Feb 19, 2019

You are reading a blog post by Fat Roland

I've been writing reviews. I'm often writing reviews. This is not a new thing, like that time I tried to sky-dive using one of those little pizza bridges as a parachute.

You are reading a blog post by Fat Roland.

One of the albums I was reviewing this week had a computer voice saying "You are listening to a promo of X by X" overlaid throughout the album. An audio watermark, if you will. I'm not going to name and shame, but it's a proper cool label with a proper cool reputation.

You are reading a blog post by Fat Roland.

I soooo wanted to give it a negative review. Its constant interruption felt like going to review a movie, and every five minutes having the person next to you shout the film name and director.

"You had me at hell--" YOU ARE WATCHING JERRY MACGUIRE BY CAMERON CROWE IT HAS TOM CRUISE IN IT "--o."

You are reading a blog post by Fat Roland.

As it happened, I quite enjoyed the album despite the digital Jiminy Cricket on its shoulder constantly ruining everything.

There's obviously a trust issue. I'd never leak an album I was given to review, but it must have happened a million times previously. One significant dance music label insists on only offering limited streams to reviewers, sometimes within incredibly restricted time periods.

Which is just stupid, because one and a half listens in, it disappears. Like having your gramophone nicked while you're flipping back to side b.

You are reading a blog post by Fat Roland.

It would be nice to have a bit more trust, especially when you're a seasoned hack at a respectable publication. Pfffrt.

You are no longer reading a blog post by Fat Roland.

Further Fats: Is Plaid's new album The Digging Remedy any good? (2016)

Feb 15, 2019

50 candles for Electronic Sound


Congratulations to Electronic Sound for reaching its 50th issue. That's one edition for every US state, or for every mph in the Speed bus's explosion zone, or for every dollar you'd have if 50 Cent cloned himself 99 times.

I've been with the magazine since its first issue, which was carved into stone tablets by dinosaurs because they didn't have photocopiers in them days.

Massive props to the ES crew in Norwich who have bust a gut to produce 50 quality pieces of work. I haven't done 50 of anything. For example, so far in my life, I've not listened to Rick Astley 50 times, or been up a tree 50 times, or eaten 50 corn-on-the-cobs.

For the 50th edition, which has Karl Bartos draped all over the cover, my column broaches the tricky subject of politics. And pigeon droppings. Buy Electronic Sound magazines past and present here.

Further Fats: 'O' logo - the 50th blog post on this site (2006)

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: Pitchfork's 50 best IDM albums - the Fat Roland edit (2017)


Feb 12, 2019

Dance music: it's all so wrong


I've recently come to the realisation of how wrong I am about everything. Literally everything. Even this paragraph. It's so wrong.

The wrongest I've ever been is about the 1989 house humpathon French Kiss by Lil Louis. I hated the track when it first came out. Why was that woman moaning all over the record? Was she hurt?

Of course, now I recognise its place in history. Dance music was exploring its sexuality alongside some innovative tempo changes. And actually, it's a cracking tune.

I also remember hating Snap's The Power on first listen. How could something so discordant get to number one? It's all wrong. I felt offended by it: triggered before 'being triggered' was even a thing.

Naturally, I fell in love with the track: a dominating dance music classic. I was simply puzzled by the clash between the robust bad-boy rap, the jingling electro beat sampled from Doug Lazy's Let It Roll, and a whole bunch of chords that came in at different angles.

I now realise that a lot of the best stuff is slightly off: clashy is good.

And now something at the other end of the tonal scale: Air's Sexy Boy. So much cheese. So much soft cheese. Why would anyone like this?!

I have since awoken to the sexy reality that Air's particular brand of spreadable sandwich filling was incredibly tasty, and I inserted, hur hur, the Moon Safari album into my CD player over and over again - until way past its use-by date.

Three different examples in the dance music world. My reaction to those tracks was so negative, viscerally so. And yet I came to love them, and each one helped define my musical world.

What are YOUR hate-then-love tracks? Tracks (or artists) which infuriated or baffled you, but then you somehow fell for their charms in a big way?







Further Fats: Chosen Words: R is for Rhythm (2010)

Further Fats: Sexy words - an infographic (2014)

Feb 9, 2019

Fat Roland's February pop anagrams - the answers

The other day, I teased you with some pop music anagrams. I'm about to give you the answers.

If you are reading this piece but you haven't yet seen the original quiz, stop reading and visit the band name anagrams quiz here.

That said, you might be the kind of person who likes spoilers. Maybe you're the sort who spoils films by saying things like "he was a ghost child all along" and "turns out his mother was a rocking chair". That's fine - read the answers before you've seen the quiz, you weirdo.

Here goes.

1. ALL HAD HATED MANSERVANT = Martha and the Vandellas

2. CUDDLY SNOT MESS = LCD Soundsystem

3. FALAFEL LOGO SUCKS = A Flock Of Seagulls

4. HALF-HEARTED MINCE NONCE - Florence and the Machine

5. I'D HATE STREAKING PUFFIN LIAR = Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti

6. LUSTY SODS CLAP = Pussycat Dolls

7. ME CEDED HOPE = Depeche Mode

8. PART-SIGHED = Death Grips

9. RATE HERPES ASS-KISS = Shakespears Sister 

10. SALT SNAIL = All Saints 

11. SKIN-SHAMING PUMPS = Smashing Pumpkins 

12. THEY POP BOSS = Pet Shop Boys

If you got between one and four right, you win a luxury yacht. If you got between five and eight right, you win a speedboat. If you got seven or more right, you win the Fyre Festival island. Congratulations.

Feb 6, 2019

Fat Roland's February pop anagrams - number 4 is a doozy


Here's a quiz for you, readers. All you have to do is solve these band anagrams.

Some of them are big chart-toppers. Some of them are more obscure. They date from present day back to ye olden days (i.e. 1960s). They cover various musical genres.

Each name is followed by two numbers: the number of words in their name, and the year they scored their first UK chart hit.

They are all band names, which suggests two or more members. This isn't always the case, however. It's fair to say that a couple of them have operated pretty much as solo acts under the same name at various points in their careers.

Also:

> If a name begins with "The", I have not included this in the anagram or the wordcount.
> If there is a "the" later on in the name, this is included.
> If a name contains a "&", I have converted this to "and".
> If they've never had a UK hit single, instead of a year I have included a ~decade~ in which they first became well known(ish).

Good luck! Read the answers in a separate tab here.

1. ALL HAD HATED MANSERVANT (4, 1964)

2. CUDDLY SNOT MESS (2, 2004)

3. FALAFEL LOGO SUCKS (4, 1982)

4. HALF-HEARTED MINCE NONCE (4, 2008)

5. I'D HATE STREAKING PUFFIN LIAR (4, ~2000s~)

6. LUSTY SODS CLAP (2, 2005)

7. ME CEDED HOPE (2, 1981)

8. PART-SIGHED (2, ~2010s~)

9. RATE HERPES ASS-KISS (2, 1989)

10. SALT SNAIL (2, 1997)

11. SKIN-SHAMING PUMPS (2, 1992)

12. THEY POP BOSS (3, 1985)

See the answers here.

Feb 3, 2019

MIA's Paper Planes sung by 210 movies




All I wanna do is watch this painstakingly edited video of the lyrics of MIA's 2008 single Paper Planes using clips from films.

Extra points for the creative interpretation of the chorus's sound effects - and for having an actual paper planes montage.

This track is so iconic, and gave us one of the best comedy show titles. It's hard to believe it only reached number 19 in the charts when it was released.

It took a couple of months for MTV to censor its gunshot chorus. They were probably distracted the other 'controversial' song in the charts at the time: Katy Perry's much more successful debut single about (shock horror) kissing a girl. Sigh.

Feb 1, 2019

Time for a poke: new music from James Blake, Req and Mikron


Here is some new music that has just dropped from the sky like a shower of frogs.

First. After a teaser advert in a tube station, which displayed the name of the album so really was so much as teasing as being poked in the face with a telegraph pole, James Blake has blurted out a new album. It's called Assume Form.

He's much more than a Singer, capital S, these days, with all his harmonies and sweetness. I'm an instrumentation junkie, preferring the punch of his 2010 single CMYK. Still, I'll give it a listen - his delicate vocals are like chocolate-dipped honey served on the eyelash of a unicorn.

Second. Req is delivering us Tape Transport: 1994-2000. Contrary to what its title may suggest, it's not the chronicles of a troubled VHS delivery company during the rise of DVDs. The Brighton b-boy beatsmith has a truck full of rare and lost recordings. His Sketchbook album on Warp back in 2002 is well worth a listen.

Third. There's also Mikron’s Severance, out now on Sheffield's Central Processing Unit. It's right lovely sounding and will tickle the ear of anyone into Detroit techno, Ulrich Schnauss and Boards of Canada.

I review two of these in the next Electronic Sound magazine, which you have to buy otherwise James Blake will come round your hovel and tease you with a javelin.

Clips below. Enjoy.







Further Fats: BPA's album is a trouser-fiddling mess of buffalo proportions (2009)

Further Fats: Listen (and cry) to Ulrich Shnauss's Love Grows Out Of Thin Air (2016)

Jan 30, 2019

Slaying the metaphorical dragon of January

Yes! January's almost over! We've nearly slayed the, er, ice dragon of broken resolutions.

This month's always a slog. In the past I've found that little routines help make the trudge a bit easier. That might be anything from emptying the bin, to a regular food haunt, to scheduled writing sessions.

Here are three small routines that helped this January. They're largely trivial, but they've added a spark to my month.

1. A tiny tweet

On every other day, I've tweeted a “you should be listening to” Spotify link. I might as well let you know what I'm plopping into my ears, and it somehow feels I'm being generous, despite it taking very little effort. See those tweets in my feed.

2. Blogging!

I've blogged every third day. The blog posts have been small: little notelets flapping on the thermals of the internet. It somehow centres me: this here website has been home to me for nearly 15 years. More importantly, it's kept my writing brain in gear. (Thank you for reading, by the way.)

3. Total narcissism

I've kept a weekly list of pats-on-the-back. A collection of private congratulations. It's all pretty dull. Things like hanging out with friends listening to Kraftwerk, completing a writing deadline, buying socks. In this most slushiest of seasons, it helps me remember the good things which so easily fade into the cold night.

From the tweets to the blog posts to the lists, I've ended January feeling more positive than I usually go. Take THAT, metaphorical time dragon. Maybe you should try some tiny routines. Nothing big. Largely trivial. Something to add a spark.