Jan 12, 2022

Selected tweeted works: pigs, peanuts, Paul, pricks and polywonk

A broken Twitter logo

Sometimes I go onto Twitter then I give my opinions on Twitter and then I expect the whole of Twitter reads it and think "thank goodness that guy put something on Twitter".

If you are not on Twitter, you're in luck, because I'm about to spew some tweets all over this blog. Here are some highlights from my recent Twitter feed. And by "high", I mean "pretty low" and by "lights" I mean the encroaching darkness that will one day swallow us whole. 

Enjoy my stupid thoughts.

1. Genres
A guide to the different types of ambient music. 1. Ambient = chill-out music. 2. Hambient = pig-out music. 3. Diagrambient = lay-out music. 4. Wigwambient = camp-out music. 5. Victoria Beckhambient = out of your mind featuring dane bowers music.

2. Clock part one
Even a stopped cook gives the right thyme twice a plate.

3. Rockers
Have you noticed how heavy metal fans can't wink? Every single one of them. Now I've pointed it out, you'll spot it all the time. Heavy metal fans. Can't wink. Or crochet.

4. Snack part one
I ate some peanuts. Licked each one clean good and proper. Sang them one-hit wonders.

5. New year
I can't reveal my sources, but I've heard the only music we'll be allowed to listen to in 2022 is Roxette.

6. Pricked
I had my booster jab today. On leaving the pharmacy, a phalanx of seahorses escorted me on a hammock of golden plumes into the street then dumped me in a puddle. Please advise.

7. Snack part two
I'm eating Mentos and drinking Diet Coke. Pray for me.

8. Shopping
I once spotted Paul McCartney in a Currys. He was shoplifting three hoovers, trying to hide them in his enormous side flaps. He evaded security using his invisibility conch, while playing Eleanor Rigby through his gills. Three hoovers. What a guy.

9. Clock part two
I love that Orbital sample 'even a stopped clock gives the right time twice a day unless it's a 24 hour clock in which case you probably paid a little more for it so why's it stopped ffs".

10. Indifference
No-one cares: a tweet reply hammered into the keyboard, shift key pressed with stressed-white fingers. No-one cares: a caption on a gif hurled at the internet, shattering on impact. No-one cares: the strained yelp of a purple veined man, scrunching his no-one cares face tattoo.

11. Reaction
"No PCR" is trending in the UK. Quite right. Can't stand Phil Collins Records.

12. Festive food
Remember, folks, you have until January 6th to eat your Christmas tree. Make sure you start at the thin end. Good luck!

13. Movies
Se7en should have been called 5even. The Fifth Element should have been called Th3 Fifth 3l3m3nt. The 4th Matrix film should have been called MatrIX. No reason. I just like things to be wrong and annoying.

14. List
There are some things I will just never understand no matter how hard I try, namely duck hands, the concept of jeleb, the word 'xthw))rd', cloud anvils and late-career polywonk.

15. Girl power
The Spice Girls would have been more successful if they'd been called the Spine Girls i.e. they were just a bunch of dancing spines. We're all thinking it.

16. Token
This tweet is an NFT. If you read it, you owe me 92 bits of ethereal coins or something.

17. Optimism
You know it's going to be a good day when you've laid a load of blue eggs and they start whistling Van McCoy's The Hustle. No? Just me? Suit yourself.

Further Fats: Tiny promises that get me through (2016)

Further Fats: Selected tweeted works: bagel, beards, bungs and beaches (2021)

Jan 10, 2022

Guess a word, any word, no not that word

Wordle grid showing FAT ROLAND

Everyone's into the daily word guessing game Wordle. Half my Twitter feed is people posting their Wordle results. There hasn't been an online puzzle this popular since I posted a close-up body part and people had to guess if it was my ear or my warts.

For the unaware, Wordle is a bit like hangman, but you have to guess a five-letter word each time. You enter letters and the puzzle tells you how close you are to the correct ones. It has words like QUERY and DADDY and FARTS. It's nice and simple, and all credit to software guy Josh Wardle for creating a truly viral hit. Yes, the game is a letter-changed twist on his name. It could have been called Jash, I suppose.

You can post your daily results on social media, although to avoid spoilers, you can only post your answers as plain coloured squares, with the letters taken out. No, really. It's like being shown some meat at the supermarket, and when you ask what it is, they just say it's "some meat".

Of course, anyone who plays Wordle is a sad loser with nothing better to do with their time. Have I played it? Heck yes. I need to beat all my loser friends. I've even played the limitless version where you can load new games until your thumb falls off. Best correct streak so far is 57. But yes, sad losers, all of them. Ahem.

I'm glad the puzzles are only five letters long. I can't think beyond the fingers on one hand or beyond the toes on one foot or beyond the nipples on one nose. We need a game for five-lettered electronic music acts. Yello. Bjork. Diplo. Plaid. Fluke. Clark. Tycho. Bibio. Teebs. Unkle. As One. Tosca. Zero 7. 3OH!3. Chase out of Chase & Status. Jeez, it's really difficult to think of five-letter electronic music acts.

Since lockdown, I've embraced word games. This blog turns 18 years old this year: I'm not the spring chicken I once was. I'm a withered old cockerel. I'm convinced I'm going to wake up one morning and my brain will literally be a cabbage. And not even a good cabbage: one with browned leaves and loads of fungus and it's 14p in Sainsbury's. So I play word games to keep me sparking along. BRAIN. WORKS. MAYBE.

There's one kind of word game I won't do. Cryptic crosswords seem to follow some kind of arcane rule set only communicable by invisible semaphore. I think this is only played by people who understand cricket. Like most cryptic noobs, I can get the anagram ones, but I come unstuck pretty quickly. That said, I once got 13 correct answers in the Private Eye crossword: I felt superhuman. Maybe I was just possessed.

Yazoo! I thought of another one! Plone! Sasha! Cylob! They're coming thick and fast now. I can actually literally feel my brain getting younger. Quick, let me post these names on my Twitter feed but only as anonymous coloured squares. I'm sure everyone will appreciate that.

Further Fats: Chosen Words: N is for Nintendo (2010)

Further Fats: Flatulent balls – lockdown thoughts and a cartoon of a bull (2020)

Jan 7, 2022

Some January 2022 electronic music releases: Bonobo, wintertime cities and generous wildebeest

Bonobo

What is the sound of January? Is it the noise of Christmas trees being fed into a woodchipper? Is it the noise your uneaten Christmas dinner being fed into a woodchipper? Is it the noise of a woodchipper being fed into a woodchipper because that's all you got for Christmas and you already had one?

No. It's none of the above. January actually sounds like these four interesting records, all due for release at some point this month.

Here are my January new electronic music recommendations.

Bonobo: Fragments (Ninja Tune)

Seventh album from the jazzy techno man (pictured), inspired by his forays into the California wilderness. It's dead orchestral, but is also one of his more dancier outings. The Otomo collaboration with O'Flynn revives the giddy breakbeat vibes of the likes of Way Out West. One for the clubbers, and a bunch of soulful vocal tracks for the mainstream crowd too. A sunny antidote to this virus-ridden winter.

Telefís: a hAon (Dimple Discs)

This is going to be ace. Irish producer Jacknife Lee and singer Cathal Coughlan combine to make an album of snappy electro pop celebrating and satirising Irish pop culture, all with a retro / library music feel. They've got Jah Wobble on remix duties AND a track called Archbishop Beardmouth At The ChemOlympics.

Burial: Antidawn EP (Hyperdub)

I've never seen Burial and Lorraine Kelly in the same room at the same time. Coincidence?! Everyone's favourite enigma goes ambient for this new EP, as he invites us into a "wintertime city". Imagine entering Narnia where a fawn offers you a big fat blunt and never tells you its name. Like that. But spookier.

Soichi Terada: Asakusa Light (Rush Hour)

Deep house producer Soichi Terada dug out a bunch of 1990s synths for this first album in 25 years. It's Bleep's Album of the Week and I can see why. Its bright metronomic beats sit somewhere between Shinichi Atobe and early Grid. Imagine being garrotted by a furious wildebeest because you didn't appreciate the woodchipper it bought you for Christmas. This album is the exact opposite of that, i.e. it's proper nice.

That's it. Have a listen to all of that, please. Now move along before I call the police.

Jan 4, 2022

The New Year singles chart is one hot Christmas tree fire

Gayle

New Year is a time for new beginnings. New promises, new routines, new gym memberships. A lovely fresh start.

So why is the New Year UK pop chart so stuck in Christmas? Here are 19 of the 20 top ten singles in this week's chart, the week *after* Christmas. Listed in alphabetical order. Deep breath...

All I Want For Christmas Is You, Come On Home For Christmas, Do They Know It's Christmas, Driving Home For Christmas, Fairytale Of New York, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, Jingle Bell Rock, Last Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas Everyone, One More Sleep, Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, Santa Tell Me, Step Into Christmas, The Christmas Song, Underneath The Tree, Wonderful Christmastime.

What the flaming workshop elf is going on? The answer is that while last week's Christmas chart picked up all the pre-Christmas buying and streaming, this chart is picking up all the Christmas Day streams. Which is depressing because it shows the entire of the UK has had the bad taste to soundtrack their turkey guzzling with Shakin' Stevens, Brenda Lee and Elton cacking John. Wot no techno?! It's enough to make me vomit my sprouts THROUGH MY EARS.

There should be a rule. Any Christmas song that is still in the charts after Christmas should (a) be deleted forever, (b) have its artist dropped from the label, and (c) have its lyrics tattooed onto a screaming reindeer that haunts our dreams forever. This is all totally reasonable, as I think you'll agree.

Props to young Nashville singer Gayle (pictured above)who was the only artist in the top 20 who didn't have a Christmas song. Here are some of the lyrics to her smash hit ABCDEFU. It's quite sweary, so to keep on the right side of internet filters, I have replaced all swear words with antique furniture.

Louis XIII walnut tabouret you and your mom and your sister and your job

And your broke-Point de Venise floral curtains car and that regency mahogany double wardrobe you call art

Jonathan Charles side table you and your friends that I'll never see again

Everybody but your dog, you can all Edwardian corner cabinet bookcase off

The worst thing is, we won't get a new singles chart until January 7th, which means these festive songs will be in the pop charts after twelfth night. That's unlucky, like keeping your Christmas tree up for too long, or riding Santa's sleigh after midnight, or informing the authorities of the workshop elves you've got chained in your basement.

Last Christmas was at number one on last year's New Year chart, then dropped out of the top 100 the following week. This will happen again, with nearly three dozen seasonal songs about to tumble down the listings. Next week's chart is effectively a big reset button, with Gayle inevitably becoming number one and all the Santa-suppressed non-seasonal Ed Sheeran songs rising again to the surface like a bad egg.

Ho, ho, and inevitably, ho.

Further Fats: Merry pissmas (2006)

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

Dec 31, 2021

The number one best electronic music album of 2021: Koreless – Agor

Fat Roland's Best Electronic Music Albums of 2021 presents one final brilliant album:

Koreless – Agor (Young) 

The best electronic album of 2021 is Koreless's Agor. That's it. Decision made. Even Bleep agree with me. Please write this in your books because the decision cannot be changed.

Who am I kidding. My annual number one list over the years is full of albums that I wouldn't make number one now. Why didn't I make Luke Abbott number one in 2010? Or Kiasmos the best album of 2014? I'm such a little fickle douche.

Anyhoo. Let's double down. This is definitely the number one bestest long-player of the year, and if you disagree with me, you are a poopy poop-head.

Listening back to Lewis 'Koreless' Roberts's older releases is revealing. 2011's 4D is rooted in bass music, but the 'woooah' vocals are somewhat post-dubstep, and try so hard to be Hyph Mngo. It doesn't entirely work. What's curious about that is that vocals are such a central part of Agor.

Here's a moodboard for the first two tracks on Agor. An electrical burst. A splash of static. Lilting ambience. Images of the sea on a sunny day. Frequencies tighten and suddenly the synth is a rhythm. My tongue waters. I imagine clouds sweeping the sky above me. A honky siren kicks me in the face. I lose my balance. The sweeping ambience darkens. A fog lifts me into the air. I can see nothing but I know I'm weightless. The noise drops out guillotine-quick. I fall flat on my face into a dumpster.

THANKS for that, Koreless. Later on, on White Picket Fence, come the voices. A harpsichord-soft melody accompanies a crystalline chorister. I'm briefly confused. The choral voice fractals into scattered samples, echoing with the ever-more shining ambience. I momentarily forget how to breathe.

And so it goes. Loud, quiet. Chorister, ambience. Bursting dynamics, resonant silence. A stuttering vowel takes the place of a synth on Joy Squad, and suddenly we're in a beatless rave at the end of the universe. Shellshock is as close as the second half of the album comes to a straight house rhythm, complete with crowd-teasing EDM-style drops – and there isn't a drum in earshot.

We've been edging towards this kind of drum-free trance-ish classic for some time. Lorenzo Senni comes to mind, as does Nathan Micay. I think you have to get used to the vocals – it's all a bit Kyrie Eleison / liturgical at times. But embrace that and you have the most stunning album of 2021. As Bleep's far superior write up says, "Forget cinematic — this is the sound of waking up on an alien planet and coming to terms with an entirely different ecosystem."

So there we go. A Bangor beatmaker turned Glasgow producer pops out a debut album of shiny techno, and quite rightly has been bigged up by Caribou and Jamie xx. It's remarkable audio feat after remarkable audio feat: incredible to hear an experiment in sound design that is so entertaining. Quite rightly, it's a the top of my pile of 90 albums.

Thank you for reading my blog gubbins in 2021. It has been a less bloggy year than usual, but that's okay. I've been busy building a lifesize blue-tac sculpture of H from Steps or building a lifesize sculpture of Ronan Keating using only cardboard, sellotape and dozen dead octopuses or building a lifesize model of the universe from Plumber's Mait putty. Ah such original and varied content.

See you in 2022.



Top ten best electronic music albums of 2021: Ross From Friends – Tread

Fat Roland's Best Electronic Music Albums of 2021 presents another brilliant album:

Ross From Friends – Tread (Brainfeeder) 

Rachel from Friends walks into a room. "Hello everyone, I have hair," she says, and already Joey from Friends is humping the sofa.

Monica from Friends shoos Joey from Friends away from the sofa. "That's not a neat thing to do," says Monica from Friends because she likes things neat.

Phoebe from Friends sets fire to the flat because it's a whacky things to do. "Could I *be* anymore on fire?" says Chandler from Friends as he's reduced to smoking ashes.

"Hey guys, I made an album," says Ross From Friends, but they're not listening because they're too busy making lazy jokes tinged with homophobia.*

And what an album. We've spent the best part of two years not clubbing much, so it has been a pleasure to mainline Tread into my stupid brain. Boogie in the discotheque of my imagination. Felix Clary Weatherall built his own Ableton plug-in for the album to allow for a freer form of recording. The result is a work that sounds truly live.

Highlight follows highlight. The Daisy's trippy IDM is a waterfall of tumbling sadness. Love Divide takes a more straight Bonobo route, while filtering power pop vocals into passing fractals. The slow hip hop beats of Spatter/Splatter background what sounds like a choir prepping for war. Run is pure 80s pop chewed up and spat out by Boards of Canada. Life In A Mind is a microphone-brandishing diva riding a sonic spaceship like a skateboard.

For me, Revellers is the crowning glory, but that accolade will be different for everyone. I recommended this track on my Twitter a month ago because, and I quote, "I just put it on, instinctively made a furrowed 'tuuuune' face, and whacked the volume right up." Actually, maybe XXX Olympiad is my fave: those skippy drums land so nicely.

Ross from Friends walk into a room and says sadly, "hey, let's talk about dinosaurs". Get lost, Ross from Friends. We've already got a Ross From Friends. He's a keeper.

*I am aware that I'm criticising lazy writing while making the hackest route-one reference I could think of when talking about the music artist Ross From Friends. Oh dear.


Top ten best electronic music albums of 2021: µ-Ziq – Scurlage

Fat Roland's Best Electronic Music Albums of 2021 presents another brilliant album:

µ-Ziq – Scurlage (Analogical Force)

Things to do in Scurlage, which is a bit of countryside outside Swansea:

Go on a herbal walk which, according to a TripAdvisor reviewer, "is not easy with flip-flops".
Go to the Culver Hole cave which, according to a TripAdvisor reviewer, is "not too challenging with good footwear".
Explore the Gower Peninsular which, according to a TripAdvisor reviewer, requires decent boots so as to "avoids cuts and misadventure on the slippery rocks".

Things to do when listening to Scurlage, Mike Paradinas's first album of new works for donkey's years:

Gasp at the sinister atmosphere of the drum-rolling and ominous Blakers Loop.
Delight at the ping-pong percussion in the AFXian Preston Melodics.
Boogie on down to the insistent melody in the basement disco track Slade Treacher.
Mime playing a video game to the fun micro-techno of Oxwich & Penrice.
Get stupidly high to the credit-roll resolution of the sparking Blauwasser.
Lie gasping and spent as the murky Strawberry Aero closes out proceedings.

The front cover of Scurlage is an image of Welsh landmark Arthur’s Stone. The story goes that King Arthur removed a stone in his shoe. He chucked it towards Swansea, and by the time it had reached Swansea Bay, it was massive enough to be photographed for a µ-Ziq album cover.

I like to think of the idea of this album starting as a stone in Paradinas's mind. Given the extra time of lockdown, it grew into something substantial and, I'd argue, one of his best albums to date. In fact, I'd go as far to say if this was µ-Ziq's debut album, it would be up there with Selected Ambient Works. Every track is a banger wrapped in gauze and left to ride the thermals of the south Wales coastline.

The moral of the story is:

Always holiday in Wales because you might end up producing an album.
Be careful of where you throw stones because they can suddenly become massive.
Wear sensible shoes. Always wear sensible shows.



Top ten best electronic music albums of 2021: LoneLady – Former Things

Fat Roland's Best Electronic Music Albums of 2021 presents another brilliant album:

LoneLady – Former Things (Warp)

I'm a Mancunian. Born in Manchester, raised in Manchester, still in Manchester. I'm possibly the least travelled person in the country. What this has given me is a strong identification with my city, and when the Madchester scene exploded all around me, I was a happy baggy lad indeed.

What I've connected less with is pre-rave Manchester. All the post punk stuff. And when people talk about LoneLady, they're likely to mention this more gothic past: Joy Division and crumbling mills and downtrodden guitar misery, things I've neuralysed from my memory Men In Black-style, with a sharp flash of glow-stick.

So when Julie Campbell brought the synths to the fore for Former Things, she caught my attention as never before. Opening single (There Is) No Logic was a body-popping, head-bouncing, spleen-jiving delight. The keyboards weren't just foregrounded: they were being dropped on your head from the top of multi-storey car parks. I was instantly hooked. What followed lived up to the hype, from the hesitant The Catcher to the downbeat closer Terminal Ground.

In Electronic Sound (yes, that again), I lauded the "feather-light strumming and electronic orchestral plucks" and the evocation of "Kraftwerk’s ‘Home Computer’ stricken by a blue screen" and the "feeling of doubt, of paranoia, of uncertainty, albeit threaded with memorable hooks: all the things that make for truly landmark pop music."

The unsettled nature of her previous albums, as skittery as someone walking the backstreets of East Manchester on purge night, is carried through into this album. Although this time there are touchstones of everything from Juan Atkins to Cabaret Voltaire to Bananarama. Techno punky synthpop. Punk poppy technosynth.

Look into this glow stick. Deep into this glow stick. You will give this album a spin. Repeat after me. You will give this album a spin. There, that should do it.