Jan 21, 2019

Just look at this lovely album cover

Look at the cover of Hardfloor's 2014 album The Art Of Acid. Look at it. Just look at it. No, don't look at that thing over there. Just look at this album cover.

All those synthesisers. All those sound modules. All those knobs just waiting to be tweaked. Some of them are Rolands, just like me. Don't go tweaking my knob. I might make an interesting sound if you do, but trust me, those machines will make a better noise.

It's such a lovely album cover. I want to nuzzle that picture. I want to buy it dinner  I want to dance the Lambada for it, then suddenly switch to the Macarena, and everybody will be, like wooah look at his dance moves, he knows all the dance moves.

I can't keep looking at that album cover. You never know, I might even listen to it. Maybe. One day.

Jan 18, 2019

Just how DO you act at your first rave?

WikiHow has a whole page on how to act at your first rave.

On that page, there are useful pictures accompanying the useful text.

Now, I don't like to read things. If I buy a Booker Prize-winning novel, it had better be at least 40% pictures, because I can't be doing with all those clever words.

Here is what I gleaned from that WikiHow article simply from looking at the pictures. Just how DO you act at your first rave?

1. Dance

That's right. You know the phrase "dance like no-one's looking"? You need to dance like everybody's looking. Like, proper staring. And probably dribbling a bit.

Find a friend. Try swapping your back-pocket cloakroom tickets by rubbing your bottoms together.

2. Wave

Wave at your fellow ravers. Wave at the DJ. Wave at the bar staff. Wave at the bouncers. Wave at the strobe lights. Wave at the fire exit sign. Ask the fire exit sign's name. "My name's Jeremy," says the fire exit sign. Oh good. Now, the fire exit sign's talking.

3. Play pretend football

Have a pretend game of football. Kick a ball you've made up in your head. See if you can do a goal. Ten nil! Run around with your shirt over your head.

Pretend everyone in the club is your grumpy neighbour, and ask them for your ball back. Ask everyone, one by one, even though you know the ball is pretend. Do it. It'll be hilarious.

4. Wonder if you should have played pretend football

I'm not... I'm not sure I should have played pretend football  I'm at a rave. Everyone's dancing. I, uh, think that might have been a distraction. What was I thinking? I really need to get my head together. It's okay, it's okay. After tonight, I'll get it together. New start. No more pretend football.

So, er...

That, reader, is apparently how you act at your first rave.

Further Fats: Chosen Words: E is for Ecstacy (2010)

Further Fats: A very Roland-y night out (2017)

Jan 15, 2019

Here are Aphex Twin's biggest hit singles

The singles chart doesn't matter anymore to you, does it. You're into modern things like mp3s and modems and skateboards.

Still, it's nice to have a look at chart stats now and then. Here are Aphex Twin's highest UK chart positions to date.

Windowlicker 16
On 32
Come To Daddy 36
Ventolin EP 49
Digeridoo 55

Yes, that's the ‘correct’ spelling of didgeridoo.

For a five-of-the-best, it's not bad, although I would have liked to have seen the teddy bears of Donkey Rhubarb in the place of Ventolin. Sadly, ole DonkRhu spent just one week at number 78 in the summer of 1995.

Curiously, it's all 1990s stuff. Some AFX gubbins just about charted in the noughties, but nothing from the current Syro/Soundcloud revival era has troubled the singles countdown.

Not that I'd expect it to. And I'm not bothered, because chart facts are for boring old people who only like gramophones and Betamax and skateboards.

Further Fats: No new electronica in the singles chart, repeat to fade (2009)

Further Fats: Whatever happened to the cheeky New Year number one? (2013)

Jan 12, 2019

Remember when I used to present Tomorrow's World? No?

In the new Electronic Sound magazine, I had a natter with Matt Berry. Yes, that Matt Berry. He's got a great Television Themes album out, so we talked about Top Of The Pops and Are You Being Served and all that kinda stuff.

I also waffled with the International Teachers Of Pop about their ace debut album. That interview was a moment of fun in a crazy jaunt to Sheffield during which I was also the victim of theft and I pathetically failed to get into a comedy club.

Including my column in which I erroneously claim I used to present Tomorrow's World, and including my half page review of Ultramarine's new album, my articles span nearly 15 pages of the new Electronic Sound. That includes pictures too. Nice pictures. Buy the new issue here or in a shop.

Good jobs I can done string an sentence together, huh.

Further Fats: Oramics is like television, only backwards (2008)

Further Fats: It's not how many notes you have: it's what you do with them (2009)

Jan 9, 2019

I've just found The Black Dog at the back of my sock drawer

When I compile my albums of the year, I always worry that I'll miss something obvious. Like Mo Farah forgetting his running shoes or Tom Daley forgetting his swimming trunks.

I've gone and done it. Lo and blimmin' behold, I missed The Black Dog from my 2018 round-up. I knew they'd released albums, I'd listened to those albums, but my brain put them at the back of my sock drawer and forgot all about them.

The Sheffield soundsmiths popped out a pair of contrasting works. Black Daisy Wheel was mellow, like a swan enjoying a summer's day, and Post-Truth was a bit perkier, like, er, a slightly more perky swan enjoying a summer's day. Both were informed by the dystopia of disinformation in which we all wade.

The Black Dog have been techno legends for 52 decades, and they still remain as active as ever: their website is bursting with things to listen to. It's silly to have missed them because Post-Truth got plenty of play from me this year, in the same way that Tom gets plenty of use out of his trunks. I presume he's got more than one pair, although I suppose they kind of wash themselves.... I'm getting side-tracked.

Have a listen to some of it below. The album, that is, not Tom Daley's pants.

Further Fats: Please spell Freeland versus Daft Punk. "OBAMA." You are correct (2009)

Further Fats: Dramatic PowerPoint Slide: performing in Sheffield (2015)

Jan 6, 2019

Meet the Yamaha GX-1, the tractor's natural nemesis

This is a Yamaha GX-1. It is a synthesiser. It is a very big synthesiser.

It looks like an organ, but it's an eight-voice polyphonic synth that retailed for tens of thousands of dollars when it came out in the mid-1970s.

It even had a ribbon controller like a proper synthesiser. That's a strip you move your finger on, and it changes what you're playing: like a guitar's tremolo arm or that little eagle eye switch on the back of Action Man's head.

Very few GX-1s were ever made. Stevie Wonder and Aphex Twin own one. Keith Emerson's GX-1 got run over by a tractor - he later bought a second one from Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones and used its parts to repair his original.

As Keith Emerson once told Keyboard magazine:
"A truck lost its steering and drove straight into my barn recording studio. It was lucky I wasn’t there at the time, because I would’ve been playing away and the next second I’d have a tractor with a whole trailer of logs behind it go into my back. Somehow my nine-foot Steinway avoided being hit, but the tractor had shoved the GX-1 to the other side of the studio—it was bad news."
Yamaha have also made motorbikes, archery equipment and harmonicas, which suggests to me an exciting new triathlon at the next Olympics.

Further Fats: Confusion in our eyes that says it all - we've lost Control (well, almost) (2008)

Further Fats: The tractor thing (2010)

Jan 3, 2019

Beefy metal from top producers Jon Hopkins and Daniel Avery

Danny and Jonny have done swapsies.

Daniel Avery and Jon Hopkins have remixed each other on a limited edition 12-inch. Hopkins has beefed up Avery's airy track Glitter, while Avery has dirtied up Hopkins' C O S M. Both are great versions, especially the latter: I love a good metallic snare.

Daniel Avery is a Bournemouth producer who's twiddled knobs for Little Boots and Metronomy. He had the fourteenth best electronic music album of 2018. Jon Hopkins is a former keyboardist for Imogen Heap, and he once should have won the Mercury Prize instead of James Blake. Jon had the twelfth best electronic music album of 2018.

Grab some listens here.

Further Fats: Luke Vibert's remix of A Little Bit More (2007)

Further Fats: Music Order Remixed New (see what I did there) (2017)

Dec 31, 2018

Best electronic albums of 2018: one

1 –Rezzett – Rezzett (The Trilogy Tapes)

London duo Rezzett have been parping out sounds on The Trilogy Tapes for a few years, but this is the first time they've done the full toot and produced an album.

They were on the edge of my radar along with other double-z bands like ZZ Top, Yazz and We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It. But with this self-titled Rezzett album they land squarely in my sights. Distorted tech noise and rusty ambience? Yes please, thank you Mrs Music. (Not a real person.)

Rezzett is fuzzy, like an unshaven face or a neglected slice of bread. It's frequencies leak into areas they shouldn't, like a naughty paddling pool. It sounds off, like these similes. It's a scuffed-up science-fiction film set, but with Luke Abbott instead of Luke Skywalker: no JJ Abrams CGI lens flare here.

It's techno and ambient and jungle and bass music all at the same time. When you think the album has settled into a pattern, it throws something deeply satisfying at you. Listen to how the skippy snares of Tarang beckon in a chord sequence ripped straight out of a power pop anthem, and yet it all still holds together. It's perfection.

And most of all, it's properly curated. An album with shape, from the faded glows of Hala, to the dirty deconstructed house of Sexzzy Creep, to the whip-sharp junglism of Worst Ever Contender. Way to end an album.

I haven't even started on the cover artwork. Congratulations Rezzett, you slightly anonymous duo, you are my bestest favourite album of 2018.

I've thought of another one: Johnny Hates Jazz. Ooo, and Gazza!

Happy new year to you, dear reader, and I'll see you in 2019 for much more of this complete and utter garbage. If you think I'm brilliant and I deserve paying for this, then treat yourself to a subscription to Electronic Sound magazine where you'll read my monthly column and numerous other words in a different order.

In the meantime, thanks for reading this blog. Here's to its 15th anniversary in 2019. Blogging! In 2019! Who'd have thought!

Scroll all of the best 2018 electronic albums by clicking here.