Jun 28, 2007

White GLOVE, white GLOVE, white GLOVE, hello? hello? is that ITV?


Like a one-legged marathon runner, I've got a lot of catching up to do. Refresh yourself with a lightning review of some recent releases; your ears will thank you for it.

I gushed about Last Step a few weeks ago, and the album is worth more than a sly glance.

Fizzing with analogue goodness (think 303s and 808s for those with a passing knowledge of music technology), this is a conflagration of Giorgio Moroder-inspired dance burners. It shines when he's not trying to sound like his Venetian Snares alter ego, but Ceephax does this better. And faster.

I keep forgetting to tell you about Puzzleweasel.

The techno police call his Exo-Grid LP breakcore, but for those not acquainted with Saddo's Dictionary Of Obscure Musical Genres, it sounds like the following in turns: (a) battling typewriters; (b) electricity on metal; (c) a drum machine being fed through a shredder; (d) a collapsing house and (e) the sound of this blog being eaten by flatulent zombies. In other words, thoroughly engaging.

Speaking of Ceephax (pictured), which I did a few paragraphs above this one, so this isn't one of those comedy non-sequitur moments, I really was speaking about Ceephax, anyway, speaking of Ceephax, there's a new Ceephax release you should listen to.

Ceephax's Megalift EP is a pert four-part package of hurtling jungle, Tellytubby acid and hypercoloured rave.

It's like living in a video game, only there are no winners or losers, just gurning freaks who stay up all night munching washing powder tablets and phoning night-time quiz shows saying "white GLOVE, white GLOVE" over and over again until the presenter ends up crying.

That's my night sorted, then.

Jun 17, 2007

This post is brought to you by the number twelve

ABC tracker 2

As promised on my last postette, here are more photographs from our letters and numbers themed II event.

First off, let me announce a winner. We held a cute little competition where every DJ had to write their track list on an ABC wall poster (pictured above). So if they played Squarepusher, they had to write Squarepusher on the S square.

Every punter on the evening was invited to pick a random letter. Those whose letter corresponded to the most-written-in square were put into a prize draw.

The most played letter was B (specifically Big Wells, Bjork, Boyz Noize, Battles, Bird And The Bee, Boards Of Canada and Boom Bip). However, whoever had a B didn't put it in our prize draw box as instructed:

The same went for the second most played letters, S and T, so it ended up being a draw between those who had pulled A, M and V. (W was disqualified because a DJ wrote Yellow Wallpaper in the W square instead of the Y square.)

So anyway, here is the winner...

Here are some more pictures. From our live feed edited by visitors on the night:

From our random picture switcher:
And several strange visitors. A dalek, a woman who went around in black and white, and somewhere in the gloom is our wonderful resident DJ Kid Mingus.
Last but not least, the DJ booth had wonderfully homosexual fairly lights (no, seriously, they only flash in time to songs from South Pacific), while the Counting To 20 poster balanced out the emphasis on letters:

Jun 14, 2007

One, II, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve

This post will be exactly like Deirdre's Photo Casebook, except for the bits where it's different.

Last night, Squeaky Productions and Sanctus 1 hosted II, an occasional night of electronic music and creative visuals.

If that sounds vague, let me put some hundreds and thousands on top of that metaphorical ice cream for you. We have DJs play non-guitar-based music and we festoon a dizzying array of themed projections and games around the place, while punters drink beer and laugh about the internet.

The theme this time was ABC / 123. Here is the story of that night through the magic of mobile phone pictures, pictures, pictures... (Blogger: an ability to look up and tilt the blog into a cloudy dream would be useful for moments like this.)

We arrived at our venue, Manchester's glorious TV21, in the pouring rain. The raindrops were quite literally the size of planets. We were offered the use of an umbrella by caring bar staff, but of course we scoffed, being hard and that.

TV21 is a very well equipped venue. It's nice to be able to have equipment that doesn't fall apart upon being breathed at, and to have a room which allows for awkward wire routings and ceiling-hangings.

The first challenge is finding places to project onto. The basement of TV21 is bright and jazzy with swirling lights and Dr Who monsters hidden in unmentionable places. It is also quite cluttered, so we set about covering a wall with a sheet. This would have the equivalent effect of sticking a single Elastoplast onto one of Hannibal Lecter's victims, but you've got to give it a try.

Above, you see Fil nimbly putting up said sheet. You can tell he camps.

We then wired a laptop to three large, round buttons. Pressing a button chooses a video. The videos were a magificant mix of Sesame Street and geeky Youtube vids about things beginning with the letter T (tights, tablets, toaster). We projected this onto the Elastopl-- er, the sheet.

Here you see Stephen creating art, like God playing around with ideas in Genesis ("now, where should I put this sausage thing?"). The multicoloured letter box was then rigged with a camera and projected onto the other side of the room, so people could create 'art' in real time.

You will see some of those 'artistic creations' in another blog post in the next few days.

Stephen was our enterpreneur for the evening. He flogged bead necklaces for 50 pence a throw. The bead set cost us £10 and we made £10 back. It might not impress Alan Sugar, but I'd hire him.

And finally, we bedecked the tables with various letter-based games. And yes, the game pictured above (Letter Link, £7-ish, Woolworths) is exactly like Connect 4 but you have to spell words rather than match colours. Richard Whitely will be frolicking in his grave.

When I say "we", I really mean Stephen and Fil because they did all the hard work while I barked orders and acted like a primadonna disc jockey.

So how did it go? The second half of the story will appear on an internet near you in the next few days.

Jun 10, 2007

mpSunday: Last Step's Baby Powder

Venetian Snares

Here's another free mp3 which will only be here until my next mpSunday post, so nab it while you can.

Venetian Snares has made his name from producing tricky electronica that has ranged from the orchestral to the ridiculous. He is a punk revelutionary amid a largely anodyne genre, hence his insane time signatures, harsh percussion and frenzied samples.

So imagine my surprise when I came across his pseudonym Last Step. It's melodic, quite beautiful and not at all what you would expect from Snares.

So I'm including Last Step here. Here's a mid-paced electro track called Baby Powder from Last Step's eponymous album on Planet Mu records. The revolution is on hold for now.

YARGLES! This mp3 is no longer available. Click here for the latest mpSunday.

PS - factoid: Venetian Snares is apparently known as Gonk The Eight Legged Viking. Oh and Last Step is a secret pseudonym; you're not meant to know it's Snares. Don't tell anyone, will you?

Jun 8, 2007

Two little boys had two little toys... (me and Lee doing a pub quiz, then)

Pub quiz red styleee

I wouldn't want to distract you from buying new pantalons for your date with me on Wednesday, but here is the latest pub quiz news from the world of Fat Roland.

Here's the music round I foisted upon the suffering public this week. Ogle more quizzery at Nine Tenths Full Of Pingpongs.

I'll splat the answers in the comments hole below this post in about a week's time. And no googling, you flips.

Question one. Rolf Harris' Two Little Boys goes like this: "Two little boys had two little toys. Each had a wooden horse. Gaily they played each summer's day, warriors both of course. One little chap then had a mishap, broke off his horse's head, wept for his toy then cried with joy as his young playmate said--" What's the next line?

Question two. Which musician’s publicity department was known as the Bilk Marketing Board?

Question three. According to his old nickname, what vegetable does Bronski Beat star Jimmy Somerville look like?

Question four. Name the four principal members of the Goons. (Only a music question because the first single I ever owned was by them.)

Question five. So then, Cyndi Lauper. Cyndi is partially from Lucinda, but what does Lucinda mean? (a) Bringer of light; (b) Physician; (c) All-seeing.

Question six. Kylie Minogue likened it to being hit by a nuclear bomb. What was she talking about?

Question seven. Avril Lavigne had a hit about a "skater boy". Spell her his single correctly.

Question eight. Name the men with the surname Stewart that had a hit with the following singles. (a) Donald Where’s Your Troosers; (b) There Must Be An Angel Playing With Your Heart; (c) You Can Make Me Dance Sing Or Anything (Even Take The Dog For A Walk, Mend A Fuse, Fold Away The Ironing Board, Or Any Other Domestic Shortcomings)

Question nine. So, then, Thin Lizzy. Mad Lizzie kept us fit on TV-AM but who was her rival on the BBC? (This is a music quiz, honest. You have to imagine me playing music clips then veering off on a tangent in a comedy stylee.)

Question ten. On Friday June 1, what did anniversary did Beatles fans celebrate?

Question eleven. In terms of their big hit singles, who's the odd one out? Avril Lavigne, Bronski Beat, Cyndi Lauper, Rolf Harris, Thin Lizzy. There may be a clue if you scan over these questions...

Back to planning our date. Were you really thinking of going out in those shoes?

Jun 6, 2007

II is back: June 13, 8pm, at TV21, Thomas Street, Manchester

Northern Quarter

My seminal electronica music night II is back after a nine month break.

Do come down to TV21 in Manchester's northern quarter (wonderful graffiti pictured, not far from TV21) next Wednesday June 13 for an evening of electronic music and themed visuals and gimmicks. (Multimap reference here.)

You will get to hear a lot of the kind of music I crap on about on this blog, as well as tapping into the Fat Roland psyche of what constitutes a good night out.

This II will offer a deep, intellectual study of the modern use of numbers and letters. We will be posing questions such as:

- can a vampire really count to ten?

- just what is your favourite letter?

- what happens when you press this button?

We will have DJs, props, interactive visuals and it all happens from 8pm til midnight. I will be DJing, and Kid Mingus will be joining us, along with any other DJs I find wandering drunk outside my house.

It's a new venue for us, so do make it a good crowd.

I should point out that it is also acting as an after party to an art exhibition called Last Orders: A Celebration Of Manchester's Night Life at Nexus Arts Cafe. And the whole thing is brought to you by Squeaky Productions in conjunction with the legendary Stephen Devine.

Jun 3, 2007

Faerie's at the bottom of your piano: harpists please stand up and wait

Faerie’s Aire And Death Waltz

I used to be a musical prodigy, you know.

No, not that kind of Prodigy. Keith and his rave monkeys were always musical, even to the point of getting mashed up with Enya.

No, I was the next Mozart. When I popped out of the womb, I was straight onto those ivories, tinkling them until they were totally tinkled out. My parents booked me lessons in piano and music theory, and, do you know what, I was a bit of a whizz.

But then rave happened. Pianos were 'establishment' and synths were 'underground', so I dropped the classical in favour of amazing Junos that could make helicopter sounds.

Which brings me to the reason for this post.

Faerie’s Aire And Death Waltz isn't a real waltz. It is the most wonderfully ridiculous musical score. I've included it in this post (above), but you can see a bigger version here.

I knew enough about scores to know that andante wasn't a way of cooking pasta. But I'm sure these notations weren't in my lessons, including instructions to "moon walk", "untie slip knot", "release the penguins" and for the harpists to "stand up and wait".

It's frigging genius, which is something I would say if I was the type of person to use pretend swear words.

See more fun and imaginative surrealist scores at Thrilling Wonder. The first person to prove they have played any one of these wins a Fat Roland slow dance.

Did you just shudder?