Jul 31, 2006

Oh, puppies, why do you live?

So farewell then, Top Of The Pops. A pillar of pop music has been demolished, and you, my dear non-viewer, are holding the sledgehammer.

Following on from my last post about the show, I watched the final edition last night with the same morbid fascination as if a puppy was being beaten to death with a lead pipe in front of crying children. (I watched the last episode of Dynasty for similar reasons.)


The swansong of TOTP amounted to a hotch potch of dusty archive footage peppered with old presenters trying to be funny. There wasn't a live performance to be seen. So we were treated to the Rolling Stones. On video. The Spice Girls. On video. The Jackson Five, Beyonce, Wham's hair. On video. If I wanted this crap, I would have tuned into VH1. Or beaten a puppy to death; both have about the same entertainment value.

I am in favour of TOTP being killed off. The future of TV is X Factor and Big Brother. Let us leave this medium to the teenyboppers and abandon our tellyboxes to gather dust in the shed, while we implant YouTube microchips into our eyelids and surf into the i-sunset.


Having said that, I can't resist declaring a two second silence in memory of Top Of The Pop's best moments:

1. The Timelords and Doctrin' The Tardis, complete with special visual rave effects - see the video here;
2. Opus 3's It's A Fine Day, complete with mysterious balls, later sampled by Orbital for Halcyon;
3. The Orb's truncated Blue Room, complete with chess set - see the video here [link broken];
Digital Orgasm playing Running Out Of Time, complete with even more special visual rave effects (performing as Digital because 'orgasm' is a grown-up word).

Also, spare another minute's silence for the greatest rhyming couplet ever to be uttered on the TOTP stage: "I messed my pants when we flew over France."


And so we go a-wandering, an I-Pod in our knapsack, valderi, valdera, into the unknown world of new teknolijies. One day we will try and think of the name of that TV show where Tim Kash was crap and McFly were great. Top Of The... um... something, I forget.

Of course, there will be more casualties, more puppies to kill. Next on the digital chopping block will be MTV, who seem to have forgotten there is a revolution going on, and strangely have very little actual music on their actual main station despite the actual M in their moniker.

Jul 26, 2006

Filter: Mr 76ix, Syntaks & Shitkatapult

Filter the good stuff, cut off the rest...

>Filter: Mr. 76ix - Hits Of 76ix Part 2 (album)

Okay, I'm tardy reviewing this as it hit the shops in 1826, but this has a place here because Mr 76ix is someone who likes twiddling knobs. Here we have mad Aphex-style monster mashes, acid breaks, old skool beatbox kidnapped by robots, TV interference made good, and LFO-style atmospherics, all in all a wonderfully varied album made even better by track names such as Like Crack Whores Lapping Up Jizz. Hardcore with a heart.

>Filter: Syntaks - Awakes (album)

I don't know if Brian Eno and Boards Of Canada ever had sex, but I'd want to see the paternity test for Syntaks. This is the kind of intimate electronica you can take a microscope to, with clicks, clanks and echoes adding detail to a warm, smothering collection of sparkling ambience. This is both human and mechanical, like Cher.

>Filter: Various artists - Shitkatapult Empfiehlt (album)

A short compilation. Apparat's I Lost My Shit In Tel Aviv, despite its downbeat lilt, is progressive and addictive enough to deserve mention in the same sentence as Mmm Skyscraper I Love You. Fraction is Prefuse 73 pushed through Squarepusher's mincer, while T. Raumschmiere is way lowdown, perhaps a bit too lowdown for the Fat Roland radar. Fenin & Meteo mix thinly sliced synths with a deeply dubby beat, Magnum 38 sounds like pop music inside a car crash and Soap & Skin plays the piano, and is very, er, pianoey.

>Cut off: Klaus Badelt - He's A Pirate (single)

Don't blame Klaus, he just makes music for films. But a collection of trance remixes of the Pirates Of The Carribean theme tune? Did we learn nothing from the Grease Megamix? And all these clones have been shoe-horned into one single, which is a disturbing tumble back to the bad old days when you would get 22 versions of the same tune on a CD. "Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat." I thought we'd grown out of that in the 80s.

Jul 21, 2006

They say you can't keep a good tune down. This is a lie. Tip a lorry-load of bricks onto it, that should do it

It is that time of year the Mercury Music Prize nominations are foisted upon an unsuspecting public.

Critics love Mercury time, despite the fact the short-list is chosen by a bunch of beered up old men with bellies poking out of their bermuda shirts and tofu caught in the straggly bristles of their their jazz beards, whose net contribution to world music is the noise emitting from their farty bumholes, and whose critical faculties have long since been pensioned off due the fact that every single one of them has a fading poster of Avril Lavigne in their rancid toilet.


Call me a cynical old fruit, but Sway should be favourite to win the 2006 Prize because we are due an 'urban' soloist - failing that it will be Zoe Rahman.

However, my suspicion is the current glut of singer songwriters will hold, um, sway with this year's judges, boosting the chances of strum-smiths Richard Hawley, Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, but not Thom Yorke because he is too kooky and pretends to have a wonky eye.

The Observer Music Monthly has been bigging up singer-songwriters, including King Creosote, James Morrison (oh what a rip off, I mean, really!) and Jim Noir. The newspaper argues today's singer-songwriters have wild and eclectic record collections, but it still leaves me with the creeping feeling that you have to be able to warble a good tune in order to surf the heady waves of fame.


I think this misses the point of Good Music, and yes I mean to write that with a capital G and a capital M, just like Genito and Medicine. J*m*s Bl*nt can carry a memorable tune but he lacks charisma, emotion and, well, humanity. Being able to whistle someone's song just isn't enough; like toothpaste in a cake, the Tune is just one ingredient of a tasty whole.

We have to think in terms of "tracks" and not "tunes". Sometimes you can get a really catchy "track" in the world of electronica or IDM, especially when they include vocals. Think of Orbital's Halcyon, Cosmic Baby's Loop Of Infinity, or Aphex Twin's Milkman with the classic lyric "I would like some milk from the milkman's wife's tits."


So while the judges ruminate through their farty bumholes, let me thrust aloft my megaphone and announce to the world that Lou Rhodes should win this year's Mercury Music Prize.

She has eschewed electronica for acoustica, thereby bridging the gap between both, and produces mellow, haunting music that is every bit as mystical as her former band Lamb.

Almost as cruically, she is everything J*m*s Bl*nt is not, and I hope the judges choke on their tofu before they get the chance to hear anything else.

Jul 7, 2006

Friend is not a verb

The tinternet is more wonderful than spiders.

Squeaky Productions cohort Stephen Devine is now being promoted through his production label
Gloopy Music. It took an evening of hard thinking and even harder laughter to come up with that, um, tadpole design.

Meanwhile, the Fat Roland name is now firmly under the butt of Robert Maxwell or Rupert Murdoch or whatever his name is. Have a look at the
Fat Roland MySpace page and do 'friend' me because it makes me look as though I don't smell of chipolata sausages.

Tigers are more wonderful than spiders. Just so you know.

Jul 1, 2006

Filter Isan & Dabrye, cut off Gnarls Barkley

DJs have a responsibility to make the world a more musical place. This week, I have sung on buses, hidden Buddha Machines inside hollowed-out library books, and inserted rain sticks underneath the cassocks of rollercoasting vicars.

But it's not enough. This blog should be about music, allegedly, so Filter / Cut-Off is me waffling about tunes I've heard whilst pretending I am doing serious music reviews. It will be a rollercoaster ride of cultural revelation, and no, rain sticks sound nothing like rain.

>Filter this: Isan

If you've become a little "board" of
Boards Of Canada (geddit?!?!), and you still want some good melody for your money, then cast your ears over a two-piece called Isan. Their new release Plans Drawn In Pencil ranges from bubbly softness to glitchy experimentalism, and it would make great pop music if it weren't so minimal and vocal-less. Listen on MySpace here. Buy it here.

>Filter this: Dabrye

From the cut-up hiptronics of Prefuse 73 comes Dabrye. The second of his /Three album trilogy, logically called Two/Three, he provides hip hop instrumentation in the true tradition of the Herbalizer behind some excellent MCs - MF Doom, Warp Records' Beans and Wildchild among others. This is electronica hip hop and the beats can almost become lost in their own pomp, but it's not 50 Cent and for that we are all thankful. Listen on MySpace here. Buy Two/Three here.

>Time to cut-off: Gnarls Barkley

Gnarls Barkley's Crazy was a great song. Three months ago. But now this is July and GB are, like, so over. Their second Top Of The Pops performance was unimpressive and they have been covered by N*lly F*rt*do. And you have to understand, Crazy got to number one on sentimental credentials; its sound made old people (25+) reminisce about their long-forgotten youth. Which seems like a good thing, until you realise Meck hit the top spot for the same reason.