Nov 18, 2018

Throwing shapes, lots of pretty shapes

I like a data visualisation, me. Lots of pretty shapes throwing information in your face.

Maths doesn't strike me with fear, as it does for so many. I got an A in my GCSEs, and I'm the kind of person who reads all the chart positions in the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles.

I was less keen on art at school because I'm not one for colouring within the lines. But give me a bunch of marker pens and a stack of paper, and I'll scrawl you something very out of the lines. A hypno-cat? A shark called Franklin? A devastated Gonzo? It's all there on my Instagram page.

All of which is to say, I love Sequence, the data art prints by Alex Szabo-Haslam.

You pick any album, and I mean any album at all, and its track lengths will be rendered into a tasty graphic. The Kickstarter has just smashed its funding goal, and now you can order from his website (I presume you communicate your chosen album via email).

More geeky artwork, please, world. My face loves those shapes.

Further Fats: See this? This is you, this is (2014)

Further Fats: Aphex Twin's new Cheetah EP: a sweet talkin' design (2016)

Nov 15, 2018

Five starring roles in the video for Aphex Twin's On

Aphex Twin's third EP On is 25 years old today, according to Wikipedia. Happy birthday, On. Happy Onday.

I remember playing the video a lot. I must have owned it on VHS or reel-to-reel or kinetoscope. The hypnotic stop-motion beach scene tied in nicely with the farting bassline of the track. Watch it here.

For those that don't remember, here are the main stars of the On video. Enjoy.

Further Fats: Aphex Twin + Britney + Beastie Boys + 808 State + anything, really (2010)

Further Fats: Fat Roland goes to Crosby beach (2014)

Nov 12, 2018

Eight thoughts, from Aphex Twin's face to the reincarnation of ODB

1. The new Crack magazine has a great Aphex Twin mug shot (pictured), and this interview is matched with some delightfully unwatchable graphics.

2. I went to see Dylan Moran with my mate Ros and he was very funny. He's put me off ducks for life.

3. Scooter's 2003 single Weekend ends with the lines "respect to the man in the ice cream van, over and out", respective references to the KLF singles Justified & Ancient and 3AM Eternal. Two of their many KLF references. (Hat tip: Matthew Cobb)

4. The Designer's Republic, who have done record covers for every important electronic band ever in the whole history of the universe, are running a slightly pricey but very impressive Kickstarter campaign for a new book.

5. Richard Herring's new Stone Clearing podcast is even more ridiculous than his self-playing snooker podcast and you should subscribe to it here.

6. This blog turns 14 tomorrow. It's not an impressive number so I won't be baking a cake. Still, it's as old as Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp from Stranger Things.

7. I've got Rhythm Is A Mystery by K-Klass in my head. The "move your body to the rhythm of love" bit. K-Klass really need to have a word with Snap: rhythm's either a mystery or a dancer - it can't be both.

8. Oh and another thing. I learned today that Ol' Dirty B*stard died on the day my blog was launched. I'm not saying this blog is the reincarnation of the Wu Tang legend, but I think questions have to be asked.

Nov 9, 2018

I have the best job on earth*

Two years ago, I began working for Anthony Burgess, or more specifically, for the institution that carries on his work in Manchester.

I have the best job on earth*. I get to put events on in an idiosyncratic but beautiful Manchester mill, and know that whenever someone buys a book about ultraviolence (A Clockwork Orange) or a poet sitting on a toilet (Inside Mr Enderby), they're paying my wage.

I'm also immersed in the world of an extraordinary person. Every time I flit from writing a short story to making music to scribbling a strange new cartoon, I think of Burgess. He did the same, mixing his artistic modes like a cocktail: the musical doodles on his manuscripts in our archive are testament to that.

You should come and visit my place. There's loads on: as I write, there's a synthesiser gig on, and tomorrow there's a hypnotist, and then there's exhibitions and literature and I'm pretty sure there's a children's concert coming up next month.

Working at the Burgess has also freed me up for performance stuff, and I've just had the most remarkable year - bigger and better gigs than ever before including a show run in a proper theatre. Like, proper. It had walls and everything.

And to put the journalistic cherry on top of the orange-flavoured cake, the latest Electronic Sound is dedicated to A Clockwork Orange. I've now written 47 columns for ES along with a stack of features and reviews. You really should subscribe. Burgess was a journalist too, of course. He seems determined to copy everything I do.

As for the rest of 2018, I'm winding down performance stuff. Smaller gigs, open mics and suchlike. I need more head-space, and some quiet creativity to top off what has been a very loud year. And then in 2019? Bigger, better, louder, stupider, and a more orangey artistic cocktail. What does that even mean? I have no idea.

I'll leave you with something cool I did with our brickwork recently. See? Idiosyncratic but beautiful. Nailed it.

* astronauts have better jobs, but technically they're not on earth when they're astronauting

Nov 6, 2018

Feed me Rephlex things

This blog post was prompted by a tweet from Bandcamp, which is a bit like a more modern version of writing a LiveJournal entry prompted by a forum post from Napster.

Rephlex Records was a massive part of my musical world. It was truly the ABC of alternative techno, if that ABC stood for Aphex Twin, Bogdan Raczynski and Ceephax Acid Crew.

The label wound up a couple of years ago, but Bandcamp are here to remind us of their legacy in this old article tweeted at the end of October.

I think I'd include Squarepusher's Feed Me Weird Things, something by The Gentle People, some Voafose and that cracking Monolith album from a while back that was well good.

Professional music writer, me.

Read the Bandcamp piece here.

Further Fats: Reviews: The Flashbulb & Hecker/Voafose (2006)

Further Fats: Some abandoned musics: Body Down by Hounds Of Hulme (2015)

Nov 3, 2018

How I tricked the internet with 506 tweets

On Friday, I dropped this tweet bomb.

That's right. Go back to Friday afternoon on my Twitter feed and you'll see 506 consecutive tweets stretching back to the start of the summer, all spelling the acrostic FATROLAND over and over again.

Apart from that woman who did the whole of Bohemian Rhapsody and every other person who's done a similar thing. this is a totally unique experiment.

Why? asked several followers, incredulous at the sheer waste of time and energy.

That's easily answered. Why did King Kong climb Everest? Why did Scott of the Antarctic go to that icy place, can't remember its name. Why did Axl Rose do Chinese Democracy?

Because it was there.

Except it wasn't there. I had to write all the tweets. Nothing was "there". Twitter isn't a mountain or an iceberg or a terrible album. So that metaphor makes no sense.

Of course, I've tricked you again. Go back over this post and you'll find that all the initial letters spell OFIDTTBTRGBTF-- wait, this doesn't make sense either.

Words are difficult.

I'm going to write some more comprehensive thoughts on this, probably as a column for Electronic Sound, but I enjoyed the silliness of this, and the reaction to the reveal was a joy. Nice to have my regular Twitter feed back though.

Oct 27, 2018

Would you kick Shawn Mendes out of the Lost In Translation bed?

Lost In Translation had one of those great band soundtracks. My Bloody Valentine, Air, Death In Vegas and, at his most heavenly, Squarepusher,

Some pop plonker has come along and ruined all that. Vine karaokeist Shawn Mendes has mimicked Sofia Coppola's 2003 film on his new single Lost In Japan. The fresh-faced Canadian plays the role of whiskey-plugger Bob, originally portrayed by a weather-beaten Bill Murray.

He even recreates Murray's iconic bed-sitting moment (pictured), used as the cover for the original soundtrack release.

"Do you got plans tonight?" says Mendes. "We'd be in the same timezone," says Mendes. "Did you like me in Zombieland?" says Mendes. Maybe not that last one.

This is, of course, the end of all civilisation. We can't have these young whippersnappers ruining classic old things, with their "youth" and their "looks" and their "talent". Before you know it, there'll be a new bunch of teenagers watching the film with their fresh and unwrinkled eyes.

Whats next? 5 Seconds Of Summer remaking Reservoir Dogs? Justin Biebpipe going bezerk on a lawnmower for Straight Story? Jaden Smith as the shark in Jaws?!

Actually, I'd watch that.

Further Fats: It's 3.30am and this is what I think of Da Vinci (2006)

Further Fats: Watch the video for Oneohtrix Point Never's Animals (2016, contains Val Kilmer sitting on a bed)

Oct 3, 2018

Feel the breeze with Vessels

This is Vertical by Leeds band Vessels, a bunch of post-rockers who went techno. Readers, meet Vertical. Vertical, meet my readers.

This is old, from, like, 2015 or something. I know, they made music even in the old days.

Get up to speed with this track's slow-build, enjoy a deliciously wet bassline at the three-minute mark, then watch the whole thing soar. You can feel the wind in your hair with this one.

Sep 30, 2018

Ten things I did in September

Listened to Heart by the Pet Shop Boys twice in a row.

Wrote a short short story AND installed a toilet floor on the same day.

Saw a brace of magpies eat a dead bird.

Went to a space-themed takeaway complete with videos of meteors.

Went to Didsbury Pride, which was a bit like a church fete but with more rainbows.

Upgraded my internet, which is very dull, but it's going to make a big difference for my creative / work gubbins.

Had a baby squirrel climb up my leg then look up at me confused.

Did gigs in Cumbria, Derbyshire and Burnage, the holy tryptich of entertaining places.

Went to a reconstruction of Princess Diana's funeral and had the Daily Star on my back digging for info.

Rediscovered Sun Electric's 1996 album Present (pictured), which mostly passed me by at the time - it's a corker.

Sep 27, 2018

You are enough

Here's s sign that has popped up in several places around Manchester. This one was tweeted by @uomlib_nick. You are enough, it says.

It's an important sentiment, and maybe something we all need to hear. We have nothing more to give than ourselves, and there's nothing greater to give.

The design is the work of Micah Purnell. He's a lovely bloke who seems to have an 'adbusters' chip in his brain: he has a particular talent for subverting brand imagery. He once designed one of my stories, a frame I still have on display in my living room.

So why the serious post, Fats, and what's this got to do with anything?

You know when you see something differently? The vase instead of the faces? The blue dress instead of the gold dress? It's happened here. I cannot unsee this poster's unintended double-meaning of ambient musician disgust.

You see it too now, right? You are Eno, ugh! Poor Brian.

It's doesn't erase its original meaning though: actually, that quirk has now made this one of my favourite poster designs. If you want some Micah Purnell Design Studio merch in your life, including this poster, head to this website. You should - he deserves the coin.

Because, y'know, maybe you're NOT enough and you need merchandise to complete your life. Dammit. I've missed the point, haven't I.

Sep 24, 2018

Too long, didn't watch? Jon Hopkins' new video for Singularity

For those who are simply too busy to watch a whole video, here's what happens in the new Jon Hopkins promo for Singularity, directed by Seb Edwards.


Bloke comes back from the newsagents. Stands in a puddle for a bit. A woman listens to his leather jacket. They pretend they're Torvill and Dean and she's like, shut up, I'm that Peep Show guy doing Flashdance. And he's like, let me go into this other room to see what's there. He checks the radiator's on. We never find out if the radiator's on. After a bit of a spin, they pop into the woods for a fag.

I think that covers it.

Sep 22, 2018

Is Aphex Twin's Collapse EP any good?

Yes. Of course it is. Don't be stupid.

Considering he's been splattering out tracks like the biggest nosebleed in the universe, Aphex Twin's latest Collapse EP seems to have clotted enough to catch plenty of attention.

Lead track T69 Collapse seems to squidge together his skippy Syro style with the cascading Windowlicking of his earlier work, and it does it to great effect. The insectoid dice rattle on 1st 44 is a real ear-tickler.

And keep an eye on the clattery and insanely melodic MT1 t29r2: it's one of his cheekiest tracks and may well end up being a live favourite. If it's not already.

The whole EP is jittery, certainly much more than 2016's Cheetah EP, but never loses its groove.

Strange, isn't it. You blast out over 200 tracks on Soundcloud, and all the beat-geeks rake through the material, with nothing getting much attention beyond forums and the occasional thinkpiece. You package up a few tracks with Warp, slap the dizzying artwork around a few tube stations, and everyone's abuzz. It's nice.

He's come a long way for a dancing teddy bear.