Jul 31, 2018

A special message from thingy from the Prodigy

Hello there, I am Kevin from the Prodigy or whatever my name is. I would like to tell you about Need Some1, my brand new single wot is out on gramophone.

Need Some1 sounds like Jilted Generation on spice, and it's got guitar riffs, sirens and an extended kazoo solo.

Excuse me, I just need to get the phone. Hello? Oh hi Tarquin. We're losing the kazoo solo? That's a shame. Okay bye, love to Elspeth.

Where was I? Oh yes. My brand new single contains a sample from Loleatta Holloway. You might remember her from being the shouty voice from Black Box, or from being the shouty voice from Marky Mark, or from being the shouty voice from that time I hid in her garden pretending to be a gnome.

I like being in the Prodigy and when Fat Raymond (it's Fat Roland - FR) asked me to write this, I was dead excited. I created a new Word document and began to write because I'm a file starter, a twisted file starter.

Thanks for reading everyone. Yours sincerely, Steve from the Prodigy whatever his name is really must google it before publishi--

Jul 30, 2018

From ammunition tunnels to veganism: it's Orbital's PHUK

Yesterday, I flapped on about ancient techno titans Underworld's new single. On a related note, Orbital are back with a track called PHUK (see video below).

According to this interview with Consequence of Sound, PHUK is about:

> bankers
> demons
> Brexit
> empire
> ammunition tunnels
> the 1990s
> middle age
> veganism
> inclusivity
> trousers

I may have made that last one up, although I'm pretty sure PHUK stands for "Paul Hartnoll, Underpants Killer."

Their new album Monsters Exist is out in mid-September. It features the voice of Professor Brian Cox, which I presume is him just going "wow, these synthesisers are amazing, they've got buttons, look at the buttons".

Jul 29, 2018

Teatime Dub Encounters - Underworld and Iggy Pop get shashed on gronk

Iggy Pop and Underworld tried to drum up a track for the Trainspotting sequel T2, but they failed because they were all honked up on skag.

Actually, they weren't, but their new collaboration Teatime Dub Encounters did arise from Trainspotting-inspired studio sessions in a London hotel room.

"Hello, is that room service? Yeah, have you got a spare jack to XLR lead, we've run out. Oh and Ableton Push. Just leave it outside the door."

The result is an EP that doesn't much feel like a continuation of Underworld's previous album Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future.

Instead it feels more the kind of ephemeral collaboration you got in the mid 90s, when Begbie first chucked his pint glass off a balcony. When Iggy Pop or Lou Reed or even flipping Pavarotti turned up in other people's stuff.

In other words, odd, awkward, not cool, but kinda charming.

My favourite on the EP is Trapped. It feels like Johnny Cash trying his hand at disco, if it was mixed by Fluke. Jump over to YouTube for a listen.

I can only hope there'll be more bleepy stars giving ageing singers a chance. Skrillex and Dolly Parton. Orbital and Vera Lynn. Autechre and the Keyboard Cat meme  I know that last one doesn't fit the joke - I just really want to see Autechre perform with Keyboard Cat 

Jul 23, 2018

BlueDotBlog: Love is all

On my final day at the BlueDot festival, I checked out a couple of science talks. By which to say, I sat snoozing and caught occasional words like "protozoa" and "pulsars".

Actually, Jodrell Bank's astronomer Tim O'Brien gave a great talk about sounds from space. He once bounced Stephen Hawking off the moon, using our lunar partner as a giant delay pedal for the scientist's voice. It was, as astrophysicists would say, well good.

I caught tiny bits of Warm Digits, Crazy P or Little Dragon, but the Sunday will be remembered for three particular music highlights. I'm going to rank them in order, like Top of the Pops. This is Top of the Bands that Played BlueDot on the Sunday...

At number three, if you can get through the cloak of weed shrouding the tent, it's The Orb. Alex and his chums dug into his ever-pulsating back catalogue, and I'm glad he appended his Little Fluffy Clouds remix with a big chunk of the original. Tuuune.

Straight in at number two is Vessels. You can still hear the beating post-rock heart in their rollercoaster climbs and swoops, their techno electrified by the inclusion of a live drummer. I'm going to be playing Vessels a lot this next week.

Still at number one, because they've always been there if you're honest about it, it's the Chemical Brothers. Tune after tune after tune, eye-smooshing visuals from start to finish, and a five-minute cameo from robots with laser eyes. Stupidly entertaining.

I think that's everything. Oh yeah, I finished the festival seeing Rob Kemp's The Elvis Dead where he reimagines Evil Dead 2 through Elvis Presley songs. Not seen the film, not bothered about Elvis, but crikes it was funny. And an utterly surreal place to be when you're sitting in the front row still sweating from the Chemicals ten minutes previously.

This year, BlueDot lit a rocket under their line-up and sent us all to somewhere cosmic. It's an experience like no other, the Lovell telescope's constant presence connecting us all to something more important than wristband checks, portable toilets and chafed feet. "Love is all" said the Chemical Brothers' final graphic, and that pretty much sums up BlueDot, the nicest, friendliest festival in the UK.

Jul 22, 2018

BlueDotBlog: Welling up at the Workshop

Seeing the Radiophonic Workshop perform the Doctor Who theme tune had me welling up a bit on my third day at the BlueDot festival.

I guess it's just a mixture of childhood memories, their own history, and the fact I once had a painful breakup with a Dalek. They say they'll call, but they never do.

I saw The Long Now, an Eno-inspired soundscape project by Finnur Bjarnason and Richard Norris, aka the bloke from The Grid, and a bit of Hookworms too. Has to be said, I wasn't overly fussed about catching Gary Numan, and instead found myself quivering to the whiplash wit of comedian Josh Jones. Love that guy.

I watched my writer chum David Hartley perform a rare feat of making two fifteen-minute stories thoroughly engaging. I'm actually camping with Dave, and if I'm not nice about his writing, he'll poke me in the eye with a tent peg. (Seriously though, thanks for the camping company, Hannah, Dave and Debs.)

My dirty techno fix came courtesy of Ralph Lawson and Helena Hauff's excellent inner city electronic takeover. I was equally baffled and impressed at the modular mock-Erasure music of Look Mum No Computer.

I have two bestest highlights yesterday. Lamb's showstopping Gorecki, a perfect example of how to overcome technical problems - they had to stop the show at one point - and go on to bring the house down. And Future Islands, whose feather-light synth pop seems to feed singer Sam with all kinds of demons. My favourite move of his is the sideways bowling ball. Try it sometime.

That's all for yesterday's BlueDot fun. No pictures this time because I'm trying to save battery. More tomorrow - I really need to tell you about the man whose hat was on fire.

Jul 21, 2018

BlueDotBlog: Dub hits and fun Lips and puppets

I saw too much yesterday at the BlueDot festival for one blog post. However, it's one blog post you're getting today, so you'll have to make do. Do you think I'm MADE of blog posts?!

I went to a talk about Jodrell Bank's Lovell telescope. You'll know the white lattice dish from the mock-up fictional version that killed off Tom Baker in Doctor Who. Apparently if it snows heavily, they tilt the dish to make an avalanche. I realise it's July, but I'm willing to sit here and wait for that to happen.

I caught Pop-Up Cinema's Flash Gordon. They do frenetic puppet show remakes of classic films. Imagine Alfred Hitchcock doing Punch & Judy on a runaway train. Flash (pictured above) was a delight.

I have two absolute highlights of the day. Mad Professor plumbed the depths of dub with cheery playfulness, ripping up Stevie Wonder and, er, Robin S with delay turned up to 11. And a solo Roni Size beamed his way through a bass-shredding drum 'n' bass set that reprazented (geddit?!) the earliest and latest elements of his career.

I enjoyed the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band with all their Bollywood sass, and I was wowed by a fire-breathing puppet parade.

Brian Eno collaborator Tom Rogerson kicked up an ambient storm, while Afrodeutsche and Not Waving cranked up enough techno to bring the rain clouds in.

I saw Alexis from Hot Chip, which I quite enjoyed. I liked his cheese hat. I didn't really connect with Public Service Broadcasting. And the Flaming Lips were every bit as rambling, wild and immersive as I'd come to expect. Wayne had a special message for us in balloons (below). You can figure out the full text. Amazing.

I met old friends and made new friends, and had a pretty neat katzu curry. I told you this was way too much for one post. Phew.

More tomorrow.

Jul 20, 2018

BlueDotBlog: Take THAT, sealions

Hey, I'm at BlueDot festival, a weekend mash-up of music and science in the shadow of Cheshire's Lovell radio telescope.

I've not been very bloggy recently, so let's pep things up with a daily live blog parped out from my tent. It's barely breakfast time and I can already hear someone in a nearby tent taking about hydrogen fusion.

Or something. I'm not very sciencey.

BlueDot started in spectacular fashion. The Halle Orchestra blasted out some grand classical music to the sights - and sounds - of the Blue Planet telly programme

I can now say I've seen killer whales battering sealions to death to the glorious swells of an orchestra. They even did a Christmas melody set to the crazy antics of polar bears and penguins.

For personal reasons, it was especially pleasing to see the Halle pull this off. I sang with them as a founder member of the Manchester Boys Choir. I am that sealion, squealing in whale-walloped harmony with that astonishing collective.

A highlight of BlueDot is the eerie art that haunts the woods at night. I love the massive suspended globe, surrounded by the sounds of everyone on the planet chattering away in an Underworld-style stream of consciousness. It glows in the dark - you'll have to make do with a daytime picture for now.

More BlueDot today. Hope I get to fuse some hydrogen.