Apr 28, 2017

The Electronic Music Symposium knows its onions (and/or turnips)

You know that allotment sitcom where Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal live next to Margot and Prime Minister Jim Hacker and all they talk about is carrots and looms?

I felt a bit like that at the Electronic Music Symposium panel discussion at Factory the other day. There was me with my home-woven dungarees and turnips made from old wood. And sat next to me were far superior neighbours next door, including 808 State's Graham Massey and Twisted Nerve's Andy Votel. I'm not sure which one's Jerry and which one's Margot in that analogy.

Also on the panel were Tom Autobot, DJ Euphonique (who took the above photo), Aaron from the Lost Village Festival and, from his pad in Ibiza, DJ Doorly. We talked about the ubiquity of music technology and how good mini-Moogs were. Inevitably for a male-dominated panel, we were challenged about opportunities for women. I brought a bunch of Electronic Sound magazines with me, which were devoured by Manchester MIDI School students.

The Music Symposium Series is run by former Ministry of Sound Operations Director, Tony Rigg, who hosted the discussion brilliantly. It was a sold-out gig and it was great to be in the company of so many fellow bleep-heads. Loads of them were young and bright-eyed and starting their first big music projects. They were so like me at that age: optimism mixed with energetic impatience and a need to make their voice heard. Actually, I've never lost that, and I hope they don't too.

Thanks to the organisers for putting me on an interesting panel, and choosing a great venue. And to Scan Pro Audio for bringing some great kit. (They're good: I described a set of headphones I once owned and, without hesitation, they told me the exact make.)

Great turnips all round, I reckon.

Apr 26, 2017

A list of acceptable sounds

Here is a list of acceptable sounds. The list is definitive.


If someone can invent a keyboard that only does these sounds, that would be great. Thanks.

Apr 24, 2017

Aphex Twin is *the* look of summer 2017

I made a joke on Twitter, but now I've started taking it seriously. I can't think about anything else.

Here's my, er, "joke".

Oh how funny, Fats. Oh how you've got us rolling down the aisles. But I really want to dress like those Aphex Twin characters now.

The green teddy bear suit looks so fluffy. It looks like it smells of lime and you'd be able to hide in a bucket of frogs without anyone noticing.

The bearded bikini Aphex looks so liberating. Imagine letting it all hang out, my ridiculously large boobs wafting in the wind, my beautiful unshaven face rustling like a bad tree. I'd be adored by millions.

Who hasn't wanted to shave their head, smear themselves in clay and scream at a little old lady? Not just old ladies. Old blokes. Old dogs. Old babies. Just scream, scream, screaming all day long.

And what's wrong with dressing as Jive Bunny?

Oh. Wait.

Why did I choose that? That would be awful. Everyone hated Jive Bunny. Flipping heck. That's taken the sheen off this whole thing, to be honest.


I wish I'd never tweeted anything. Harrumph.

Apr 22, 2017

Giving Link's Arcadian its due

Have I raved about Link's Arcadian recently? Probably not. It's well overdue a raving.

Arcadian first appeared on an EP back in 1992. I discovered it on Warp Record's brain-meltingly brilliant Artificial Intelligence compilations a couple of years later. Everyone was producing instrumental ambient techno: I should know - that scene was my world back then. This Link track stood out: it was gentle yet hard as nails, much of its power coming from that rattling snare hit.

Of course it stood out. Link was Mark Pritchard, of Under The Sun and Global Communication fame. He's seventeen shades of genius; a musical Midas. Mark Pritchard could jam his head into a wood-chipper and still produce the most beautiful sounds. "Aaaargh my face," screams Pritchard. "Ten out of ten!" declares Pitchfork.

It's not a friendly track, not like his other ambient stuff. It's metronomic and a little pinched. But that's why it's cool: it would have been tempting to take a gloopier, more leisurely path like, for example, another stand-out from that time, Spooky's Orange Coloured Liquid.

Take ten minutes out of trolling Theresa May on Twitter and listen to Arcadian here.

Further Fats: My Warp top ten: it's not all Warp and there aren't ten of them (2009)

Further Fats: New York, London, Paris, Munich, everybody talk about complicated electronica with difficult time signatures and a limited listening demographic (2009)

Apr 20, 2017

You want to read about music? Here's some politics

I'm not going to bore you with a political post. This is a music blog. You want to read about music, right? Right.

That said, what the hecking flip is going on in my country?

Firstly, we have a Brexit fuelled by phone-hacking hacks and the kind of chin-drooping chump who pronounces "Eng-er-land" with its syllables three miles apart.

Secondly, Lady Voldemort calls a snap election because she's panicking about the waning fires she's stoking in the portal to hell that is our economic future.

Yeesh. Bring back the simplicity of poll tax riots, silent Criminal Justice Bill remixes and MPs defiling themselves with fruit in their gobs.

The UK political landscape is a fire in a dumpster truck. Or whatever the British version of that is. A kerfuffle in a wheelie bin. A dust-up in a dustbin. A situation a skip.

At least we're going to get some interesting music. Whether it's the angst of Holly Herndon (pictured), the dystopia of Gorillaz or the hashtag-problems of Stormzy, our soundtrack has never sounded better as we hurtle screaming into oblivion.

See. This was about music. Pfffrt.

Apr 18, 2017

Nightwave knocks the fluff from your brain

Here's a track that should knock the fluff from your brain. It's called Wavejumper by Nightwave, and it sits somewhere between street-corner grime and teeth-gnashing techno.

You're not reading this, are you? You're either scrolling Trump's stream-of-consciousness poem, otherwise known as his Twitter feed, or preparing yourself for the most intensive six-week bunfight in history as Britain goes the polls. Sigh.

You should pay attention. Nightwave is, as the young people say, da bomb. She's a Glasgow producer who's run all-female production workshops in Glasgow. I first came across her when she released G41 under her previous pseudonym 8bitch. She's way more interested than politicians, right?

Apr 16, 2017

What can Harry Styles' back teach us?

I was going to blog about new music tonight, but my PC seems to be staging some kind of protest. It keeps switching itself off.

It's probably because I listened to the new Harry Styles single. You know the one. He's trying to sound a bit like Bowie and it goes on for ages. I want to like it but it sounds like it's been made for dads. And, as we all know, all dads have terrible taste in music. All of them.

The cover of Harry Styles' new album is a picture of his damp back. It's a nice picture of a damp back, and it reminded me that all people who have freckles are better than non-freckled people. That might sound extreme, but it's true. Everyone with freckles is better.

If your damp back isn't as good as Harry's damp back, then you are a bad person. This sounds like an opinion, but it's fact.

Although I think my computer should be on, it has decided to be off. I would prefer my computer to be on so I can write stuff on my blog. But my PC really wants to be off. There is no middle ground: my computer and I have polarised views on its ideal state. If only we could reach a compromise: perhaps it could be half-on / half-off. Some kind of digital grey area, so my computer can get some shut-eye while I get some writing done.

So I won't be able to publish a blog post tonight. I won't be able to mention any new music, nor give my delicately considered opinions on things. All because no-one's interested in grey areas, in the beauty of nuance.

All computers have ugly backs, full of warts and gangrene. Worse than dad backs.

Apr 14, 2017

The definitive top ten Aphex Twin facts

To celebrate April 14th, named by many as Aphex Twin day because of his classic 2001 track Avril 14th, here is the definitive top ten facts about everyone's favourite windowlicker.

1. Aphex Twin's real name is Richard D James. The D stands for 'down south' which is where he lives.

2. The '26 Mixes For Cash' scandal nearly ruined his career. Since then, it has been illegal for members of the House of Lords to procure drill 'n' bass remixes without declaring them.

3. Aphex Twin once owned a tank. His favourite trick was to put a goldfish on the passenger seat and ask it "how do you drive this thing".

4. His comeback album Syro used, at some point in the recording process, every instrument ever created. Apart from the five-string banjo. And the tuba.

5. The old woman who gets screamed at in the Come To Daddy video was played by Aphex Twin after a particularly long day in the studio.

6. Aphex Twin made tracks while lucid dreaming. He installed a full studio inside his head, enabling him to work while asleep. This is why he has a USB port in the side of his head.

7. He once uploaded so many tracks to Soundcloud, Ed Sheeran has been number one ever since.

8. His first album was Selected Ambient Works 85-92, which incidentally are also the measurements of his bust and hips.

9. His pseudonyms have included: Nasty Window, Twinny McTwinface, Billy Skinhole, Polygon Idiot, Tssk Tssk, Hello Brian, Susan Boyle, Caustic Postman and AFC BOURNEMOUTH.

10. Aphex Twin has wonderfully soft hair. He puts this down to never playing the tuba. No-one likes tuba.

Futher Fats: 26 Mixes For Cats: gratuitous twits and puns (2011)

Further Fats: Top ten ways to write a top ten music list (2012)

Further Fats: All things Aphex Twin

Apr 12, 2017

Special Request's Bunker will bend your ear

Back in the day, when all this were just atoms, I DJed quite a bit of drum 'n' bass. However, like with a lot of things in life, I moved on. I discarded drum 'n' bass like I discarded my old jumpers / friends / spaceships / legs (delete as appropriate).

Thank goodness then for Paul 'Special Request' Woolford, the genius behind the new Stairfoot Lane Bunker EP. Listen to the title track's Minor Science remix below - it's beautiful, devastating, ear-bending and all kinds of wonderful. Most of the EP's tracks have already appeared on a Fabric compilation, but it's nice to have it all packaged together here, all proper and that.

To tell you the truth, I still have all my old jumpers. And all my old friends and old spaceships and old legs. They're all under my desk right now. Can you hear them? They're probably eating each other for survival. I don't go under my desk. Not anymore.

Ahem. Sorry. Went to a dark place there. Where were we? Oh yes. Listening to drum 'n' bass.

Apr 10, 2017

Talking bleeps at the Electronic Music Symposium

I'm going to be on a discussion panel talking all things bleepy at the Electronic Music Symposium.

At the old Factory offices, now Fac-251, a whole bunch of music-heads will come together with other industry bods to talk about electronic music. Graham Massey from 808 State will be there, as will Twisted Nerve's Andy Votel. There'll be some fancy gear to play with too.

I'll be flying the Electronic Sound flag. If bleepy music is your thing, or bleepy machines, or if you like poking things to see if they go bleep, this is probably the event for you. It's at 7pm on 25th April and you can get tickets here.

To see what else I'm up to, pop over to my event page why dontcha.

Apr 8, 2017

Seven curious facts about Warp Records veteran Clark

Here are seven facts about Warp stalwart Clark, whose ridiculously fun new album Death Peak was released this week.

1. The drum lie

The "linn" in Clark's Winter Linn is a reference to a snare sound he didn't use on the track. The joker. Source? This Vice article. Listen to Winter Linn here.

2. The loop

The first track on Clark's first album is only 100 seconds long but someone's looped it for 927 seconds. You can listen to that track on YouTube.

3. The doppelganger

Clark and Jeff Winger were separated at birth. (If you don't know Community, I can't help you.)

4. Cruelty to animals

Part of Growls Garden's bassline is made from a Kitten. (Don't worry - it's the name of a synth.) Source? This XLR8R piece.

5. Bad education

If Clark's music teachers had been better, his electronic music career might not exist. I've lost the original source for this, but it's well documented that he was discouraged to use a drum machine,

6. No sitting down

One of Clark's albums opens with the (processed) sound of a chair being scraped across the floor. Source? Dummy Mag.

7. The movie star

This is the big one. Clark has very clear thoughts about what kind of synthesiser George Clooney would be. Source? This Reddit AMA.

Them's all my facts, which I first spewed on the Twitter tag #ClarkDay. I hope we've all learned something here today - mainly, feed as many kittens into your music as possible, and don't listen to your teachers.

Further Fats: "No. No. You've still lost me. Could you rewrite it with just the facts and about 50% less nonsense." (2008)

Further Fats: Ten absolutely fascinating facts about Rephlex Records (2009)

Apr 6, 2017

2017 can't carry on without me posting this trippy video

Stop 2017. I've forgotten something. Or rather, I was so busy banging on about this in Electronic Sound, I forgot to mention it here.

Watch the Bonobo No Reason video below. When you have finished watching the video, please fetch a pair of sharp scissors and cut out the video from your screen. Blue-tac the video onto your wall. Ensure you leave enough space on the wall to write a message. The message should be written in green marker pen, and it should say the following:

"This video was posted onto the world wide web in January 2017. Several months have passed and Fat Roland hasn't yet included that amazing Bonobo video on his website. Fat Roland is an idiot. This is one of Bonobo's best tracks, and even better, the video is weird and trippy. Repeat, Fat Roland is an idiot."

Okay 2017, you can carry on now.

Further Fats: Watch the video for Oneohtrix Point Never's Animals (2016)

Apr 4, 2017

Want some new electro? Oddhoody's your dog

Here's a moody little electro number that snarls and snaps at your ankles like a little doggie, but a doggie made of music and not fur.

Stream Delusionengine below. It comes from Oddhoody, an electronic music twiddler called James Baker who also records as the colourfully-named Implosion Quintet. I have absolutely no idea why Oddhoody is called Oddhoody. I can only presume he fashions his clothing from non-standard materials such as beer mats, wallpaper, iron filings and rivers.

This is from the new EP The Deep, out on Electronic Tapes. That label's 2016 output is worth checking out, which you can see on this web page right here. In that link, you'll find noises that will make your ears fall off, but also some nice sounds that sellotape them back on again.

Oddhoody is a nice little snarly doggie. Five stars. Would pet again.

Further Fats: Some dogs are better than others (2012)

Apr 2, 2017

A very Roland-y night out

I invented some new dance moves last night. This is a list of those dance moves.

The Hip Destroyer
Surprise Jerk
The Mancunian Twitch
Polygon Windowing
The Tragic Octopus
Jackhammer Backflop
The Seven-Fingered Fly Swat
Reverse Moonwalk
The Slow Bez

Why the dancing? I went to the tenth anniversary of the I Love Acid club night. The venue was Hidden, a no-frills warehouse tucked along the banks of the River Irwell. It was a great space with a nicely uncommercial feel. They had triangular speakers (pictured). Star of the night for me was joyful acid-twiddler Ceephax, But Luke Vibert was pretty flipping acid-tastic too.

The strangest moment of the night came when I read about the death of Ikutaro Kakehashi. He's the chap who founded the synthesiser company Roland, whose TB-303 unit makes the acid sound techno-heads like me adore. As I read the news on my phone, 303 squelches burst from the speakers and there was a guy next to me wearing a Roland TB-303 brand t-shirt. RIP Ikutaro Kakehashi - without you, I'd just be Fat.

All this came after a trip to the brilliant ARC in Stockton-on-Tees at which I performed a set of cartoon idiocy. Some people on the line-up did proper dancing. There were a load of theatre and venue professionals in the audience - they even gave feedback, which is a pretty flipping rare thing to receive. Thanks to Arcade Platform for letting me be part of that.

What a day. I'm off to perfect my Mancunian Twitch. Hopefully this time I won't have someone's eye out.

Further Fats: Manchester International Festival: hot, sweaty, dramatic fun (2013)

Further Fats: Fats goes to Herbal Tea Party - a Storify slideshow (2016)