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.