Feb 28, 2019

On my gramophone in February 2019: Pye Corner Audio, High Contrast, Seb Wildblood, Four Tet and, er...

Here are a few things I've been spinning on my gramophone in February 2019.

1. Pye Corner Audio

Pye Corner Audio's Hollow Earth, which purports to revive the “ghosts of ’90s house euphoria” but actually ties the corners of those ghosts to fashion them into a parachute designed to glide you into seriously smoky ambient valleys where you'll be lost forever. In a good way.

2. High Contrast

High Contrast's 2002 debut album True Colours, a great sister sound to Roni Size's Brown Paper Bag. In recent years, he was a music selector for the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, and he had a track in T2 Trainspotting. Which is like going from the sublime to the ridiculous. In a good way.

3. Seb Wildblood

Seb Wildblood's Grab The Wheel, an EP from last year which is only just tugging on my musical heartstrings now. His deep house is simple, almost by-the-numbers in its structure - but boy, it's weedled up my pee-hole right into my guts. In a good way.

4. Four Tet

Kieran 'Four Tet' Hebden still refuses to tell anyone what he did with the first three Tets. While we wait for an answer, we'll have to make do with this cheery little album from 2017. I overlooked this at the time, but it's growing on me like a particularly persistent moss. In a good way.

5. Sweep

Experimental sound artist Sweep has often found himself under the shadow of the better known silent composer Sooty. But this symphony of squeaks, juxtaposed perfectly with floppy ears, really speaks to the zeitgeist of our times. It's like having your brain scooped out with kazoos. In a good way.

Feb 25, 2019

Remembering Mark Hollis

You know that moment when Bowie died that you realised time was split into two: pre-Bowie and post-Bowie? I just had that feeling on hearing about the death of Talk Talk's Mark Hollis.

Not that it's a choice between them, of course. It's weird, isn't it, how these strangers affect us so much, especially a stranger who was unlikely in any case to ever produce music again.

Talk Talk were one of the few 1980s bands who cut across the rave era into my 1990s brain. Scratch beneath the surface of the main singles It's My Life and Life's What You Make It, both of them whole loads of ace, and his talent shone brightly, albeit it awkwardly.

What sad news (caveat: yet to be officially confirmed at the time of writing). Still, it does mean that in heaven right now, Mark Bell from LFO is making an experimental album with that incredible voice.

Here are two bits of music.  Firstly a 1986 performance, complete with strangely intense percussion break-down - and 1980s haircuts (apart from Mark Hollis, who was beyond time). And secondly an uncredited piano performance on Unkle’s Psyence Fiction, his notes as reclusively minimal as you'd think.

Pictured above: Mark Hollis superimposed on a background from the It's My Life video.

Feb 21, 2019

Being Frank, oh yes he is, he really is

I'm one of the many backers of Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story, about the reclusive chap who created the bizarre papier-mache entertainer from Timperley.

I missed the backers' special screening back in November, so I'm going to be an ordinary punter when the film hits the cinema screens next month.

I think Frank Sidebottom is my favourite Frank. Music has done quite well out of Franks. There's Frank Ocean, of course, and Frank Black from the Pixies. And Frank Sinatra, whose albums I own on vinyl because I am down with the kids. There's Frank Zappa too, whose music I do not own.

But there's only one Frank I'd rather have sing at me. Have a peek at the trailer below.

Oh and also have a peek at a video I took of Frank in 2007. It's truly bobbins and I strongly recommend turning down your volume before clicking through.

Further Fats: Frank Sidebottom's Fantastic Send-Off: a review (2010)

Further Fats: Watching space from inside papier mâché (2016)

Feb 19, 2019

You are reading a blog post by Fat Roland

I've been writing reviews. I'm often writing reviews. This is not a new thing, like that time I tried to sky-dive using one of those little pizza bridges as a parachute.

You are reading a blog post by Fat Roland.

One of the albums I was reviewing this week had a computer voice saying "You are listening to a promo of X by X" overlaid throughout the album. An audio watermark, if you will. I'm not going to name and shame, but it's a proper cool label with a proper cool reputation.

You are reading a blog post by Fat Roland.

I soooo wanted to give it a negative review. Its constant interruption felt like going to review a movie, and every five minutes having the person next to you shout the film name and director.


You are reading a blog post by Fat Roland.

As it happened, I quite enjoyed the album despite the digital Jiminy Cricket on its shoulder constantly ruining everything.

There's obviously a trust issue. I'd never leak an album I was given to review, but it must have happened a million times previously. One significant dance music label insists on only offering limited streams to reviewers, sometimes within incredibly restricted time periods.

Which is just stupid, because one and a half listens in, it disappears. Like having your gramophone nicked while you're flipping back to side b.

You are reading a blog post by Fat Roland.

It would be nice to have a bit more trust, especially when you're a seasoned hack at a respectable publication. Pfffrt.

You are no longer reading a blog post by Fat Roland.

Further Fats: Is Plaid's new album The Digging Remedy any good? (2016)

Feb 15, 2019

50 candles for Electronic Sound

Congratulations to Electronic Sound for reaching its 50th issue. That's one edition for every US state, or for every mph in the Speed bus's explosion zone, or for every dollar you'd have if 50 Cent cloned himself 99 times.

I've been with the magazine since its first issue, which was carved into stone tablets by dinosaurs because they didn't have photocopiers in them days.

Massive props to the ES crew in Norwich who have bust a gut to produce 50 quality pieces of work. I haven't done 50 of anything. For example, so far in my life, I've not listened to Rick Astley 50 times, or been up a tree 50 times, or eaten 50 corn-on-the-cobs.

For the 50th edition, which has Karl Bartos draped all over the cover, my column broaches the tricky subject of politics. And pigeon droppings. Buy Electronic Sound magazines past and present here.

Further Fats: 'O' logo - the 50th blog post on this site (2006)

Further Fats: "No. No. You've still lost me. Could you rewrite it with just the facts and about 50% less nonsense." (2008)

Further Fats: Pitchfork's 50 best IDM albums - the Fat Roland edit (2017)

Feb 12, 2019

Dance music: it's all so wrong

I've recently come to the realisation of how wrong I am about everything. Literally everything. Even this paragraph. It's so wrong.

The wrongest I've ever been is about the 1989 house humpathon French Kiss by Lil Louis. I hated the track when it first came out. Why was that woman moaning all over the record? Was she hurt?

Of course, now I recognise its place in history. Dance music was exploring its sexuality alongside some innovative tempo changes. And actually, it's a cracking tune.

I also remember hating Snap's The Power on first listen. How could something so discordant get to number one? It's all wrong. I felt offended by it: triggered before 'being triggered' was even a thing.

Naturally, I fell in love with the track: a dominating dance music classic. I was simply puzzled by the clash between the robust bad-boy rap, the jingling electro beat sampled from Doug Lazy's Let It Roll, and a whole bunch of chords that came in at different angles.

I now realise that a lot of the best stuff is slightly off: clashy is good.

And now something at the other end of the tonal scale: Air's Sexy Boy. So much cheese. So much soft cheese. Why would anyone like this?!

I have since awoken to the sexy reality that Air's particular brand of spreadable sandwich filling was incredibly tasty, and I inserted, hur hur, the Moon Safari album into my CD player over and over again - until way past its use-by date.

Three different examples in the dance music world. My reaction to those tracks was so negative, viscerally so. And yet I came to love them, and each one helped define my musical world.

What are YOUR hate-then-love tracks? Tracks (or artists) which infuriated or baffled you, but then you somehow fell for their charms in a big way?

Further Fats: Chosen Words: R is for Rhythm (2010)

Further Fats: Sexy words - an infographic (2014)

Feb 9, 2019

Fat Roland's February pop anagrams - the answers

The other day, I teased you with some pop music anagrams. I'm about to give you the answers.

If you are reading this piece but you haven't yet seen the original quiz, stop reading and visit the band name anagrams quiz here.

That said, you might be the kind of person who likes spoilers. Maybe you're the sort who spoils films by saying things like "he was a ghost child all along" and "turns out his mother was a rocking chair". That's fine - read the answers before you've seen the quiz, you weirdo.

Here goes.

1. ALL HAD HATED MANSERVANT = Martha and the Vandellas

2. CUDDLY SNOT MESS = LCD Soundsystem

3. FALAFEL LOGO SUCKS = A Flock Of Seagulls

4. HALF-HEARTED MINCE NONCE - Florence and the Machine

5. I'D HATE STREAKING PUFFIN LIAR = Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti

6. LUSTY SODS CLAP = Pussycat Dolls

7. ME CEDED HOPE = Depeche Mode

8. PART-SIGHED = Death Grips

9. RATE HERPES ASS-KISS = Shakespears Sister 

10. SALT SNAIL = All Saints 

11. SKIN-SHAMING PUMPS = Smashing Pumpkins 

12. THEY POP BOSS = Pet Shop Boys

If you got between one and four right, you win a luxury yacht. If you got between five and eight right, you win a speedboat. If you got seven or more right, you win the Fyre Festival island. Congratulations.

Feb 6, 2019

Fat Roland's February pop anagrams - number 4 is a doozy

Here's a quiz for you, readers. All you have to do is solve these band anagrams.

Some of them are big chart-toppers. Some of them are more obscure. They date from present day back to ye olden days (i.e. 1960s). They cover various musical genres.

Each name is followed by two numbers: the number of words in their name, and the year they scored their first UK chart hit.

They are all band names, which suggests two or more members. This isn't always the case, however. It's fair to say that a couple of them have operated pretty much as solo acts under the same name at various points in their careers.


> If a name begins with "The", I have not included this in the anagram or the wordcount.
> If there is a "the" later on in the name, this is included.
> If a name contains a "&", I have converted this to "and".
> If they've never had a UK hit single, instead of a year I have included a ~decade~ in which they first became well known(ish).

Good luck! Read the answers in a separate tab here.


2. CUDDLY SNOT MESS (2, 2004)




6. LUSTY SODS CLAP (2, 2005)

7. ME CEDED HOPE (2, 1981)

8. PART-SIGHED (2, ~2010s~)


10. SALT SNAIL (2, 1997)

11. SKIN-SHAMING PUMPS (2, 1992)

12. THEY POP BOSS (3, 1985)

See the answers here.

Feb 3, 2019

MIA's Paper Planes sung by 210 movies

All I wanna do is watch this painstakingly edited video of the lyrics of MIA's 2008 single Paper Planes using clips from films.

Extra points for the creative interpretation of the chorus's sound effects - and for having an actual paper planes montage.

This track is so iconic, and gave us one of the best comedy show titles. It's hard to believe it only reached number 19 in the charts when it was released.

It took a couple of months for MTV to censor its gunshot chorus. They were probably distracted the other 'controversial' song in the charts at the time: Katy Perry's much more successful debut single about (shock horror) kissing a girl. Sigh.

Feb 1, 2019

Time for a poke: new music from James Blake, Req and Mikron

Here is some new music that has just dropped from the sky like a shower of frogs.

First. After a teaser advert in a tube station, which displayed the name of the album so really was so much as teasing as being poked in the face with a telegraph pole, James Blake has blurted out a new album. It's called Assume Form.

He's much more than a Singer, capital S, these days, with all his harmonies and sweetness. I'm an instrumentation junkie, preferring the punch of his 2010 single CMYK. Still, I'll give it a listen - his delicate vocals are like chocolate-dipped honey served on the eyelash of a unicorn.

Second. Req is delivering us Tape Transport: 1994-2000. Contrary to what its title may suggest, it's not the chronicles of a troubled VHS delivery company during the rise of DVDs. The Brighton b-boy beatsmith has a truck full of rare and lost recordings. His Sketchbook album on Warp back in 2002 is well worth a listen.

Third. There's also Mikron’s Severance, out now on Sheffield's Central Processing Unit. It's right lovely sounding and will tickle the ear of anyone into Detroit techno, Ulrich Schnauss and Boards of Canada.

I review two of these in the next Electronic Sound magazine, which you have to buy otherwise James Blake will come round your hovel and tease you with a javelin.

Clips below. Enjoy.

Further Fats: BPA's album is a trouser-fiddling mess of buffalo proportions (2009)

Further Fats: Listen (and cry) to Ulrich Shnauss's Love Grows Out Of Thin Air (2016)