May 30, 2016

Is Plaid's new album The Digging Remedy any good?

All weekend, I've been listening to the new Plaid album The Digging Remedy. Is it any good? I'm listening for an Electronic Sound review, so I'm keen to avoid spoilers here. Although I did tweet...

...and I have played it a lot. An awful lot. Like, properly loads of times. If anyone any tries to speak to me, I stick a ghetto blaster in their face and blare the entire album at them until they either fall over or dance. I have Plaid pouring out of my mouth: I have replaced entire sentences with beatbox versions of Plaid's twitchy beats.

So yes, it's good. In fact, preorder it from Bleep now. How does it compare to previous albums? I'm saving that for the review, although if you follow me on Twitter, I may bang on about it a lot when the album comes out. In the meantime, watch the above Christopher Arcella-directed video for the moody album opener Do Matter.

Further Fats: Store Street blues: waddling with the scrotes, the clubbers and the tokers (includes an alarming incident at a Plaid gig) (2007)

May 28, 2016

From Hollie McNish to the Saboteurs: spoken word non-stop

In the past three weeks, I have:

> Compered a Hollie McNish and Jo Bell gig in which an audience member pointed out that my trainers matched the book they were launching;

> Performed my first ever "pandas wondering about a mystery pipe" cartoon piece at the launch of a book by Michael Conley.

> Read off the back of cardboard clouds for a First Draft event at the People's History Museum. The protagonist of the story was a chimney;

> Hosted The Word in Didsbury, a spoken word night at Home Community Cafe which just happens to be part of a church I attended for two decades;

> MCed a bunch of excellent poets in the Royal Exchange (pictured). I entertained and/or bored them with my 50 Shades Of Grey remix.

> Held a live podcast recording which, despite being surrounded by football crowds and a van full of yapping police dogs, was somehow hugely enjoyable.

> Attended the Saboteur Awards in which my night Bad Language was shortlisted for Best Regular Spoken Word Night. I am writing this blog post in advance, so I don't know if we won or not, but I'm sure I would have had a jolly good time either way. (Edit: we won.)

Phew. Come and see me do stuff if you want: my live page is here.

May 26, 2016

Listen: Jon Hopkins' Sleep

Imagine you are inside a cloud but the cloud is not made of cotton wool as all clouds are, but instead the cloud is a kind of liquid Jon Hopkins. Actually, don’t imagine that, it’s pretty disgusting.

Anyhoo, that doesn’t stop this truncated slice of Hopkins tasting delicious. I've only just noticed it: it came out a few months ago. Sleep is from a cassette called Deux, a mixtape cassette to promote the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival. You can hear the above extract in its context here.

Let this Jon Hopkins waft up your nose. Go on. It won't tickle.

Further Fats: Eight people I would definitely or definitely not torture, including Jon Hopkins (2013)

May 24, 2016

Listen: Logan Takahashi's Rekr

Piano house peddler Logan Takahashi has veered into Aphex-flavoured territory on his debut solo album.

NoGeo is out on Ghostly International, label to Matthew Dear, Tycho and Lusuine. It’s a beautifully effortless, addictive work that’ll be over before you know it. Listen to Rekr from the album above.

Takahashi says part of his inspiration comes from the "early '00s Brooklyn tabletop electronics scene”. I assume he doesn’t mean a jumble sale full of Rumbelow VCRs*.

*Ask your great great uncle.

May 23, 2016

Vote for my night in the Saboteur Awards thank you please

In the next 24 hours, if you vote for Bad Language in the Saboteur Awards, I would be eternally grateful and rather humbled.

Bad Language has been shortlisted for Best Regular Spoken Word Night for a second year in a row. We won last year, but we're not complacent and we still need your votes.

It has been a huge privilege to co-run Bad Language. This past twelve months has been especially amazing: we have a continual inflow of new voices on the open mic, a whole bunch of utterly listenable headliners, and pretty exciting opportunities on bigger stages elsewhere (Jewish Museum, Hollie McNish, Royal Exchange, Manchester Science Festival).

Incidentally, my Edinburgh Fringe show Kraftwerk Badger Spaceship was longlisted in these same awards. It's amazing what a boost something like that gives you. The Sabs are spreading a lot of love right now.

Cor. Anyhoo, voting closes tomorrow, so hop to the voting form if you like what Bad Language does. Or indeed any of our co-shortlistees and rivals. Honestly, there are loads of people who deserve a click too. Look out for Evidently (in our category), Eyewear Publishing, Prole, Tania Hershman, Bunbury, the Emma Press, Lara Williams and my brilliant writing buddy David Hartley.

Vote now. Closes 24 May 2016.

May 21, 2016

Autechre's new album Elseq 1-5 has already split the forums

Autechre have banged out more than four hours of new material. Elseq 1-5 is the duo's 12th album, and I have already seen comments on forums saying both "one of my favourite albums ever" and "that track goes on ten minutes too long".

The "1-5" bit of the title refers to the five sections of this somewhat lengthy opus. But I tell you something, it could actually be their best work for a while.

I already love the tightly-wound hell funk of c16 deep tread, the fat farty stomp of c7b2, and if I wanted a 1989 rave to happen inside a bucket of thick grease, I'd listen to 7th slip.

And joy, acdwn2 has the kind of spacy snares they used back in the early days. Cracking.

Autechre recently popped up on KSUA Radio in Alaska playing some of their new stuff. I hope Sarah Palin tuned in. (Sorry, Alaska.)

The album artwork is pictured above, and you can buy on the Autechre webstore alongside a whole bunch of new live gubbins too.

What about you, forum commenters? "The prices are quite high for my taste." "Oh my, this is GOOD." "Savage full moon." Ah, bless your socks.

Further Fats: Ten bloody brilliant Autechre tracks (2010)

May 20, 2016

Fly my pretty: a performance set list

This is a recent set list I just found in my phone notes. I know many of you reading this won't have seen me live. And be honest, this set list probably won't make things any clearer.

I performed this (possibly in a different order due to last minute edits) at Verbalise in Kendal.

My favourite bit was "fly my pretty", which was me throwing a bird cartoon into the air, which then, of course, didn't fly.

Anyhoo, if you want to see more nonsense from me, come to my live Hey Fat Roland podcast recording on Sunday.

Set list notes:
Paper dropping 
Surprise egg
Generic story
Fly my pretty
Larry is a leg 
Estate agent 
More eggs
And now some poetry
A limerick
A few more eggs
Tentacle confusion
Further eggs
Jumanji elephants 
Creepy Geoff

Photo: Dominic Simpson

May 18, 2016

This is a journey into Electronic Sound 2.0

The new paper edition of Electronic Sound is the nicest thing I've had shoved through my letter box since my postman tried to woo me with fairy cakes.

I've got a column in there, plus a bunch of album reviews. Look, here's my name next to some Actual People. I could get used to being nestled between Jack Dangers and S'Express, who I've got on 12" and 7" respectively.

This special print edition, called Electronic Sound 2.0, is beautifully designed and brimming with bleepy words. If you're quick, you can grab a cut-price edition yourself.

In the meantime, I'm going to write a love letter to my postman. If only I had his address.

May 16, 2016

A new James Blake tune (or "James Blune" if you will)

I always thought James Blake's Achilles heel, or his "James Blilles heel" if you will, was his quietness. Obviously, that's what you buy into with JB, but I thought it was such a shame that CMYK, a beatier track, was left off his debut album. Maybe I'm still bitter that James Blake once killed my computer.

His new single sits I Need A Forest Fire neatly between James Blake quietness, or "James Blietness" if you will, and something a bit more substantial. And it's got a hook that will nestle in your memory for some time. I like.

Here's the single edit (or "James Blingle edit" if you will). Enjoy.

May 14, 2016

The new Stone Roses single is a barrel of thundering diarrhoea

The new Stone Roses single is awful.

It seems like an obvious thing to knock, but even I wasn't prepared for the whiplash I'd get from how much of a throwback it would be. Even in the 1990s, it would have been Woolworths 99p sale fodder: hey grandad, here's some "cool" "indie" music! No, All For One doesn't belong in 2016. The rhyming is so simplistic ("all", "wall", "fall"), I was worried that Des'ree had suffered a stroke.

What a shame. That first album is such a diluted memory now, it's practically homeopathic. If only my 2011 Stone Roses prediction had been right.

All For One's own chorus, repeated three times between extended riffs before they even get to the first verse, comes across as filler. It sounds like a barrel of thundering diarrhoea. Or rather, a dried barrel of diarrhoea. And the thunder is a vague echo of something half cocked. In fact, the whole thing is a can of old paint; crusted and brittle because everyone died watching it dry.

As for stealing the whole concept of "all for one, one for all"? A fatal blow for the Muskahounds' reputation. Someone, somewhere, is now going to have to take Dogtanian to the vets and have him put down.

Thanks, Stone Roses. You killed the swordy dogs.

See what you think. Here's the new Stone Roses song. Do share that link if you want. Ahem.

May 12, 2016

Listen: Kowton's Some Cats

Some Cats by Kowton may not be going anywhere at first glance, with its static broken arpeggios, but it's all about the subtle changes. This is from Utility, Kowton's debut album on the label he co-founded, Livity Sound.

The whole album seems to live in a kind of post-club haze when you still need the thudding beats and it's not quite yet time for a sofa, a spliff and made-for-TV movies on Netflix. Yeah, I know what you do after clubbing. I'm behind your sofa, watching. *narrows eyes*

May 10, 2016

Watching space from inside papier mâché

You know that really small planet that strolled across the Sun yesterday? I watched that happen from Godlee Observatory.

The Observatory is bang in the centre of Manchester and is run by a society of wonderfully committed space geeks. Their world seemed full of pin-sharp futuristic science and equipment held together with gaffa tape.

Picture: David HartleyThe observation room itself is tiny - just 11 people in there at a time - and my favourite fact about its construction is that the dome is made from resin-coated papier mâché.

"So we're inside a giant Frank Sidebottom head?" I said to the space guy, who responded with a polite smile.

We saw the Sun through a filtered telescope. We saw Mercury dwarfed by sunspots. We saw plasma flares bursting from the Sun's surface.

And we saw a timeline on which was printed, on bleak black, the best novel title ever: "Universe eventually cold and dark". Ah space, destroyer of hope.

If you're in Manchester, go learn about space in its observatory.

May 8, 2016

Listen: Konx-om-Pax on Planet Mu is a whole pile of hearts

Konx-om-Pax's Caramel album is pretty much beatless, like a suburban street on New Year's morning or a pile of hearts torn from a legion of losing marauders.

Have a listen to the fuzzy and warm title track here. Looking forward to this one. Pre-order it and Planet-Mu will let you download this track now.

May 6, 2016

Listen: YouTube plus YouTube equals The Range's Copper Wire

Here's a YouTuber singing.

And here's a lad rapping.

Now here are those two filtered through the expansive EDM of The Range.

There's something so electric in the air with The Range, and his ability to plunge into YouTube for his samples is quite something.

Have another one. Here's a couple of guys bustin' some bars in Hyde Park.

And here is The Range bustin' that all apart for Five Four. Have a dip into The Range's YouTube channel, and hat doff to video director Daniel Kaufman.

May 4, 2016

Listen: Nosaj Thing's N R 2

I'll let Nosaj Thing himself explain his new EP No Reality.
"Most of these songs are new and were written within the last two months. I wrote one of the songs all on my iPad, and arranged and mixed three of the songs the morning it was due [for]mastering."
In other words, he just flapped his hand over some buttons and made this. Without thinking. Dammit. Shimmery synths, paddy bossdrum, disco bassline, total win.

May 2, 2016

Radio Skotvoid's Ikea Crimejazz and a flashback to 1992

My favourite kind of envelope is one with "Fat Roland" on. The lettering really complements the autumnal brown.

This particular package was mailed to me from US skweee-merchants Radio Skotvoid because I happen to like the way they twiddle their knobs. They sent me their Ikea Crimejazz 7" singles full of scuzzed bleeps and low-slung funk.

I also got a glowing green cassette of echoing interplanetary soundtrackism by On Solar Winds. And a badge. A flipping badge!

Thank you, Skotchums, for sending me stuff. It pleases my ears.

As I clutched the vinyl and cassette possessively like a hipster gollum, it reminded me of the time I bought Faith No More's Angel Dust on record, with its majestic beautiful gatefold sleeve design, alongside a cassette tape of The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld. The two formats were my world back then. It must have been 1992. I played that Orb album to death on my walkman. Although that leads me to wonder: back in 1992 did I really (a) still have a cassette walkman and (b) not yet have a CD player? Really?

Anyhoo, here comes Roland's Revenge from Ikea Crimejazz Vol 2. It's lovely to see the 8-bit aesthetic used with such attitude - and that vocal sample kills.