Feb 28, 2017

Most-read pieces on FatRoland.co.uk: February 2017

1 - You remember Orbital, right?
"You remember? The lighty headmen? The Glastonbury doyennes? The Satanic majesties?"

2 - Fake news: there's a famous faux band in town
"Swap the booze for meth so I don't entirely violate his artistic copyright."

3 - Step inside Brian Eno's Reflection

4 - Instrumental electronic floof for your creative ears
"If you need something for your (un)conscious mind to surfboard on, dive in."

5 - Listen to PVT's Kangaroo (not an actual kangaroo, hashtag fakenews)
"If the real Fat Roland ever finds out I'm using his name, I'm in trouble."

Futher Fats: see January's most read pieces here.

Feb 27, 2017

Angry ambience: Blanck Mass has a new writhing earworm

Blanck Mass's sound is so fatty, it's like sonic lard. You can feel it slithering down your ears, gloop after gloop, until it solidifies inside you. Look at it fester. It's beginning to writhe. Are those maggots or earworms?

All these are good things, by the way.

Benjamin John Power's Blanck Mass is about to cook up a new album called World Eater, and if the calories are as high as their last work Dumb Flesh (album of the year 2015), then give me a napkin and a spoon - I'm going in.

Have a taste of their first video from World Eater, seven minutes of angry ambience called Please. Did I do the eating metaphor right? Did I do well? Dammit, this has made me hungry.

Further Fats: Fake plastic CDs and eating too much cheese before writing a blog post (2008)

Further Fats: Best electronic albums of 2015 - Dumb Flesh (2015)

Feb 25, 2017

Learning from Anthony Burgess

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Anthony Burgess, the leading Manchester author and one of the biggest writery people of the 20th century.

Tonight, I'm compering an anniversary event A Life In Letters at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation. It's a pretty flipping amazing honour, and I've got actual proper actors - Arthur Bostrom and Verity Henry - to be the voices of the letters.

Delving through his letters - kept in a secure archive in Manchester - has been pretty revealing. The life of a writer laid bare: the aspirations, the arguments, the mentoring and the sheer mechanics of it all. All the while being more erudite than I could ever hope to be.

As for me? My writing life at the moment consists solely of these moments:

"Time to write a blog post, oh look Twitter, maybe I'll nip to the newsagent, hey I wrote a thousand words, hello Facebook, what's this in this bin?, sorry I didn't reply to your email, editing editing editing, more Twitter, that's not my porpoise, eek deadline!, probably should put some clothes on, time to write a blog post..."

I don't think Burgess mentions nipping off to the newsagents once in his letters. I've a lot to learn.

Feb 23, 2017

Listen to PVT's Kangaroo (not an actual kangaroo, hashtag fakenews)

I tripped across this cracking track on the new PVT album New Spirit. Despite the nicely loose live drums, Kangaroo's gawky electronic urgency seems to have laid their post-rock roots to rest. Have a listen below.

PVT, formerly Pivot, are one of many musical stars that had to change their name because of a legal challenge.  Examples that come to mind are London Suede, "The" Verve, and Fat Roland.

That's right. I never used to be "Fat Roland". I was "Michael Jackson" then I was "Prince" then I was "The Edge out of U2" then I was "Menswe@r" then I was "Lady Gaga" then I was "Stormzy". Sued by the lot of them. Honestly, I can't catch a break.

If the real Fat Roland ever finds out I'm using his name, I'm in trouble. Apparently he's easily angered and has tentacles.

Feb 21, 2017

The Feeling's Fill My Little World is still causing feels 11 years later

Great. I've prattled about in the rain looking for a place to write for HOURS. I've finally chuffing found a drinking hole with a plug, wifi and a seat that's not been crapped on by some drunk pensioner. Result, right? Except the jukebox is playing The Feeling's Fill My Little World.

You know the song. It's jolly without being The Lightning Seeds; it's summery without being Fresh Prince, it's jangly while being as far from The Smiths as it's possible to be in the world of white-boy pop. "Show some love," he squeaks. "Come fill my little world right up, right up."

You've filled my little world with liquid bum drizzle, man from The Feeling. Filled me right up: you can tell by the brown tide lines on the insides of my eyes. I already looked like Johnny Vegas dragged through a swamp backwards, and now I stench of your easy-listening drivetime diahorrea.

I'm sat in the darkest corner of the pub. The pub is famous for its cheese lunches. It's still raining outside. I'm drinking a pint of sub-three quid bitter. I'm meant to be writing something worthy, about Aphex Twin or Warp Records or bleepy bloop or whatever.

And everything is ruined because that song is in my head.

Thing is, there's a final twist in this sonic wound, this weeping gash of audio guff. The jukebox has moved on. While I've been hammering this blog post together, the chuffing jukebox has long since moved on.

Jukeboxes always move on. That's why jukeboxes will always be better than me.

Feb 19, 2017

Clark reaches new heights with Death Peak... just hang back a bit, perhaps

Clark's back with a tune that kind of stumbles into the room all gawky and tangled before arching its back and spreading some pretty beautiful techno wings.

Peak Magnetic is the first single from Clark’s next album Death Peak and you can listen to it below. Apparently the album's full of vocals. Death Peak is also a place - at least, in Clark's brain:
"I would repeat it to myself like a mantra. Death Peak, Death Peak, Death Peak. It starts gently, all meadows and butterflies and ends with you on top of this gnarly fearsome mountain peak, surveying a shattered landscape below."
Mental note. Never go rambling with Clark. I'm sure he's got the right hiking boots, has a laminated map, and wets his finger to test the wind direction, but, I dunno, I'm not sure it's Edale he'll walk us to.

Feb 17, 2017

This is what happened on stage tonight

I knew it would come to this, but I've been far too busy prepping for a gig to write my regular blog post.

Which is fine because gigs pay while I'm lucky to get a bit of pocket fluff from my blogging.

However, since you're kind enough to be reading this, here's an outline of the performance was preparing today. Think of this as free entry to the Fat Roland gig you didn't go to.

I walk on stage 'dressed'  as a psychic fairy. After some inspirational phrase / party popper action, I introduce people to my fairy tale medallions. I promise to perform a mind trick. I show some pictures of myself then photographs I've 'taken' on the way to the event. There's a conversation with Derren Brown. Next, it's the big gay nose song. After the big gay nose song, I read someone's mind (not really) and everyone goes wild. Oh and I have a wand. And a dinosaur and Father Christmas and a toaster and a startled muppet.

All of this involves props made from card, including the wand. Hence no time to write a blog post. Oh, hold on. I've written this, haven't I? As long as schedule this to publish after my gig, I'm sorted for today's blog post.

Blogging, yay!

Feb 15, 2017

Instrumental electronic floof for your creative ears

Here are some old instrumental albums I've been using as a writing soundtrack recently.

They're all pretty much of an era and style, and they're scuzzy YouTube rips, but if you need something for your (un)conscious mind to surfboard on, dive in.

There's one that's not featured below, and that's B12's Electro Soma (band pictured above). It's non-embeddable, but you can click through to it here.

Go listen. Then buy the albums because they're right cracking, they are.


Feb 13, 2017

Come and see me (Mother's) ruin myself

Mother's Ruin is a brilliantly creative performance thingy in which people do stuff on stage and an audience does some clapping.

Stop me if this is getting too technical.

This Friday's event is part of the Queer Contact season. It stars punk cabaret band SlapPer, performance artist Liquorice Black, international housewife Mrs Barbara Nice... and little old me.

Oh and other people too - see the Facebook event for info. It's a great chance for me to flex my standup muscles, so do come and sit in a chair in a room while I stand on a stage and do a thing. Phew, this technical jargon's hard work. Tickets here.

Feb 11, 2017

It's never too early to be Up Too Early

When I went part-freelance at the end of last year, I resolved to use my time well.

Okay, maybe I'm not succeeding. And I do often find myself waking up at strange hours with a head rattling with ideas.

Good job Friends Of Friends put out the excellent Up Too Early compilation, designed for the early hours of the day. Apparently it grew out of a Spotify playlist - and what a playlist. There's Daedelus and Robot Koch and Baths and Prefuse 73 and the Album Leaf.

Use this album as an audio pillow, sleepyheads. It may help channel your more dreamsome ideas. Yes, even you, Piers, with your lilting head and strangely proportioned features. (It's almost as if I had no idea how to draw Piers Moron.)

Feb 9, 2017

Episode ten of my podcast: Bonbon and Bangbang and Beyonce

The latest edition of my podcast is out. Sellotape your ears to the internet for half an hour and listen to it below.

In this episode, the last of the series, I chat to a leather nun and an electronic music artist. I review Beyonce's latest album, and Producer Lee and I talk about an epic journey and a chance meeting in Manchester's Northern Quarter.

Want some links? You can subscribe to Hey Fat Roland on iTunes or get it on Podbean. Otherwise, just plop Hey Fat Roland into your podreader and it should find it.

Feb 7, 2017

Step inside Brian Eno's Reflection

Come in. Pull up an invisible chair. Rest your feet on that anti-matter futon. You are now inside Brian Eno's newest album.

His latest ambient opus Reflection is in the vein of classic Discreet Music Eno. It is slow listening, where the notes stretch out for eternity. What a spacious album. And so many skylights. I like what he's done with the place.

It's well worth a listen - you can catch segments of the whole thing here. May it give you space to stop for a while.

Speaking of Eno, I've been rediscovering Passengers, his much neglected mid-1990s project with U2. An overlooked album for both artists. Which is a shame because Slug and Your Blue Room are great and the Japan edition of the album had a remix of Zoo Station called Bottoms. That's right. Bottoms.

Feb 5, 2017

Music Order Remixed New (see what I did there)

Back in 1993, when Gabrielle rocked an eye patch, I became obsessed with New Order remixes. Even now, the version I remember of Ruined In A Day was a remix, not the original.

There's a new New Order remix project in town. This one is by Fritz von Runte who has already rejiggled Lily Allen and Bowie. The New Order Music Remixed album is a re-imagining of the band's 2015 album Music Complete. It's free. You just need to fire your email into the website and you're ready to go.

Remixes used to be all the rage, when we had a billion versions on each CD single. Some even became huge: Brimful of Asha, Born Slippy Nuxx, Everything But The Girl, all that awful Elvis nonsense. I've only ever done one remix. It was entirely unauthorised and you can find it here.

Heck, the best album of 2016 was a remix. Hey, if Gabrielle can remix her own face, it's good enough for the rest of us.

Feb 3, 2017

You remember Orbital, right?

You remember Orbital, right?

You remember? The lighty headmen? The Glastonbury doyennes? The Satanic majesties?

You remember, surely? Baldy brothers. One of them wore no feet. Or had duck feet. Or something. You remember. Friends with Criminal Justice Bill and a girl with her head in the sun?

You must remember Orbital. The had this theory about Moby where time became a loop. They got beached by Danny Boyle. Did an album of brown things. Caused a jungle on Dr Who. Surely you remember. Tilda Ecclestone. Christopher Swinton. Tubular chimes. A wonky box?

Anyway, they're back. They are flipping back!

Further Fats: Orbital come back around. Well, it seems logical, doesn't it? (2006)

Further Fats: Gorgeous Pauls (2010)

Further Fats: Video: "Orbital sample Stephen Hawking" (2012)

Feb 1, 2017

Fake news: there's a famous faux band in town

Get a load of these tribute band flyers. Korn Again. Guns Or Roses. U2-2. Bon Giovi. And the gloriously intoned Slipknowt. As you may guess, Slipknowt are from that famous Yorkshire town of, er, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

A casual observer-- no, I found these flyers in a pub, so scratch that-- A tipsy observer may think that was the bona fide U2, until you notice they're playing in Prestwich. I mean, Prestwich is an upstanding place, but I wouldn't think a world tour by the rattly hummers would stop by there.

I respect tribute bands, living in the shadow of a more famous version of themselves. I spend enough time being mistaken for Johnny Vegas. I do wonder if I should heave myself around the comedy circuit with a pottery wheel. Call myself Johnny Fake-Ass. Swap the booze for meth so I don't entirely violate his artistic copyright. I've also been likened to an actor from Human Centipede 2 (no really), although I'm happy to leave that one alone.

These are the tribute bands I'd want to set up in the world of electronic music: Faulty DL, Josh Hoodwink, Afaux Twin, Fake-0-8 State, Norbital and Dupe. That last one refers to mid-90 chart-toppers Doop. Hey, shut up, this isn't easy.

If any record company wants me to tour as a tribute act, let me know. I can make pretend keyboards from cereal boxes. I'm sure I can sellotape some spaghetti together to make some leads so, y'know, sound comes out of the speakers. Which are made from mashed potato. Let's do this. I'll even play Prestwich.

Further Fats: Suspended puppies: an absolutely genuine review of Warp20 Sheffield (2009)

Further Fats: Fake plastic CDs and eating too much cheese before writing a blog post (2010)