Dec 9, 2019

What is the most successful "Dance" single of all time?

Dance Monkey by Tones And I has just clocked up its tenth week at the top of the UK singles chart. It's the longest running number one single since Ed Sheeran's all-dominating Shape Of You in 2017.

In 2016, Drake enjoyed a massive stint at number one when One Dance spent over three months in the top spot. Which makes Dance Monkey the most successful "Dance" single since One Dance.

Which raises a hugely important question. What is the most successful "Dance" single of all time? You are a lucky blog reader because I'm about to give you the answer.

1. One Dance

Drake does indeed have the most successful "Dance" single of all time. It locked out the top spot for 15 weeks, keeping the likes of Rihanna, Calvin Harris and Justin flipping Timberlake at number two. Drake is also the most successful duck-named pop star since Howard Donald from Take That.

2. Dance Monkey

There she is. Tones (pictured top) has the second most successful "Dance" single ever. We're living in classic times for singles having the word "dance" in the title. Apparently the former busker has been at number one in Australia since the dawn of time.

3. Rhythm Is A Dancer

I'm as serious as cancer when I say Snap! have the third most successful "Dance" track of all time, topping the charts for six weeks in 1992 and knocking Jimmy Nail off number one. After his phenomenal success with Snap!, square-headed rapper Turbo B went on to open a specialist cheese shop in Hull.

4. Dancing Queen

That wasn't true about the cheese shop. I went off the rails for a second there. I've got loads of tabs open, but not a single one about Turbo B's post-Snap! career. I should have made more of an effort to look him up, rather than make random punts about cheese, and I do apologise.

Disqualified – I Don't Feel Like Dancin'

The whole thing's gone flat because of my cheese shop stupidity. I can't even make the final joke about the Scissor Sisters being "anti-dance" because they don't feel like dancing. If I made that joke now, it wouldn't work because you'd be thinking about my Turbo B lie too much. I didn't even explain anything about Abba being number four. Things have really gone off the rails.

So there we go. Now you know what the most successful "Dance" single is. You'd buy speciality cheese from him, wouldn't you? He's got that kind of face. Turbo Brie, I call him.

I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.

Main picture:

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

Further Fats: If it goes bleep, it may or may not be EDM (2013)

Dec 6, 2019

Drifting off (a) on my sofa, or (b) to see Underworld – delete as appropriate

Yesterday started off normal. A couple of hours on work emails, paid off a boiler repair, noshed on an overcooked pub fry-up, tootled around erranding a few errands, and finally a bus ride home during which I decided to have a nice night in.

After all, I'm getting on a bit, and I sprained my foot slipping on ice at the weekend, and I was feeling a lot better but definitely needed an evening at home in front of a warm radiator and a nice cold Netflix.

And then I saw this tweet.

What? Underworld in Manchester? Why did my butler not tell me about this? I got off the bus. I bought a ticket on my phone. Three hours later, this happened.
Underworld were phenomenal, with such an infectious energy. How can you not dance when Karl Hyde is gyrating and prancing and flapping and gurning? He's Tyres from Spaced. We all love Tyres from Spaced.

A few days ago, I was laid up with a swollen foot the size of a small Bavarian hamlet. And here I was at the front of an Underworld gig, dancing like an electrocuted narwhal, exchanging hugs and high-fives with absolute strangers.

And what strangers! Hello in particular to the soft-faced woman who was heavily into the Drift series, the pensioner asking for drugs who turned out to be in his 30s, and the Biffy Clyro wannabe who punched his way to the front rail only to have the tallest man in the universe tell him to fudge off loudly until he actually fudged off.

And to think I had planned to spend the evening spilling over the sides of my sofa shoving blocks of lard into my dribbling mouth while skipping through Adam Sandler films looking for the jokes. Fast-forward all you want, Fats, you'll never find them.

Thanks, Underworld, for an unexpected night out. I once blogged in the style of Underworld and compared Underworld to toast. Tonight I became one with them, and I didn't even puke up my overcooked fry-up.

Further Fats: Overheard conversation... (2005)

Further Fats: A low-denominator, low-rent scally by any other name would smell like sweets (2007)

Dec 4, 2019

It is my duty to inform you of this Selected Ambient Works anagram

It is my duty to inform you that Selected Ambient Works is an anagram of "Welcome Break dentists".

Less impressively, Squarepusher's 1998 album Music Is Rotted One Note is an anagram of "emits erotic note sound" while his debut from a couple of years earlier Feed Me Weird Things can be rearranged to say "eight friends mewed".

Boards Of Canada's seminal album Music Has The Right To Children is an anagram of "hi, third nuclear ghost chemist", while their later work The Campfire Headphase works out with an Iranian twist: "imperfect shah had a pee".

Venetian Snares is more of a challenge. The best I could get out of Rossz Csillag Alatt Született was "let tzars lust at laziest clogs", which they should be allowed to do. Winnipeg Is a Frozen Shithole becomes the horsey scandal "fool whinnies at neigh prizes". I'm not even going to attempt Cavalcade of Glee and Dadaist Happy Hardcore Pom Poms.

μ-Ziq's archive release Challenge Me Foolish can be rearranged to make "nice flesh homage, lol" which is all very creepy but none of this as good as the Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works anagram. Welcome Break dentists. Yeesh. Service stations are usually quite uncomfortable experiences, and this just opens up a whole new world of roadside pain.

Nov 30, 2019

And on that bombshell, Venetian Snares is back

Venetian Snares. Remember him? He is responsible for drill 'n' bass, otherwise known as music for people who enjoy shoving woodpeckers in their ears. But in a good way.

December sees the release of Greg Hates Car Culture, which was his first release on vinyl back in 1999, a year in which no-one listened to any music because they were too busy running through the streets to escape the Millennium Bug.

Who is Greg? What's he got against cars? He sounds like the kind of guy who likes Top Gear, or Clarkson's Petrol-Drenched Circle Jerk or whatever it's called now.

I've listened to the album with both of my ears, and you'll have to subscribe to Electronic Sound to know my full thoughts. But I can tell you it has a superb John Goodman sample from The Big Lebowski. If you look at the track listing, it's pretty clear which track it is. Dude.

Back in my clubbing days, the way to suss out the coolness of someone else's music taste was to lean in and say "do you like Venetian Snares?" Comedy fans do a similar thing using Stewart Lee or Daniel Kitson.

If someone said yes, you could totes be BFFs (assuming BFF meant "Breakcore Fans Forever"). But if you just got a shrug in response, it was acceptable to excommunicate them from your life or throw them out of a window, whichever was easier.

And on that bombshell, here's a squirrel racing a jet-ski in a wheelbarrow. That's the kind of thing they do, right?

Further Fats: Logical regression (2006)

Further Fats: Cars and girls (2012)

Nov 22, 2019

Is my Boards Of Canada mash-up art? Don't answer that

I mushed together Boards Of Canada's album covers so you can appreciate them all at once.

My visual mash-up has all the delicate tones of a bruised frog, or perhaps of a gas explosion in Piers Morgan's trousers.

I think if you played all Boards of Canada tracks at once, that would be too many Boardses of Canada. The detuned synthesisers would multiply into a cascading dischordance and, like the effect of the proverbial butterfly wings, somewhere else in the universe Brian Eno will misplace his glasses case.

What else should I blend in Photoshop? I'd love to hear your suggestions. Actually, I've no intention of blending anything else: this turned out a bit rubbish. Please don't send me your suggestions. This is all a colossal waste of time.

Life is a half-hearted faff on Photoshop and then you die.

Oh. Erm...

Jeez. I have been listening to WAY too much Boards Of Canada.

Further Fats: Merzbow makes crap an art form (that's meant to be a compliment, by the way) (2008)

Nov 15, 2019

For Delia Derbyshire, faffing became an artform — heck, I should know

The new Electronic Sound magazine features electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire, who is the best woman named after an English county after, er, Sarah Lancashire.

This edition comes with a particularly striking cover illustration by Adam Forster. A quick glance at his Instagram suggests he does a great line in hand snails, finger fries and skull worms. You'll have to scroll his Insta to discover I'm not making those things up.

It's a very nice issue with some good words in, and it even has Underworld talking about their Drift project, and Josh Wink talking about Higher State Of Consciousness.

However, some idiot came along to spoil everything. Hey, look, it's not my fault that I happen to know EVERYTHING about Delia Derbyshire and all you flopsies know absolutely nothing about her. Harrumph.

Here's the start of my new column about Delia Derbyshire in Issue 59 of Electronic Sound. I do apologise. By the way, as ever Joel Benjamin has done a brilliant illustration to accompany my writing - see here.
I envy Delia Derbyshire and all the music she magically made from toasters and wooden spoons and fart cushions. When I faff around all day, smearing my belly with guacamole to add texture to my sexts, I’m “procrastinating” and “avoiding my responsibilities” and “behind on my bills”. But for Delia Derbyshire, faffing became an artform: she’d whack some nipple clamps onto a lampshade and suddenly you’ve got Doctor Who. [read more by getting Electronic Sound issue 59

Further Fats: Electronic words (2014)

Further Fats: Delia Derbyshire: put a donk on it (2017)

Nov 13, 2019

I have been blogging for fifteen years and I'm probably never going to stop

Happy 15th birthday, this blog.

The Fat Roland blog began on 13th November 2004 with a rather weak post about dry cleaning. Although it meandered in content for a while, this website eventually focused on the twin pillars of (1) electronic music and (2) silliness — two wonderful constants in my stupid life.

That humble first post back in 2004 started something special for me. Blogging came to define my creativity and, ultimately, my career.

It opened up a new world of freelance writing and performance that simply didn't exist before. I owe my uber-cool job at the Burgess Foundation to the direction blogging sent me in. And I wouldn't be writing for Electronic Sound if its editors hadn't stumbled across my sexy blog waffles.

Under the title of Fat Roland On Electronica, this blog won awards and a tonne of clicks — before clicks were the in-thing. The word "electronica" quickly became passé and, after dallying with the rather poor title "Netloafer", these days this site is called Electronic Music Stuff With Fat Roland. Does what it says on the internet tin.

This blog gets fewer clicks these days because this isn't where the cool kids hang out anymore. For example, a post yesterday generated zero comments here but 66 comments and counting over on Facebook. Still, every now and then a post gets a zillion views and I remember what it is like to be alive again. *looks meaningfully into the distance*

Here's a treat for you. I used to have a separate blog and website, for some stupid dumb reason. What follows is a screenshot of my website front page from something like 2005. I was very into black backgrounds and I designed everything in Microsoft FrontPage. And following that is a screenshot of my blog back in 2010.

What about the future? I'm going to keep blogging, and more regularly too if I can help it. This is my home. Electronic music. Silliness. And a few diversions as we go. Same as it ever was.

Nov 12, 2019

Do you remember the first time (with your own money)?

Any group of friends socialising over drinks will, at some point, raise one very particular question. That question is: what was the first record you bought with your own money?

It's a good question because the key bit is "your own money". Spending your pocket change in a record shop was step towards independence, and a stride away from hand-me-down records from your goth sister, mod-obsessed dad, or creepy uncle who dresses as Gary Glitter. It's one of your first stamps of identity.

For young generations these days, this question is obsolete. They're saving up to buy limited Record Store Day vinyl box sets encased in walrus hide: the £10 punt on a CD is increasingly rare. The modern equivalent of this question is "what's your favourite shuffle button" or "how many times a day do you skip the YouTube premium trial".

My memory is as decrepit as an old wardrobe left in a hedge, but I think my first bought album was Five Star's debut. I can't even remember its name. I listened to it once then swapped it with a neighbour for A-Ha's Hunting High And Low. "There's no eeeend to lengths I'll gooooo."

A-Ha became my world. I had their lyric posters. I had their duvet set. I made an A-Ha photo book by cutting up magazines, which I left in the school library only to be destroyed by what I can only assume were jealous Wham! fans. A-Ha was the first album I owned, and the first one that turned me into a fanboy.

But it wasn't, was it. I never bought it. The true answer is Five Star, a record of which I have no memory at all. I'm not sure even they can remember what it was called.

I like a good chunky shuffle button, preferably with an orange background. But never mind that. What was the first record YOU bought with YOUR own money? And did you get the duvet set for Christmas?

Further Fats: Do you pay for your record collection? (2009)

Further Fats: While my guitar gently sods off (2010)