Dec 28, 2008

What I watched, what I heard and what I thought in 2008

The best scene in a film.

Call it. I'm tempted to plump for Javier Bardem's baiting of a gas station owner in No Country For Old Men, or the moment we realised Indy was on a nuclear test site in that vivid scene with the dining table dummies in Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull.

But it's neither of these, friendo. My favourite scene of the year taught me everything we need to know about the fragility of life. In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, our foul-mouthed protagonist fights an Elemental - kind of a vegetarian Godzilla - and the resulting death scene is astonishing, beautiful and the absolute opposite of the throwaway baddie deaths we often get with Hollywood.

Crappest purchase of 2008.

Gym membership. I should have seen the warning signs as soon as I walked in: "Gym? What's a gym? ... Oh! A gym!"

Back to films again - which was the best in 2008?

Strange beasties ruled 2008. Firstly, Wall-E was one of the best animations for years, and the most tender robot love affair since Bjork's All Is Full Of Love video. Cloverfield was a lost creature of a different kind, in a film which was simply a tour-de-force of suspense and large-scale horror.

Another pair of strange beasties brought us the best two films of the year. Heath Ledger gave us 2008's best performance in The Dark Knight, although he should have rescued his magic-trick pencil and crossed through a couple of over-long scenes. Instead, I raise a glass to the Oscar-winning monster Anton Chigurh and No Country For Old Men - the bestest film of 2008 following a couple of worrying Coen Brothers misfires.

Anti-Obama: the biggest political disappointment of 2008.

Brian Eno has completed his first year as Liberal Democrat youth advisor. I was a tad disheartened to see the modern-fangled youth of today haven't all shaved their head and dedicated their lives to Robert Fripp or Mixmaster Morris. It's still more thug life than My Squelchy Life. Come on, Brian, get it together.

My moment of puffed-chestness in 2008.

I was proud that I tried a stand-up comedy routine, which was scary but gosh I did it. There was some comedy in there, it was rather routine, but at least I was standing up. My challenge now is to do more in 2009.

My greatest personal achievement of the year was losing 50 lbs in a few short months. Yes, I know, I should mention these things on my blog so you can post messages of encouragement / bitter jealousy. The only thing I won't allow is "Thin Roland" jokes, because believe me it has been done to death by my wonderfully supportive if slightly unoriginal friends.

Top telly of 2008. Yes, this is getting a little sad now.

Watching The Wire on DVD doesn't count, because it came out in, like, 1526 or something. So then, two little words sum up my favouritest TV moment of this blessed 12 months.



My worst moment of 2008.

There is only one. A couple of weeks ago, my cat Whiskey died after a brief illness. She had been my closest companion since I was 16, and I have felt aimless and listless since I lost her. I have 19 years of fond memories of a good-tempered, sleek, shy furball. She deserves a hundred blog posts, but what needs to be said can be said in just a few words: I'll miss her forever.

2008's best album. Probably.

A tough one this, as I don't think it has been a classic year for electronica. I think Metronomy and The Whip are a dish best served live. The Bug took one giant dubstep forward with London Zoo, while fellow dubstepper Burial wowed the Mercury Music Prize with his 2007 album Untrue. I seriously rated Bochum Welt's ROB (Robotic Operating Buddy) even though I didn't rave enough in this post from April .

Portishead's Third showed Tricky a thing or two about keeping fresh after years out of the fridge, and Leila's equally accomplished comeback was quiet but beautiful. Gang Gang Dance's primal Saint Dymphna was Warp Record's most tribal release, while Squarepusher held back on the drums for his jaaazz Just A Souvenier album. (Edit: I forgot to mention Autechre's Quaristice, which I attempted to play as background music in my bookshop but only succeeded in pissing people off. Consider it mentioned.)

And finally, top of the tree is a gathering of geeky keyboard wizardary called Hot Chip (pictured). Made In The Dark's mechano pop is a little to commercial for this snobbish blog, but oh what joy when it produces videos like this for One Pure Thought.

Skip to the end...

There. I called it. And it came up heads. I'm going to buy a bicycle before all the shops close down. Meanwhile, I'll cook up a little 2009 preview. While you're waiting for that, have a joyous new year.

Dec 25, 2008

When the snow lay round about, bleep and Christmas Spectrum

A microwavy Christmas to all my readers.

And if that wasn't enough, why not grab the computer you're staring it, smash it with a hammer, and see if it sings you Jingle Bells.


Never mind.  It seemed to work better when a bunch of 8-bit obsessives got the festive bug in this cute collection of Christmas tunes made from old games consoles.  Silent night on the NES wins it for me.

Dec 23, 2008

Farting, belching, bleeping buckets of steaming sub-bass

Murcof (pictured) just seems to get deeper and deeper, into some unknown depths that would even prompt Satan to exclaim: "Hey, what's going on down there?"

The Versailles Sessions, Murcof's new collection of experimental noodlings on the legendary Leaf label, are no less deep. Although the album was meant to work for an arty-farty event on the other side of the channel (in a land called France), the sprawling, spooky compositions work in their own right.

The only downside is the record's loaded with harpsichords and flutes, and is therefore giving me flashbacks to my third year music lessons at Parrs Wood High School.

My favourite album this week is the seething bucket of steaming sub-bass that is Lord for £39, the latest offering from Edinburgh's Neil Landstrumm.

The rolling tech-bass tickles the feet of ragga and plays footsie with bleepy console noises to produce what ought to be a sombre bad-boy wonky techno effort. Except, the album has titles like Ross Kemp As Pixel and Easter Krunk Power, so it's hard not to smile.

Finally, keep your eyes open for a 12" from Dorian Concept called The Fucking Formula. It snaffles Landstrumm's fuzzy bass and wonkiness, but it has a Prefuse 73 accessibility about it. If you like your belches and squelches as low end as possible, whilst keeping your top end nodding in a hip hop stylee, track down this single - and duck when album When Planets Explode hits next month.

Dec 21, 2008

Brass band players, coming over here, taking over our dancefloors

The Daily Mail is an august institution that, in 2008, has had an important and positive effect on modern culture.

I'm not talking about its constant chiding of anyone it considers as non-British, or indeed its fawning over old fashioned values where we could hang misfits and still leave the door open.

No, I'm talking about one of my favourite gigs of the year where the Matthew Herbert Big Band (Matthew pictured) sampled themselves tearing the Daily Mail into strips, before bursting the racist rags into the air in a delightful, synchronised confetti show.

Their album There's Me And There's You is a political mix of brassish oomp-ery and jittery sampling, although Eska's sassy jazz vocals are worth hearing live than through your headphones.

Also out recently was Last Step's 1961, the second album under this signature for Venetian Snares' Aaron Funk. It's a massive, brightly coloured bag of broken Roland 303s, 606s, 808s and any other shiny palindromic music box you care to mention.

If you rate Luke Vibert and Squarepusher (who dazzled at last week's Warehouse Project, but that's for another post), or if you pine for old Aphex Twin, you should have this album in your collection. Just be prepared for sporadic ruptions of cheesy pop and TV adverts.

More straight down the line is Harmonic 313's Dirtbox single, which is a darker bad-boy slice of his usual gasping slow-motion Detroit techno

When his album hits in a couple of months, it will sit proudly alongside his classic album of nearly 15 years ago, the ambient beast that is 76:14.

Ah, yes, 15 years ago. When you could leave your door open, shoot whomever walked onto your property, and Princess Diana wouldn't get suicide-bombed by social workers. Those were the days.

Dec 10, 2008

Fake plastic CDs and eating too much cheese before writing a blog post

I have just been in Subway, where the speakers above my head segued from Blue's Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word into, oh glory, Orbital's Chime. I was so excited, I ordered double cheese.

In other news, the CD is dead. No, really, this time it actually is.

This week saw the first music chart without the behemoth of Woolworths peddling the likes of Killers and Neyo next to their usual jumble of dolls, blank discs, board games and knickers. CD distributors feared a mountain of unsold discs and pulled back on supply. This week was always going to be, basically, a download chart not a real-plastic-CD chart.

So no surprise then that this week's number one, Leona Lewis' wrought version of Snow Patrol's Run, sold more downloads than any other song ever. That's 133,000 copies and a bullet at number one.

Which is really jammy for Leona, because it was just an album track pounced on by pop-thirsty fans after a performance on the Karaoke Factor in November.

I'm a little jealous. So this Saturday I'm going to stand outside the market stalls just off Tib Street in Manchester city centre and belt out my own unique version of Orbital's Chime*.

Millions will flock to the internet and download my song. They will learn my special dance. Woolworths will resurrect itself and sell tea towels with my face on.

I am the future of downloads.

People will eat double cheese in my name, for my name is The Electronica Leona Lewis.

(Blogger: some kind of facility to insert rousing music at the end of blog posts would come in useful here...)

*I will only do this if it's 28 degrees celsius and blazing sunshine

Dec 2, 2008

Rare as a green-- oh, look, there's one now

I have spent most of this week being slapped around by bacteria and being threatened by mutated microorganisms with phrases such as: "Nice bowels. Shame if somethin' were to... happen to 'em..."

Which means I'm catching up on all the wonderful blogness I would have bestowed upon you if I hadn't been as feverish as a the cast of Saturday Night Fever after they've caught scarlet fever from listening to Kylie Minogue's classic 2001 album Fever...

This is an ever-so-slightly Manchester-centric post. There was a great Rare As A Green Dog's night at the Royal Northern College Of Music last week.

The nutty but wonderful Barbara Morgenstern gaily set her grand piano on a Kaoss pad, while asbo-technoist Caro Snatch made some quite frightening noises at spoken word artist Lisa B and soprano Jenny KosmowskyDJ Paizan teamed up with nimble-fingered VJ Digital Donut to provide a rhythmic contrast to the ethereal strains of Peterloo Massacre. A cracking night.

Lisa B's new collection Resonant Frequencies, set to the bold, dirty effects of Caro Snatch, will be released at Nexus Art Café in Manchester next Monday, December 8th, 8pm.  It's free to get in, but only a tad over 100 copies of the album will be available on the night.

And now for something totally un-Manchestery.  The hypnotic animation Waltz With Bashir (pictured, with my green-ness added) boasts one of those soundtracks that swoops up the film and flings it to new heights.  Let your earholes be as seduced as your eyeholes .Go see the film, before I set my infected microbes on you.

Nov 26, 2008

Orbital come back around. Well, it seems logical, doesn't it?

Well, slap me with a chocolate banana and call me Humphrey, I cannot believe my internet-reading eyes.

Orbital have reformed!

The brothers Hartnoll (pictured) are taking their bobbing headlights to the Big Chill, which happens at the beginning of August next year.

At their last recorded gig, I blubbered like a little girl who'd lost her chainsaw.  When the last notes of One Perfect Sunrise rang out in a live session on John Peel's show, it was the end of a band that was single-handedly responsible for my love of dance music.

My most vivid memory of the 90s (are we allowed to talk about the 90s like that yet?) was the swathe of blue light washing over gurning faces at one of their mid-90s festival gigs.

And now they're back, according to this piece in the NME.

Says Phil Orbital: "It's not an exercise in nostalgia, the time just seems right."

The timing is terrible.  It's eight and a half months away.  I'm going to have to nail my joy down and triple-wrap it in gaffer tape, lest I explode from months of delighted anticipation.

I'm still waiting for that chocolate banana slap, by the way.

Nov 23, 2008

Oramics is like television, only backwards

There's was something refreshing about Sunday night, like a slap in the face with a glove woven from miniature bunny rabbits.

I went to an electronic music night with seven, count 'em, seven female artists. It was a million miles from bearded nerds with bleepy toys.

But more about that later in the week.

Meanwhile, the picture above is the best picture in the world. It is Daphne Oram, electronic music pioneer and co-founder of Maida Vale's Radiophonic Workshop.

She created the Oramics machine, a piece of gear that would make the super-sleek geeks at Korg recoil:

It was about the size of a chest of drawers and was constructed from metal shelving materials. Electric motors pulled eight parallel tracks of clear 35mm film stock across scanners that operated like TV sets in reverse.
I love Daphne. Read about her in the Guardian here.

Nov 16, 2008

Six wheels on my digeridoo

I've been hiding from my keyboard for the last couple of weeks.

While I rediscover my blogging rhythm, here is some music to mash up your ears, um, big style.

First up, Manchester's grime collective Virus Syndicate bring on their mechanistic style on second album Sick Pay (pictured). Sub bass with intelligence.

This next band is more entertaining than a marching band of kazoo-playing sealions dressed as go-go dancers. Gang Gang Dance offer a sort of tribal prog-techno that probably needs to be seen live to be appreciated. Their new album is Saint Dymphna, and it makes me want to roller skate through Brooklyn on a six-wheeled digeridoo.

And lastly, go and listen to Mira Calix. The Elephant In The Room: 3 Commissions is lovely and orchestral and evocative, and is ideal listening when you've been so busy working, you ain't had no time to blog.

Nov 1, 2008

Swimming with the sharks in the (Basic) Channel

This week, I have been mostly listening to the relentless stabbing* of German techno.

Basic Channel's BCD-2 is well worth a listen if you like watery synths splashing on top of throbbing waves of shark-infested drum machines.

For the dedicated techno fan, this compilation of a decade or so of Basic Channel releases renders all those rare 12"s dead. But it's worth it for the inexorable attack of the bass drum. Go buy.

Off State-side now. Producer Mike Cadoo has reissued his 2005 internet album Shimmer And Fade in a real life album format.

Released under his Bitcrush moniker, the three ideas here are electronic noodling, pop sensibilities and live percussion. With guitars. Four ideas, then. Like an indie Lemon Jelly. Five.

It's a pleasant enough 70 minutes of listening, but I wish it didn't wear so many influences on its sleeve, whether it's Plaid, New Order, Boards Of Canada, early Verve, MBV, Lackluster or Proem. If he stuck to the drudging indie stuff, this could be magnificent.

Finally, holy child of Detroit Kenny Larkin (pictured) has made his Chronicles 12" series available on one double CD for the first time. Detroit's a little too smooth for me, but the packaging's pristine and you get a free mix too, so give the boy some love.

I'm not sure if Detroit has many sharks, so I can't end this post neatly by looping back to my original theme of infested waters. You'll have to write your own ending in the space below.



*if you like relentless stabbing, there's a new documentary in which Justice slash up the face of a psycho fan. That's, like, soooo Dead Set.

Oct 29, 2008

Badger badger badger set

Nexus Art Cafe is hosting a bash for people in the Northern Quarter (Manchester) this Saturday from 7pm (see picture for details).

If you're not going, basically you don't exist. Literally.

I'll be doing some art type co-ordinating stuff with Nexus over the next few months, so I hope they let me win the tombola.

Nexus, by the way, is home to the wonderful cascading rabbits. I'm not sure they'll still be there on Saturday, so shuffle down to the cafe as soon as you can.

Oct 26, 2008

Time again for mulleted monkey-man Guru Josh

December 2015 edit: gone too soon. My thoughts are with Paul's nearest and dearest.
Forget Obama. Cast the credit crunch from your mind. History was made tonight when Guru Josh (pictured) secured an impressive comeback to the singles chart.

Former nightclub entertainer Paul Walden hit number three with a new version of his 1989 classic Infinity (1990s... Time For The Guru).

Apart from a wee handful of cover versions by Stockport's heroin-hazed noise-blender V/Vm, Guru Josh's post-89 career has received little public attention.

Until now.

I fear the new version lacks something by editing out the 1990s references in favour of a Basshunter-style house vocal. We don't get Guru's 'ooh ah' monkey noises for a start.

Here are both versions for your consideration. The first is the original 1989 single, with mullet on full show. Below that is the un-mulleted single that's currently riding at number three under Walden's new guise, the Guru Josh Project.

Oct 23, 2008

Just one creamy falsetto (warning: contains nauseating levels of false modesty)

Musical comparisons are a dish best served pithy, with a generous side-helping of originality.

That's why, sometimes, my blog makes as much sense as a Lego pipe-wrench. I'd rather describe something in a way you haven't heard before than rely on the usual journalistic cliches ('Tricky is like Morcheeba... on heroin.')

But I'm afraid, Piccadilly Records have whupped me at my own game.

Following my post about Max Tundra and the Sound Of Music, I spotted this description of Tundra's new album in Piccadilly's weekly email guide:

"It sounds like Yes playing glitch techno with Pharrell Williams, fighting Todd Rundgren at the controls while Green Gartside offers his creamiest falsetto."

I never pretend I am the best writer on the internet; I am barely in the top, ooh, four. But I wish I had written that, darn damn'd it.

Oct 19, 2008

Exploding wheelchairs: how to explain Squarepusher to normal people

I'm fed up having to explain Squarepusher to drones who are too busy bopping to Pink to succumb to the clanky magic of drill n' bass.

And so it goes:

My boss: I need to get into your log-in. What's your password?

Me: Squarepusher.

My boss: Square pusher? That sounds like some sad kind of dance.

Me: No, he's a, er, he's the guy that does... erm... you can't really hum his tunes but...


For my own future reference as much as anything, and in celebration of his new album Just A Souvenier (in shops next week but already in at Bleep), here are a list of ways I shall refer to Squarepusher from now on:

1. A nail-bomb thrown into a skip, which in turn is being humped by R2D2.

2. An iron bin full of iron filings being rolled down a hill made of iron.

3. Six hundred beards trapped in the Large Hadron Collidor.

4. Exploding wheelchairs.

5. A jazz bassist being attacked by a wasp.

6. A wasp being attacked by a jazz bassist.

7. Spiders scurrying over your face while you're dreaming about fluffy penguins.

8. An army of hammers. Laughing.

9. Protesters throwing Amen break samples at a Chris De Burgh concert.

10. A bit like Aphex Twin but not very.

I should point out, for career reasons, that my boss is a very nice man and has never bopped to Pink in his life. He does, however, have cacking awful music taste.

Oh and the cheery Squarepusher design above is a great poster from Standard Motion.

Oct 15, 2008

A good week for old LPs - and if you say 'what's an LP', I'll set fire to your mp3 player

808 State (pictured), Manchester's third greatest band after Together and Swing Out Sister, have reissued a glut of old LPs.

Firstly, Quadrastate, the one with Pacific State on, is out on CD for the first time.

And secondly, a quartet of old 808 albums have put on a bit of slap and come out to play again: 90, ex:el, the astonishing Gorgeous and the cock-themed Don Solaris.

As if my joy wasn't unbridled enough, record label ZTT are also planning on rereleasing MC Tunes' The North At It's Heights.

MC Tunes, if you recall, was the lizard-tongued rapper that had an "only rhyme that bitessss" back in the dying months of Thatcher's Britain.

Speaking of Prime Ministerial gay icons... Back in Ted Heath's day, there was a collosal jam session to end all collosal jam sessions.

King Crimson lynchpin Robert Fripp was meant to be laying down some phat guitar licks for the god-voiced Robert Wyatt, when he bunked off to lark around with Brian Eno.

You remember Brian. I did a Bri Chart of him once.

Anyhoo, the resulting session between Fripp and Eno was the historic 21-minute opus Heavenly Music Corporation. This rich, mesmerising wash is a highlight of their No Pussyfooting album, which has also, like the 808 State albums, been released back into the wild.

Which means it's a good week for old LPs. Go find a record shop, virtual or otherwise, and reminisce your guts up.

Oct 12, 2008

Max Tundra does Prince while, by the look of the picture wot I edited in Microsoft Publisher, the Von Trapps do LSD

The bejewelled crowd bustles and hums in a room glistening with gold carvings and low-slung chandeliers.

A woman in white announces, "Ladies and gentlemen, the children of Captain Von Trapp wish to say goodnight to you." She raises her hands in awkward invitation and the hum foams up into chatter and gasps.

Down the stairs of the grand hallway descends a music sensation that will be remembered for generations.

It's a topless Max Tundra balancing a huge tooth hat on his head.

Yes, the master of bizarre pop and lord of the 8 / 16 / 4 / 0.5-bit opus is back with a busy electro-fuzz single (see the video featuring the tooth hat here) that boasts the Sound Of Music's So Long Farewell as a b-side.

He's done well: he's gone for the obligatory cowbell, but I'm not sure how that thumping 808 snare would sit with the delicate Von Trapp kids (pictured).

It bodes well for Tundra's third album next week, Parallax Error Beheads You. Expect the usual suspects saying it's messy and as busy as an OCD bee, and there should be the usual stampede of comparisons to Nintendo / Sega / insert generic bleepy video game console here.

Time for an mpSunday, where I give away my record collection (but only on a Sunday, mind). This track was the first glimpse we had of the potential brilliance of Max's new album. It's him doing an uncomfortably straight approximation of a geeky Prince.

mpSunday (right click and save as): CRAASH! This mpSunday has now expired.

Which reminds me. If anyone is hoarding an mp3 of Tundra's version of the KLF's What Time Is Love, cyber-slap me. And yes it is okay to use the 'cyber' prefix again.

Oct 5, 2008

"Vincent Gray. I do remember you. Quiet, very smart, compassionate. Unusually compassionate." "You forgot cursed. YOU FAILED ME!" Bang.*

Bogling on down to the Warehouse Project last night was a bit like-- hold on, my blog-writing lamp has just blown.

Crikes, I've so many bulbs. Why on earth did I buy those coloured bulbs? Oh, there we go: a pack of small Ikea bulbs. Let me just screw this in...

That's better. I can see now.

As I was saying, snooking on down to the Warehouse Project last night was a bit like popping in on an old friend. It was keeping much better since it packed bags and left the cavernous Boddington's Brewery site, and in a snuggly way, it felt like home.

That is until about one in the morning.

You see, the line-up was strong on paper. And there's no doubt that The Whip (record cover pictured) rocked the roof off the place, and Late Of The Pier were head-noddingly spiffing. The DJs, including Simian Mobile Disco, were nothing short of phatasmagorical.

But the rot set in with a dull set from Tricky which was so mired in muddy sound and fearsome feedback, it was just unlistenable.

And then, a terrible thing happened. I can't even bear to write it.

Deep breath.

Reverend And The Makers played. The exact thing I didn't need last night was a cacophonous brew of macho posturing held together by a lead singer who wants to be Tom Cruise in Top Gun but is really just that dribbling guy in his underpants who shoots Bruce Willis at the start of Sixth Sense.

My ears bled. Hammer-headed lyrics. Blundering rhythm. Audience interaction that barely rose above swearing, shit-faced football-chanting moronicism.

Everyone who likes Reverend And The Makers is a crass, sputum-eared simpleton. Oh, I'm angry now.

I've just smashed my lamp. I'm going back to bed.

*that's the guy in Sixth Sense shooting Bruce Willis, by the way. Did you know the underpants guy was played by New Kid On The Block Donnie Wahlberg? You do now.

Sep 28, 2008

The fourth and fifth elements of thud

It seems my misguided tip for Burial winning the Mercury Music Prize has turned his career to drizzling balderdash.

That's because he's embraced bumfunk.

"Burial revealed his conversion to the new dance movement - a mixture of Clit 'n' Bass with the darker elements of Bowelshift - after failing to win this year's Mercury Prize."

He is teaming up with neo-Fudgecore artist Crank 2526, who...

" a genius. He has taken the thud, thud, thud of Dubstep and added at least two extra thuds. It's totally cronking."

This is all completely true. Full story on the ever reliable Daily Mash here. (Contains naughty words.)

Sep 9, 2008

Live blog: Elbow nudge ahead for Mercury Music Prize win - my cat is disappointed


I'm blogging "as live" while I sit with my poorly cat to watch the 2008 Mercury Music Prize on the tellybox. The following text was written as it happened and has not been edited.

9.55pm: I make a glass of orange juice and stare at the TV screen. If Burial (pictured) doesn't win, I'm going to smash in my telly. I scan the room for a suitable heavy object. I look at my sleeping cat. She's quite big. Not fat, but tall. I consider what it would be like smashing in a TV screen with a cat. I drink my juice.

9.58pm: The programme starts shortly. Massive junglist Goldie has just lost some orchestra conducting contest to either Mel or Sue out of Mel And Sue. Clive Anderson is presenting this programme. I wonder if he will stay on my telly and present the Mercury Music Prize.

10.01pm: Ooh, it's starting. The titles are all blue and neon like it's Casualty or something. Lauren Laverne, ex-90s indie star, is presenting. She interviewed Squarepusher once and she looked like she didn't know who he is. I hope she rates Burial. She's just called the nominees a "mish mash".

10.04pm: The Last Shadow Puppets are performing; they're how I would like the Coral to sound. Some indie band has just played, and now there's a woman hammering her fist on a piano. Oh look, now it's British Sea Power, who are glorious.

10.08pm: During a bit of punditry which makes it sound like a football programme ("Simon Armitage: "He can do no wrong for me."), I wonder what 'mish-mash' music would sound like and how I would dance to it.

10.10pm: After some r'n'b nonsense, Burial's Ghost Hardware lights up my TV like a solar flare, but a really dark solar flare. Oh please God let him win. Gosh, is that Robert Plant? Hasn't he got wavy hair?

10.12pm: Lauren Laverne: "It's not just a young man's game any more, is it?" It's not flapping FOOTBALL, for gizmo's sake. Props to Armitage who desperately wants the mysterious Burial to turn out to be a "retired military historian from Kent."

10.14pm. This is moving on apace. Oh tindersticks, it's Adele. GETHEROFFTHESCREEN! Aaaargh, my ears hurt, Make her stop! Oh, she has. And now it's Radiohead, who are God and I will punch anyone who critizised them. With my cat.

10.18pm: Armitage has just called Radiohead "our generation's Pink Floyd". Come on, Imran Ahmed, say something interesting. Yes, he's just tipped Burial for the win. He's a wise man.

10.20pm: That jazzy guy with a lady's name with slicked hair (Jules something) is bigging up the audience with a bit of sub-Stephen Fry wordsmithery. I suddenly want Elbow to win. Or Portico Quartet, just to wobble the applecart. Maybe I'm just mentioning these bands so I don't look so foolish when Burial doesn't win.

10.22pm: And the £20,000 goes to... come on, get on with it Jules... I'm sticking with Burial for the win. It's... Bury's own Elbow. Brilliant. I always knew they'd do it. Didn't I tip them? Didn't I? No?

10.28pm: My poorly cat sleeps on, her paw snuggled over her eyes, while Elbow do a refreshingly good-natured interview with Laverne. She's got some kind of virus that keeps attacking her every few months, poor thing. My cat, I mean, not Lauren Laverne. I decide not to use her to smash in my tellybox. I switch the TV off instead and and let my cat console me for tipping the wrong winner.

Sep 6, 2008

"No. No. You've still lost me. Could you rewrite it with just the facts and about 50% less nonsense?"

Nightmares On Wax

Them's that's got eyes upon to see, them's not hatheth the brains wot to unnerstand whath the heck they're looking ath with them eyes eth th thth.

This famous quote by Lord Something-Of-Somethingorother, who was afflicted with an appalling lisp, reminds me of the most common criticism of my blog: "it makes me laugh, but I have absolutely no idea what you're saying most of the time".

So let me make this simple:

This is a blog post. It is a review of some recently released records. The records are not well known, because I'd rather punch the panda of pop into next week's zoo and crack open a sparkling giraffe of dubstep instead.

Clear? Good.

Nightmares On Wax is back. thought so... is his annoyingly titled new album which plays havok with those of us who like our ellipses at the end of sentences and our capitals at the start.

There, the havok stops, because this is the earhole equivalent of soft furnishings, of magnolia, of a shop assistant's smile, of baked beans without the chilli powder, of food in a university refectory.

In short, it is not an Affleck's Palace: it is an Arndale Centre.

A tastier take on chill-out comes from Araya, whose debut LP Bridge Of Hesitation is grounded with tinkling synths and guitars, not unlike Lemon Jelly's more comatose moments, before being kicked up the arse with a more wiry version of the Boards Of Canada production ethic.

I can only review the mp3 version, which is a glitchy, meaty platter that pleases from the opening Plaid-ish chimes of The Mast to the panicked cut-up vocals of the stomping closer Child, Let's Stop.

The CD edition has more tracks, and even has a cut called Murakami's Kangaroo Zoo. For haruki's sake, what next - Ishiguro's Badger Super-Collider?

Finally, it's time to mirror, signal and (Roots) Manuva. I'm not sure what that means: but I do know that the best British rapper of the past decade has a new album called Slime And Reason. If you don't buy it, the super-collider will explode and we'll all be turned into purple semolina.

Sep 3, 2008

The sound of elephants falling on xylophones

There's a well posh bash at Manchester Art Gallery this Thursday, and I can't make it - but you can if you're quick on your heels.

Well, actually, it's not that posh. I only say that because they've got wine.

It's an evening of electronic music called Duos. Your glamorous hosts are Homelife's Paddy Steer and Sir Graham Massey, who you may remember from Hit Squad Manchester and some other band called 88 Slates or summat.

The whole thing is set against the visual scrumptiousness of sculptor Gwon Osang, although I wouldn't know about that sort of thing because this is a music blog and not an art blog; unless sculptures make a nice ding sound when you flick them with your finger, I'm not too bothered.

It's 7pm this Thursday, and tickets are a tenner (the money not a fat Italian singer) from the Library Theatre box office, the world webbed interwide or by phone on 0161 236 7110.

Oh and I may have already mentioned, Barefoot are providing some nice plonk (the wine, not the sound of an elephant falling on a xylophone).

Aug 31, 2008

M Ax Noi Mach will soon be supporting The Feeling, no doubt about it

International Noise Conference

I have an Earl-esque list of things to do on my blog, and I never get through them.

But here's my chance to cross off something I have been meaning to mention for months. The International Noise Conference is an alternative music event - make that a very alternative music event - that took place in the States earlier this year

Artists (one pictured here, taken by mbcharbonneau) are under more pressure than a bull on rollerskates in a house of cards: they can play no more than a meagre quarter of an hour, plus laptops and mixers are banned.

I guess the best way to get noticed is to have a good name. It works for the Edinburgh Festival, with Fringe show names like Five Hours Of Farting and One Man And His Gimp*.

So with a Matthew Herbert Big Band-style toot of a fanfare, I present to you my 20 favourite eye-catching band names from the Miami leg of the conference, in no particular disorder.

I hope Europe does not disappoint, because it's coming here next year.

... Uh-Oh Spades
... Tumblecat PoofPoofyPoof
... My Left Uterus
... Mouthpet
... The Uh
... Autistic Mother
... Piss Piss Piss Moan Moan Moan
... Rhiknoberous
... Sarcastic Eulogy
... Meat Glove
... Dickhearse Discourse On Dickhorse
... Fognozzle
... Witch With Flying Head
... 60s Residue
... Amputee
... Unicorn Hard-On
... Biff Boff Barf
... Poopy Necroponde
... M Ax Noi Mach
... Wrong

* I think I made these two up

Aug 19, 2008

Gardener's fingernails, tubed Somerville, and James at war

Black Devil Disco Club

My recent post about unearthed goodies from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop brought to mind an album by Black Devil which was lost for over 25 years before having the dust blown off by Rephlex.

That album was Disco Club (in 2004 I think), and since then the duo have renamed themselves Black Devil Disco Club and released several more albums. The latest, Eight Oh Eight (pictured), has just come out so I thought I'd write up a little review, bury it, and have it dug up in two decades by a trenchcoated man with cruddy fingernails.

Eight Oh Eight is a touch disappointing. Opening track With Honey Cream sounds like Jimmy Somerville in a tube. But then it all begins to sound like Jimmy Somerville in a tube, with pure high energy disco funnelled through an increasingly wacky range of effects like flanged beats and robotic vocals.

I'm a sucker for the Air-esque cheesiness that Black Devil have plumped for, but I can see how the cheese could grate. The bongos and whistles on at least a couple of the tracks (Open The Night and Never No Dollars) are my least favourite sounds since the noise of cluster bombs missing army officer James Blunt.

Black Devil Disco Club's Eight Oh Eight is closer to 'oh' than 'eight', but only just. If you want forced disco glam, Mika's your man.

Aug 13, 2008

At about this age, you get cake flushes

Birthday synth cake

"Everything is pretty good until about 35.

"Thereafter, a whole series of things is going on. It's like having a car; when there are a few miles on the clock, things start to break down. Our resting heart rate increases and our muscle mass and strength decrease."

It's my 35th birthday today, and according to the Guardian, I am destined to become a gasping mess of wibbly gloop.

The last laugh is on me, of course: I'm already there.

Anyone fancy cake?

Aug 8, 2008

Eight oh eight oh eight oh eight oh eight oh eight oh eight oh eight oh eight

808 State

I was going to write a spectacular post about 808 State in honour of the comely curvature of today's date.

Reminiscences would have poured from the edges of this blog until your keyboard was soggy with my moist-eyed memories, like when 808 State rocked Manchester a few days after the 1996 bombing, or when I bumped into one member of the band playing that saxophone in a recording studio.

I may even have uploadified a photo of my much worn 808 t-shirt declaring "there is no greater love than that between man and his cock." It had a picture of the kind of cock as seen in my terrible Youtube video here (2,500 hits mostly helped by my dubious tags).

My interweb domain would have come into it to, because was launched on 02/02/02. It plunged me into a six-year-long obsession with repeating dates.

I was going to write this amazing piece. But I didn't.

That's coz Music Thing has done a much better job with his celebration of the drum machine that gave 808 State their name.

So go and read that instead. It has lots of things for your mouse to click on, including a hyperlink for 808 State's aptly titled Olympic.

Jul 31, 2008

Warp Records present the BBC Radiophonic Workshop?

Delia Derbyshire
A dusty tape among scores stored in an attic has just blown apart the entire history of dance music.

Among the possessions of Delia Derbyshire (pictured), knob twiddler for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, was the recording of an experimental dance piece that simply should not exist.

It sounds like the sort of thing you would expect from Aphex Twin, Massonix or Sabres Of Paradise, yet it was recorded in the late 60s.

As a piece of production well ahead of its time, it has the same woo factor as Pink Floyd's On The Run, or The Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows.

And yet it's more advanced than those pieces, as though some beardy electronica fellow is messing about with a TARDIS and not telling us.

"That could be coming out next week on Warp Records," bleeps ex-Orbital man Paul Hartnoll, who, incidentally, did a cracking cover version of the Workshop's Dr Who theme tune.

Decide for yourself - jump to Delia Derbyshire's experimental 'dance' track on this BBC news piece.

Jul 19, 2008

Tim & Daisy make Jay & Bob look like ****ing Bert & Ernie

Spaced (short)

Very Short List published this sweet, concise tribute to Spaced on Thursday:

"Instead of Jay and Silent Bob, Spaced delivers Daisy and Tim, twentysomething roommates... who live and die under pop culture’s influence, the kind of people still recovering from the disappointment of Star Wars, Episode 1...." Click here read the whole thing.
But it made me wonder: are there really people out there, living breathing human-beens, who haven't clapped eyes on everyone's favourite Shaun Of The Dead prequel?

If you've never seen the series Spaced, leave a comment. I want to know you exist. And I want a full and frank explanation for your neglectful behaviour as well. Tsch.

I'll get back to blogging about electronic music soon. I promise.

Jul 14, 2008

Wait, westerly wanderer, there's a big carrot-y creature in your way

Mongolian Death Worm

I was just scooting over the Taklamakan desert on Google Earth and I was startled by a Mongolian Death Worm (pictured).

I wasn't really expecting to find something like that in the rippling nowhereness of a huge desert (I had been low-flying my way from Tokyo, via Beijing, through some random places beginning with X that I had never heard of).

Still, I was comforted by the knowledge it reacts to yellow in the same way bulls charge at red things, and if you agitate it, it will gob poison at you and dissolve your face.

Oh and it also kills people by zapping them like a Dalek. Or God when he starts one of his big lightning storms.

Anyway, I'm continuing on a westerly wander. I should be in Iran by midnight.

Jun 19, 2008

Pathetic, turgid and very unKylie - number two of a descending series of five

Itunes review

Hop across to Ebay and look up item number 120274828675. I've never sold on Ebay before, but there are my Kylie tickets right there.

Right then. Back to my enthralling series-- wait-- that doesn't quite sound right.

Back to my interesting series on customer reviews-- hold on a sec-- I'm not sure if that really sums things up too well.

One final try.

Back to my turgid attempt at a "series of posts" about customer reviews on i-tunes, as if anyone really gives a hamster's crotch.

Towards the beginning of the month, I decided to put up five reviews on i-tunes in a descending order of positivity. The first review got five stars, the second would get four stars, and so on until my fifth review which would be a scathing one-star rant.

And so to my four star review, referred to on this blog as "that album that had the red cover and it sounded a bit like a movie soundtrack," and otherwise known as Deadly Avenger's Deep Red.

This series will get interesting when we get into the lower stars. Honest.

Go, Kylie! You got it, guuurlfriend!

A warm, filmic engrossing album for fans of DJ Shadow and David

It ranges from gorgeously dark, low-down depths (Black Sun, Lopez), to
weaker easy listening down-tempo (Blade, Love Sounds), to Avenger's particular
area of strength - grand, spacious, friendly, meaty, beaty pieces of enjoyable
soundtrack pomp (We Took Pelham, Punisher).

Electronica that positively breathes down your neck. Four stars.

Jun 15, 2008

It's not a pie chart but I called it a Bri Chart because that was the only pun I could think of

bri chart

This chart shows why I'm worried about Brian Eno. (Click here for large.)

I should have posted this months ago, when Eno told Radio 4's Front Row that he would be producing the latest LP from tapioca-flavoured, whinging popmunters Coldplay.

He said their new material "will be very original and very different from what they've done before."

It wasn't.

Viva La Whatever was released by Coldplay this week and, like past albums from James and U2, you can see the Eno sheen dripping from every note.

But what was Eno thinking of? What was the former producer of U2's sunglasses era and Talking Heads doing anywhere near a band I consider so bad, I'd rather trim my toenails with a chainsaw than listen to Chris Martin's Bluntesque mediocrity.

That's why I created my Bri Chart, above, showing the collapsing milestone's of Brian Eno's production career.

On a more delightful note, listen to Islands covering Eno's The Big Ship (you'll need to scroll down a bit).

Of his Eno cover, Islands' Nicholas Thorburn said "It doesn't matter if it's sloppy. Things can be a little rough around the edges if they have heart."

Or they can be as neat and tidy as a Coldplay song and have absolutely no pulse whatsoever.

Just time for an mpSunday, the series where I use the internet to give away music. Clever, I know. It only seems relevant to bust you some Eno, so here goes:

mpSunday: Brian Eno's Big Ship (this mp3 has now gaaawn - click here for the latest mpSunday.)

Jun 12, 2008

The gimp's guide to mind music


Who'd have guessed gimp masks were the key to unleashing the most phantasmagoric music humankind has ever set ears on?

No, I'm not talking about a startling new direction for Sigur Ros.

A lunatic called Mick in a place called London has attached electrodes to his bonce to create his own symphonies using simply the power of his deranged mind.

The device doesn't work a third of the time. This is possibly more to do with his skewed brain than the equipment he is using.

Nevertheless, here he is in a BBC video thinking up a sequence of notes whilst staring at the most distracting screensaver known to humanity.

There is a plus side. People who are less abled can make music, and this could open great new avenues for music therapy.

But for every plus, there has to be a minus. That can be found in the last line of the BBC news article, about a new video game using the gimp headset:

"It enables players to vanquish villains through thoughts and emotions."

If I had that ability, there'd be carnage. More carnage, even, than Mr Tran's trip to a toy store.

Mick from London, you are my new hero.

Jun 2, 2008

Thrusting little pointy blighters - number one of a descending series of five

Itunes review

I'm not sure if I agree with five-star rating systems after Empire magazine thrust four of the little pointy blighters on the travesty that is the new Indiana Jones film.

Unpeturbed, I was trawling i-Tunes to find "that album that had the red cover and it sounded a bit like a movie soundtrack" when I discovered some of my favourite albums had no customer reviews.

Why should I be fussed what the general public thinks when those with the loudest voice seem to be YouTube commenters, Have Your Say armchair pundits and Britain's Got Talent voters? (George was actually quite good, despite Day Of Moustaches' entertaining threat.)

Still, I decided to right the wrong. I am going to pen a handful of customer reviews for electronica albums on i-Tunes... with the following rules:

- It has to be an album I own that has been out for a while but no-one has written any reviews yet (as shown in the blue screen above).

- My first review will be a five-star rating. I will then find an album and give it a four-star rating. And so on, ending on a one-star review for an album I own but hate.

The idea is my reviews should get more vitriolic as I go on. First, to the five-star review. I have submitted the following review of Squarepusher's 1997 album Burningn'n Tree:
What happens when you let an electronic artist loose on his first love - the bass guitar? You probably get Jah Wobble.

What happens when you let an electronic artist loose on his first love - the bass guitar - and then lock him inside a spaceship airlock with a toolbox full of spanners, a detuned television and a light stick? Have a listen to Burningn'n Tree to find out.

It may not be his most consistent, and I'm not sure where speed bass sits in the ouvre of dance music, but it's a thoroughly enjoyable album and should be considered a classic of its kind. Five stars.

I-Tunes vet reviews before they're posted, so I'll let you know when this one appears. So far so dull. I'm off to find an album deserving of four stars...


May 20, 2008

Seams burns tunes and Blood Looms and Blooms looms in June


Leila is working on her third studio album, Blood, Looms and Blooms, and like Portishead her last album was released before Rice Krispies were invented* (last album cover is pictured, with the words edited out in a pathetic nod to minimalism).

Taster single Mettle is a dense, trippy paean to the likes of My Bloody Valentine, so I'm expecting a full-lipped snog of post-trip hop, post-post-rock, and post-post-post-everything from her new long player. Expect it in June.

Incidentally, I only stumbled across Leila by accident.

In these new-fangled days of "burning" and "ripping" and other overly dramatic words for data transfer, it's easy to top and tail a copied album with some of your old faves. When my chum Seams gave me some of her tunes on a compact diskette, she sneaked in some late-90s Leila goodness and I was a convert.

While we're talking about sticking tracks onto the end of albums, you'll discover a treat if you rifle through my CD collection. On the end of my copy of Radiohead's In Rainbows (paid £0.00 and now I feel guilty) , you will find the Rainbow theme tune, Rainbow's classic 70s hit Since You've Been Gone, and two tracks from Mariah Carey's platinum-selling LP Rainbow.**

Back to the recommendations. Also look out for Boredom's Super Roots 9 on Thrill Jockey Records. The disc consists of one track, LIVWE, which is a grand symphony of rolling drums, stormy harmonies and wailing choirs. It doesn't change much over its 40 minute duration, but it's worth it for the opening jingle bells. I think it's Japanese but I may be wrong.***

And finally, a gripe. There is no excuse for Jamiroquai: he makes me want to smash in my eyeballs with guns. So there is definitely no excuse for Jamie Lidell's new offering Jim. Luke Vibert's remix of A Little Bit More rocked my world, but this Michael Buble toss rocks me to sleep.

*not true, but it's been a while.

**quite obviously a lie

***not a lie. I'm quite right. *puffs chest*


May 15, 2008

Ever decreasing memories of lifted bosoms and a DJ Shadow dump

Hulk flick

Edit: no wonder this post was so nostalgic. I've just realised (a month later) this was my 200th blog post. Hurrah! Light a candle or summink!

Ten years ago I flipped my first disc onto a spindle in public. I was rocking big beat in a rough bar. I broke the decks. I bombed.

But Fat Roland (yes, that's me pictured) was born unto the world, and the rest - as they allegedly say - is hysterical.

My head is seeping with memories as I think back through my decade of DJing. Little snapshots.

Electrical tape, perfectly parallel, pretending to be Tron lines on a floor. Long, smooth, edgy drum 'n' bass mixes and my DJ mates nodding in appreciation. Deciding to dump the beatmixing for John Peel-style weird track choices. My mate Fil signing the letter T when I play something he liked.

Sweating in a hooded top as I played the 'cool DJ' role with a bunch of energetic South Africans at Manchester Apollo. My wedding DJing phase, oh my wedding DJing phase. Lifting someone's ample bosom, two handed, from the needle-knocking danger zone. Lending my decks to LTJ Bukem's former musical partner and learning to mix jungle just by watching.

Some record label guys thrusting a pure white, unlabelled 12" at me - and my joy when I realised it wasn't crap. The sunshine last August and the couple dancing near the front. Beat-mixing at a skate park five gruelling hours a day over ten days, which included putting on a long DJ Shadow track while I had a poo. Being chased from Rusholme with said chum Fil, covered in wallpaper paste and flyposters.

I have slowed down, like an 80-year-old driver. Work is my steering wheel, and I just can't get enough cushions of spare time to rise me high enough to drive (by drive I mean DJ) safely (by safely I mean often). I'm tempted to delete that last sentence, but no, I'll just keep typing. Be damned.

I now find myself working three doors away from my first ever gig, and Facebook has put me back in touch with some of my pals from that time.

It all comes full circle. Like a record. Although not in ever decreasing circles, like what a record actually does. That would be depressing.


May 4, 2008

A hundred blinking goths, Jabba goes J-Ho, and sodden notes drying on radiators

Last FM

There are many things I should have resisted.

An invitation to Ara, Manchester's leading goth night. I arrive dressed in white. A hundred six-foot black and purple people, some of them dressed as crows, don sunglasses.

A record company showcase featuring a nascent All Saints. The room is full of Manchester celebrities. I spill MC Tunes' pint. His response didn't rhyme, but it certainly had bite.

Buying the Kooks' album. What was I thinking? It makes me sick to even think of it. I gave the CD away in a tombola at my 33-and-a-third birthday bash.

Getting my ears pierced in a strange attempt to cure a throbbing hangover. I looked like Jabba The Hut trying to be Lindsay Lohan. I decided that getting things pierced somehow doesn't cure hangovers.

Sledging with £1,300 in my back pockets.

There are many things I should have resisted. However, there is one thing I have resisted, but should have given in to quite some time ago.

Yes. I am finally on Last FM. Be the first to find me here.


May 1, 2008

Confusion in our eyes that says it all - we've lost Control (well, almost)

Sound Control

Oh plop tarts. I was busy enjoying a bit of summery pop courtesy of King Of All The Animals, and I surf onto a site that tells me Sound Control have been silenced.

The most joyous moment of my life was discovering the blue, mottled knob-laiden monster that is the Roland JP-8000 in Sound Control's Salford store.

I spent half an hour in acid nirvana as I took that synthesiser to buttock-wobbling depths and combover-raising zeniths. As I slapped the cash on the counter, I made my best purchase ever and the "Roland" part of my DJ name was born.

Yes, I named myself after a bloody keyboard.

The staff at the Salford branch would always take time out to teach dimwits like me the finer points of sound modules and weird samplers, even if was a Saturday afternoon and the shop was full of greasy teenagers in pseudo-army shirts playing Wish You Were Here.

I was even allowed into their store room to peruse their nuts.

A great aspect of Sound Control is they give a damn about maintaining your gear. Now everyone who owns anything musical will see their beloved Stratocaster / digital drum kit / electronic zither (delete as appropriate) crumble before their weeping eyes.

The Salford branch remains open while administrators tout the business for all the rupees they can get. But the Manchester branch closed a few days ago, along with nine other Sound Control and Turnkey stores from Southampton to Glasgow.

I don't want to listen to King Of All The Animals now. I'm need comfort music so I can retreat to my happy place.

Doctor Adamski's Musical Pharmacy it is, then.

Edit: Music Thing wants your help in tracking down all the music equipment shops in the world ever. Go to it!


Apr 26, 2008

Speed-freak pilots, equine storm joy and Lord Dan of Deacon's new video mayhem

Dan Deacon

My trousers are bursting with good music.

There's Portishead's first new album since the stone ages, for a start. You may still have time to listen to it online if you're as speedy as a Concorde-piloting amphetamine addict who's just realised he left the oven on.

Electronica's answer to Wilf the inventor, Tom Bugs, made me happier than a horse in a hay storm with this little demo of frequency freneticism. The clip will only mean something to you if you too have spent hours in Sound Control twiddling to your screaming ears' desire.

Incidentally, Tom Bugs is working on something called a Bug Crusher. Ants are trying to invade my kitchen at the moment, although I suspect the machine is a sound modulator and not an insect murderer.

And thirdly, self-professed "absurdist composer" Dan Deacon (pictured) is back. He is the lust child of Har Mar Superstar, Deee-lite and Timmy Mallett. I advise you to remove your retinas before watching this kalaidoscopic video delight.


Apr 20, 2008

What's that coming over the hill, apart from a lyrical cliché? Clue: not a monster

The Black Dog

What's that coming over the hill, apart from a lyrical cliché? Is it a monster?

Niet. It's a three-headed dog. The Black Dog, in fact, with an album of sparkling ambient techno called Radio Scarecrow.

Amid a cacophony of remixes and rereleases (Book Of Dogma artwork remixed above), I reckon this is their first new material for a while. It lopes over that brow with certain intent: to be nostalgic, to be minimal, to be ever-so-slightly Detroit.

Word on the grapevine says the basslines are so intense, the band had to take scheduled breaks from recording.

Health and safety, you know.

The Black Dog dates way back, before music had invented all the notes, and so does Meat Beat Manifesto.

MBM is headed by arthritic vegan Jack Dangers, and they have thrown another LP of breakbeat-rolling distorto-dub in the shape of Autoimmune.

Dangers is meant to be a magpie when it comes to gathering samples, but it sounds like he's avoided nest nicking for a while considering how old some of these samples sound ("say whaaat" and the like).

Instead, why not befrend Bochum Welt's ROB (Robotic Operating Buddy)? This album is out now on the legendary Rephlex imprint.

Third track Saint (Dmix) is a spit for a New Order track, but don't let its synth-pop tendencies put you off.

ROB is an acidic Atariesque throwback to early Aphex and catchy analogue (kraft)work-outs.

I leave you with an mpSunday, where I slowly give away my music collection. It's a rather low-key single from Black Dog's Radio Scarecrow.

mpSunday: *plop* this mp3 has expired. Click here for the latest mpSunday.


Apr 15, 2008

Glastonbury's got 99 bands, and Jay Z should be one of them

Grey Album web artwork

Which twizzard decided Glastonbury was all about guitars?

Noel Gallagher flicked his dummy out of the pram over Jay Z's headline spot at this year's festival.

He said anyone who wants a rapper at Glasto is a paedophile, and Michael Eavis sleeps with monkeys. Okay, he didn't say that, but he seemed to think the booking was a jolly bad idea.

Emily Eavis has gone on the PR offensive, saying the Smiths would have provoked similar ire in 1984. The year, not the book.

I don't get the comparison. The Smiths weren't already million-selling music moguls with more clout than the Cloverfield monster's boxing glove.

And the Smiths were a guitar band, with guitars and everything. I think Gallagher's original winge was about Glastonbury's guitar heritage and the inappropriateness of a (gosh) non rock 'n' roller in a high profile spot.

Noel is, of course, talking out of his eyebrows. Baroness Lady Dame Shirley Bassey sang her blinged-up boots off last year, while Carl Cox and Basement Jaxx are among bucketloads of dance acts who have rocked Glasto.

Who could forget Orbital redefining dance music forever in 1994?

Surely Noel hasn't fallen for the drip-drip tabloid headlines about rap music being a hive on the nose of humanity? You know the headlines I mean. Just between the stories that say the internet is full of evil and the screamy ads offering you a free pony.

Jay Z isn't the reason why Glasto ticket sales are down. He fills venues, he doesn't clear them. And the Grey Album was one of the best Beatles / hip hop mash-ups of 2004.

Blame it on the weather. Or the economy. Or a lack of great new bands. Or that everyone's off to Latitude instead.

Can someone please pick that dummy off the floor? Gallagher's gob needs plugging again.


Mar 24, 2008

Shorts and a little helicopter hat - they're this season's essential radio accessory

Michael Bolton rearranged

Edit: This post makes Lee look like my tech monkey while I'm the big presenting ego. This isn't balanced. Lee is a fully fledged second half to my first half, and together we present as one. A bit like a blubbery Ant and Dec.

Every night this week, I have spent two hours blithering into a micromophone like an idiot possessed.

The first five days of the Theatre Of Noise (explained concisely here) have fizzled to a close. Thanks to a clever use of scripting and flaggelating ourselves with cutting self-criticism, the output's been a few notches above our usual fare.

Monday's show, our first since our 2007 podcast, was like an old shed in Venice: stilted and ever-so-slightly rusty.

Thanks to an image of me dressed in shorts and a little helicopter hat (cheers, Lee!), Tuesday's show exploded into merriment. Our production values on this show were probably tighter than anything we had done before.

Wednesday's show was a slow-burner, measured and steady.

Thursday's was a stonker. It trod the wafer-thin line between proper comedy silliness and filling the airwaves with spluttering giggles. It is my co-presenter Lee's job to drive the desk and give me just enough space for my adrenaline-fuelled comedy rants, and to use his charming form of grumpiness to reign me in when the show needs more control. You could say I was "on one", and Lee coped admirably.

We even managed the health and safety nightmare of Friday's Chainsaw Challenge, which saw our resident toolman Fil The Destroyer let rip with a jigsaw on Michael Bolton's 1991 hit single Time Love And Tenderness (results pictured above).

This is how Lee steers our ship:


ME: We're two minutes ahead of schedule. What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?

LEE: That's pretty good. Don't worry about it.


LEE: It's only two minutes.

I bounce up and down, sweating profusely.

ME: Whaddawegonnadoo, whaddawegonnadoo, whadwegondoowhadwegondoo--

LEE shoots me in the head.

All in all, then, we're pretty relaxed about the whole thing.

On an unconnected note, Portishead are about to drop their first album for 360 years. Here's a startling hymn to rhythm from Beth and co, and like all of my mpSundays, it will only be available until the very next mpSunday. And yes, I know it's Monday.

mpSunday (right click and save as): *plop* this mpSunday has now gone. Click here for the latest mpSunday.


Mar 19, 2008

Oh to be torn up by wolves and fed, bit by bit, through an old lawnmower

Clark's Turning Dragon

While I'm busy with radio things, there are a few gramophone releases you and I ought to catch up on.

AGF's fourth album Words Are Missing is a dizzying array of shattered sound and industrial ambience. The harmonies come from vocals torn up by wolves and fed through a lawnmower. The fragments that remain are alluring but ever-so-slightly unsettling.

Harmonic 313 is a side project from Mark Pritchard, better known as one half of Global Communication. His EP1 is a triumphal throwback to the early days of techno, when it was all about Detroit. So yes, it sounds all a bit Juan Atkins without the smoothness, but it works for me.

A whole manbag packed full of Thom Yorke remixes have been released in the last couple of months. Meddling with the lazy-eyed Oxford boy's music are Burial (unfairly labelled as a 2step Massive Attack), Four Tet, Christian Vogel and Newport Pagnell's DJ Surgeon.

The utterly ironic thing about electronica remixes of Radiohead's frontman is that, whatever you do, you just end up making it sound more like Radiohead. Which is a good thing, and you should sniff them down in record shops now.

Finally, Clark is breathing fire again on his new offering, Turning Dragon. He has put all niceties to one side, has walked into the Women's Institute (electronica sub-committee) meeting, and machine-gunned everyone to death with bad-tempered percussion and ADD-level techno.

Listening to his album is like trying to nail gun exploding fireworks inside the Crystal Maze dome. It's hyper, blunder-bus propeller-injected fun and is a real treat from start to finish. Have a listen to Volcan Veins from that very album.


Mar 13, 2008

Smokin' tracks and molten nonsense: Theatre Of Noise and F1 Losers are go

A radio

Well, bless my trousers, it's that time of year when everything explodes at once.

From Monday night for three weeks, I will be presenting the Theatre Of Noise. Here is the blurb written by my own fair hands and those of my dashing co-presenter Lee:

"Spewing from their radio dungeon, rising from the swamps like Ant and Dec's blubbery brothers, back once again like a renegade master, Lee and Eyan bring you smokin' tracks and molten nonsense.

"With games like Chainsaw Challenge, Sin Lose Or Draw and Rejoice And Be Gladiator, and music from the likes of Becoming The Archetype, Mae, Neon Horse and We Are Scientists, the fifth annual Theatre Of Noise is like nothing you have heard before."

That last bit is probably a lie. Listen in on 87.7FM at 9pm weeknights from Monday if you're in Manchester, or you can listen to us live on the internet. I'm also designing a website, which should be ready to go soon.

Expect copious updates on the Fat Roland blog until you are so nauseated with them, you will be necking dry cornflakes to make yourself puke.

Meanwhile, if you like cars that go fast, then totally ignore my Formula One Losers League. You have to be pretty quick to enter (deadline is any day now), but pretty slow to succeed: it's a fantasy league where your team has to be the worst one you could possibly muster.

You can actually win money for crashing in the Losers League. Meanwhile, the radio shows will be like listening to a slow motion car crash for no financial return whatsoever.


Mar 8, 2008

God sent Jesus Christ but the techno gods sent a single solitary extra black dot

Gantz Graf

The internoggin is abuzz with the activities of Sean Booth and Rob Brown, known to head-nodders everywhere as legendary Manchester bleep merchants Autechre (video still pictured).

They named themselves after hammering random letters on a keyboard. By that logic, I ought to be called Diohsihasd rather than Fat Roland.

My semi-bearded pal Fil once blue-toothed me a great mobile phone background with two huge curvy letters 'ae', which as any fule knows is the chemical symbol of Autechre.

The file corrupted somewhere in the ether between our phones, and a single solitary extra black dot appeared on the image. This accidental progression made it true to the incremental changes in loops typical of the band's music, and we knew a great big techno god was watching over us.

Anyways, as an old American friend and fellow Homestar Runner fan always used to say, anyways, they have a new album out. It is called Quaristice and is available from all good thingies.

If a new album isn't good enough, you should also download the 30 minutes of rich techno they spewed out on Mary Anne Hobb's Radio 1 show. Discover this at Acid Ted or at Fried My Brain 1.0.

While you're there, if you look really hard, and I mean proper hard, as if you're looking for the guy hiding behind Wally, you will see links to their marathon February podcast.

I enjoyed the uber-cheesiness of some of their song choices, despite my decrepit internet wires committing suicide every five minutes, abuzz or no abuzz.


Mar 3, 2008

"I am the trigger for your gun" suggests a relationship that isn't exactly balanced*

The Whip

Pancake Day, National Novel Writing Month, Healthy Eating Day, National Ketamine Month.

These are events to be respected and celebrated. Especially the last one.

That's why I'm standing on the steps of my palace, gleaming trumpet in hand, and declaring March the National Month Of The Whip.

I caught their barnstormer Trash on XFM whilst me and a few chums were bombing it down to Wales this weekend. Whilst there is every excuse to gnash teeth and rip clothes at the demise of a great radio station, there is every reason to be optimistic for The Whip.

The Whip are the best thing to come out of Manchester since Doves. They're like Gary Numan and Underworld falling into a blender, being poured into Apollo 440's cup, topped with Daft Punk's nuts, and drunk by New Order's Peter Hook.

You can boogie with them at The Warehouse Project on March 21st or buy their debut long-player X Marks Destination two weeks today.

Or you can ogle them in a cracking performance (whip, crack, geddit?) at last year's DPercussion in this here video link here.

I really should buy some fancier robes for announcements of national significance. These are covered in cat hairs.

*the actual line is "I have become the trigger for your gun" but this didn't fit into the space. Editorial decision. Or summat.