Jun 29, 2016

Listen: Robert Hood / Floorplan's Music

Robert Hood created his Floorplan alias two decades ago when he wanted to explore the melodic reaches of his sound. In the last few years, that alias has flourished. He's just released his second Floorplan album, Victorious, to critical acclaim.

I wanted to feature opening track Spin, a huge banger that's deceptively simplistic, but there isn't much to officially stream out there. You'll have to make do with this preview of Music. Straightforward, tight, utterly danceable.

He recorded this album with his daughter Lyric Hood. If you fancy 90 minutes of very happy house DJing, here's the pair doing a Boiler Room set at Dekmantel Festival.

Jun 27, 2016

Listen: Mala's Kotos - and yes, those are panpipes

Things really have changed in the last few days. Britain is a burning wreck crumbling into the English Channel, and I'm about to feature panpipes on my website.

Yep. Panpipes. Don't worry though: Mala's Mirrors is an album of tribal bass music rather than easy-listening chillout instrumentals, and the pipes on opening track Kotos sit nicely alongside the RP Boo-isms of the rhythm track.

Mirrors is full of samples from Mala's wanderings in Peru. Seek also the track Markos Swagga if you fancy a bit of a South London tribal slow-rave.

Jun 25, 2016

This is not an analysis of the EU Referendum

What a vomit-caked hairball of hate the last couple of days have been.

I feel like I'm watching the UK destroy itself, taking with it any semblance of inclusion and love and unicorns and happiness.

There is a long cobbled road ahead of us, and some of it will be easy, and some of it will be like charging into a pack of wolves armed with nunchucks and poky sticks.

But I'm not going to analyse the result of the EU Referendum here. I am sad and angry like many others, but go and read better websites that write about that kind of thing. This is just a music blog. You don't come here for politics.

It has never occurred to me to be anti-European. Without the Trance Europe Express compilation series, I'd be lost. I'm a child of Kraftwerk and Belgian techno and Cafe Del Mar and bands with exotic French-sounding names like Autechre.

I'm finding solace by switching off the internet and listening to music. Good European music. I suggest you do the same.

Here's Belgian EBM outfit Front 242 with their 1988 track Headhunter (below). The Europe of this video seems ever distant now. Mainly because we've smeared our vision with hairballs. Big stinky hairballs. And by hairballs, I mean Michael Gove's pubic hair and Boris Johnson's balls.

Look at the architecture below. The headgear. Mainly the architecture. This video would not have been anywhere near as good if, instead of Brussels, it had been set in Nigel Farage's limescaled bath.

A long road ahead. Love and unicorns and happiness to you all.

Jun 22, 2016

The 7 best moments in Ryan Wyer's video for Aphex Twin's CIRKLON3 [ Колхозная mix ]

Aphex Twin has released his first music video since Windowlicker. I know, right? This is a big moment.

The track is called CIRKLON3 [ Колхозная mix ]: it's from his Cheetah EP and it's a corker. To see the video, click those links you just read past.

The video is basically a lo-fi danceathon and it's directed by 12-year-old Ryan Wyer. Ryan was chosen as director after Mr Twin saw his fan video for comeback single minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix], which was all kinds of strange aceness.

Here, in no particular order, are the bits I enjoyed most when I first watched video rather too loudly at work. It's now on repeat.

1 - Hey, it's that lad from the Minipops video! And hey look at the t-shirt!
Honestly, it was a real "hey, Aphex really GETS the internet moment".

2 - The beach that reminded me of the On video and made me go all fuzzy inside.
Which is nice because there's something of the early Aphex about the glowing chords that light up this whole flipping track.

3 - This proper boss move with the hands.
I tried this but I fell over.

4 - The reveal of the mask... aaaargh... I'm never going outside again.
Another "aaah, we're back in Aphexland" moment. If Aphex Twin ever stops smiling, all music will end. This is a fact.

5 - The most sinister and/or coolest DJ in the universe.
If you google 'find edges', you'll spot this filter in use right across the internet - but none of them make someone's face as toothily chilling as this.

6 - This awesome cartwheel.
I tried this but I fell over.

7 - This 'cute' buddy moment that scared the pants off me but was still kinda sweet.
From one Aphex-head to another, nice work, Ryan.

Jun 20, 2016

Do we really want Vengaboys in our room (boom boom boom boom)?

According to Twitter, which is place where all the news is kept these days, today is the anniversary of Vengaboys topping the UK chart with - and let me get the punctuation right - Boom,Boom,Boom,Boom!!

Which rasies an obvious question. Of all the "Boom" number one singles, how successful is that Vengaboys hit?

Let's do some point scoring.

There are five number one singles with "boom" in the title. In alphabetical order of artist, they are:
Black Eyed Peas - Boom Boom Pow (2009)
DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince - Boom! Shake The Room (1993)
Outhere Brothers - Boom Boom Boom (1995)
Shaggy - Boombastic (1995)
Vengaboys - Boom,Boom,Boom,Boom!! (1999)
So these are our contenders. All quality tracks, I'm sure you'll agree.

And now the maths. There are three ways to rate these singles by success: the charts, streaming and popular opinion. In each of these three categories, I will score each single five, four, three, two or one Boom Points, or an average of points if they are tied. The one with the most Boom Points (BPs) wins.

Let's go.

1. Chart success

Firstly, I will look at their original chart run: how long they were at number one, and in the case of a tie, how many weeks they spent in the top 100.

Outhere Brothers get a slam dunk here. They spent four weeks at UK number one. Yeah, amazing, I know. Black Eyed Peas and Jazzy Jeff both spent two weeks at number one for their Boom singles, but the Peas had two more weeks on chart, so the Peas nudge into second place. Joint last are Shaggy and Vengaboys, who spent a single week at the top spot with 17 weeks each on chart.

Chart success results:
Outhere Brothers 5 BPs
Black Eyed Peas 4 BPs
Jazzy Breath And The Fresh Mint 3 BPs
Shaggy 1.5 BPs
Vengaboys 1.5 BPs

2. Streaming

Secondly, I will check the number of current day streams: for this, I will simply note the number of total plays each track has on Spotify.

Poor Outhere Brothers. Only 1.6 million listens. Not many people want to listen to a shaking room either: Jeff and his Fresh Prince pal only get 4.6 million listens. Vengaboys and Shaggy are very close: the vengabussers have 25.5 million streams at the time of writing, while Boombastic has 29.8 million streams. Bossing this category, however, is the much more contemporary Black Eyed Peas. They have 55.9 million streams and score top position in this category for Boom Boom Pow.

Streaming results:
Black Eyed Peas 5 BPs
Shaggy 4 BPs
Vengaboys 3 BPs
Jazzy Thingy And The Will Smith Bloke 2 BPs
Outhere Brothers 1 BP

3. Popular opinion

Thirdly and finally, I will turn to popular opinion: here, I will delve into the last ten (top) comments on YouTube and rate those comments for positivity. I'll include nostalgia as a positive thing because that's basically why YouTube exists.

A lot of comments on the Black Eyed Peas' Boom Boom Pow video are spammers or attention grabbers. Someone is excited about seeing them again ("aguardando ansiosamente o retorno desse grupo incrível<3") and there are two nice nostaglia comments: "my my nostalgia" and "velhos tempos, castanhari fez eu me lembra shsuahu". Three positive comments, then.

The comments on Shaggy's Boombastic are mainly people that have clicked on the track due to commercials. All of those comments seem neutral, apart from one which says "The Chase Bank commercial made me remember this fun song and that cute little pig". They said the song was "fun". Therefore, that's one positive comment. Just. I have no idea who the pig is. Maybe it's Shaggy's DJ, blowing the house down with its cracklin' tunes.

For the Vengaboys, it's all a little vague. One comment just says "nostalgia" while another one gives a little story about hearing this abroad then saying a nice thing about Dutch people: "Ik houd van jullie, dutchies :P". I'll give this two positive comments.

There are no positive comments on Boom Boom Boom by the Outhere Brothers. Someone's a little bit racist, another one's calling for it to be censored, while someone else says "I tweeted 4 days ago that reggie and bollie should sing this on the x factor and they did tonight. Cheryl gave me no credit. Cry for me". Okay, maybe that is positive. Sort of. I'll put this joint last with Shaggy.

People love DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince's Boom! Shake The Room. Hark ye the love of the YouTubers: "this song never gets old woooo" / "Haha it is 1993 again and I am nine years old again at the school disco." / "Just one of those people that is good at everything. Well done Will Smith." / "I love Will Smith" / "The stutter rap at 2:34 is genious". They're right - this track may well be genious. Er. Genius. Clearly, Jazzy Jeff and his alien-fighting buddy are the winners of this category.

Popular opinion results:
Jazzy Jeffrey And The Get-Fresh Prancer 5 BPs
Black Eyed Peas 4 BPs
Vengaboys 3 BPs
Outhere Brothers 1.5 BPs
Shaggy 1.5 BPs

Final results

At the start of this blog post (do you remember that?), I wanted to see how successful the awkwardly-punctuationed Boom,Boom,Boom,Boom!! by Vengaboys was in comparision to other tracks that have topped the charts with the word "boom" in the title.

Here are the final scores:
Black Eyed Peas - Boom Boom Pow (2009) 13 Boom Points - winner!
DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince - Boom! Shake The Room (1993) 10 Boom Points
Outhere Brothers - Boom Boom Boom (1995) 7.5 Boom Points
Vengaboys - Boom,Boom,Boom,Boom!! (1999) 7.5 Boom Points
Shaggy - Boombastic (1995) 7 Boom Points
Oh. In short, Vengaboys are almost half as bad as the Black Eyed Peas and only as good as the Outhere Brothers.

Well that was a waste of an hour.

Further Fats: Crimes against crimes against keyboards - Black Eyed Peas

Jun 19, 2016

Hey Fat Roland! 40 Minutes Of Idiot at the Edinburgh Fringe

I'm off to the Edinburgh Fringe to do a show. Here's the blurb:
Spoken word behemoth Fat Roland mixes deadpan comedy and surreal stories with wonderfully odd illustrations. Imagine Johnny Vegas devouring Stewart Lee. On a depressed rollercoaster. Driven by a buffalo. Fats runs Bad Language in Manchester (best UK spoken word night, Saboteur Awards 2015) and is a columnist for Electronic Sound. This mini-show to support his new podcast Hey Fat Roland (which he’ll probably forget to mention) is a follow-up to his debut Fringe show, Kraftwerk Badger Spaceship, which BroadwayBaby.com called: ‘often hilarious... superbly executed... a seriously excellent piece of music-based comedy’.
Written before the won the Saboteurs again in 2016, of course. Free entry, no booking necessary. Just turn up. But blink and you'll miss me: here's the listing in the Edinburgh Fringe programme, and here's the show on the Free Festival site. It's at the Newsroom and because it's only 40 minutes, it's gonna be performed to an inch of its life. See you there.

(I'm also live podcasting every month at Gullivers. The next one is this afternoon. Come along for an hour or two of utter experimenting.)

Jun 16, 2016

Listen: Mark Pritchard's Under The Sun and what lurks underneath

I've not mentioned Mark Pritchard or Global Communication or Link or Harmonic 313 or Africa Hitech for ages on this website.

Mark Pritchard is all of those people and I really should mention him more. His influence echoes throughout modern ambient and electronic music like a clanging gong that has been sampled, reversed, elongated, looped and drenched in reverb.

Listen above to the arresting title track from his new album Under The Sun, a mesmerising album which is bound to end up in plenty of end-of-year lists.

And come to know that, as ever with Pritchard, it's not the vocals you're following: it's that bassline lurking underneath, and the rhythms that sit at the edge of the melody. Beautiful.

Further Fats: Suspended puppies: an absolutely genuine review of Warp20 Sheffield - includes Harmonic 313's "wet towel"... (2009)

Jun 14, 2016

Orlando club shootings: some reflections from an old clubber

The vigil in Manchester's gay village last night in solidarity with the victims of the Orlando shooting was very moving.

It was by phone light then candlelight: Turing's nearby statue must have been looking at our little handheld computers with some curiosity.

The two biggest applauses during the speeches were for a comment about gay / Muslim solidarity and for someone slagging Sky News, and the biggest wibbly-lip moments were during a reading of the names of the victims and when the Manchester Lesbian and Gay Chorus began to sing.

However I was most struck by poet Gerry Potter's passionate speech about being "forged" on the dancefloor. There's something about the unity of clubbing that stretches across the generations.

This blog exists because the dancefloor changed me. The thud thud of the bass drum is something you never quite get out of your system, and it infects the rest of your life's creativity: as it says in Dave Haslam's Life After Dark, "the story doesn't end when the last customer leaves".

And so in an impotent effort of blog solidarity for those affected by the Pulse nightclub events, as well as posting my tweet from yesterday morning (below), I also post a picture (above) of the discotastic mirrorball I saw in a Canal Street bar after the vigil. I mean, I didn't dance last night. I was too busy taking pictures of mirrorballs. But you get my point.

Jun 13, 2016

Aphex Twin's new Cheetah EP: a sweet talkin' design

How nice is the artwork for Aphex Twin's new Cheetah EP? Its Harlow-ish typeface is a refreshing change from the cold computer text overload of Syro. The design seems to be a pastiche of Sweet Talker, a speech synthesis gadget for the ZX Spectrum.

The EP is out next month. The track listing is as follows: CHEETAHT2 [Ld spectrum], CHEETAHT7b, CHEETA1b ms800, CHEETA2 ms800, CIRKLON3 [Колхозная mix], CIRKLON 1 and 2X202-ST5. The track titles (and the website text) are clear references to the Cheetah MS800, "the most difficult instrument to program on the planet", and the Cirklon sequencer, which was used on Syro.

There are references to the Cheetah on his user48736353001 Soundcloud page. No point in linking to that now: it's empty. But here's Cheetah3 Teac from that massive Aphex Twin track dump from the start of last year... it'll be interesting to compare this to the EP.

And finally, back to my original point. My first computer was a Spectrum, so massive props to the ever-reliable Designer's Republic for this promotional work on Cheetah. Very nicely done.

Further Fats: Chosen Words - D Is For Design (2010)

Jun 11, 2016

My name is David Guetta and I am happy at things

My name is David Guetta and I am happy at things.

Look at that thing. It makes me happy. Look at that other thing. It also makes me happy. When I look at things it makes me happy.

Sometimes I listen to things. Those things come through headphones. The noise tickles my ears. When the noise tickles my ears, it makes me happy.

My name is David Guetta and when I close my eyes, I come face-to-face with the eternal darkness that one day will envelope the sun and smother my dreams; all hope turns to blood.

This is why I made Titanium.

My name is David Guetta and I am happy at things. Can we be friends? Let's look at things together. Please make me happy.


Jun 9, 2016

Introducing the Manchester Histories Pub Quiz

I'm running a pub quiz with my old-time radio cohort and Tales Of Whatever story splurger Lee Moore if you fancy coming down.

It's the Manchester Histories Pub Quiz for Manchester Histories Festival and it takes place tonight at Common Bar from 7pm. There's a special round by resident quizzists Common Knowledge too. A quid admission to you, sir or madam.

I'm doing the music round, although I'm afraid there isn't much techno in there. I really wanted to get the audience to spell Autechre (more fun than you think with the general public), but it doesn't really tick the 'history' box. I could get people to guess Aphex Twin's Soundcloud user number, but that misses the 'Manchester' theme. Ah well.

Part of my research was to trawl the brilliantly-initialled Manchester District Music Archive, which reminded me of the existence of the Adventure Babies and Bandit Queen. (I only got up to B.)

Anyhoo, come and quiz if you want. I'm properly excited about the questions I've got. The plan is we'll then take this quiz to various other places in Greater Manchester. And if you miss this one, there's always this Book Quiz next month, also hosted by me.

Jun 7, 2016

A bulging bag of bargains and a Death In Vegas

A day before the dismally-named That's Entertainment disappeared from Manchester's Market Street, I bagged myself a bulging bag of CDs for a few quid. I spent ages sifting through their alarming quantities of Christian rock music to find the best clearance albums I could.

The bargains I bought included Apollo 440, Dust Junkys, a whole bunch of Moby, Hardfloor, Bentley Rhythm Ace, Jam & Spoon, Fun-Da-Mental, and Dead Elvis by Death In Vegas. I felt I had bought the 1990s.

That was a while back. Since then, it's Death In Vegas (DiV) I have played the most. Dead Elvis isn't perfect, but in the middle of the album is a triple-decker smashdown of Dirt, Rocco and Rekkit. This felt like the absolute height - and heart - of big beat.

In 1997, I saw DiV support the Sneaker Pimps at Manchester University Student's Union. The Pimps bashed out their brace of hits, so note perfect that Six Underground might as well have been played on a tape. But support act DiV, with their debut album barely a few months old, tore the roof off the place. One of my happiest gig memories. The Pimps never stood a chance.

DiV have a new album out called Transmission: it's very different, although you can hear the intensity of Rekkit on the towering second track Consequences Of Love.

In the meantime, back to Dead Elvis and that dirty trio of 1990s techno perfection. Have a listen.

Jun 5, 2016

Listen: Trus'me's Here & Now

I'm pretty sure I read an article recently about how Manchester had lost its musical identity, blah blah blah. I dunno, I could google for it, but I suspect the only result will be an ageing has-been Manc with dishcloths for ears.

Manchester's Trus'me has swapped his soulier Fat City sounds for something darker on new album Planet 4, even more so than his last album Treat Me Right. As a result, he's winning this technohead over.

It's only a two minute excerpt, but listen to the analogue sass on the Soundcloud clippy thing of Here & Now below. It's nice.

Also can we have a polite smattering of applause for the album cover? It's like Tron's gone on holiday and taken a wrong turn past Jupiter.

Jun 3, 2016

Listen: Lone's Vapour Trail (sniffle, sniffle)

Apparently, Lone got the idea of producing a jungle album while at death's door with a fever. "I’d try to go to sleep and I’d be hearing these mad rave tunes form in my head," he says.

Levitate came out at the end of last week, and it certainly seems full of Benylin-fuelled club chops.

From what I've heard, Sea of Tranquility, Alpha Wheel and Backtail Was Heavy seem like highlights, alongside the housier Vapour Trail - which you can listen to here.

Further Fats: Best electronica albums of 2012: number one (2012)

Jun 1, 2016

James Blake's The Colour In Anything: Spot The Difference quiz

Let's play Spot The Difference with the cover of James Blake's new album The Colour In Anything.

What, you don't want to play Spot The Difference with the cover of James Blake's new album The Colour In Anything? Shut up. We're playing Spot The Difference with the cover of James Blake's new album The Colour In Anything.

There are TEN differences between these album covers (below). Some are more obvious than others. See if you can spot all ten. You can click on each picture to make it bigger.