Jul 31, 2016

Published (two times), podcasted (two times), Edinburgh Fringing (four times), no times (a lady)

Here is an update on Things Wot I Done That I Need To Plug. Think of it as a newsletter I've just printed off on one of those blue-ink rolly things we had before Blogger was invented.

I'm in a book. The story is called Panda and you can find it in A Box Of Stars Beneath The Bed, an anthology released to mark National Flash Fiction Day. There are loads of other people in there too: Sarah Hilary, Angela Readman, Paul McVeigh, Nik Perring, Nuala Ní Chonchúir and plenty more. Mine might be the only one with a panda in, though. And a sad, lost one at that.

I'm in a magazine. You can find the latest Electronic Sound in WH Smiths across the country. Yep, a print magazine! And it's really quite lovely. The latest edition has Bob Moog, Paul Hartnoll, Ladyhawke and a free CD. Oh and my 21st column for the 'Sound, and in this one I mention my Brian Eno hot pants. Sorry about that.

I have a new podcast out. Hey Fat Roland is a podcast about meeting people, and in episode two I bump into a chap called Wyl Menmuir who, just hours before we spoke, had been longlisted in the Man Booker Prize. Have a listen: you can get the Hey Fat Roland iTunes audio here or grab it on Podbean here.

Do subscribe to the podcast - and leave an all-important billion star iTunes rating because without it everything will shrivel and die, and we'll be back to those old days with the blue-ink printy machines and letraset and those stinky cans with the spray glue in.

And finally, I am performing four short shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. Hey Fat Roland! 40 Minutes Of Idiot takes place this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings (11.05am). I think it might go full weird and/or total panda, I'm not quite sure. Anyhoo, it's on for just four days so blink and you'll miss it. Free entry, no ticket required.

Speaking of which, expect this blog to be a bit Edinburgh-y for the first half of August as I stagger around the Fringe... watch this space.

Jul 25, 2016

Listen: µ–Ziq & Aphex Twin (Mike & Rich)'s 11 Vodka (Mix 2)

An Atari, a Memorymoog, a couple of old Rolands and some samples scooped from a Casio FZ-10M. 11 Vodka (Mix 2) has some pretty neat building blocks.

Have a good ear-swab by clicking play here. It's a remastered version of a track that originally appeared on the mid-90s album Expert Knob Twiddlers by Mike & Rich (aka µ–Ziq & Aphex Twin).

Mike's brilliant Planet Mu label is rereleasing this chunk of old electronic chunkiness. There'll be new tracks too, including one called Portamento Gosh and another called Organ Plodder. Kinda proper excited for this one.

Jul 23, 2016

Listen: SKY H1's Hybrid

I thought I wasn't allowed to listen to anything from Brussels, what with Brexit and all, but somehow I managed to hack Boris Johnson's racist firewall to listen to SKY H1's Motion EP.

There's a glimmering freshness that's quite addictive here, right from the hopeful gasping vocals of Air through to the mile-wide synths of I Think I Am.

I've featured Hybrid here because of its lightness and beautifully-paced development of a three-note melody. It's just so satisfying. In your FACE, Boris.

Jul 19, 2016

Graham Dunning's got some balls

Graham Dunning used to be Graham Analog in improvisational Manchester act Blood Moon. He's now a guy who destroys vinyl in the name of techno.

Although it's not performed in front of a room of mildly-bored scenesters, this Boiler Room video recorded at the end of June shows his talent for mechanical musical making. Glitching four-to-the-floor stompy clubness. Lo-fi meets DIY.

Just you wait for the moment he opens that wooden box on the right of the screen, next to the keyboard. Can you guess what's in it? Am I going to put a spoiler in the title of this blog post? You bet I am.

Jul 18, 2016

Listen: Factory Floor's Ya

Go on. Do something. Move around. Do a dance. A cartwheel. Anything. Go on. Do something. ANYTHING.

I really like the minimalism of the video for Factory Floor's Ya. It's so stubborn in its refusal to do much more than, well, someone not doing much with a what appears to be a pair of massive modular cakes.

I'm digging that bouncy bassline too. New album out next month: from what I've heard, there's more bouncy minimalism ahead.

See also: Factory Floor in the best electronica albums of 2013.

Jul 11, 2016

Hey Fat Roland podcast: in which I meet people and talk to their faces

As if there weren't enough soundwaves in the world already, this weekend I will launch a new podcast.

Hey Fat Roland is a podcast about meeting people. I'm one of those annoying people with a very wide but sometimes shallow social circle. While I'm skimming across that circle like a greased turtle, I might as well bring a microphone with me.

There will be a few interviews in each episode as I bump into random arty people. Those interviews, er, don't always go well. My producer and old Theatre Of Noise cohort Lee Moore will also yack with me about unusual people we have met in the past.

I'm planning ten fortnightly episodes for starters, with the first episode going out on Sunday 17 July 2016.

You can go to the direct link here if you want to, but don't fret too much because the podcast will feature right here on this website, and also on your favourite podcast subscription service. Or you can catch me in Edinburgh.

How do all the soundwaves fit into the world anyway? And do they tickle if there are too many?

Jul 9, 2016

Blogging versus Facebook: working out where I belong

You may have noticed something of a blog revival here.

The catalyst was Facebook. If you've never heard of Facebook, basically it's a big metal trash can in which everyone yells until no-one can hear anything. All the loud words reverberate and everyone mistakes the resulting shudders for thoughtful stimulation.

I felt sad about discarding my words into the biggest bin in the world while ignoring a perfectly functional web home that I was paying for.

So I developed a habit of pausing before I pressed 'post', often discarding Facebook posts mid-draft. Instead I loaded up my blog editor and neatly filed my words where they belonged - and where they have belonged for the past 12 years. Here.

I've posted every two days for the past three months, and although I'm now going to slow that down to every three days while I turn my attentions more to Electronic Sound, the habit has been quite cleansing.

Of course, I'll keep Facebook because sometimes it's useful for event promotion, and I do like keeping up with friends who use Facebook creatively. And I can cross-post stupid panda pictures from Instagram.

But here is where I belong. If you're new to this blog, hello. This isn't a trash can. More a recycling skip. One of the bottle types that whiffs of last night's excess. There's plenty more to come: thank you for visiting.

Jul 7, 2016

Who (what) appears in the new Electronic Sound?

Robert Moog, Robert Moog's daughter, Vince Clarke, a magic pony, Robert Hood and Ladyhawke. Almost all of these appear in the brand new Electronic Sound.

Plus, says the magazine...
"...our regular contributors Synthesiser Dave, Jack Dangers and Fat Roland, who between them will meet all your technical, archival and, erm, deranged reading requirements." 
You guessed it. The magic pony does not appear in Electronic Sound. Not alive, anyway. That's right, a FREE magic dead pony with every edition. Or a music CD. Come to think of it, it's probably just a free CD.

ANYHOO, it's a beautiful thing with incredible design, and a cracking read even though it does have my column in. I really shouldn't have mentioned the pony thing. This has gone terribly wrong. Pre-order issue 21 of Electronic Sound now.

Jul 5, 2016

I Am Dogboy: Underworld's new book already pleases me no end

I Am Dogboy is already my favourite book of 2016.

It has been written by Karl Hyde, the dancey bloke from Underworld, and it contains diaries, pictures and abstract poetics collected since 1999. Those that have seen me perform my weird fiction or seen my text-heavy exhibition Slow Reader will know how much I'm going to love this.

Because the Tomato collective have done the design work, the book is going to look gorgeous. I also like the fact that Hyde has "done a Bill Drummond" and divided a special painting into 100 separate pieces for the deluxe print-run. I once bought 0.05% of a painting off Drummond once. That's another story.

All this lovely new Underworld wonderfulness can be pre-ordered on their website. It's not cheap, but I reckon it'll be worth every penny.

If you fancy a treat for your ears, there's a Spotify playlist building up in preparation for the release. Click below for more. Brills.

Jul 3, 2016

The techno-ness (technosity?) of Beyonce's Single Ladies

Why the heck have I not noticed the techno-ness of Beyonce's Single Ladies?

You know the song. All the single ladies, all the single ladies. Instead of putting a donk on it, everyone put a ring on it.

Single Ladies is so vocal-heavy, and those vocals syncopate so unusually with the rhythm, it's easy to miss what's going on behind Ms Fierce's famous vocals. Uh oh oh, oh oh oh.

Take out the voices, and you get an awkward ratchety stomp that leads into some pleasing space whoops, curious bleeps, epic strings, and that lovely bubble of a bass note that rises up to say hello every now and then.

Have a listen below.

I also flipping love the stunning string notes on Amerie's One Thing. Of course, these tracks are best with the vocals on, and I'm sorry for silencing these amazing women. But it's nice to hear very familiar tracks in a different way.

Wow, this blog post was like being in the noughties again.

Further Fats: Rihanna will knock out a cover version of Hangable Auto Bulb as soon as she claps her eyes on this pile of blog waffle (2007)

Jul 1, 2016

Plaid finally drop Elevator

Plaid have plopped out a new EP called On Other Hands and it's quite the curveball. The lead track Elevator is a right stomper: they've been playing it live for some time, as you can see in the video above.

I love the snarly gnarly tech bite of second track Odica. The eardrum-banging freshness of On Other Hands is an impressive feat, following so soon after The Digging Remedy. That album, by the way, is reviewed in July's Electronic Sound, which you can pre-order now.

I've got a ticket to see Plaid and The Bee in Manchester - a city whose emblem is indeed the bee.

It's been a few years since I've seen them because, well, I'm rubbish.

This is the gig. Come join me.