Apr 5, 2020

Orbital tweeting Dick and Dom is all the goodness we need right now



We're all agreed that Twitter is an open sewer. A torrent of streaming mouth bums. The equivalent of a cavalcade of Celine Dion albums smashing into your face until the end of time. 

But every now and then, there is a moment of hope. A silver lining around the cloud of guff. That glimmer of goodness came in this tweet: 

 
And here it is again with, for reason whatsoever, kittens: 


That's right. Techno behemoths Orbital had a nice how-do-you-do exchange with children's telly legends Dick and Dom. 

I suspect a collaboration is afoot. Acid Pants In Da Bungalow. Satan In Da Bungalow. Da Box In Da Bungalow. You get the idea. 

Orbital once made a video with Play School presenter Brian Cant. Play School had different shaped windows for children to look through, no doubt reflecting the big-fish small-fish cardboard-box shapes made by ravers. Also, they had a giant egg person called Humpty, which sounds like a standard hallucination at Shroom if you ask me. 

Shroom was a nightclub, by the way. It was important in the development of acid house and that happy smiley face symbol you see everywhere. Shroom rhymes with Button Moon, which was a children's programme about a pot-headed man who had astral visions and spent most of his time using kitchen utensils to get high.

As I said in that Brian Cant blog post, kid's characters have played a part in club culture. The Prodigy sampled Charly the cat for their debut hit in 1991, and Global Communication's Mark Pritchard scored an early top ten as Shaft with a raved-up Roobarb And Custard theme tune. My most scratched seven-inch, destroyed from overuse, is probably Smart E's druggie kids anthem Sesame's Treet. You can guess what that samples.

I'll get back to my 1995 albums contest soon. I just thought I'd share this moment of levity amid the chaos. A happy face amid the scowls. A thumbs-up amid the angry fists. A sunbeam amid the drizzle. A parking space amid the lack of parking spaces. A nice pair of trousers amid the dirty undies. Ew. I'll stop now.


Mar 29, 2020

Best electronic music albums of 1995: Global Communication versus Leftfield


Welcome to the last opening heat to find the best electronic music album of 1995. See the series so far here, and see the 16 albums I started off with here. After this post, we'll get to the quarter finals. This was only to meant to last a week: it's been a month since I started, and the whole of civilisation has collapsed in the meantime. By the time we reach the grand final, Earth will be a shrivelled husk drifting aimlessly through the frozen far reaches of space. All is doomed. Let's play some albums!

Here are the final two choices that haven't faced my keen-eared criticism yet:
Remotion by Global Communication
Leftism by Leftfield
Uh oh. A slightly niche remix project long out of circulation versus a Mercury Prize-nominated behemoth that defined 1990s dance music culture. This truly is a David and Goliath battle. It's King Canute in his deckchair facing the incoming tide. It's that Skywalker bloke against all those horrible people in helmets that had the big metal ball in space, y'know, the one that wasn't a moon. Let the battle commence.

Criteria one: which album would make a better biscuit?

The Global Communication album comprises remixes of acts such as Chapterhouse and The Grid, and certainly has the kind of pick-and-mix attitude worthy of the crumbly world of biscuits. However, scratch under the surface, and it's not much more than a coconut-flavoured Nice. The Leftfield album, meanwhile, packs more of a varied flavour palate: it is Ginger Nuts, Oreo and Wagon Wheels combined.
Winner: Leftfield

Criteria two: which album has more bangin' choons?

Another win for Leftfield. Quite aside from the barn-storming Release The Pressure, John Lydon's hell-raising rant on Open Up is the definition of "bangin' tune". Seriously. Grab a dictionary from your shelf. Look up the word "bangin'". Is the definition just a photograph of John Lydon trying to sell you butter? Told you so. Now look up the word "moustache". Is there a picture of a buffalo? If so, your dictionary is broken and you should ignore this entire paragraph.
Winner: Leftfield

Criteria three: which album's track titles better remind me of cute animals?

The tropical pretensions of Leftism count against Leftfield here: as everyone knows, you don't get cute animals in hot countries (don't google this). And while Remotion isn't overflowing with furry creatures, it does have Wild Horse, and a track called Le Soleil Et La Mer which I'm pretty sure is french for A Sealion And A Mouse. Again, don't google this. Also "Global Communication" is an anagram of "clinical, numb moo-goat", so there's that.
Winner: Global Communication

Criteria four: which of the two would Jesus listen to?

I've just received this letter, postmarked 'heaven'. Let me just read it. "Dear Fat Roland," it says, "Jesus here. I object most strongly to your inclusion of Leftism in this blog series. I tried listening to this with my disciples and it was mostly enjoyable. It's got a good beat. However, the moment when that John Lydon fellow says 'bigger than God' was most offensive. Smite you. Yours sincerely, Jesus Christ." Oh dear. It looks like Remotion wins by default – but that's okay: it's an angelic-sounding album.
Winner: Global Communication

Criteria five: which is the better album to sing songs about eggs to?

Global Communication had some good egg-singing opportunities. In Delta Phase, I found myself singing the phrase "lovely eggs, I just want some lovely eggs," while on Epsilon Phase, it was possible to repeatedly sing the line "Have to add some cheese, reaching to the knife, chopping all the thyy-yyme." However, there was much more on the Leftfield album, with eggy lyrics including "I've got to stand and fry" and "You're original, with your own pan" and "You fried, you baked, you beated, you made some eggs" and "ovum up, make room for cheese". Sp-egg-tactular.
Winner: Leftfield

Criteria six: which album has the better cover design?

The 'jawbone lens' design on the Leftfield album cover is beautifully done, and I remember buying my gatefold vinyl edition with pride. In a nice coincidence for this randomly-curated contest, Leftfield's cover designer Jonathan Cooke also did the artwork for the US release of a Chapterhouse remix album by Global Communication, which incidentally featured two tracks from Remotion. Unfortunately, the cover artwork of Remotion itself is a bit, er, Word Art. Leftfield wins this one.
Winner: Leftfield

Criteria seven: miscellaneous and worryingly random

This final set of criteria is guided by the wisdom of Wikipedia's random page button. Here goes. Which album is more Italian? Leftfield is a bit Afro, and Remotion has French track titles – the latter wins for being slightly closer to Italy. Which album smells fishy? Leftfield because of its Space Shanty. Which album is worse for your eyesight? The Leftfield album features a camera lens, so it must be Global Communication. Which album should be home to migratory birds? Global Communication because they can perch on the Wild Horse. Which album would be better at digging wells in south western India? Oh CHEERS for that, Wikipedia. Global is a deeper listen so, er, them.
Winner: Global Communication

Overall winner and going through to the quarter-finals: Taking the final place in the quarter-finals is Leftfield's Leftism. Goliath won over David, but it was a close call. Good job, really: I don't want to get beaten up by John Lydon.

The next phase of this neverending battle will be the quarter-finals, which will feature (SPOILER if you haven't read all the blog posts so far): Freefloater by Higher Intelligence Agency versus Timeless by Goldie; Maxinquaye by Tricky versus Everything Is Wrong by Moby; Post by Bjork versus ...I Care Because You Do by Aphex Twin; Landcruising by Carl Craig versus Leftism by Leftfield. It's going to be brutal. See all the original riders and runners here.

Further Fats: See the whole Best Albums Of 1995 series here.

Mar 23, 2020

Best electronic music albums of 1995: The Black Dog versus Carl Craig


Three weeks ago, I began a battle to determine the best electronic music album of 1995. That battle is still going: this is heat seven of eight, after which we get to the quarter finals. See the series so far here, and see the 16 albums I started off with here. "But Fats, this is going to take many more weeks if you keep posting this slowly." Considering the current climate, that is no bad thing

I fired up my trusty random number generator to pick today's pairing. Remember, only one of these will survive through to the quarter-finals. The choice is between:
Spanners by The Black Dog
Landcruising by Carl Craig
This is a fascinating match. In one corner, we have a seminal British IDM act clearly influenced by Detroit techno. And in the other corner is a bonafide Detroit techno album debut. Good job there is no chance of messing up this contest with comparisons that blabber on about biscuits and cute animals, huh.

Criteria one: which album would make a better biscuit?

The Carl Craig album would be a cookie rather than a biscuit. This is because Americans have funny words for things. They also call herbs 'erbs, pavements sidepavements and aluminium aluminiminimum. Spanners by The Black Dog is such a wonky take on recognisable techno, it would be an unusual biscuit like Mr Kipling Viennese Whirls or those pink wafery things. That said, Carl Craig wins because The Black Dog's techno biscuits would be so loaded with e-numbers, they'd make your eyes pop out of your bum-hole.
Winner: Landcruising

Criteria two: which album has more bangin' choons?

I once praised The Black Dog's Barbola Work because it was "one of the few classic 90s techno tracks that makes you cha-cha-cha". It's easy forget now how alien and amazing their work was when it first appeared. Carl Craig's got the tunes, though: Einbahn is Autobahn on rollerskates, and the sheer 80s drama of Mind Of A Machine is enough to crack a smile on a bloodhound.
Winner: Landcruising

Criteria three: which album's track titles better remind me of cute animals?

Carl Craig's debut album falls down badly here. There are no animal references in his track titles. I'm not saying he hates animals so much that he sneaks around back alleys baseball-batting weasels to death: that is for you to decide. Looking at The Black Dog's titles, Pot Noddle is definitely the name of a crime-fighting pig and Nommo is its sworn warthog enemy determined on wreaking destruction all across the pig sty. Oh and they're both dressed in tutus, so they're still cute.
Winner: Spanners

Criteria four: which of the two would Jesus listen to?

When the UK lockdown is over, pop into your local church. Who's the vicar? Oh look, it's Carl Craig. And the church organist? Carl Craig again. Who's that little old lady running the coffee bar? It's Carl Craig in a dress. Now pop to your nearest Buddhist centre. Look at all those little fat statues of Carl Craig! Saint Craig is so spiritually connected on Landcruising, he simply has to be Jesus's favourite. The Black Dog feels more like a crusty old geezer collecting sign-ups for a humanist society round the back of Aldi car park.
Winner: Landcruising

Criteria five: which is the better album to sing songs about eggs to?

It's not often I type this sentence, but neither album really screams eggs. The Black Dog album suggests Starburst sweets, odd-shaped leeks and an interesting purple mould that's taken hold at the back of the fridge. The Carl Craig album suggests oysters served on a lattice of spun caramel drizzled in the finest liqueur. What wins this category for The Black Dog is the chattery voice in transitional track Bolt1 which definitely sounds like someone yabbering on about Tesco's running out of eggs.
Winner: Spanners

Criteria six: which album has the better cover design?

Landcruising is brilliant driving music, and its cover logo is clearly a nod to Detroit's automobile industry. The three-headed CGI beast on the cover of Spanners is more confusing. Is it a dog gone wrong? Is it a fancy paperweight? Is it a hallucination and I really should stay off the Windolene? Of the two, the strange black dog is the more memorable.
Winner: Spanners

Criteria seven: miscellaneous and worryingly random

This final area of judgement takes as its cue Wikipedia's random page function. Here goes. Which album is the most moist? Detroit gets five inches more rainfall per year than Sheffield, so Craig has it. Which album will win you the lottery? The Black Dog because of the track Utopian Dream. Which album is a heavy assault tank? Carl Craig because he be landcruisin'. Which album is a novel nanomaterial? Carl Craig's album is a debut, so it's novel by default. Which album has stout, sparse tentacles like the white sand anemone? The Black Dog, obviously – dogs are famous for their tentacles. Three-two to Craig.
Winner: Landcruising

Overall winner and going through to the quarter-finals: The Black Dog are so central to my love for electronic music, that I'm chalking this win as a surprise: it's Carl Craig's Landcruising that cruises (geddit?!?!?) through to the quarter-finals. Well deserved: it's a cracking album, despite the weasel thing.

There is one heat left in this first round, so stay tuned: the battle to find the best electronic music album of 1995 will continue. See all the original riders and runners here.

Further Fats: See the whole Best Albums Of 1995 series here.

Mar 19, 2020

Best electronic music albums of 1995: Aphex Twin versus Nightmares On Wax


Welcome back to the battle to become the best electronic music album of 1995 in which I play judge, jury, executioner and toilet attendant. This is the sixth of eight first-round contests (I won't spoilt the results, so see the series so far here). The winner goes through to the quarter finals. See the 16 albums I started off with here.

The randomly chosen tie for today is:
...I Care Because You Do by Aphex Twin
Smokers Delight by Nightmares On Wax
We have the 13th best IDM album of all time (say Pitchfork) versus the 15th best trip-hop albums of all time (say Fact). Let's talc this pair up and throw them into the ring. Kamaete mattanashi! Let this bout begin.

Criteria one: which album would make a better biscuit?

Great question. If Smokers Delight was a biscuit, it would be something you'd get from Waitrose: it would be caramel flavoured or perhaps infused with fennel. I can't be more specific because the place scares me. I fled from a Waitrose once after seeing eighteen flavours of breadstick. The Aphex album feels more biscuity, even though it will never move beyond the levels of a custard cream or a jammy dodger.
Winner: ...I Care Because You

Criteria two: which album has more bangin' choons?

The Nightmares On Wax has an earworm so large, it looks like a giant dong: the descending strings of Nights Introlude have swirled around my head for 25 years, partly thanks to their reprisal on Les Nuits. That said, Aphex's follow-up to his Selected Ambient Works albums is a triumph of melody: the gentle steeliness of Alberto Balsalm, the waning flows of The Waxen Pith, the shimmery sadness of Start As You Mean To Go On, the off-kilter insistence of Wet Tip Hen Ax. Neither album especially bangs, but Mr Twin has the most choons.
Winner: ...I Care Because You

Criteria three: which album's track titles better remind me of cute animals?

This is another straight win for Aphex Twin. Imagine a messed-up Wombles in which the common is made of drugs and instead of picking up litter, they pick up unicorns. And all the Wombles are mauve and made of anti-matter. Yes? Let's introduce the characters. Here comes Ventolin on his skateboard made of rainbows. Running behind him is little Mookid, the Womble with the fifteen udders. Cow Gud Is A Twin is his twin. And there, shuffling behind them while brandishing his walking stick, is old Alberto Balsalm. Wombles of Wimbledon, techno are we.
Winner: ...I Care Because You

Criteria four: which of the two would Jesus listen to?

While Aphex Twin has spent much of his career looking a bit like Jesus, there is something undoubtedly spiritual about Nightmares On Wax. When you speak to NoW's George, you get the feeling he's trying to connect to a higher power – hence later album titles Mind Elevation and Shape The Future. He'd make a great cult leader. Maybe George is the Holy Spirit, while Aphex is Jesus. And Jesus definitely listens to the Holy Spirit. Does that make me God? Lawks. I hate wearing white.
Winner: Smokers Delight

Criteria five: which is the better album to sing songs about eggs to?

A write-off. I tried some egg songs, but none of the lyrics could fit. There's a background vocal in Nightmares' Stars which could pass for "eggs" but I think they're saying "hedge". And hedges are not eggs: I know because I've tasted them. If my heart was an egg, Aphex and Wax have broken it, and they didn't even made a heart omelette or a heart cake out of it. Very dis-egg-pointing.
Winner: No-one

Criteria six: which album has the better cover design?

Smokers Delight's cover is a jumble of strange totems topped with graffiti-style text to symbolise the dualities of spirituality and urbanity contained within the album's music. Meanwhile, the cover of ...I Care Because You is Aphex Twin's big face. That's right. He drew his own face. Have you ever tried to draw your face? Half the time, I don't know where my face is. I've tried opening my eyes really big but it's still difficult to see my face. Sometimes I pass a mirror, and the mirror reminds me where my face is, but then I turn round to take a good look at my face and it's gone. How can you draw that? It's impossible, but Aphex Twin managed it.
Winner: ...I Care Because You

Criteria seven: miscellaneous and worryingly random

As if this project wasn't silly enough already, this final set of criteria is guided by the random article function on Wikipedia. Let's jumble up some pages and pick a winner. Which of the two albums is the most science fiction? Nightmares totally has his mind on otherworldly things. Which album would most protect you in a hailstorm? Aphex because he cares (because you do). Which album would be listened to by 19th century cartographer Émile-Fortuné-Stanislas-Joseph Petitot? Nightmares because his track titles reference Venice, Groove Street and a beach. Which album would get baptised with a two-edged sword? The dualities of Nightmares On Wax. Which album is a sanatorium? Aphex because Ventolin will make you better.
Winner: Smokers Delight

Overall winner and going through to the quarter-finals: A relatively easy victory. Aphex, Aphex, Aphex. Twin, Twin, Twin. You can chant that if you want.

Stay tuned - two more albums will battle for the title of best electronic music album of 1995 as decided by me. See all the riders and runners here.

Further Fats: See the whole Best Albums Of 1995 series here.

Mar 14, 2020

Best electronic music albums of 1995: Autechre versus Bjork


When I started this contest to find the best album of 1995 (see the series so far here), I planned to have a new contest daily. But I haven't had the time, so here we are dragging it kicking and screaming through March as if we've got nothing better to do. See the 16 albums I started off with here.

As ever, I use a random number generator to pick each head-to-head. Remember, only one can survive through to the quarter-finals. This time, we have:
Tri Repetae by Autechre
Post by Bjork
Oh this is going to be horrible. Hey children! Which puppy do we throw into the mincer?

Criteria one: which album would make a better biscuit?

This is the album that signalled Autechre's descent into more complicated, awkward, spiky electronic music, so if it was a biscuit it would be the oaty kind that leaves bits in your teeth. With its filmic anthems and bold ballads, Bjork's second album is more showy: perhaps it would be a jaffa cake or one of those flavoured Penguins, but not something we'd traditionally think of as a biscuit.
Winner: Tri Repetae

Criteria two: which album has more bangin' choons?

I want to take Autechre's Clipper and tattoo the sound all over my naked body. I want to knit Clipper's rhythms into a scarf and strangle myself senseless with it. I want to shove Clipper up my bum and bounce on a space hopper until my intestines ping out of my eyes. That said, nothing says "banging tune" more than Army Of Me, Hyperballad, and, well, half the tracks on Post.
Winner: Post

Criteria three: which album's track titles better remind me of cute animals?

I'm not sure the imaginary animals on Autechre's album are that cute. Clipper sounds like an angry dolphin, Stud is an amorous stallion trying to hump everything but the fence post, and Leterel is a sneaky eel that's just signed you up to a timeshare con without you noticing. Bjork's Isobel tells the story of a girl born in a forest, but to the uninitiated, the title sounds like something you'd call a warthog if you were trying to convince people it was cute. In a way, it's the antithesis of cute. Strangely, Autechre wins.
Winner: Tri Repetae

Criteria four: which of the two would Jesus listen to?

I have consulted the runes and they tell me both Bjork and Autechre have Godlike status. Both come from faraway lands (Iceland and Manchester), attracting fanatical followers as they spread their gospel of musical purity. But since Tri Repartae sounds like a sinister Catholic order that flays choirboys for fun, this one has so go to Autechre.
Winner: Tri Repetae

Criteria five: which is the better album to sing songs about eggs to?

As I sat on the bus improvising egg songs over these albums, one artist clearly won through. With Bjork, I managed to loudly sing "it's oh so quail… you fall in l'oeuf…" and "my name's scrambled egg, married to my shell" and "if you complain once more, you'll meet an army of quiche". I tried so hard to match egg words to Autechre, and as my fellow passengers wrestled me to the floor, I had to admit defeat. There's nothing eggy about Autechre.
Winner: Post

Criteria six: which album has the better cover design?

Two drastically different covers. The Designer's Republic deliberately stripped the graphics for Tri Repetae's muddy monotone. The Post cover puts Bjork front and centre, contrasted against her hyper-coloured surroundings. Both covers are great. However, on the Post album, Bjork is dressed as an envelope. Never noticed that before? Have a look. Post. Envelope. Post. Envelope. Absolute genius.
Winner: Post

Criteria seven: miscellaneous and worryingly random

This set of criteria is led by the random article page on Wikipedia, so strap in. Which album is the gayest? Queen Bjork, obviously. Which album would lead a navy? Bjork is feistier than Napoleon: she would lay waste to her enemies. Which album would succeed as a member of a Chinese rowing team? Autechre because there are two of them. Which album is the most legally disputed? Bjork because of Possibly, Maybe. Which album was born in an African tribe 3,000 years ago? Autechre because it sounds like it emanates from the very beginning of time.
Winner: Post

Overall winner and going through to the quarter-finals: This was a tough match, but it's Bjork that moves into the quarter-finals. I'll expect angry letters from Autechre fans. To be honest, though, would the Autechre chaps dress up as envelopes? I wouldn't have thought so.

When I get time, two further albums will face off against each other in an attempt to become the best electronic music album of 1995 as decided by me. See all the riders and runners here.

Further Fats: See the whole Best Albums Of 1995 series here.

Mar 8, 2020

Best electronic music albums of 1995: Moby versus David Holmes


What's black and white and red all over? I have no idea, so why not ignore that sentence and instead read this continuing contest to find the best electronic music album of 1995. With today's post, we reach the halfway point of the opening knock-out rounds, with each winner going through to the quarter-finals. See the series so far here, and see the 16 albums I started off with here.

I use a random number generator to pick each pairing. Today it is:
Everything Is Wrong by Moby
This Film's Crap Let's Slash The Seats by David Holmes
Here we have very different producers whose music has worked brilliantly in film and television: Moby in Heat, The Sopranos and Stranger Things, and David Holmes in a tonne of on-screen stuff including Ocean's Eleven and Killing Eve. But which one will stand up to my strict criteria? Let's find out.

Criteria one: which album would make a better biscuit?

The filmic flavour of Holmes' work is brilliantly suited to the rich history of biscuits and its many flavours: ginger, plain, chocolate, a bit more plain. As it tumbles from dirty beats into evocative samples, his debut album bridges the gap between his DJing career and his movie scores. And what is a biscuit other than a bridge between cake and bread? In contrast, Moby is the name of a fish and no biscuits taste of fish.
Winner: This Film's Crap Let's Slash The Seats

Criteria two: which album has more bangin' choons?

Holmes has a great ear for melody, and the album neatly loops back to the same hazy chords. But Moby's album has screaming rave tracks and angry thrash metal, with brilliant turns by Rozz Morehead for the fast stuff and Mimi Goese for the slow stuff. Bangin'? It's bulldozing down the doors while shooting foghorns out of a cannon.
Winner: Everything Is Wrong

Criteria three: which album's track titles better remind me of cute animals?

With track titles like When It's Cold I'd Like To Die, Moby's album isn't focused on cute animals. Many critters enjoy the cold, such as baby seals, baby penguins and all those baby spiders secretly hiding in your fridge. Holmes's track titles evoke a grizzly bear tearing through an orphanage, particularly with Got F***ed Up Along The Way and Slash The Seats. All in all, a disappointment for both albums. Moby scrapes a win because of the track name First Cool Hive: bumble bees are fuzzy.
Winner: Everything Is Wrong

Criteria four: which of the two would Jesus listen to?

The melancholic claustrophobia underpinning This Film's Crap feels more like purgatory than a heavenly place, despite the clanging church bell that ushers in the album. It's this uneasiness that made it such a remarkable work. On the other hand, Moby gives us rousing anthem after rousing anthem ("take me away!") that could easily be hollered from a pulpit. Everything Is Wrong is the sound of a coked-up church revival meeting. No wonder his early albums included the credit "Thanks to Jesus Christ".
Winner: Everything Is Wrong

Criteria five: which is the better album to sing songs about eggs to?

The best I could do with Holmes was "she don't even yolk" which isn't even a verb. Meanwhile, after the chorus in Feeling So Real, Moby has a sample that sounds like a truncated "eee-ee-eeggs". In other songs, I found myself singing "every time you touch me, I feel like I'm being boiled" and "I am white albumen, poaching forever, I fry into the blue" and on Bring Back My Happiness "these hard eggs let you go". So much fun. Another win for Moby.
Winner: Everything Is Wrong

Criteria six: which album has the better cover design?

An album called Everything Is Wrong and there's Moby looking depressed on the cover with a sad blue face? It's a bit on the nose. A metaphorical nose, that is, not Moby's nose. Stop thinking about Moby's nose. The montage that comprises the cover to David Holmes's album isn't particularly memorable: what do a few rips, a couple of hands and a big knife represent? Gordon Ramsay making whoopie? Yeesh. Don't think about that: think about Moby's nose instead. Holmes wins it because at least it looks like the cinematic layerings of his music.
Winner: This Film's Crap Let's Slash The Seats

Criteria seven: miscellaneous and worryingly random

This final selection of judging criteria comes to you courtesy of Wikipedia's random page function. Which album is most like a Bulgarian footballer? Holmes because he looks like he can dribble along a touch-line. Which album would make a great motto on a commemorative coin? In Brexit Britain, that would definitely be Everything Is Wrong. Which album should have represented Ireland in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest? David Holmes is from Belfast, so he's the closest. Which album's hindwings are whitish with an orange subbasal fascia? Moby has the most orange and white on his album cover so, er, that. Which album is scaaaaandalous (said in a RuPaul voice)? The seat-slashing David Holmes, obviously.
Winner: This Film's Crap Let's Slash The Seats

Overall winner and going through to the quarter-finals: This felt like a pretty easy win for Moby. Although he'll be mostly remembered for 1999's Play, selling 12 million units to Wrong's 250,000, it's nice to honour 90s raver Moby with this little success. Everything Is Wrong goes through to the quarter finals.

Stay tuned for another head-to-head battle to find the best electronic music album of 1995 as decided by a jury of one: me. See all the riders and runners here.

Further Fats: See the whole Best Albums Of 1995 series here.

Mar 5, 2020

Best electronic music albums of 1995: BT versus Tricky


Oh heck. Stop the presses and hold the anchovies. It's the third instalment of my knock-out competition to decide the best electronic music album of 1995. See the series so far here, and see the 16 albums I started off with here.

I use a random number generator to pick each pairing. Today it is:
Ima by BT
Maxinquaye by Tricky
A curious pairing. Two more debut albums, and it looks like a pushover for Massive Attack's mate. But is it though? Read on.

Criteria one: which album would make a better biscuit?

Brian 'BT' Transeau's album is so shiny and smooth, if it was a biscuit it would be coated in chocolate or gold or creosote. Possibly edible, possibly not. The stories of Maxinquaye's chaotic recording sessions bring to mind meandering studio sessions, tapes full of unusable samples and floors littered with vinyl records. If that album doesn't resemble a box of broken biscuits, I don't know what does.
Winner: Maxinquaye

Criteria two: which album has more bangin' choons?

Tricky's album was full of quotable quotes, albeit murmured and deeply smoked. However, BT's album was a landmark in progressive trance that melded the signature chunky house of Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto Records with diva-style singing. The 1996 edition's got Tori Amos on, for warbling's sake. You can't get more iconic than Broadway vocal coach Vincent Covello's turn on Loving You More, one of my most played 12-inches from back in the day. An easy success for BT.
Winner: Ima

Criteria three: which album's track titles better remind me of cute animals?

Almost none of the track titles remind me of cute critters, so I can only assume BT and Tricky both hate animals. The BT album is full of aspirational titles like Embracing The Future and Deeper Sunshine. You try telling that to a rabbit: they just want to sniff lettuce and look at hay. Tricky's album doesn't fare much better: gothic titles like Suffocated Love and Black Steel poll quite badly with the baby otter community. Tricky saves the day with one solitary track title: Pumpkin is definitely in the top 100 hamster names. A winner by a (cute, snufflin') nose.
Winner: Maxinquaye

Criteria four: which of the two would Jesus listen to?

Possibly the most memorable track on Tricky's album is Hell Is Round the Corner, which sounds like Jesus ranting to the Pharisees. But the BT album goes one better by portraying on its cover the underwater statue Christ Of The Abyss. Hey Jesus, which album do you prefer? "The one with my picture on, obviously, you idiot." Good point. Thanks, Jesus. "Bog off." Oh. Okay then.
Winner: Ima

Criteria five: which is the better album to sing songs about eggs to?

A hard (boiled) win for BT here. Across various songs, I could fit the lyrics "Egg? Hell yeah" and "I'm loving eggs more than I ever have before" and "these are my ee-eegs". Maxinquaye confused my tastebuds and I ended up composing a three-hour mumblecore opera about Pot Noodles. I don't wish to libel the Trickster, but I don't think he has ever seen an egg in his entire life.
Winner: Ima

Criteria six: which album has the better cover design?

The composition of the Ima cover is pleasing, with Wet Jesus embracing the sunlight in the centre of the design. But if you buy a different edition, the soggy saviour is sidelined in favour of a stock image of some clouds underneath a grey rectangle. Disappointing. The rusted and peeling panels of the Maxinquaye design is a stronger design, suggesting both decay and warmth, and if you staple-gun it to your Ikea wardrobe, people will think you own vintage furniture.
Winner: Maxinquaye

Criteria seven: miscellaneous and worryingly random

Finally, here is some assorted criteria generated with the help of Wikipedia's random article function. Which album has the highest fat content? Tricky doesn't sound healthy on Maxinquaye, so it has to be that one. Which album would most startle a moth? Ima because of the blinding light on its cover. Which album would win the US Open Cup Final. I don't even know what this is and I can't be bothered reading the Wikipedia article. Let's say Tricky, because he can team up with Massive Attack and win the football / golf / netball / yachting / whatever it is. Which album is conceptual art? Obviously Tricky because of the graffiti connection. Which album sounds most like I Pray On Christmas, Harry Connick Jr's 1993 Christmas carol? The one with Jesus on the cover, of course. Isn't that right, Jesus? "Get lost." Oh.
Winner: Maxinquaye

Overall winner and going through to the quarter-finals: I said I thought this would be a walkover by Tricky. It was closer than expected because SOMEONE chose some ridiculous criteria with which to judge these albums, but it is indeed Tricky that goes through to the quarter-finals.

In the next day or three, two further albums will battle it out to win the accolade of best electronic music album of 1995. See all the riders and runners here.

Further Fats: See the whole Best Albums Of 1995 series here.

Mar 2, 2020

Best electronic music albums of 1995: Goldie versus the Chemical Brothers


Here is the second round of my all-singing all-dancing contest to find the best electronic music album of 1995. See the series so far here, and see all 16 featured albums here.

A random number generator tells me the next two contestants are:
Timeless by Goldie
Exit Planet Dust by The Chemical Brothers
Lawks. Only one can get through to the quarter-finals. Fire up the chainsaws!

Criteria one: which album would make a better biscuit?

Here we have two critically acclaimed debut albums released within a month of each other in 1995, each one a shining example in its field. But which one goes better with a cup of Tetley's? The tone of these albums is wildly different: the Chemicals with their floor-stomping rafter-shaking beats, and Goldie with his complex rhythms and symphonic satellite sounds. Biscuits are basic: it has to be the block-rocking Brothers.
Winner: Exit Planet Dust

Criteria two: which album has more bangin' choons?

On one hand we have the "brothers gonna work it out" refrain alongside contributions from Beth Orton and the fringe guy from the Charlatans. On the other hand, we have the epic Inner City Life: feel your spine shiver with that opening "tiiimeleeeeess" from Urban Cookie Collective's Diane Charlemagne. Since these albums came out, we have endured terrorism, recessions, riots and fascism. Which tune echoes through the ages? Tiiimeleeeeess...
Winner: Timeless

Criteria three: which album's track titles better remind me of cute animals?

I'm going to ignore the fact that Goldie was obviously named after a famous Blue Peter dog. Timeless's first disc ends with the track Jah The Seventh Seal, which means this album must contain six other seals. The Chemicals have the track Three Little Birdies Down Beats. So what's better: three little birdies or seven blubbery seals? The birdies have it.
Winner: Exit Planet Dust

Criteria four: which of the two would Jesus listen to?

Goldie's album starts with Saint Angel and ends with Jah, while his track This Is A Bad sounds like a precis of Jesus banging on about good trees bearing bad fruit. It certainly sounds heavenly with all its extended chords, while Exit Planet Dust has chemicals and swearing and a song to evil singing birdwomen the Sirens. No offence, Chemical Brothers, but you are definitely going to hell.
Winner: Timeless

Criteria five: which is the better album to sing songs about eggs to?

A couple of moments on the Chemicals album proved successful. On Life Is Sweet, I managed to sing "I'm boiling my eggs soft, but I forgot to set the timer" and on Alive Alone I could fit the lyrics "I'm an egg, aren't I, I'm an egg, oh no". It's all pretty negative about eggs though. On the Goldie album, I not only could warble a chandelier-smashing "tiiimeeeer", I could also sing "Om-el-ette, oh those yolken eggs is what I wanna eat, sprinkle cheeeese, I need to be, I need to be your oooeuuuuuf". Speggtacular.
Winner: Timeless

Criteria six: which album has the better cover design?

The Brothers chose a photograph of a 1970s hippy couple possibly walking home from a music festival. The soft-hued picture has been flipped, so a clearly American car is driving on the wrong side of the road. It's an Instagram photo 15 years before Instagram. The Goldie design is impressive, with the Metalheadz logo embedded into some kind of robotic cloaca, but it lacks the resonance of its rival.
Winner: Exit Planet Dust

Criteria seven: miscellaneous and worryingly random

This final section contains criteria guided by Wikipedia's random article button. The album most likely to defeat the eye of Sauron? The aggressive rolling beats of Goldie. The album best made into a cheesy motivational kitchen sign? The Chemicals and the text would be In Dust We Trust. The album best used as a life raft? The Chemicals because it would placate the Sirens. The album filled with the most gas? Obviously Goldie: the album is mostly air. Album most likely to be found in the National Helicopter Museum? With his graffiti lifestyle and gold teeth, Goldie would definitely own at least six of their helicopters.
Winner: Timeless

Overall winner and going through to the quarter-finals: I did not like two big hitters appearing so early on in this competition. By a whisker, Goldie's Timeless wins this leg of the contest. Congratulations, big dog. Massive apologies to the Chemical Brothers. I'm sure you're gonna work it out. I'm sure you're gonna work it out. I'm sure you're gonna work it out. I'm sure you're gonna work it out...

Two more 1995 albums will go head-to-head in the next couple of days or so. Stay tuned to this blog. See all the riders and runners here.

Further Fats: See the whole Best Albums Of 1995 series here.