Dec 31, 2006


Oh go on then, have a musical review of the year. Rather than drown you with a flood of recommendations from 2006, here is a simple six-fold selection to ensure salivation through sonic satisfaction.

For the first time, I have included 30-second sample mp3s for you to listen to. Just click on the link and your Quicktime player will summon up the fairies that make music happen on your screen. The mp3s will only be up for two weeks, mind.

(Artists that I considered but didn't include in my top six: Isan, Battles, Dabrye, Susumu Yokota, Monolake, Hot Chip, 000, Boxcutter, Wagon Christ, Biosphere and Quinoline Yellow.)

Artist: Squarepusher
Title: Hello Everything (album)
Label: Warp
[site] [mp3 no longer available]
Those who prefer Squarepusher's harder drill 'n' bass fare should stay away. Otherwise, this is a playful pot pourri of some of 'Pusher's biggest weapons: junglism, ambience, jazz, stupid synths and frenetic bass guitar mayhem. And it's ever so melodic, which means this is a good album for those tentative souls yet to foray into the strange world of Tom Jenkinson.

Artist: Luke Abbott
Title: b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b (track)
Label: Output
[site] [mp3 no longer available]
Now come on, this is just silly. The reviews call this an "8bit adventure", which basically means there is zip all quality to this repetitive bit of nonsense. This was also one of the few moments of absolute genius in 2006. Luke manipulates the circuits of electronic toys and produces the kind of results only found between the matrix and the real world. B,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,brilliant.

Artist: Nathan Fake
Title:Drowning In A Sea Of Love (album)
Label: Border Community
[site] [mp3 no longer available]
As you would expect with a "sea of love", listening to this album is like being hugged by a hundred marshmallows while having your feet massaged by clouds. Electronica / IDM has not been this warm and inviting since The Orb's last party in hell. Jump in, take your socks off, and absorb yourself in what I hope will be considered an masterpiece by the time I'm selling drugs to my grandchildren.

Artist: FM3
Title: Buddha Machine (album?)
Label: FM3
FM3 are a Chinese experimental music duo who decided to spurn the usual format of CD or mp3 or whatever, and instead released their new album in its own dedicated piece of hardware. The Buddha Machine is a small plastic box with a speaker that emits nine short drones that you toggle between using a switch on the side. And that's it. And it's one of the best things I have ever bought.

Artist: Clark
Title: Boddy Riddle (album)
Label: Warp
[site] [mp3 no longer available]
Clark, who used to be known as Chris Clark but had his Chris stolen by hoodies, is an electronic artist, but his music encompasses post-rock, musique concrete and the dishwasher to boot. I don't know whether to file this under disco, ambient, krautrock or space music. Alls I do knows is this is Clark's most complete album to date and it will happily stick out of your CD racks like a native American on a psychiatric ward.

Artist: Boards Of Canada
Title: Dayvan Cowboy (track)
Label: Warp
Forgive me for including a third Warp artist in my top six, but I can't ignore the monster that is BoC. Dayvan Cowboy spilled forth from their Trans Canada Highway EP and, well, see it for yourself... with THE MAGIC OF VIDEO. With this ends my blogging year. See you on the odd side.

Dec 29, 2006

Knobs, cocks and boils: my review of the year

>Cheese of 2006

Wensleydale, as it is every year.

> The most wonderful public figure of 2006

This is a difficult choice; 'wonderful' is not a word I would use to describe most celebrities. Lily Allen was both 'street' and pedestrian, while Chantelle and Pete Doherty were either OMG like sooo cool or complete morons, depending on your take.

We were forced to think about Chris Tarrant and Mark Oaten's sex lives (not together, although they would make a delightful couple). Michael Richards and Mel Gibson destroyed our faith in Seinfeld and Braveheart respectively.

Tony Blair and David Cameron annoy me so much, I want to gnaw the back of my knees off. Paris Hilton, Catherine Tate and The Feeling are also boils on the bottom of life I want to lance with the needle of justice.

In fact, the only public figure that didn't want to make me grate my eyeballs and syringe them back up my nose was Mr Lordi (pictured), whose band stormed to a well-deserved Eurovision success with this glorious number.

>Knob of 2006

I think butter just about edges the victory here, over the bed and door variety.

> Film of 2006

Bond took a menacing turn for the better, but I still can't take those films seriously. I missed any films to do this year's overriding theme of animals and planes, so I lost out on United 93, Snakes On A Plane and any one of the million films about penguins. The Departed, Superman Returns and Children Of Men were pleasant surprises, and A Cock And Bull Story made me giggle lemonade out of my nose, if only for Stephen Fry's impressive "cock!"

My favourite film of the year came right at the beginning, as the turkey and stuffing was still swilling round my insides. From the opening bomb explosion, Munich was unsettling and brutish and shied away from moralising, and thankfully avoided the usual saccherine Spielberg fare.

>Near death experience of 2006

Sankeys Soap in the summer. Yeesh. At least, it felt like near death. I'll tell you over a beer some time.

>Post of 2006

Yes, from my own blog. I really am that vain.

Autechre sell tinny frog-puke enducing cancer machines always seems to come up on Google searches and provoked an anonymous commenter to call my post "a load of sniffle", although the whole post was cheapened by my use of a Dilbert cartoon. My Misadventures In Sound series chronicled my DJing on Refresh FM last Easter, although I never quite finished it. Filter: Beckett & Taylor, Luke Abbott & 000 provoked a respectful mention on a record company website. A little less respectful was It's 3.30am and this is what I think of Da Vinci, which was written in a fury after wasting good sleep over an appalling film. Five things I don't want you to know about me was similarly heartfelt.

I have to plump for the Fatbelt series as my favourite, in particular Fatbelt: notch 3 which saw a whole nation take Saffron the goat to its heart. Well, about three people anyway. My favourite phrase of the year was from that post: "Friday waltzes in to the room like it owns the place." I like that, I must use that again.

Is that smug enough for you?

>Smug git of 2006

Yes, okay, I'll go away now.

Dec 27, 2006

Will the David Attenborough of electronic music please step forward?

I'm not exactly what you call a man's man, although I fall effortlessly into realms of life traditionally spurned by most no-tails, such as Formula One, modern computer video games and long conversations about early Warp catalogue numbers.

I get as annoyed at male chauvanist pigs as I do at wimmin's libbers who spout things like "typical man!" and "You think that hurts? You should try childbirth." Sexism is from the same root as racism, so if you want to be my friend, keep your petty prejudice to yourself, lest I sulk quietly for three days before developing man 'flu*.

>Women in the field

This blog is meant to be about electronica / IDM music, which is male dominated like most areas of popular music. There are women in the field, such as Goldfrapp, Bjork, a bit of Mum and a smidgeon of Telefon Tel Aviv, but they are mostly standing on the touchlines watching the main action. See? That was a sporting analogy, which is so manly*.

In the spirit of political correctness gone mad, I would like to declare January 2007 as the month that Mira Calix will make it big. She is a glitch artist who dillies with found sound, and dallies with orchestral experimentation.


Her new album will be called Eyes Set Against The Sun, and it features samples taken from her garden. Audio samples, that is; she isn't flower pressing, even though that is very womanly*.

Australia's In The Mix magazine describes her as the David Attenborough of electronic music, and a particular quote from their interview with her (read it here) gives me hope that electronica artists' obsession with audio trivialities is not just a male fascination.

>Amazing creak

Here's what she says: “There’s a tree near where I live that has this amazing creak all of its own, and every little twig you hear sounds different if you bash it or step on it or rub against it, and because they are different types of wood they all make different types of sounds...

"I made a [musical] piece out of snow melting but it ends up sounding like water running because it obviously turns into water when it melts. Because it was all melting at different speeds and times, though, it sounds bizarre – maybe, to people, it could sound like I just turned the shower on! I enjoyed it, but in the end I got too cold and had to leave my recorder outside and keep popping back. I have no idea why I find it fun, but I do.”


Her childlike fixations sum up my thought processes about most things most of the time, although I'm not sure if that makes me a man's man, a woman's woman or just a Roland's Roland.

*irony in action

Dec 25, 2006

Never mind the baubles, here's James Brown

It seems only inappropriate to wish all my readers a stupendously average Christmas with perhaps the occasional moment of lucidity about where it all went wrong and how you want things to be different next year and oh my god I'm so fat.

Fear not, my tearful Tiny Tims; put your regret in your jacket pocket and don't bring it out again until New Year. In the meanwhile, gorge yourselves on sweet yule logs, stodgy Christmas pudding and glass baubles.


An angel once told me the true meaning of Christmas, but I can't remember what he said and anyway he had a girl's name. Christmas for me is about having a few days off work, eating things made from fat, and getting all my old Adamski records out.


I must mention the sad loss of James Brown, probably the first true legend to die on Christmas Day. When I say "first true legend to die on Christmas Day", I don't know that for a fact, and please do correct me. I can think of WC Fields for a start...

Anywii, I tried to post a JB vid from Youtube, but since I upgradified to Blogger Beta I've not been able to stick illegal videos on my blog. So I've learnt a bit of HTMLTML and here is, hopefully, James Brown as I'll always remember him: high and funny.

Happy Christmas.

PS - The blasphemy at the top is by WibblyWobbly and his (NSFW) B3ta profile is here.

Dec 23, 2006

Reviews: Rollercoaster Project, Squarepusher & Plan B

Artist: The Rollercoaster Project
Title: Drone 1 (single)
Label: Dreamboat
[site] [listen]
If I wanted to hear screaming men and wailing guitars, I would set a tiger loose in Dawson's music shop. Or I could listen to the Rollercoaster Project, which is a strange little single by a strange little Yorkshireman with angry synths on one side and furious axe-weilding on the other. It's oddities like this that keep me interested in music - a small pleasure, like sex on the top of bus shelters.

Artist: Squarepusher
Title: Venus no 17 (single)
Label: Warp
[site] [listen]
My mouth has oft raved about Squarepusher's Welcome To Europe album, with its willy nilly bass spanking mayhem. Yet, spin the globe back Superman-stylee to the ancient year of 2004, and here is the 'pusherman at his more straightforward, ADHD best. This re-release includes a car-crash of an acid mix (that's a good thing, by the way) and an epic called Tundra 4 which sweeps as it beats as it squeals.

Artist: Plan B
Title: No More Eatin (single)
Label: 679 Recordings
I get easily annoyed at hip hop, and because of this I tend to ignore most of the genre. Bitches and guns and cars don't really shwing my bling - Plan B is no better. Not only does he look as though most of his life experience has consisted of hanging out at Stockport bus station, he also got the seal of disapproval when my rap fiend mate Stefan saw him live and wasn't too impressed. And what Stefan says goes.

Dec 21, 2006

Five things I don't want you to know about me

Internet memes are, like, sooo 2005, but I'm willing to give Ben Edson's tag the time of day because (a) he's a good egg, (b) one of his five things profoundly disturbed me and (c) I'm waiting for pizza.

So here are five things you probably didn't know about me, although if you have been with me when I'm drunk, I have probably confessed most of these things at some point.


I used to be a spendaholic. I would stroll round music shops and make impulse purchases with hard real money cash. One of my better decisions was the beautiful Roland JP-8000, from which I got my DJ name. At one point, I went sledging and realised afterwards I had £1,300 in cash in my back pocket. I peeled the notes carefully onto a radiator, and once they were dry, I spent every last pound on something-or-other.


I am a founding member of the Manchester Boy's Choir. I remember having a strict choir master who would make us learn a whole bunch of songs and then tell us just before a performance which ones we were going to sing. I sang with the Halle orchestra, and once walked into a pillar at the Free Trade Hall because I was nervous. I also learnt the piano and trumpet and I was a 100% wizz in theory exams.


I have almost no sense of family. My mother died when I was revising for my A-Levels, and my father died ten years ago. I had old parents, so many grandparents, aunts and uncles had shuffled off this mortal coil long before I had a chance to know them. This practical non-existence of my extended family may partly explain why I don't value 'family' as much as other people. I am not close to my two brothers, although I like them both, and I hardly know my seven neices and nephews. And if that wasn't enough, I have a half-sister I have never met (so make that ten nieces and nephews). This sounds very sad, but I fill the gap with wonderful friends, of which I have always had many.


My two worst fashion disasters are (a) my green suit and wine red tie I used to wear when working as a pop columnist on the South Manchester Reporter in the early 1990s and (b) my dangerously tight orange trousers, complete with orange jacket, I wore when I was going through my conceptual orange-and-blue-only phase. Everyone had a conceptual orange-and-blue-only phase, didn't they? They didn't? Oh...


I am going to counselling in the new year. By some people's standards, I've been through some tough times, and despite having depression for as long as I can remember, I have retained my optimism and humour. However, I don't think laughing my way through things is working any more. I am very nervous about counselling, but I do believe a broken brain has as much right to be mended as a broken arm, and believe me, some arms are more broken than others.

And now the tags: Blonde Janet, Daniel, Geekmonster, Lee, Sarahcontrary.

Edit: Welcome onboard, Patroclus. It's always nice to hear who's reading. May your 2007 be totally 2007ish.

Dec 15, 2006

Dirty tree and a turd

If you were looking for evidence that all DJs are ponces, then look no futher than the Bay Horse last Wednesday.

I had the audacity to celebrate my 33 1/3rd birthday with a Squeaky Productions event called 33 1/3. In all fairness, I didn't ask for cards or presents, although the lovely Lev gave me a treat I shall never forget. It was... erm... hold on now, it'll come back to me... oh yes, bubble blowing stuff that will no doubt liven up my Christmas parties this year as well as providing a serious health and safety hazard. Hurrah!

>Final insult

Back to Wednesday. We pushed the 33 1/3rd theme as far as we could be bothered. We showed Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. We had vinyl LPs all over the tables and walls. We had a tombola with 33 1/3rd prizes.

And we also had a quiz with 33 questions. All the answers relate to the numbers three, 33, a third or, for festive fun, Christmas. You can play the quiz now on the Fat Roland website. Go on. It's really hard (said Santa to the elf) but give it a try anyway.

For those who submitted their answers on Wednesday, we now have a winner with a score of 16 out of 33. That is Rob Telford, and he has won a copy of Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult on Digital Versimilitude Discette (or "DVD" as my great great great great grandchildren call it). Rob and everyone else can also find the answers by clicking on the quiz at [link no longer available].

>Vinyl info

Finally, here is my track listing from Wednesday. I DJed for three hours, and these are the tunes for the first hour only. The second hour was pure vinyl request heaven, so we had such classics as The Cure, Paul Hardcastle and A-Ha. And the third hour was me putting on really long records so I could play pool with my chums.

Boards Of Canada: Alpha And Omega
Deadly Avenger: Black Sun
Up Bustle & Out: Ninja's Principality
Req: Upstairs
EU: Tanya
EU: Sm
Plaid: Get What You Gave
Autechre: Rae
Richard H Kirk: Velodrome
Primal Scream: Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts)

PS - thanks must go to Kol and Fil for making the event happen. I can't live, if living is without you. I can't liiiiive, I can't live anymooooore. Altogether now...

Dec 14, 2006

Bex at Nex(us)

My chum Bex is performing her latest dance piece at Nexus this Friday. And here is the flyer.

She's a great creative spirit, and is more lovely than a jar of candy floss puppies. (That was meant to sound like the cutest thing ever, but it makes me feel ever so slightly queasy.)

View a larger flyer here.

Dec 5, 2006

Merry pissmas

Felched from Sarah's blog. I hope this is the first and last time I'll mention Christmas on this blog.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper. Gift bags are ridiculous unless they're home-made, and then they're ridiculous and home-made.

2. Real tree or artificial? Real. Killing trees upsets Dogmatix and I hate dogs, so that's okay.

3. When do you put up the tree? I don't, I get my male au pair to put it up for me.

4. When do you take the tree down? I'm strongly in favour of keeping Christmas decorations up all year round.

5. Do you like eggnog? Nog. Er, I mean, no. I don't know what it is, but Starbucks sell it, and I don't like most things in Starbucks, so I probably won't like it.

6. Do you have a nativity scene? No, but I do sell them for a living. I'd recommend the Brush Art Nativity set made entirely out of toilet brushes, or something. (Google it.)

7. Mail or email Christmas cards? Neither, complete waste of time. Have a party instead and invite everyone you know, where ever they are.

8. Favorite Christmas Movie? It's A Wonderful Life every time.

9. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Turkey and all the trimmings, sometimes Belgium, but mostly Turkey.

10. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I spit upon your American spelling, but "colored" it is.

11. Favorite Christmas song? I'll Be Home For Christmas by Starflyer 59 or if I'm feeling really cheesy, then Stay by East 17.

12. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Home. Travelling is for, um, travellers.

13. Angel on the tree top or a star? A beautiful angel with a pink dress, glittery wings and a curly moustache.

14. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? The problem with opening them the previous evening is I'm usually pissed on Christmas Eve, so I'd open my presents then wake up the following morning not remembering a thing. I would find all my opened presents, blame it on burglars, and I'd phone the police. I'd spend the whole of Chrimbo Day with the rozzers looking for anyone matching a photofit of a drunk Fat Roland, and essentially that means I would end up having Johnny Vegas arrested and the whole world would hate me forever for robbing the world of comedy. So I open my pressies on Christmas Day.

15. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Red. Green. Red and green.

16. Favorite for Christmas dinner? I've had enough of your American spellings. Go away now

Dec 2, 2006

Do you know Squarepusher? You do now

Here's Squarepusher on BBC2's The Culture Show. Lauren Laverne clearly has no idea who he is, and a researcher has fed her a bogus line that he is mainly known for DJing.

Whilst I'm in BBC-slagging mood, it's interesting to see Radio 4 has just shown a documentary on Jay-Z. They've ignored him for years, but now he has serious money and business behind him, he's respectable enough to be covered by Radio 4. In fact, Jay-Z: from Brooklyn to the Boardroom seems a lot more concerned with his business acumen than the fact he knows how to punch out a great lyric or two.