Dec 31, 2010

The best movies of 2010: Jonathan King, Justin Bieber and Junior (Robert Downey)

My life is very much like Inception. Despite the many onion layers of reality that comprise the depths of my ever-expanding brain, all it really amounts to is one slow car crash.

And so the cinema is where I escape from the vagaries of being your favourite blogger. I descend into the dark (row D, centre) with my Justin Biebpipe book* and my lifesize cardboard cutout of Italian Racing Driver Jarno Trulli** to enter worlds unknown to me; the flicks are my safety place, my padded celluloid.

This does not make me a cinema expert like, say, Claudia Winkleman*** or Peter Bradshaw****, and I should point out I have missed an awful lot of notable films this year including Shutter Island, Tron Legacy and Alice In Wonderland (I will see at least two of them in the next few days), but it does give me a right, I think, to foist upon you my top 30 favourite films of 2010.

Actually, it's a top 32 because I'm pretty sure a couple of these are technically oh-nines. The word 'favourite' is also a misnomer, because the ones at the bottom of the list are pretty crud. Think of this, then, as the Top Not-30 Favourite And Unfavourite Films Of Not-All-2010.

I think I'll start at the bottom of the barrel...

32 - Robin Hood

Never mind Men In Tights. I'd rather this have been Men In Tight Nooses, as Russell Crowe brought as much life to our national crook as a Clannad track. And what was going on with the mysterious Lord Of The Flies kids in the trees? Daylight Robinery.

31 - Shrek Forever After

Shrek cannot face up to the distance he has engendered between him and his family, so he is sent into an alternate reality. This is Inception for idiots.

30 - Nine

Daniel Day-Lewis plays a convincing Italian lothario, and Queen Judi of Dench flaps out her pair of lungs in an excellent musical performance. Shame then the songs are as compelling as being stuck inside a cement mixer with Kid Rock.

29 - The Other Guys

I read today that Will Ferrell is now the most unbankable actor in Hollywood. For every dollar he is paid, the KLF burn a million pounds, or something. Anyway, it's a buddy movie and it's quirky and it made me want to watch Anchorman again.

28 - I Love You Phillip Morris

This utterly unbelievable true story zips through the plot too quickly to really make me care, but it's still better than you'll think it is after I've described it as Brokeback Mountain meets Shawshank Redemption meets Liar Liar. No really.

27 - The Ghost

Yesterday, I ate a lovely ice cream sundae, but just before I finished eating it, I smothered it in steaming cat vomit. And today, I constructed a complicated house of cards, ensuring that the last card I placed was encased in five tonnes of petrified excrement. A solid thriller with an ending that I may, possibly, have issues with.

26 - Death At A Funeral

Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan walk into a bar. You already know the conversation they'd have. This film is like that all the way through. With added HILARIOUS COFFIN JAPERY.

25 - Sherlock Holmes

Robert Downey Junior.  Robert Downey Junior. Robert Downey Junior. Robert Downey Junior. Robert Downey Junior. Robert Downey Junior. Robert Downey Junior. Robert Downey Junior. And some other people. A truly spirited remake of a tired classic.

24 - Cemetery Junction

Gervais and Merchant reach for Shane Meadows' sentimentality and deliver one of the strongest British films of the year, although I think I only like it because I am old and crumbly like a well-squeezed cheese.

23 - The Road

I stood up at a film lecture thing earlier this year and derided The Road as like driving on a motorway in the rain. I was beaten up and left destitute on the side of the M6, and so I resorted to cannibalism to survive. Fact. Still, despite the lack of emotional pull, it's a strong adaptation of a cracking book.

22 - Four Lions

As a piece of art, as a piece of ART, this film is a devastating commentary on noughties society, as a piece of ART. But as a film, I expected more dark thrills from the man who brought us My Wrongs 8245-8249 and 117, Blue Jam and something about cake.

21 - Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans

I should really hate this. It's a cop film, it's Nicholas "Nic" Cage doing kerrrrazy, and it's an entirely unnecessary remake. But it's has been drizzled with Coen Brother magic, or at least, a passable impression of the Coens. Hence the lizards. Yes. Lizards.

20 - Hot Tub Time Machine

Oh screw you, this was good, I tell ya. Yes, I like Miranda and I like Not Going Out and I like Ronnie Corbett. I have cheesy taste in comedy. Worth it for the moment when the film's title is said to camera. I actually clapped in the cinema. Strangest cameo of the year too.

19 - Let Me In

The boy was a little less fragile, the girl was a little less strange, and the title was a little more palatable than "Låt Den Rätte Komma In". This was still a remake you could get your teeth into though, hur hur, and you'll fang yourself for watching it, hur hur.

18 - Up In The Air

Sixty-seventy-two-hundred times better than Come Fly With Me and twelvety-pi-squared times worse than Airplane, George Clooney walks a fine line between a smug git and a compelling shell of a man. A fine film: maybe one for a DVD watch somewhere over Newfoundland.

17 - The Social Network

Like.

What? You wanted more? *****

16 - Buried

A big budget, action-packed thriller played out inside a single box, this was a flawed but enjoyable edge-of-your-seat spark of genius. Think of the first time you saw Falling Down. Now bury Michael Douglas alive and play out a similar kind of film. There. That's Buried.

15 - Winter's Bone

A hilarious comedy in which a resident of the barren Ozark Mountains gets into all sorts of scrapes with a wayward father, weird neighbours and a zany caper involving a boat and a chainsaw. Best watched between Married With Children and Only Fools And Horses.

14 - Youth In Revolt (spoiler alert)

Michael Cera appears three times in this list, two of which were in Youth In Revolt. Kind of like Fight Cl-- wait, that's a spoiler. Try again. Kind of like Psyc-- wait, I've done it again. Kind of like... Being John Malkovich but with only two Malkovich-Malkoviches.

13 - Cyrus

So many comedies have me waiting until winter so I can wee the word "MEH" in the snow, but Cyrus' story of a jealous son delivered buckets of punchlines and pathos in equal measure. It's not only the surprise comedy hit of the year, it's a must-see for anyone with a home studio.

12 - Crazy Heart

So the guy with the fish lips did the wrestling thing, and now the guy with the White Russians does the country singer thing. And yes, he treats women like objects and yes, I've had a rough night and I hate country music. It may be played for Oscar, but it still pulls the rug from under most films in 2010.

11 - The Town

Ben Affleck churns out a slushy romance story whilst constantly bitching at the success of his peer Matt Damon. Wait a second, that's all wrong. This is a gritty heist movie from inside the raw heart of Boston. What have you done with the real Ben Affleck?!

10 - Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

CUT TO: Edgar Wright's snappy directing style is pushed to maximum effect here. CUT TO: It's the best reimagining of a comic book I've seen, although I'm not really a graphic novel reader. CUT TO: It's laugh after laugh, it's just a shame when the plot gets in the way. FADE TO BLACK.

9 - Ponyo On The Cliff

Every bit as visually thrilling as Avatar (my thoughts on James Cameron here), Ponyo was a mesmerising, watery animation that was as weird as it was a political commentary. Think of Andrew Marr dressed as a fish. That's nothing to do with this film. just think of Andrew Marr dressed as a fish. There. Nice, isn't it?

8 - A Single Man

A grieving man plans his death whilst surrounded by the most beautiful actors and the most beautiful film set and the most beautiful acting you have ever seen. You'd think Colin Firth would be grateful, but no, it's all me, me, me. Don't get arsey, Darcy.

7 - Precious

If I said this was a film starring Jonathan King and brought to you by Pat Robertson, you'd not be interested. If I said this was a film starring Westlife and brought to you by the cast of High School Musical, you'd ignore it. Good job then this brilliant film stars Mariah Carey and was brought to you by Oprah.

6 - A Prophet

Things I don't intend getting locked in a room with: showering prisoners; an advice-dispensing apparition; a deceased deer; a prison 'don'; warring religious types; and definitely, definitely not a prophet with a razor.

5 - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

This film looks, sounds and smells great, and it produced the best heroin(e) of 2010 in the form of Lisbeth, the female with the mythical markings. I'm going to don my bike helmet and start hacking my computer immediately gh^(78WIO8--ggG2#p dammit, this is harder than it looks.

4 - Kick Ass

Look at the badger! This is a tremendously entertaining film that -- look at the badger! -- doesn't necessarily mean anything but -- look at the badger! -- packs so much punch per pound, I don't think I've been as easily entertained by anything else for a long time... ooo, look, a badger.

3 - Toy Story 3

A dog, a dinosaur, a donkey, a pig, two potatoes, a cowboy, a cowgirl and a Buzz Lightyear walk into an incinerator, and then... no, I'm not going to say. It's a scene that evoked tears and applause across the country and rightly turned the third Toy Story instalment into something much greater than its (warning, choking hazard, may contain small) parts.

2 - Inception

Jack from the Titanic dives into some fat orchestral chords and goes on a skiing trip to a dilapidated Venice whilst a girl who can't draw mazes folds up reality so she can fit it neatly inside a pocket inside a pocket inside a pocket. The end.

1 - Another Year

Mike Leigh and Ruth Sheen would be enough to get me watching this film (I'm a sucker for Leigh), but when you throw in Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton and THEN have the entire ripped heart of this masterpiece carried on the shoulders of Lesley Manville's tragi-comic turn, you have a meditation on ageing that nudges perfection. It looks exquisite, it twangs your funny bone as well as tickes your heart strings, and it has more to say than half the top ten put together. A true, deadpan, slightly-wrinkled British classic. (Read more here.)

Thank you for reading in 2010. I already have a good feeling about 2011: I'm gonna love it and hug it and pet it and call it George******.

* I got a Biebpipe book for my birthday. That's not really an excuse.
** I won Jarno from Ning Restaurant in Manchester, which also happens to be my favourite restaurant.
*** Is Winkleman any good? Seriously? I don't have a telly.
**** Pan's Labyrinth, Bradshaw once said, was "almost sort of late period M Night Shyamalan".
***** Social Network is not the golden egg the critics are saying it is, but still great. Read more on the Social Network here.
****** Wow, it's nearly two years since I've used an abominable snowman reference on my blog. You don't think you're reading anything original, do you? It repeats and repeats like the Beano, Iyaz's i-pod or your Christmas dinner. Happy new year!

Dec 30, 2010

Top ten best electronica albums of 2010: part four of four

This is part four. Please do read the other parts of this blog post: part one, part two and part three.
To read last year's top ten best electronica albums, click here.


1 - Mount Kimbie – Crooks And Lovers

Mount Kimbie have been a fundamental element of the journey of dubstep over the past few years, but while the purists were polishing their wobbly basslines and pressing thinly sliced beats, MK were busy widdling in the sink and toking on any old influence they could find.

2009's Maybes EP was their first big airhorn in the face of the music industry, all taut summer guitars, plunging beats and r'n'b vocals. The duo dipped from some people's attentions when their second EP Sketch On Glass was released, but by then they were shining lights in a scene that encompassed the likes of Martyn, Burial, Joy Orbison and Bibio.

And so it came to pass that Crooks And Lovers was one of the most anticipated albums of 2010, and I really don't think anyone quite knew what to expect. They were hailed as post-dubstep and their music spouted the language of ambience, house, glitch, post-rock, techno and hip hop.

The album opens with a gliding guitar mantra that quickly descends into the first real rhythm hit of Would Know, its slow wooden beats underpinning epic filter drops that spin your brain 720 degrees. A discordant three-chord theme adds sadness to a Hudson Mohawke-like jam for Before I Move Off, then we're moved into acid techno and minimal click-house territory - but not without being licked in the face by the fret-scraping guitar melancholia of Adriatic in the middle of it all.

Ode To Bear could be a Flying Lotus track, but before you start mentally noting comparisons, you're blasted by Field's proper rock guitar (played rather badly, it has to be said). Mayor is some kind of manic toytown rave stripped down to the barest of beats - then before you know it, it's over. Mount Kimbie have pissed in your post-dubstep sink and they're halfway down the road, their pockets bulging with most of the contents of your booze cupboard.

To understand why Mount Kimbie is my number one electronica album of 2010, you need a smidgen of context. For years now, I've been banging on about Warp Records this and Warp Records that, harking back to a time when phrases like "IDM" and "warehouse techno" meant something.

Meanwhile, the music scene changed around me. Some crusty danceheads got guitars out or started moving Beyonce to the front of their record collection, and the electronic world became a lot more eclectic. Someone somewhere invented "folktronica". This new freedom allowed the likes of Bibio to get away with pastoral, emotive real instruments disguised as proper techno, or the likes of Burial to wedge proper MOBO vocal slices into his work.

I fought against it. If I saw a guitarist, I would regularly break his or her fingers. If I heard an album with vocals, I'd chuck it in my Hasbro woodchipper. But then Clark (last year's best album) started using vocals, as did Bullion. Matthew Dear made guitars, like, totally lake superior, as did Battles. Crikes. Then there was the moment when Mount Kimbie's Maybes came out and the penny in my brain dropped with a pleasant clang.

The Mount Kimbie sound, all those clanks and thuds and strums you can hear on Crooks And Lovers, went on to define much of this year. With that album, Hotflush Recordings hit the stratosphere, already rocket-powered from the likes of Search And Destroy, Untold and Joy Orbison.

And most crucially of all, it laid the eggs that would hatch two words that look set to define 2011:

James Blake.

Blakey's CMYK is undoubtedly the tune of 2010: its flurry of mixed up vocals ("found her... red coat"), fast-step garage and bubbling atmospherics sounded like it either came from deep within the earth or from another galaxy altogether. What's annoying about James Blake is his failure to produce an album this year (it may well have featured in my top ten), but the anticipation of that record (February 2011!) has set musos, journos and fashionistas equally ablaze with excrement-- I mean, excitement.

James Blake would not exist without Mount Kimbie. Well. I don't mean literally. Kai and Dom from Mount Kimbie didn't give birth to James. Well... they may have done, but it's not mentioned on discogs.com. If you're reading, boys, you may want to clear this one up in the comments section.

And so, there we have Mount Kimbie's place in history, their moment defined, their ouvre, um, ouved. It's a sound that has weedled its way into the eardrums and quietly nags at 2011 to come up with something better. MK's rise to success has been rapid: two EPs and suddenly they're my album of the year - which, may I remind you, is much more vital and era-defining than any Mercury, Grammy or swimming certificate.

Thank you for joining me for my top ten albums of 2010. Buy Mount Kimbie's Crooks And Lovers from Bleep or Boomkat or Piccadilly and stay chooned for my round-up of this year's best films, and then my spectacular uber-preview of 2011, which I will slam onto this blog just as that Auld Lang Syne hangover's kicking in.



This is part four. Please do read the other parts of this blog post: part one, part two and part three.
To read last year's top ten best electronica albums, click here.

Dec 29, 2010

Top ten best electronica albums of 2010: part three of four

This is part three. Please do read the other parts of this blog post: part one, part two and part four
To read last year's top ten best electronica albums, click here.

4 - Four Tet – There Is Love In You

Kieren Hebdon's strongest album had 2010 skipping to the dancefloor while it was still in short trousers. It is probably the only album in my list that has nudged the top 40, a deserved success after he lit the Burial touchpaper with the Moth / Wolf Cub 12-inch last year. In the modern parlance of today's youth, this album is definitely double-rainbow.

I had been lazy writing off Four Tet as coffee table electronica for people too afraid of Venetian Snares. There Is Love In You is sardine-full of outstanding tracks (the fractured vocals of Angel Echoes, the soaring simplicity of Circling, the thundering energy of Plastic People), but it works best an emotional journey start to finish, especially when topped with heartbreaking Bibio-like finisher She Just Likes To Fight.

A ten-out-of-ten for Four Tet. Buy There Is Love In You from Bleep or Boomkat or Piccadilly.



3 - Luke Abbott – Holkham Drones

Is it really four years since Luke's stupendous 8-bit single b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b? Holkham Drones is Abbott's first album and appears to be named after a posh place in Norfolk. Even though it appears to be the Border Community label's only album release of 2010, it arrived on the electronica scene with less of a fanfare, more of an enthusiastic trumpet fart (check my own fartings here).

Holkham Drones needs to be rediscovered immediately. Taking its cue from basic frequency modulation, the cymbals hiss and the bass rings hollow and the whole thing appears as if it may fall over any second. But as the beat grabs you by the badgers, your mind is transported into a grey fluffy analogue world belonging to Boards Of Canada and Cluster (the band not the cereal). This meditation on ambience through repetitive beats is the greatest noise since early days of techno, or since I knocked on Timmy Mallett's door for a solid week because he owed me a fiver.

The best Abbott since, um, Diane Abbott. Buy Holkham Drones from Bleep or Boomkat.



2 - Gonjasufi – A Sufi And A Killer

A Sufi And A Killer sounds like Mark E Smith, Timothy Leary, Seasick Steve, George Clinton, Marc Bolan and Flying Lotus using their teeth, yellowed from chewing tobacco, to rip open time itself, then having a jolly good toke on apple tobacco in a shisha cafe. This is a debut album, don't forget. Despite its dizzying array of influences, this is as complete a sound as you're ever going to get.

"You came with weapons: I came with God," says Sumach, and you don't doubt him. The billion or so tracks on the album buzz with a shamanic intensity: the eastern impact of Kowboyz And Indians, the vintage jam of She Gone or the imposing beats underpinning his fragile vocals (an ancient Method Man?) on Ancestors. I don't know where he's coming from or where he's going to, but Sufi, so good. Sorry.

An incredible achievement for Warp and Gaslamp Killer and the rest. Buy Gonjasufi's Sufi And A Killer from Bleep or Boomkat or Piccadilly.



Not quite in the top ten (part three)

My top ten is chock full of artists who have embraced the 4/4 rhythm, something which I wouldn't have done a year ago. And so it's a shame to lose Lone, whose Emerald fantasy Tracks evoked the spirit of classic Detroit. Shame to lose Underworld's Barking too. Matthew Dear's Black City didn't dance its way into the top ten either.

The Chemical Brothers got back to techno basics on Further, but it wasn't enough, while One Life Stand from Hot Chip was quite good but, frankly, a bit annoying. iTAL tEK's detailed Midnight Colour was definitely in my top half of the long list, while Susumu Yokota's Kaleidoscope didn't see its way into the final reckoning.

Dan Le Sac, Teebs, The Orb and Kode 9 (he did a DJ Kicks) also didn't make the cut. I was disappointed with Skream's chart-baiting Outside The Box. He needs to start thinking outside the, um, yeah, anyway. Royksopp's Senior had early retirement in the reckoning for this list.

And finally, some artists were excluded because they were probably too guitar-y and not electronica enough,. They include Denis Jones' Red + Yellow = (you must see him live), the Klaxons' Surfing The Void (and yes it was a good album cover) and the electrifying Nerve Up from Lonelady.

This is part three. Please do read the other parts of this blog post: part one, part two and part four
To read last year's top ten best electronica albums, click here.

Dec 28, 2010

Top ten best electronica albums of 2010: part two of four

This is part two. Please do read the other parts of this blog post: part one, part three and part four
To read last year's top ten best electronica albums, click here.

7 - Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma

There's something about the great nephew of John and Alice Coltrane that enables him to kidnap heavyweight vocalists with Guru-like ease (Erykah Badu, Thom Yorke, Outkast, Laura Darlington) and yet still beguile the casual listener with the strangest cacophony of polymathic twiddling whilst provoking bemused reviewers into penning juxtapositional metaphors of space travel and smokey 1970s jazz clubs. That and his beats are well phat.

So, among the laidback hip hop of Zodiac Shit, the shuffling funk of Dance Of The Pseudo and the swirling headnodding of MmmHmm, we have a multitude of influences: jazz, garage, hip hop, techno, classical, folktronica and Enrique Iglesias. Despite all of this, I can't help feeling Cosmogramma is an album none of us can quite understand yet and perhaps it should be enjoyed more some time in the distant future, maybe in a smokey jazz club in space.

FlyLo isn't just a comedy airline created by Matt Lucas and David Walliams. Buy Cosmogramma at Bleep or Boomkat or Piccadilly.



6 - Autechre – Oversteps

The Wills and Kate of Manchester electronic music produced three records in 2010. 3 Telepathics Meh In-Sect Connection was a banana-themed collaboration by Sean from Autechre, Move Of Ten was technically an EP (although it's longer than the Flying Lotus album, above), while the release featured in my top ten, Oversteps, gave notoriety to Altered:Carbon who dressed their own LP as Autechre.

Listening to Oversteps is a bit like cuddling up to your favourite hedgehog: it's sharp and awkward, yet you're allured by the familiar scent. I don't get the detractors who write this off as difficult. known(1) has harpsichord, qplay is as delicate as my tummy after a night on the rohypnol, whilst see on see and Treale (oh NOW they use capital letters) are bonafide Autechre hits. Kind of. Warmer than Quaristice, this is music that spikes the bloodstream.

Buy Autechre's Oversteps at Bleep or Boomkat or Piccadilly.



5 - Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise

Arriving on Rough Trade Records like a supercharged Sosumu Yokota, Pantha Du Prince produced eleven minimal techno masterpieces that were so fluid, so organic, they could only have been harvested as they were literally dripping from the trees. Minimal techno often bores me, so why on earth is this several leagues above places six to ten on my list?

Maybe it's the snarling acid on Behind The Stars, the heavenly rave chords of Satellite Snyper, or the clanks and bells and feedback and heavenly choirs of synthdom that eddy and whirl around crisp beats that couldn't beat more crisply even if accompanied by a Walkers advert starring Gary Lineker being thumped to a pulp by sixteen heavily-armed packets of Seabrook. I'm not sure if Black Noise can be topped, but there are four albums on my list that have done just that. Stay tuned.

Bring the Noise: buy Pantha Du Prince's album from Bleep or Boomkat or Piccadilly.



Not quite in the top ten (part two)

I'm pleased with my top ten, although excluding any amazing album is a bit like shepherding your ten favourite sheep into the pen then shotgunning the rest into blasted pulps of smoking mutton. Here are more lambs that have been silenced.

Gold Panda's glitchy Lucky Shiner (pictured) probably got bumped because a couple of artists in my top ten are doing similar things. Massive Attack's Heligoland probably got bumped because, although the album was an improvement, it still sounded like veterans keeping the life support going. Also on a mainstream tip, I never quite connected with LCD Soundsystem's swansong This Is Happening.

A notable omission from my top ten is Squarepusher's Schobaleader One project, but I couldn't separate how he could make some tracks on d'Demonstrator sound like Royksopp and then not expect to be compared to Royksopp. He's excluded because he sounds like Royksopp. There, I said it. Squarepusher sounds like Royksopp. Royksopp's funnier the more you say it.

Actress' Splazsh is an essential album for 2010, and I feel pained to exclude it. Oneohtrix Point Never received major acclaim for Returnal and again was a close call. And Starkey's Ear Drums And Black Holes, bringing ballads and grime to Planet Mu Records, also just missed the cut.

This is part two. Please do read the other parts of this blog post: part one, part three and part four
To read last year's top ten best electronica albums, click here.

Dec 27, 2010

Top ten best electronica albums of 2010: part one of four

This is part one. Please do read the other parts of this blog post: part two, part three and part four
To read last year's top ten best electronica albums, click here.

10 - Lorn – Nothing Else

Marcus 'Lorn' Ortega teased us with the track Until There Is No End on Fat City Records some time ago, a deeply moving slice of apocalypto-funk. Clark, the recipient of my Best Album Of 2010, then went on to master his debut album Nothing Else. You know it because every city in the UK has been plastered top to bottom with stickers promoting the record. In the process, the Brainfeeder sound (crunchy cut-paste J Dilla beats) was quickly knocked several days left of Tuesday with the label's first signing outside of Los Angeles.

It was also Brainfeeder's second album proper, and with Lorn quoting Milton all about the place, you knew it would be something special. Before now, I have praised his testosterone retro and made comparisons to Animal Farm and Bladerunner. The album sounds like Knight Rider having a breakdown: maybe it takes itself too seriously, but Nothing Else soaks you like tears and rain with a sound defined by no-one else but Lorn.

Embrace the synth melancholy. Buy Lorn's Nothing else from Bleep or Boomkat or Piccadilly.


9 - Venetian Snares - My So-Called Life

Like a naughty boy, Aaron Funk ventured away from his natural home at Planet Mu and set up Timesig Records for the (arguably) 22nd studio album from his interior decor / percussion-inspired moniker. Because it was recorded quickly - Snares sees this more of a diary entry than a year's work - My So-Called Life shifted the game somewhat. Well. Slightly. Its still a (detri)mentalist cavalcade of dirty junglism.

The quick recording process lightened the music by precisely nought-point-seven degrees: for example, pastoral string-picking gives way to a beautifully melodic 8bit 'n' bass on title track My So Called Life. But it's the vocal samples that are leaned on more heavily than usual here - and what horrible vocals. Grossly non-PC Welfare Wednesday contains a hilarious jibe at Planet Mu label boss Mike Paradinas, while Who Wants Cake? and Posers And Camera Phones say things that would make Jerry Sadowitz blush.

The most accessible and disgusting Venetian Snares album for a while. Buy it from Bleep or Boomkat or Piccadilly.


8 - Caribou – Swim

Caribou doesn't need any more praise heaped on his handsome locks. Resident Advisor has already pronounced Swim as the album of the year (please don't look at that list too much: mine is horribly and coincidentally similar). And Sun's dizzying refrain ("sun, sun, sun, sun...") loomed heavily over 2010.

I have an entirely personal reason for including Swim here. Opening track Odessa was playing in the bar in which I was getting drunk after my blog awards win, and it kind of became my soundtrack. That's not to downplay the rest of the LP though: crisp, driving house music, chiming hypnotica on Bowls and a nod towards indie pop on Kaili. But really, it's all about Odessa and it's all about the Sun. Sun. Sun. Sun. Dammit, there I go again.

Hunt yourself a Caribou: buy Swim from Bleep or Boomkat or Piccadilly.


Not quite in the top ten (part one)

I will not pretend my list - or indeed any element of my blog - is comprehensive. I also don't think this has been a classic year for electronica, nor that all of these artists are electronica. Crikes. This is like a minefield. Anyhoo, here are some of the albums that didn't pass muster.

I'm astonished at how commercial some of my top ten is this year, although Magnetic Man's eponymous debut album pushed the pop too far to be included, despite MAD and despite it being one of the most important electronic music collaborations of recent times. The same goes for Plastic Beach by the Gorillaz, although that was still a glorious album.

Daft Punk's Tron Legacy soundtrack came very close; maybe it would have helped if I'd bothered seeing the film. I found Darkstar's slow mosh-hopping North difficult to love, while Salem's King Knight didn't tug the earstrings enough for a top placing. Meanwhile, UNKLE bored me to sleep with Where Did The Night Fall.

I was gutted not to include two albums at the opposite end of the electronic sonic spectrum: Ikonika's gamer-baiting Contact Want Love Hate and Brian Eno / Jon Hopkins' Small Craft On A Milk Sea (which is not a great ambient album: it is a great techno album). Any top ten without them would be a crime. It's a fair cop, guv.

This is part one. Please do read the other parts of this blog post: part two, part three and part four
To read last year's top ten best electronica albums, click here.

Dec 25, 2010

Fat Roland's Christmas message

As that annual torrent of reindeer excrement suffocates our financial stability and any remnants of family happiness, let me wish you one and all a devastatingly happy yuletide.

Even if the three wise men weren't smashed on ketamine and listening to breakcore on their journey to Bethlehem, I still think Christmas is a pretty interesting time.

It's ecologically interesting because everyone starts pimping their own personal trees with shiny plastic crap, as if trees weren't pretty enough already.

It's a true family time because thousands of people worship a new born baby by spending entire days gorging and spending money, when normally they'd pay lip service to new parents with a half-cocked "oh isn't your baby pretty" whilst secretly comparing the nipper to a sack of potatoes.

And it's a wonderful time for music, what with Simon Cowell personally escorting the Archangel Gabriel by gunpoint to buy the new CD by The Powerpuff Boys / Tammy Teenporn / Insert Generic X Factor Winner.

Who am I kidding? If life is an elixir to be drunk, Christmas is a slopbucket steaming next to an overflowing drain. The seasonal tackiness I can cope with, but it seems if you are without family or friends or money, yuletide is a time of sadness, of loneliness and of gnawing off your own legs in boredom.

And then, even if you do get to hobble to church without breaking your face on the snow, Christmas doesn't even do religion right: the image of Jesus as a baby does much less for me than the revolutionary aspect of the biblical stories. Babies are rubbish at turning over tables in temples, rubbish, I tell you. I know because I've carried out experiments.

So please, switch the telly off, put the turkey in the dustbin, and let's all sit in silence and not enjoy ourselves. If we blink really fast and pretend we're in a club with strobes, Christmas will be over before we know it.

(While you're doing that, I will be spending the day getting fat and merry with friends. I love Christmas just for that, although don't tell anyone because it would undermine the essential grouchiness of this blog post.)

2010 was a year of collosal highs and lows. I was hospitalised when my internal organs went on strike and I still see the scars everytime I catch my reflection in people's windows on my daily morning streak. But I also won accolade for my blog, which seems to have shifted my creative life several degrees in an unusual and exciting direction.

In the dying embers of the year, it's all about to flare up in Fatro Land. I need to tell you about my top ten best 2010 electronica albums (see last year's waffling here), and also my favourite films (again, here's last year's). And then, one of the annual highlights of Fat Roland On Electronica, my stupendous preview of the upcoming year in electronic music (here's last year's).

None of it is written yet, but I have to get it done. Good job I'll be spending all day writing instead of getting fat and merry with-- oh, wait. Damn you, Christmas, you've foiled me again...

Dec 18, 2010

Flying Lotus, the Grammys and the genitalia of Equus africanus asinus

Twitter spats are not the de rigueur footwear accessory for the microblogging generation, but are what happens when tweeters lose it with each other.

Whether it's David Cameron and the Smiths or Mark Thomas wanting to kick the fluff out of a allegedly corrupt alleged journalist, fights on Twitter are extra entertaining because its not just the school playground gawping in on the action: the whole world is watching and there is no teacher to break it up.

I missed this one completely, though. The Grammys announced their usual brown wash of inanity earlier this month. Their nominations are usually as cutting edge as Westlife using a cardigan to slice into Peter Andre's brain. Flying Lotus (pictured), though, wasn't going to take his lack of nomination lying down, and here's what he tweeted on December 2nd:

- "BT, Chemical Brothers, Groove Armada??? are you serious??Grammys are a joke. FUCK YOU." (Original tweet here.)

And then, just in case his message wasn't heard, he followed it up with:

- "FUCK YOU" (Link.)

- "You are jokes" (Link.)

And then he got his sass on because, y'know, this is Flying Lotus and he's one hard-ass muddyfunster.

- "PussyAssNotknowingShitaboutREALmusicBitchMadeMotherfuckers" (link) which sounds like a Prince album.

- "you better hope I don't get a ticket to the party bitch" (Link.)

- "suck a donkey dick" (Link.) Two words: Shrek porn.

Remember. This is one of the world's most highly respected producers with a penchant for J Dilla beat devastation and the occasional freejazz cigarette.

- "I know the people got me. The real heads got me. They won't catch me in a dress or a fucking afro. Fuck you pop ass pussies" (Link.)

Which probably resulted in a humble letter of apology to Gaslamp Killer, the turntablist who releases beats on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder record label and has been known to sport impressive hair explosions from time to time.

I wouldn't dream of attacking anyone on Twitter, so I dribbled in jealous glee at FlyLo's boldness. And he is right. The Grammys are awful... and I wouldn't want to catch him in a dress either. Unless it's a Wednesday night when it's knob-tweakers' tranny night at my place.

Good job Mr Lotus made it up to the Grammys the following day, with this heartfelt apology and the cherry on top of this Twitspat pie:

- "I was drunk last night. My bad. You still suck though. BIGBANGATTACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!" (Link.)

As for the actual Grammy awards, here's a picture of Tom Baker holding a puppy. Forgotten about the Grammys yet? Good. I'm working on a cover version of a St Winifred's School Choir classic and rewording the chorus "Grammy, we hate you".

Dec 12, 2010

Dec 9, 2010

Welcome to the Boy Band Family Tree

Boy bands. Where would we be without the curtain-haired, squeaky-voiced, smooth-abbed, white-teethed, non-sexed, freshly-pressed, short-lived torrents of snot?

Bright Club returns to Manchester next week. Hailed as the 'thinking person's variety club', it presents various experts waxing lyrical about their field of expertise, hopefully in an entertaining way.

The theme this time round is 'family'. And so, on Thursday December 16th, 7.30pm at Nexus Art Cafe, you'll hear talks about families of particles, attachment and the early years, families of galaxies, and biotechnology and familes, and entrepreneurship and families.

Then there will be me. Talking about boy bands. They have no idea I'm an imposter. They haven't the first clue that I am, basically, a dribbling fat man ranting through a haze of crystal meth at an imaginary image of an axe-wielding zombie corpse of Thora Hird.

My Boy Band Family Tree will take the entire history of pop's most steam-cleaned phenomenon and bottle it through a fictitious family tree. All in eight minutes.

Of course, I haven't written it yet. I'll probably start scrawling some notes about five minutes before I'm due on stage. It worked with my last appearance when I presented my Gospel According To Aphex Twin.*

While I'm updating you on my whereabouts, it seems right to let you know about a couple of internet things. My increased activity in the wonderful world of fiction is being taken off this blog, and instead you can catch updates on Bionic Matthew's Pen Of Doom. This is a secret blog that I'm now making public. It contains a fair whack of poorly written material from the past.

I'm also keeping videos off this site. Instead, you'll find them at my third blog, Fat Roland's Oozy Bleeps.

So then. Fat Roland On Electronica. Fat Roland's Oozy Bleeps. Bionic Matthew's Pen Of Doom. Three in one. The internet trinity. The holy family. Maybe I should have done a talk on that.

*this is called false modesty. It's at least ten minutes.

Dec 3, 2010

Fat Roland's Oozy Bleeps playlist #1

Let me make you a mixtape. It's ten hours of drills recorded on wax cylinders then sellotaped to the back of a badger.

Mixtapes make me sick. Fawning couples foist these things on each other when in fact real partners don't give a flying bloodhound about each others' music tastes. Mixtapes only exist to make break-ups harder.

I am, of course, living in a sepia-stained heaven when cassette tapes ruled the world and it was acceptable to pleasure yourself to posters of Tears For Fears on public transport. These days, mixtapes are amazing because they are digital and they are cool and they are the future.

Which is why I am instigating a new thing here at Fat Roland towers. Fat Roland's Oozy Bleeps Playlist is an hour or so of music noises that have blown their sweet beats into my ear over the past 30 days. Most of it is fairly new electronica, although there will be a fair few imposters too.

I'll update the playlist on Spotify as the month goes on, although around once a month when it reaches something attaining perfection, I'll link it on my blog and say "Hey! Everyone! Look at my playlist!"

Hey! Everyone! Look at my playlist! Thanks to knob-twiddler Tom Davenport for starting this idea off in my brain.


Launch the playlist in Spotify

Oneohtrix Point Never - Where Does The Time Go from the album Returnal (Mego 2010)

Nosaj Thing - Fog from the album Drift (Alpha Pup 2009)

Lukid - Chord from the album Chord (Werk 2010)

Lone - Once In A While from the 12" (Werk 2010)

Luke Abbott - 2nd 5th Heavy from the album Holkham Drones (Border Community 2010)

Joker - City Hopper from the 12" (Tectonic 2009)

Rockwell - Underpass from the album Various: Critical Sound (Critical 2009)

Actress - Maze from the album Splazsh (Honest Jon's 2010)

Matthew Dear - You Put A Smell On Me from the album Black City (Ghostly International 2010)

Weiss - 01.rephlex from the album Rephlex (Electroton 2007)

Simian Mobile Disco - Thousand Year Egg from the album Delicacies (Smalltown Supersound 2010)

Joy Orbison - The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow from the 12" (Aus 2010)

PVT - Window from the album Church With No Magic (Warp 2010)


Launch the playlist in Spotify

Dec 2, 2010

Ten plaudits Bleeping


Online retailer Bleep.com has hit December running with a series of top tens of 2010.

The other day, they posted their top artists of the year, which included Oneohtrix Point Never, James Blake, Roska and Caribou. In Oneohtrix, otherwise known as Brooklyn's Daniel Lopatin, they saw a "prodigal, prolific exponent of the synthesiser."

And if your order his album Returnal from Bleep, or his other records, you get his exlusive mix CD Objects In Mirrors.

Yesterday, Bleep.com revealed their top ten labels of the year. Their record label of 2010 is Numbers, a Glasgow outfit whose mission to "melt together the seemingly disparate sounds of R&B, techno, electro, house, dubstep, UKF and 80s funk under one glorious groove" was lauded by Bleep. The imprint's output this year included Deadboy, Untold and SBTRKT.

Because they're well chuffed and that with such high praise, Numbers have launched a compilation featuring every bit out output on their label along with a couple of new t-shirt designs.

Over the next few days, expect more 2010 from Bleep in the form of best albums, favourite EPs and most recommended reissues and compilations. I'll try and match them when I do my usual end-of-year round-ups later this month.

Meanwhile in another corner of the internet, Radio Scot Void has released some older tracks for free in a special mixtape that's worth getting simply for Shlohmo's Socks. The track, not the underwear item.

Nov 29, 2010

Did Kerouac have fridge magnets? NO, HE BLOODY DID NOT

I didn't get where I am today without poking things with a stick.

As I get older and bits of me fall off, it takes more effort to stop myself permanently going to seed and dribbling hopelessly in my cot all day whilst watching reruns of Hippies.

And so I poke things with a stick to see if they go squeak, to see if I have any hidden talents or unused opportunities I should be making the most of.

I tried stand-up, which was brutal and scary and strangely refreshing. It didn't go squeak: it was more of a yelp and it gave me the horrors when it came to treading the boards.

So when I did my comedy lecture Gospel According To Aphex Twin earlier this year at Bright Club, I was still recovering from the stage fright and I shook like a leaf. It did squeak quite pleasingly, though. It looked serene on the surface, but believe me, my inner swan was like a firework with tourettes.

My confidence has grown. Since I did a Titanic and garnered way more praise than I thought I deserved at the Manchester Blog Awards, giving me that useful tag of "award-winning" to wave in people's startled faces, my squeaks have increased in frequency to a sort of high-pitched jabber.

On Wednesday, this accumulated in me reading a short story at an open mic session for the first time in my life. It was for the launch of an anthology by Bad Language (I hope to nudge myself a page or two in the next one) and I read a story called Sandra Sue about teenage ultraviolence.

I must say a massive thanks to Socrates Adams for his advice before the event (read something funny, read it slowly). That man is to literary readings what ducks are to deviant sexual practices, and I mean that in a good way.

Because of a mixture of extensive preparation, confidence in my material and sheer bloody mindedness, it went down really well. I wanted it to be a performance rather than someone just muttering into a mic (note the pretentious italics), and I was pleased with what I achieved.

I then went mad. "I know," I thought, "I can do this twice in one week." I found myself reading for a second time on Saturday at Waterstone's Deansgate branch in Manchester, this time with a weird horror tale The People Vs The Tooth Fairies and a comedy piece about Beyonce.

And that's it. I have the lit-reading bug. Hundreds, if not, millions of plans are afoot thanks to my Beatoff Generation chums. We've had a lovely mention in Bournemouth Runner's The Art Of Fiction, we've got fridge magnets thanks to Benjamin Judge and people keep calling me a scenester.

"Scenester." Arf.

Because of the prep for this week's readings and a nasty little throat / eyes / braincells gremlin that has laid me flat tonight (I can't look at this screen for much longer), this blog has suffered slightly. Less of the usual James Blunt-bashing and more new poked beasties that have little to do with the musical side of Fat Roland On Electronica.

Be patient with me, dear reader: I need to keep poking things with sticks. An arrogant bit of me feels that anything is possible right now, especially if I put the work in. This is, after all, the month in which David Lynch (THE David Lynch) released a dance track. Now, that's some brilliant poking.


David Lynch's Good Day Today by threeminutesthirtyseconds

Nov 23, 2010

No more idle speculation: Aphex Twin to play Bloc 2011


Aphex Twin is back at the Bloc festival, as revealed in an announcement today that takes a sideswipe at the internet gossip that has surrounded the appearance.

"This is the kind of lineup that jumps out of the undergrowth bites the back of your head off, like a tiger or something," says an email from Bloc sent out this morning.

It goes on to say, "You'll see a lot of idle speculation online, but check out the first round of showcase announcements to find out who's very much 'in' for Bloc's landmark fifth birthday."

The idle speculation, of course, was started by Bloc when they released an anonymous teaser video featuring the artist. The date they appended, "12 march 2011" fed right into the chatter about a new Aphex LP that's been rife on the internet for some time.

I showed the video on this blog a week ago and liberally slapped my greasy cynicism over any thoughts that it may be a date for a new album, saying "it's an advert for his appearance at the 2011 Bloc Weekender festival. CRASH! That's the rollercoaster falling off the tracks and landing on the candy floss stall."

That roller coaster bit might need some explanation. Go and read the whole post here.

What we're left with is a jolly good line-up for Bloc, which takes place at Minehead Butlin's in the second weekend in March. Richard D Twin will join Four Tet, Venetian Snares, Floating Points, Joy Orbison, Mary Anne Hobbs, Untold, Speedy J, LFO, Daedelis, Beardyman, Moderat, Dopplereffekt, a bloke from Altern-8 and flip-loads more.

I do sometimes us internetters would speculate as much about releases by the likes of, for example, Joy Orbison. I'm as guilty as anyone for making it all Aphex, Aphex, Aphex. In fact, screw Aphex Twin: I've changed my allegiance. If One Direction aren't playing Bloc 2011, I'm not coming.

Creative Tourist is the bezt website ever

Creative Tourist, the leading cultural guide to God's chosen city, has splurged a feature about me all over its pages.

It's part of a new feature about the best arts and culture blogs in Manch-- no, Bez, get back under your table, you can have your food when I'm ready. Where was I? Oh yes, it looks like I'm the inaugural victim of a new series.

They say "this is a blogger who writes passionately and in informed detail about electronica, without straying into hyperbole or hype." They're absolutely right, of course. I never hype anything.

(Wavy lines, fade to dream sequence.)

"The album is officially dead. Kaput. Extinct. Its tongue is lolling. It has crosses for eyes. The album is exactly six feet lower than the soles of your shoes. It is dead." January 2010

"Magnetic Man's impending chart success is more exciting than electrocuted nipples." July 2010

"The Mercury Music Prize is the best prize in the history of EVER." September 2010

"All we can humbly offer is this manifesto for our future massive greatness... All literary movements are over" November 2010.


(And we're back in the room.)

You ain't never gonna fookin' find me you rozzer scumGET OFF my keyboard, Bez, and carry on with the grouting. I want that finished by dinnertime.

The Creative Tourist feature blows any anonymity I may have left, but I wanted open and transparent with them. Also, I like the name I was born with because it's an anagram of "narrating icon"

Speaking of narrating, a selection of my other writings across the internet can be unearthed by clicking on the big "fat fiction and other writings" logo on the right of this post, or by clicking here. I've had an immense amount of fun scrawling for other sites recently and long may it continue.

You can also catch me reading one of my stories as part of the open mic slot at Bad Language's Scattered Reds book launch at the Castle pub, Oldham Street, Manchester this Wednesday night.

And I'm one of the speakers at Bright Club at Nexus Art Cafe on December 16th, where I'll be presenting my new talk, Boy Band Family Tree.

Right, there was something I'd forgotten. I hate it when that happens-- oh, of course. Bez.

Bez? Hello? Where have you gone?

There you are. Hey, get down from that chimney, the police will see you. No, you are NOT Father Christmas. Yes, you do look like him, but just because you're covered in red paint, that still means you're naked. Oh Bez, not down the chimney, use the toilet like everyone else. Do you want me get Shaun again? Do you? What do you mean he's on holiday?

Sorry about this, I need to see to Bez. Are you okay letting yourself out?

Nov 20, 2010

The Beatoff Generation: Our Future Books Shall Bleed From Your Shelves Like A Hardback Elixir Reddened From An Embarrassment Of Grammatical Riches


This is a manifesto.

2011 is the year of the Beatoff Generation, a collective of writers converging on the city of Manchester and yet looking past its bricks like herons scouting for prey beyond the tower blocks where the tower blocks are rivers and the herons are what I just said they are in the middle of this sentence.

Writing is our oxygen. Words are our blood cells. Pages are our imaginations and pens are, well, they're just pens, really. We are the sycophantic courtiers of narrative: our protagonists are our emperors and we bow down with short stories, nascent novels, cultural reviews, blog projects, stage readings and inane tweets.

Blackwell's in Manchester, Waterstone's on Deansgate, our future books shall bleed from your shelves like a hardback elixir reddened from an embarrassment of grammatical riches. Until then, all we can humbly offer is this manifesto for our future massive greatness.

All literary movements are over. Apart from this one, because this is the one we made up when sozzled in Common last night.

Ah, yes, the real reason...

When numerous writers spilled out of the blog awards a month ago, some of us began writing for each other's websites, or at least upped the ante slightly. 330 Words doubled its number of scribblings, a few got stuck into Write In For Writing's Sake, while others bombarded Do A Barrel Roll then Screen150 with their Barry Normanisms. New friendships blosssomed. Collaborations abounded. Babies were made. Wait. Not that last one.

It brought to mind the giggles and inspiration of the much-missed reading night No Point In Not Being Friends, and the Offbeat Generation literary scene mostly consisting of people who know people who know people we know. And for one intense moment, we dallied with the idea of our own literary scene.

We laughed like insane, dribbling hyenas at thought of taking on such a self-referential and masturbatory label.

So we did it. We are the Beatoff Generation. You are the Beatoff Generation. We'll be inclusive, we'll be positive, we'll publish each others' stuff. We are beatoff, you are beatoff, everyone who snuggles our words in the warmth of a website, in the past or at any point in the future, you are, we are, they are beatoff.

To mention names would be reductive, so there's no way I'll talk about Bad Language, B&N Magazine, Fell House, I Thought I Told You To Wait In The Car, Pantheon, Roy Keane's Lucky Scarf, Voices From The Below, Who The Fudge Is Benjamin Judge, Words & Fixtures, the many blog awarders, everyone I couldn't fit into one blog post - or the poor souls that simply humour us when we're coming up with stupid #beatoff ideas.

Maybe using "beatoff" as a hash or blog tag will help us coalesce, or give us that little nudge when wrestling with word counts, or maybe it'll become a magazine or a blog or a book to disgust those perturbed by its sordid name. Maybe it will become something massive, even though none of us are at all serious about any kind of a 'scene'.

Or maybe we truly are "forever doomed as the literary scene that gave itself the worst name ever".

When you next see Jupiter glowering beside the cheerful moon, think of it as the dot in the i of Beatoff Generation, the imaginary letters spanning the night sky like colossal typeface balloons. Climb onto your roof and sing to the letters, like a wordsmith wolf howling under the weight of literary history. And then hit 'publish' and see what happens.

Nov 18, 2010

This picture of Fred Durst is offensive


Bread Durst.

Get it? I'll say it again.

Bread Durst.

This picture, made by Ian Breen and uploaded to the world by Anclove, is deeply disrespectful about Fred Durst and his oeuvre.

Fred Durst's debut opus was Three Dollar Bill, Yall$ (pronounced "three dollar bill you all dollar sign") as a member of the Limp Biscuits. He changed music forever with his version of George Michael's 1972 hit Faith, and without his canon, we wouldn't have Eminem, Muse, Jesus Jones or The Rutles.

To compare Lord Durst to something as plain as bread, and not even interesting bread at that, is like comparing John Lennon to cheese strings, or comparing Mark Owen to a piece of furry calamari dropped behind a disappointing fridge.

I encourage you to follow Anclove and Breen on Twitter to ensure no more of this nonsense is spewed out of their pus-infested internet tubes. Keep an eye, lest they delve into dangerous spoonerisms like Rid Kock, Stinchy Trousers or Blan P.

Nov 16, 2010

Aphex Twin's new Seaside Specials album does not exist (sigh)



Edit: everything in this post turned out true, like a Disney film with a junglist soundtrack. See the update on Aphex Twin here.


Like a ricketty rollercoaster at a termite-infested fairground, we're back round the Aphex Twin speculation loop and, quite frankly, the seatbelt's digging into my ribs.

As I revealed on Fat Roland's Oozy Bleeps yesterday, electronic music site Hyponik blurted out a teaser video designed to sign people up to its mailing list. It was entitled AFX Seaside Specials From Aphex Twin and was a mass of promenade camera footage, decaying film reel and that trademark Aphex grin. This was all set to an Aphexian dense drum-and-bass track.

The longer downloaded video (see above) ended with a date that clanged massive bells with every Aphex fan, as if Hellboy was taking out his frustration on a test-your-strength machine inside your eardrum. "12 March 2011", said the date. CLANG! It's a new album! CLANG! It sounds like Aphex Twin! CLANG! It looks like Aphex Twin! CLANG! It's a new album from Aphex Twin! CLAAAANG!

The truth is as disappointing as a house of horrors with crying middle aged men in white sheets going woooh as armless plastic skeletons lean awkwardly in damp plywood coffins. Aphex Twin's March 2011 Seaside Specials album does not exist. There, I've said it. That's another notch on my google ranking for "Aphex Twin's new album does not exist".

The track in the video is not an Aphex Twin tune. It's by dgoHn (pronounce it as a harder "John"), an artist played live by the 'Twinned one before being signed to the Rephlex Records label. It's a 2005 tune called Vase and you can stream it here. The one in the Aphex Twin video is slightly different (the cut-out before the beat drops in the video, the voices on the original), so it's prob'lee an excerpt from a live DJ set, a remix, or both.

Which leads me to the reason for the video's existence in the first place: it's an advert for his appearance at the 2011 Bloc Weekender festival. CRASH! That's the rollercoaster falling off the tracks and landing on the candy floss stall. Let's sift through the bloodied sugar puffballs for evidence, shall we?

1. The video makes a reference to seasides. The Bloc Weekender is at Butlins in Minehead.

2. The video makes a reference to 12th March next year. This is when Bloc will take place.

3. Aphex Twin has played this electronic-music-friendly event before, and even played dgoHn's Vase in his set in 2009. (At the 99 minute mark, if the comments here are to be believed.) I would love to hear a recording of that bit of the set...

4. The video contains exactly the kind of visuals Aphex Twin uses in his live set (see more about this at Brainchops' excellent blog post).

5. This was posted by Bloc on their Facebook page as an obvious teaser about their 2011 line-up.

6. The internet loves Aphex speculation, whether it's his new album, or The Tuss, or his new album, or his new album, well, mostly it's his new album.

So what are we left with? A mangled wreck of carriages, candy floss and carnival folk and no more clues as to the whereabouts of Aphex Twin's latest release. We're on the edge of Blackpool's north pier in the bitter wind and sea spray with no-one to guide us other than hardened half-naked pensioners in sagging deckchairs.

Let's hold on to the fact that Bloc 2011 looks proper smart, dgoHn is flipping good and Hyponik deserve lots of people on their mailing list. Meanwhile, if Aphex Twin doesn't get his shizzle together soon, I'm blowing this theme park sky high.

Nov 15, 2010

(Slight hiatus)

I'm not being lazy. I've been on holiday.

As I get back into my blogging groove this week, please amaze yourself with these fascinating Fat Roland facts:

- Because of his recent media trawl, I am starting to find James Blunt quite entertaining. I think that makes me a bad person.

- I fear that when Aphex Twin finally produces his comeback album, it can only be a disappointment. I think that makes me a bad person.

- The last two music videos I snorted on the digital cocaine that is YouTube were Panjabi MC's Mundian To Bach Ke and Adamski's Bass Line Changed My Life. That's right. Adamski. I think that makes me a bad person.

- I *want* people to play music on their headphones too loudly on public transport. I like the distraction and I feed off other people's frustration like fat gay Dementor. I think that makes me a bad person.

- I once sneaked up behind a hedgehog and said "boo!" just to make it curl into a ball. I never asked its name. I think that makes me a bad person.

- I started a 2010 film review series in March,. Like a New Labour spending programme, I immediately mothballed it even though I see films at the flicks most weeks. I think that makes me a bad person.

- I use words like "flicks" and "LPs", yet most of the music I consume is streamed like a proper modern fella. That's called hypocrisy. I think that makes me a bad person.

- I still haven't forgiven Apple for their DRM disgustingness with iTunes. I never want to have an iPhone as a result. Whenever I see someone with an iPhone, I stamp on their head. I think that makes me a *good* person.

- Anyone that feels the need to *stress* certain words with *asterisks* clearly isn't working hard enough at sentence structure.

- Er...

- ...that's it.

Nov 6, 2010

Aphex Twin's six new albums: "Maybe I can get Basshunter to remix Selected Ambient Works..."

Edit: Since this post, there has been further speculation about AFX's new album due to an enigmatic Aphex video that turned out to be an advert for Aphex Twin live.

Aphex Twin, who says he has completed six unreleased albums, is like Michael Douglas in Wonder Boys. His desk drawers are crammed with material and it's only a matter of time before it all blows away uselessly into the ocean, lost to the fishes for all eternity.

Maybe he can't stop writing tracks, or more importantly, he can't finish the one's he's started. Maybe the curse of the Aphex Twin Comeback is too much to bear and when he finally releases an album, it will just be the sound of him crying into a supersize tub of Ben And Jerry's.

Since Aphex Twin's last long player proper, Drukqs, Venetian Snares has churned out fourteen albums. We've waited such a long time for this new 'phex LP, it led me to speculate that yes, Aphex Twin's album doesn't exist in February 2009, that no, in fact Aphex Twin's album absolutely does exist in March 2009, or hold on, Aphex Twin's new album may or may not exist in December 2009, or sack it, I'll make some money from his reputation anyway throughout 2010.

Here is the quote he gave fashion magazine Another Man. You'll have seen it in WH SMith: it's the edition with the grizzly looking Keith Richards on the front. To help you with the quote, I've added my own subtext in italics:
“I’ve got six completed (at least I think they're completed, I'm not sure where music begins and ends any more). Two are very non-commercial, abstract, modular-synthesis, field recordings – those I finished four years ago (next to Analord, they sounded crap so I binned them).

"Another one is Melodies From Mars, which I redid about three years ago (my Bowie tribute album could be my big comeback after all). There’s one of stuff I won’t go into (it was my linedancing phase: I'd better not mention that); a comp of old tracks which is never really finished and always changing (maybe I can get Basshunter to remix Selected Ambient Works); and then one I’m working on now (as soon as I can learn a fifth chord on this guitar)."
He added: "There are also loads of tracks which don’t belong anywhere.” Really? If I don't get anything less than a massive fourteen hour concept album with artwork showing Richard 'Twin' James riding naked on a horse with naked Aphexes sprouting from each finger as music tumbles from his many crotches like sticky fairy dust onto a million dogs in Windowlicker outfits, I will be severely disappointed.

Anyhoo, you can read his fashion mag interview in lovely jpeg format here and here.If you can't be bothered to read it, the interview can be summed up as follows:

Are you superstitious? No. I'm bored of this now.
What do you do before gigs? Have a beer. I'm bored of this now.
Favourite noise? Wind. I'm bored of this now.
Describe your music. dflaghaozoushiduqwd. I'm bored of this now.
What scares you? My imagination. I'm bored of this now.
What can we expect from your next album? Which one? I've got six, beeyatch. Did I tell you I'm bored with this interview?

Or words to that effect.