from the audience. We're given the sense of driving what happens on stage. With today's show, they did this once at the start: we chose a word that had little consequence to the actions on stage. And then they acted for an hour. Was the whole thing improvised or was it just a badly written play? With no further input from us, it was hard to feel invested.

Lesson: involve the audience.

'Dust' was great. It's a play by Milly Thomas in which a woman observes the aftermath of her own suicide. The stage set was entirely colourless, a brutal purgatory allowing space for metaphorical and literal self-examination. The sound design was immense, with crackles and rumbles of doom providing contrast to melodic moments of emotion later on. Make a note in your audio-ideas book, Fats,

I'm running out of time. What else did I see today? Oh yes - Beach Hunks, a sketch group with the sort of chemistry that makes you want to be their mate. Also, I am their mate, so I'm biased, but 'Hog Wild' is a great show.

Tape Face! I finally saw Tape Face. This was my first BIG show of the Fringe: clearly with a budget much bigger than mine. He was astonishing: sweet, silly, surprising and with a truly spiriting finale. It reminded me that it's worth studying the old arts: clowning, mime, the jesters. And get a team around you that can absolutely nail the audio and visual cues.

Last and by all means most, I saw Joseph Morpurgo's 'Hammerhead'. I don't want to say too much, and it's best to go into the show without knowing what to expect. His 2015 show 'Soothing Sounds For Baby' remains the best thing I have seen at the Edinburgh Fringe: it became an inspirational template for the show I am writing now. When I plan through what I want to do with my show, I think of 'Soothing Sounds For Baby'.

His new show 'Hammerhead' is a staggering triumph, and if you were unlucky enough to miss 'Baby', then let THIS show be your best-thing and your template and your whatnot. My main take-away from Joe Morpurgo? There are no rules. There simply are no rules. Just do what you love.

Now that Morpurgo's nailed it again, I might as well go home. But I can't. I've more things to see today. Stay tuned.

Aug 22, 2017

Fats at the Lowry: Off to the Edinburgh Fringe


I'm at the Edinburgh Fringe pouring culture down my face. I've decided to be poncy and give some kind of artistic reflection as I attend gubbins at this year's Fringe. Not reviews. Just (half) thoughts made of the mouldier bits of my brain.

I'm hoping to return from the Fringe with a vague mulch of inspiration for my #DevelopedWith commission for the Lowry. That means exiting shows and taking immediately to Twitter. What you're about to read over the next few days are those tweets mangled blog posts.

My first stop was John Luke Roberts's Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair! (All in Caps). Like many others, I returned to see Roberts following his previous show about a balloon-man monster. Yeah, I said it. A balloon-man monster.

This was one-man show with costumes and, er, non-costumes, and so well written. His Chaucer piece is perfection, every wayward syllable a joy as he acts out a kind of amphetamined Officer Crabtree. He's got super silly props (beard scroll) and very natural audience interaction: we easily come onside with him.

Boy, that lad can write. Not afraid of a corny punchline either: his confidence carries it. Lovely sense of the macabre too.

Next up was Graham Dixon Is The Narcissist, an exploration of a fictional Russian writer told through layers of personalities. It was silly but oddly heavy, which I put down not to the "Russian gulag" overtones of the subject matter but to the more theatrical set-up: raked seating, stark layout (a single chair) and unforgiving lighting. I wonder how that would feel in, say, The Stand.

Not a band thing but take out, say, half a dozen punchlines and it could be hard work. Thankfully, Dixon had some lovely monologues peppered with Pythonesque surreality, and a neat way of hurling an exercise book across the stage.

Turning my thoughts to my own show - which is what this Edinburgh trip is all about - the simplicity of his set confirmed in my mind that I'd want my show to have a lot to look at. Plenty of treats for the eyes. Throwaway visual gags everywhere.

Speaking of throwaway visual gags, I saw Sam Simmons too. Always a favourite. Far fewer props this time but plenty of delightful non-sequiturs. His badminton piece with an audience member is as good as anything he's done before. (No spoilers here, but it's so sharp and very Sam.)

Both him and Dixon played with voiceover: the extra voice as antagonist in Dixon's case or as reinforcement in Simmons' case as he takes against the audience. I liked that muchly, and is a device that is particularly useful for my show.

More to come - click here for my other Lowry prep tweeting.

Aug 19, 2017

Konx-om-Pax's new confection has me sulking about sweets


I knew this world was going to pot when I realised there were two kinds of Refreshers: the sugary discs in pastel colours and the chewy bars that take your teeth out.

You can't have two sweets with the same name. We don't have a Mars Bar that's made of sickly goo and a Mars Bar made from liquorice razor blades. There's only one type of Mars Bar, albeit in different shades. And there should only be one type of Refresher.

Not that I'm totally going to hold that against Konx-om-Pax, whose new EP Refresher is a welcome follow-up to last year's Caramel. The confectionery-consumed knob twiddler leads the EP with the cheery Cascada. Love that ploddy bass drum. Listen below.

Aug 12, 2017

Fats at the Lowry: Turning my brain clutter into spiders or something


Large pieces of paper. Back of a door. One big fat marker pen.

I've been doing spider diagrams or thought charts or brain bursts or whatever you call them. This particular mind splurge is about an imaginary record shop. And not a good one either, hence the dangerous trip hazard and tired merchandise.

This part of my planning for my 2018 show. There are other idea-splats like this, although all the words are less exciting. The central oval's not as good either. This 'record shop' one is definitely my favourite.

It's quite nice to get thoughts out like this because if I empty my brain, it doesn't rattle when I walk down the street. No-one wants a clatter-headed Fat Roland careening along a pavement, all the thoughts spilling out onto passers-by.

I'm taking a few days out to focus on show writing. Turn those thinky-maps into something more useful. Watch this back-of-a-door-sized space.

Aug 8, 2017

Listen to Bicep's Glue - it'll stick with you

I've been scribbling a bunch of reviews for Electronic Sound today, which means I've been pouring music down my ears even more than usual.

One earworm has stayed with me: Bicep's Glue. This track from their debut album Bicep is worth a listen if you like Moderat and Four Tet. It does the sad-but-happy thing really well.

I also realise I've just missed a metaphor about glue and memorable tracks sticking to you. Dammit. This happens when I write a bunch of reviews to deadline: my ability to write creatively goes completely hatstand banana.

Below Glue, listen to fellow album track Aura.



Aug 5, 2017

Brian Eno: music for infuriated garden tool instruments


Brian Eno's early solo work has been reissued on fancy vinyl. That's new 45rpm remasters of Another Green World, Here Come The Warm Jets, Before And After Science and Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). I call them Anothaftermountjets for short.

These albums came out shortly after I was born, and although I've heard dribbles of them over the years, it's been interesting to dive into them properly for the first time. Listening to the whole lot, in order. It's definitely the sound of Eno transitioning from Roxy Music into something much wibbly woo. That's a technical music term, by the way.

Also, Another Green World is an anagram of 'angered trowel horn'.

It's a strange feeling to step into Bowie-era Eno. When everyone had hair like the standup comedian Paul Foot.

You can read my review of the reissues in Electronic Sound magazine. If you end up subscribing to the magazine because of this, tweet them at @ElectronicMagUK with the hashtag #angeredtrowelhorn.

Aug 1, 2017

Ten things that make life 3% better

In an effort to stop and smell the proverbial roses once in a while, here are ten things I have appreciated recently.

> The start of a new month - even just a week - and the potential that hovers impossibly in the air;

> Friendly and slightly drunk crowds appreciating my panda stories at Kendal Calling;

> Eric Morecambe pretending that the person behind has just goosed him, time after time;

> The sheen on Selected Ambient Works 85-92 that sticks to your brain long after the music has gone;

> Seeing Paul Foot on the back of a truck, realising he was arriving for a gig, going to see the gig, Paul Foot being brilliant;

> The hundreds of extra blog hits from Ukraine the other day, even though it was probably just a bot... hi, Ukraine!;

> Redrawing some of my performance stuff; including secret pockets to make on-stage handling easier;

> The spiky eccentricity of Die Antwoord: I want to be them but also definitely never want to be them, all at the same time;

> Staying off Facebook because it's a time and mood drain;

> Long conversations with friends. Wait. I can't end on this, it's too soppy. Er... The gas station scene in It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. That'll do.

Jul 29, 2017

I've finally broken my new year's resolution

I was doing so well at blogging every other day in 2017 - my only new year's resolution - and now it's all gone aubergine-shaped. I seem now to be blogging only once every three days.

This is, of course, a disaster because - as we all know - blogging is still the number one communication platform. We all get up in the morning, grab our phones, and scroll through all the Blogpost blogs. Don't we? Hello? *taps mic* Hello?

I'm really enjoying blogging regularly again. It's helped add rhythm to my life since I quite the full-time job last year. And that rhythm is the sound of clattering plastic keys, the staccato giggles to myself as I think of funny words, and the bass-heavy sobs when I realise few people blogs anymore. Apart from Richard Herring fans.

Thanks for reading this, by the way.

On the plus side, I've just realised that when I get chores done, I do a little "pyow pyow" laser noise to myself as if I'm zapping my to-do list. Washes plate. Pyow pyow, Hoovers hallway. Pyow pyow. Pops zit. Pyow pyow.

It's nice having simple goals.

Jul 26, 2017

I've got a song in my head


I've got a song in my head. It's from the 80's. It sounds a bit like this:

"Doo de doo de dooo biii doooo, doo de doo de dooo biii doooo."

It's a proper 80s synth sound, but it's not the chorus, it's the bit inbetween things. Doo de doo. Like that.

And there's a bloke in rolled up jacket sleeves who looks at the camera, and there's some lighting and video FX and smoke. Oh and he's got a perm.

Although that might be from an entirely different video.

"Doo de doo de dooo biii doooo."

Also there's someone singing. I can hear the voice in my head but not the tune or the tone. It's a man or a woman or an alien or a horse or something.

Anyway, that's the song in my head. Good, isn't it?

Jul 23, 2017

Spotiphex: Aphex Twin goes all streamy on us


Aphex Twin just sneezed and splattered the internet with loads of new tunes.

That's literally what he does. He tickles his nose with a feather or looks at a lightbulb for too long, then he sneezes, and all the music comes out. He's like one of those flu adverts where all the nose drops are analogue frequencies.

I know the Twinlord has dumped tracks all over the internet before, but this seems particularly special. He now has a dedicated Aphex Twin streaming site.

Among the 30-or-so existing albums and singles on his brand new microsite, there's Korg sessions, new AFX tracks and never-before-heard bonus tracks from Windowlicker, Come To Daddy, Hangable Auto Bulb, Polygon Window and oh my, I'm fainting. Even The Tuss is on there. And there's more to come from his Rephlex archive.

It's a Warp Records site through a Stranger Things filter via a ZX Spectrum. Have a stream - and a download - right here.

Jul 21, 2017

Listen to Orbital's new single Copenhagen


The Orbital brothers have released a new single. Originally called 'Cooping Lisa' by someone who probably got the name wrong, 'Copenhagen' is a free download on Soundcloud.

The track sounds very Orbital, dontcha think? Vocals are by folk singer Lisa Knapp. Have a listen below. They played this at their recent BlueDot Festival appearance (thanks Aimée for jogging my memory). I've included their set-list below the Soundcloud embed, in small writing so you can ignore it if you want to be surprised when you see them live.

'Copenhagen' is the latest in a geographically-named series of tracks. Others include 'Belfast', 'New France' and, er, 'Planet of the Shapes' which apparently is just outside Chelmsford.

A little bird tells me Orbital are working on a new album, which should be ready in 2018. By "little bird" I mean "an interview with Orbital which was recorded after their soundcheck at the BlueDot festival then uploaded online which I then watched using the internet".



That BlueDot track list in full (I think): Lush > Impact > Copenhagen > Wonky > Forever > The Girl With The Sun In Her Head > Satan > Halcyon On And On > Belfast > Doctor?* > The Box > Chime > Where Is It Going?
*with The Radiophonic Workshop

Further Fats: Gorgeous Pauls (2010)

Further Fats: Orbital get a keyboard fixed (2017)

Jul 20, 2017

No-one wants songs about the moon these days

 

Today's the billionth anniversary of humankind setting foot on the moon.

Do we have colonies on the moon now? Are we whizzing around its craters in bubblecars? Can we speak into our wrists to order cocktails from little green alien butlers?

No. Total waste of time.

Here are all the UK number one singles with "moon" in the title. They're in order of success (number of weeks at number one then number of weeks in the chart) because I am too stubborn to throw off the notion that chart trivia stripped of its context is a useful thing.

I can only assume from this list that since the turn of the millennium, no-one wants songs about the moon.

Connie Francis - Carolina Moon. Number one in 1958. I don't know this one and because the title reminds me of 'Oh Carolina', I can only imagine her sounding like Shaggy.

Stargazers - I See The Moon. Number one in 1954. Is 1954 even a year?! The moon wasn't even invented then.

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bad Moon Rising. Number one in 1969. "Hope you are quite prepared to die." Thanks for that, Clarence or whatever your name was.

Showaddywaddy - Under The Moon Of Love. Number one in 1976. Reality TV stars before there was reality TV, with a band name to match.

Danny Williams - Moon River. Number one in 1961 / 62. You spelled 'rover' wrong, Danny, jeez.

Marcels - Blue Moon. Number one in 1961. Their in-your-face rendition of a staid classic probably rustled a few starched feathers. Apparently the song has been adopted as an anthem by some small-time Northern football team. Can't remember the city.

Leann Rimes - Can't Find The Moonlight. Number one in 2000. Clouds, Leann. It's probably clouds.

The Police - Walking On The Moon. Number one in 1979. Most notable for Sting's poetic development of the moon landing communications: "Giant steps are what you take... I hope my legs don't break."

Jul 18, 2017

Fats at the Lowry: a Curious trip to the North East



I recently performed to a marvellous Mother's Ruin crowd at the Curious Festival in Stockton-on-Tees. It went so well I actually punched the air after I walked off stage. This is very unlike me.

Sorry, the air. You didn't deserve to be punched.

When I say "well", I don't mean that the audience was throwing garlands. Going "well" is more about me hitting my intended 'marks' throughout the performance: script, tone, pacing. Making it look loose and uncontrolled, and yet ticking mental boxes throughout. Performing things that make me laugh, performing them properly - and hoping that the audience will come along with me.

I also sneaked in possible ideas for my Lowry show, which I have previously waffled on about on this site. My gigs have become more music-filled than before, giving me more freedom to lark about doing nonsense. This change in style is a huge signpost towards what I want to achieve for my 2018 show.

Partly because I want to be transparent, and partly for my own recollection, here is my set list from that 20-minute performance. If you weren't there, this is going to make little sense. Enjoy!

1. Intro music, massive eye dance, destruction of radio
2. Annoying voice-over, mentioning "elephurbs"
3. Musical cartoons: lad with his head in a box.
4. Fat Roland's daring feat: counting up from one
5. Deeply inspirational ornithological moment
6. Alan the Buffalo
7. Musical cartoons: strangers in the night, afraid, very sexy rose
8. Jumanji elephants
9. Massive Whitney moment to rapturous applause and possibly fear
End

PS: The gig was excellent: great performers, brilliant hosting, supportive venue. After the gig, we went to a pub. I realise Stockton is only *just* out of North Yorkshire, but this was the first time I had ever been to a pub in the North East of England. There was a guitarist in the pub. What was he playing? Crocodile Shoes. Of course.

Jul 16, 2017

Listen to Prayer's new Seeing EP and be converted too


My nostalgia bone is tingling. Sorry about that. I'll put it away.

There's something brilliantly retro about the new Seeing EP from Prayer, just out on Black Acre Records. With Alone, I'm thrown back to 4am chill-out rooms listening to Unkle or Moby or Genaside II. That heavenly break-down at the three minute mark. Tingles.

And what about those breakbeat vibes on the EP's title track Seeing? We've had plenty of 1990's comebacks, but no-one's quite nailed the post-club thing like this.

Calling this 'retro' is a bit reductive: explore Prayer and you'll hear proper modern bass music beefed up by a filmic sensibility. Listen to the trappy hi-hats and techno snares on Decline, for example. Prayer - who started 2017 with the epic Lost EP - is retro, modern, full of dark and light. I'm a convert.



Jul 14, 2017

Let Adam Curtis control your music taste


I'm catching up on the excellent Adam Buxton podcast, and I really enjoyed the episode with documentary mind-crusher and possible Illuminati-in-chief Adam Curtis.

Particularly when he was raving about Burial and his track Come Down To Us.

"He takes what is essentially industrial noise and songs," says Curtis, who is probably also the shopkeeper in Needful Things, "and fuses them together to create something which is epic and romantic."

"It's so emotional... it's just wonderful," wibbles Adam Curtis, who is definitely the love child of Sauron and the Child Catcher.

Adam and Adam both have a knack of making creativity intelligent, fun and sometimes truly profound. Nice work. Take it away, Burial.

Jul 12, 2017

Enjoy Aphex Twin's new track Korg Funk 5 - and the technology behind it


Here's the Korg Monologue in action, a nifty little music-making machine with a very specific boast: it contains presets made by Aphex Twin.

The synth also contains a pretty innovative microtuning function, which the Aphexed one had a hand in. This shifts the frequencies of the notes from their standard tones to make a more textured sound. The change isn't huge - just enough for you to think that something's pleasingly "off".

For example: we all know that the lit green person on a pelican crossing means "cross the road". It's a standard we all recognise. But what the green person was wearing a fedora? Or a cape? Or one big shoe? You'd still cross the road, but perhaps with a little frisson in your step.

Aphex Twin has given the Korg Monologue one big shoe. The results sound great.

Click here to read a geeky music technology interview between Aphex Twin and the guy he worked on the Monologue with, Tatsuya Takahashi, whose home is pictured above. Takahashi designed loads for Korg as an engineer.

And below, listen to a brand new track called Korg Funk 5 created by Aphex Twin on three Monologues and a whole bunch of other Korg gear.

Jul 10, 2017

'Scoping out the 2017 BlueDot festival


I went to BlueDot Festival. I missed loads because I was working, but here are some highlights...

Looking up to see the radio telescope everywhere I went. Monitoring. Watching. Judging.

Talking about key signatures with the Radiophonic Workshop.

Going to a brill science demo about the brain which was probably meant for kids but OMG BRAINZ!

Trying to escape the radio telescope, but no, it's still there. Always there.

Watching a robot turtle and frog having a stand-off in the woods.

Tumbling back to the 90s with a particularly retro Orbital set.

Wowing at Shobaleader One and the speed-bassing and flashy lights. Noodly but hugely entertaining.

Giving in to the radio telescope. It's the only way.

Making a zillion new friends. This was the friendliest festival I've been to. So many impromptu conversations.

Finding myself at the front of a Hawkwind gig surrounded by fans that have followed them since 1827.

Meeting the tremendously talented Hannah Peel from The Magnetic North... and the brass band she performed with. Parp.

Praising the radio telescope. All hail the radio telescope.

Hugging a big blue humming ball.

Witnessing the Radiophonic Workshop join Orbital, complete with headlamps, for a mega rendition of the Doctor Who theme tune.

What's that, radio telescope? I should press 'publish'? As you wish, radio telescope. All praise and glory to the ra--

Jul 7, 2017

Oramics in the mix


I'm still on the go, so no time to blog. At all. I've not even got time to write this sentence. See? Told you so.

Have some Oramics. This is the method that Daphne Oram developed of turning drawings into sound. It's giving me ideas...

The blokey in this video makes a really good point about constraints. Working with designated limits is a good idea with most creative projects, whether it be music making, story writing or building a Nutella sculpture of DJ Khaled.

Jul 5, 2017

For extra points, listen to Wilmslow Road on Wilmslow Road


Things are a bit hectic this week, so pouring words down this blog drain may be more difficult than usual.

In lieu of quality written content, enjoy this old track by Lionrock.

I'm posting this because I mentioned Justin Robertson's Lionrock to someone the other day and they had never heard of him. We were stood a stone's throw from Wilmslow Road, Manchester. As in the Wilmslow Road featured in the Lionrock track Wilmslow Road.

Tssch. Sometimes I doubt people's commitment to geographically-themed records.

So here is Wilmslow Road, from Lionrock's debut album An Instinct For Detection (1996).

Jul 3, 2017

Fats at the Lowry: checking out their bunkers


I recently enjoyed a tour of the Lowry theatre - stage spaces, back offices, helicopter pads, secret bunkers, biscuit drawers, shark pits, the whole works. I was there to chat about my 2018 Lowry show and how the heck I'm going to create it.

This was my first meeting for my Developed With commission. The result of my partnership with the Lowry will be a Fat Roland show held over two nights at Week 53 festival in spring next year.

I can't tell you much about the show yet because I haven't written it. Writing will be my focus over the next few months. I've bought an infinite number of monkeys, an infinite number of typewriters and an infinite amount of Buckfast. It's going to be great.

At this stage it's also about poking themes with a stick and seeing if they squeak. And since those themes will be, on the surface, about music and seven-inch records, I'll track my progress on this site.

Alongside this show, I'm facing questions about how I best splatter my creative stupidity into people's faces. Do I use a trowel? Do I use a slingshot? Do I just throw things into a fan and hope? This is apparently called "artistic development".

Just how DOES a total panda-drawing idiot develop artistically? Inbetween my endless posting about the latest techno tracks, maybe we'll find out as I track my progress in the lead up to Lowry 2018.

Jul 1, 2017

Five great tracks from the Artificial Intelligence album


Hacienda-era ravers eventually had to take it easy - and that happened in 1992.

Warp Records' Artificial Intelligence was a series of post-rave albums designed for "long journeys, quiet nights and club drowsy dawns". The series began in 1992 and furthered the nascent work of Plaid, The Orb, Aphex Twin, The Black Dog and Richie Hawtin.

Perhaps most significantly. its seventh release was Incunabula, the debut album by Autechre.

The first Artificial Intelligence album, cleverly called Artificial Intelligence (released in the US the following year on Wax Trax!), is one of most influential compilation albums in any genre. Here are my five favourite tracks in no particular order. Enjoy.

Musicology - Telefone 529

Otherwise known as the massively important IDM duo B12. They later scooped up a whole bunch of their limited coloured-vinyl 12-inches for the Electro-Soma Artificial Intelligence album.



Autechre - Crystel

One of the Rochdale band's earliest tracks.



The Dice Man - Polygon Window

No doubt named after the Luke Rhinehart book, The Dice Man would later become Polygon Window, which is the name of this track. Confused? Polygon Window would release Surfing On Sine Waves as part of the Artificial Intelligence series. What became of this particular artist, I have no idea.



UP! - Spiritual High

An early appearance by Richie Hawtin, aka Plastikman - someone who would go on to conquer the DJing world. A touch of Detroit via Canada.



Dr. Alex Paterson - Loving You Live

The Orb kingpin was already top of the ambient world and didn't really need the Artificial Intelligence exposure. Indeed, this live version of Loving You was just a segment of A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld, its original Millie Riperton sample long since exorcised. Still... flipping great track, right?

Jun 29, 2017

Listen to Shinichi Atobe's magical Regret


Here’s a track that doesn’t really do much, but ends up doing something a lot more. A kind of techno alchemy. It’s Regret by Shinichi Atobe.

This is from a recent album called From The Heart, It's A Start, A Work Of Art, which comes from further plundering of Atobe’s lost archive. Much of the album is from an acetate cut in Berlin 17 years ago – only five copies were made until now.

Until a few years ago, he had released one solitary 12-inch (Ship-Scope EP) before vanishing without a trace. Over a decade later, the Demdike Stare label tracked down the elusive producer and discovered a stack of unreleased tunes. A recent album almost made my top albums of the year list.

If the YouTube rip below disappears, have a listen here to Shinichi Atobe’s album on Boomkat.

Jun 27, 2017

Everyone loves a geeky A-Z list, right?

Down the side of this blog, you will see a long list of band names. This is an alphabetical list of every artist featured on this website.

I’m not really a completist. I’m too easily distrac--

Wait, let me just write a tweet.

Where was I? Oh yes. For a while, I tried to snaffle every bit of Warp Records vinyl I could find. And for some reason, I became obsessed with gathering every possible version of Adamski’s Killer. Although I drew the line at George Michael’s Killer, all imbued with an arena-sized strut.

That long list down the side of this site LOOKS thorough. But this site has never attempted to be comprehensive - or even in any way coherent. With only one or two entries on most links, it has no depth at all. It’s shallow. Surface-thin.

If you're reading this on a desktop, the big long list (currently called 'FOR COMPLETISTS') is down that there column at the other side of this page - you'll have to scroll down a bit. If you're reading this on a mobile phone, goodness knows how you find it. Still, have a browse. You may find somethi--

Ooo, someone's tweeted back!

Jun 25, 2017

Underworld's smashing video for Push Upstairs


Let's take a moment to appreciate the woozy monotones of the video to Underworld's 1999 top twenty single Push Upstairs.

The video and its disorienting effects, the result of a glitch in the equipment, were produced by Underworld's design arm Tomato. They shot it in the incessant rain of the Blue Mountains outside Sydney.

Below Push Upstairs itself, watch a much overlooked making-of video, which features the stuntman chap jumping through glass in real time. It took three takes.

In March 1999, the band was featured on Top Of The Pops alongside Whitney Houston and B*Witched. As far as I recall, no windows were jumped through.



Jun 23, 2017

1997: what the flip was going on?


Someone tweeted about 1997 being an incredible year for music. Can't remember who. (Cool story, Fats.)

And yeah, there was Daft Punk and Propellerheads and Prodigy and Chemical Brothers and Roni Size. You were right, tweety person, you were right. 1997 was a great year for music.

It's good to measure these things so let's get specific. I decided to look at the singles chart exactly 20 years ago. 23rd June 1997. Let's wallow in a memorable year of fantastic tunes, shall we?

1. Puff Daddy's mawkish I'll Be Missing You was number one. Okay. Not so great. But all the good songs get to number two, right?

2. Bitter Sweet Symphony. And there's the good number two. Never did make it to the top of the charts. THANKS, Puff.

3. Mmm Bop by Hanson.  Three flesh muppets talking nonsense. Oh dear.

4. Ocean Colour Scene? Bog off. I'd drain the oceans and watch all aqua life writhe and die before listening to this shambles again.

I'm not convinced this is really working. Let's speed things up. Time to skip some numbers and get to the real meat of this burger of musical joy.

9. Guiding Star by Cast. Possibly the most annoying band of the 90s, and the band I have heckled the loudest. Make them stop.

11. Celine Dion? Crumbs. I'd forgotten about the boat-mouthed siren that was Celine. Ouch.

18. Savage Garden?! Worst S-band name ever. Apart from Shed Seven. And Salad.

22. The Friends theme tune that was in the charts forever. I'd rather have the clap clap clap clap.

This is terrible. This week in 1997 was a travesty. Jon Bon Jovi, Sarah Brightman, Brand New Heavies, Wet Wet Wet. All this chart proves is that 1997 was a verruca on the foot of the 1990s - and even then it's not a foot, it's just some weeping stump on the diseased leg of the 20th century.

No wait. I've found something.

87. The Saint by Orbital. Not their most remembered track, but with 11 weeks in the chart and a high point of number 3, it remains their best charting single. Kept off the top spot in April 1997 by I Believe I Can Fly and Song 2.

Yay! Told you 1997 was good.

Yeesh.

Jun 21, 2017

Bag it up: the #mcrwithlove compilation is out now


Manchester With Love is a 226-track compilation of Manchester music to raise funds following the Manchester attack.

The album is a tenner and you can get it from Bandcamp and Boomkat. That's less than 5 pence per track - less than you'd pay for a carrier bag.

If you think each track is worth more than a carrier bag, say a bag-for-life with flowers on, or one of those hessian totes that look really scratchy, you have the option to pay more.

It's worth it - all funds go to the 'I Love Manchester' fund by the Red Cross.

Here are some names on the album: 808 State, A Certain Ratio, The Buzzcocks, Caro C, Denis Jones, Fingathing, From The Kites Of San Quentin, Honeyfeet, Illum Sphere, Matthew Whitaker, Mind On Fire, Nabb Gang, Neko Neko, Swing Ting, The Whip.

That's 14 carrier bags right there. That's a proper big shop. Have a listen to some highlights here - and give money too.







Jun 19, 2017

Brian Cant's guest appearance with techno legends Orbital


I'm sure many older readers of those blog will be saddened by the death of Brian Cant. His presence on children's television was once as ubiquitous as Roland Rat, Mr Tumble and that weird vacuum cleaner thing in the Teletubbies.

What you might not know is that Cant once appeared in an Orbital video. In the promo for the 2001 track Waving Not Drowning, he directs a disastrous version of his own Play School programme.

This was not Orbital's best period, and the DVD containing the cut - The Altogether - felt more like a series of curious offcuts than a full package. Hence the second clip below with Cant skitting like a silly sausage, which I seem to remember being a hidden extra.

It's nice to know everyone's favourite children's telly star had a connection to the techno legends. After all, it's kid's TV references that helped kickstart the careers of the Prodigy (Charly) and Mark Pritchard (Roobarb and Custard).







Jun 17, 2017

'Tis the (Off) Season for Joy Orbison


Joy Orbison's Off Season takes me back to sweaty jungle clubs, the bass shuddering the walls, the air thick with smoke, everyone with an octopus hanging from their pocket.

What? The clubs you went to didn't have free octopuses for every attendee? No, YOU'RE weird.

Along with the disturbingly-titled Toss Portal, Joy Orbison is spending 2017 releasing his first solo material for some years. Below, listen to his recent cut Off Season. Feel the tension, the paranoia. It's a proper roller, this one.

I suppose if I think about it, it WAS a bit odd. You'd have to nip to the toilets every hour to sluice them with water. Made your pocket all wet.

If anything, this website is all about creating conversation based around universal experiences. Do leave a comment if you miss the days when bouncers wouldn't turn you away from discotheques if you had aquatic creatures dripping out of your trench coat.



Further Fats: Fat Roland goes to Crosby beach (2014)

Jun 15, 2017

Top 10 bestest Orbital tracks


You know about comfort eating, right? The baggy jumpers of the food world? Ice cream, pasta, pizza, nettles, that kind of thing?

This is like that, but with my favourite Orbital studio tracks. Here is a very imperfect top ten Orbital tracks.

I've generally stuck to main album content, so no Naked And The Dead, US remixes or soundtrack stuff. And you'll notice I've missed off Chime, Halcyon and Impact because they're probably best saved for a 'best live tracks' post. That said, the final track in this listing is a roof-raiser.

I also tried to lay off 1993's brown album - mostly - because if I was really following my heart, that would be the entire top ten.

This is in alphabetical order because this is like choosing my favourite child, and I don't want to tell little Timmy that he's the one sleeping in the coal shed tonight.

Here goes...

Belfast (1991)



The Box (1996)



Funny Break (One Is Enough) (2001)



The Girl With The Sun In Her Head (1996)



I Wish I Had Duck Feet (1994)



New France (2012)



One Perfect Sunrise (2004)



Remind (1993)



Style (1999)



Where Is It Going? (2012)


Jun 13, 2017

Chew on Talaboman's addictive Loser's Hymn


Posting just one track from The Night Land, the latest album from Talaboman, isn't too helpful. The album has a cumulative effect, a slow morphing into something quite addictive.

A bit like Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles. One pastille is satisfying enough, even if it's a blackcurrant one. But the true joy is the cumulative effect. A blackcurrant one followed by a lemon one followed by one with an uncertain flavour but you like the colour.

Suddenly, you've filled a dessert bowl with Fruit Pastilles. A salad bowl. A wheelie bin. There you are, face buried in a stinking wheelie bin of Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles as you declare, all muffled from sugared gelatin, "the cumulative effect, the cumulative effect."

So yeah, it's a bit like that. Talaboman are Barcelona’s John Talabot and Stockholm’s Axel Boman and their album came out in March. It's sublime. Go listen.

Jun 11, 2017

Joanne Pollock's breaking down pop music, Snares-style


Pop music in seven different time signatures. This seems to be the manifesto of Canadian singer Joanne Pollock. Also, she tweeted it.


Pollock first collaborated with twisted king of broken beats Venetian Snares back in 2013 under the name of Poemss. She has now released her debut solo album Stranger on Snares' label Timesig.

Have a listen to Carnival below. In this song, I can hear the experimentalism of Lamb, the sublimity of Grimes and the clanking awkwardness of found-sound Fluke. But mostly, I can hear Pollock setting out a pretty fascinating vision for electronic pop music.

Looking forward to this. Below Carnival, listen to the nicely simplistic Love Song from a few years ago.





Further Fats: They say you can't keep a good tune down. This is a lie. Tip a lorry-load of bricks onto it, that should do it (2006)

Further Fats: 5 pop music predictions for 2014 (2014)