Nov 30, 2019

And on that bombshell, Venetian Snares is back

Venetian Snares. Remember him? He is responsible for drill 'n' bass, otherwise known as music for people who enjoy shoving woodpeckers in their ears. But in a good way.

December sees the release of Greg Hates Car Culture, which was his first release on vinyl back in 1999, a year in which no-one listened to any music because they were too busy running through the streets to escape the Millennium Bug.

Who is Greg? What's he got against cars? He sounds like the kind of guy who likes Top Gear, or Clarkson's Petrol-Drenched Circle Jerk or whatever it's called now.

I've listened to the album with both of my ears, and you'll have to subscribe to Electronic Sound to know my full thoughts. But I can tell you it has a superb John Goodman sample from The Big Lebowski. If you look at the track listing, it's pretty clear which track it is. Dude.

Back in my clubbing days, the way to suss out the coolness of someone else's music taste was to lean in and say "do you like Venetian Snares?" Comedy fans do a similar thing using Stewart Lee or Daniel Kitson.

If someone said yes, you could totes be BFFs (assuming BFF meant "Breakcore Fans Forever"). But if you just got a shrug in response, it was acceptable to excommunicate them from your life or throw them out of a window, whichever was easier.

And on that bombshell, here's a squirrel racing a jet-ski in a wheelbarrow. That's the kind of thing they do, right?

Further Fats: Logical regression (2006)

Further Fats: Cars and girls (2012)

Nov 22, 2019

Is my Boards Of Canada mash-up art? Don't answer that

I mushed together Boards Of Canada's album covers so you can appreciate them all at once.

My visual mash-up has all the delicate tones of a bruised frog, or perhaps of a gas explosion in Piers Morgan's trousers.

I think if you played all Boards of Canada tracks at once, that would be too many Boardses of Canada. The detuned synthesisers would multiply into a cascading dischordance and, like the effect of the proverbial butterfly wings, somewhere else in the universe Brian Eno will misplace his glasses case.

What else should I blend in Photoshop? I'd love to hear your suggestions. Actually, I've no intention of blending anything else: this turned out a bit rubbish. Please don't send me your suggestions. This is all a colossal waste of time.

Life is a half-hearted faff on Photoshop and then you die.

Oh. Erm...

Jeez. I have been listening to WAY too much Boards Of Canada.

Further Fats: Merzbow makes crap an art form (that's meant to be a compliment, by the way) (2008)

Nov 15, 2019

For Delia Derbyshire, faffing became an artform — heck, I should know

The new Electronic Sound magazine features electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire, who is the best woman named after an English county after, er, Sarah Lancashire.

This edition comes with a particularly striking cover illustration by Adam Forster. A quick glance at his Instagram suggests he does a great line in hand snails, finger fries and skull worms. You'll have to scroll his Insta to discover I'm not making those things up.

It's a very nice issue with some good words in, and it even has Underworld talking about their Drift project, and Josh Wink talking about Higher State Of Consciousness.

However, some idiot came along to spoil everything. Hey, look, it's not my fault that I happen to know EVERYTHING about Delia Derbyshire and all you flopsies know absolutely nothing about her. Harrumph.

Here's the start of my new column about Delia Derbyshire in Issue 59 of Electronic Sound. I do apologise. By the way, as ever Joel Benjamin has done a brilliant illustration to accompany my writing - see here.
I envy Delia Derbyshire and all the music she magically made from toasters and wooden spoons and fart cushions. When I faff around all day, smearing my belly with guacamole to add texture to my sexts, I’m “procrastinating” and “avoiding my responsibilities” and “behind on my bills”. But for Delia Derbyshire, faffing became an artform: she’d whack some nipple clamps onto a lampshade and suddenly you’ve got Doctor Who. [read more by getting Electronic Sound issue 59

Further Fats: Electronic words (2014)

Further Fats: Delia Derbyshire: put a donk on it (2017)

Nov 13, 2019

I have been blogging for fifteen years and I'm probably never going to stop

Happy 15th birthday, this blog.

The Fat Roland blog began on 13th November 2004 with a rather weak post about dry cleaning. Although it meandered in content for a while, this website eventually focused on the twin pillars of (1) electronic music and (2) silliness — two wonderful constants in my stupid life.

That humble first post back in 2004 started something special for me. Blogging came to define my creativity and, ultimately, my career.

It opened up a new world of freelance writing and performance that simply didn't exist before. I owe my uber-cool job at the Burgess Foundation to the direction blogging sent me in. And I wouldn't be writing for Electronic Sound if its editors hadn't stumbled across my sexy blog waffles.

Under the title of Fat Roland On Electronica, this blog won awards and a tonne of clicks — before clicks were the in-thing. The word "electronica" quickly became passé and, after dallying with the rather poor title "Netloafer", these days this site is called Electronic Music Stuff With Fat Roland. Does what it says on the internet tin.

This blog gets fewer clicks these days because this isn't where the cool kids hang out anymore. For example, a post yesterday generated zero comments here but 66 comments and counting over on Facebook. Still, every now and then a post gets a zillion views and I remember what it is like to be alive again. *looks meaningfully into the distance*

Here's a treat for you. I used to have a separate blog and website, for some stupid dumb reason. What follows is a screenshot of my website front page from something like 2005. I was very into black backgrounds and I designed everything in Microsoft FrontPage. And following that is a screenshot of my blog back in 2010.

What about the future? I'm going to keep blogging, and more regularly too if I can help it. This is my home. Electronic music. Silliness. And a few diversions as we go. Same as it ever was.

Nov 12, 2019

Do you remember the first time (with your own money)?

Any group of friends socialising over drinks will, at some point, raise one very particular question. That question is: what was the first record you bought with your own money?

It's a good question because the key bit is "your own money". Spending your pocket change in a record shop was step towards independence, and a stride away from hand-me-down records from your goth sister, mod-obsessed dad, or creepy uncle who dresses as Gary Glitter. It's one of your first stamps of identity.

For young generations these days, this question is obsolete. They're saving up to buy limited Record Store Day vinyl box sets encased in walrus hide: the £10 punt on a CD is increasingly rare. The modern equivalent of this question is "what's your favourite shuffle button" or "how many times a day do you skip the YouTube premium trial".

My memory is as decrepit as an old wardrobe left in a hedge, but I think my first bought album was Five Star's debut. I can't even remember its name. I listened to it once then swapped it with a neighbour for A-Ha's Hunting High And Low. "There's no eeeend to lengths I'll gooooo."

A-Ha became my world. I had their lyric posters. I had their duvet set. I made an A-Ha photo book by cutting up magazines, which I left in the school library only to be destroyed by what I can only assume were jealous Wham! fans. A-Ha was the first album I owned, and the first one that turned me into a fanboy.

But it wasn't, was it. I never bought it. The true answer is Five Star, a record of which I have no memory at all. I'm not sure even they can remember what it was called.

I like a good chunky shuffle button, preferably with an orange background. But never mind that. What was the first record YOU bought with YOUR own money? And did you get the duvet set for Christmas?

Further Fats: Do you pay for your record collection? (2009)

Further Fats: While my guitar gently sods off (2010)

Nov 9, 2019

Performing Flash Fiction with Fat Roland - a workshop

Some people reading this blog won't have met me. For all you know, I'm some Pringle-guzzling keyboard warrior vomiting words at the internet from a mouldy basement, Family Guy t-shirt slowly rotting from my own sweat.

However, some of you may have seen me in real life, namely on stages around Manchester either performing my own material or compering other people. Prancing around on stage is something I have come to love more and more.

Although I had dabbled previously, performance isn't something I've always done. In fact, it's nearly nine years since I started reading material on stages in earnest, as evidenced by this tweet.

So it's not something that comes naturally: I have spent two-thirds of my adult life quite specifically prancing around on anything other than stages,

My confidence in the spotlight is something I have learned. It comes from observing other performers, both proficient and terrible, from testing the boundaries of what I can do, and from setting myself loads of challenges and rules to become better at what I do.

Yes, rules. I've had loads of them, from how to cope with nerves, how to handle a microphone, and what works best for certain audiences. I made rules, I perfected them, I broke them and now a tonne of that has become muscle memory, making performance feel easier than before.

On November 23rd, I will reveal some tips and tricks on how to be a better performer for LitMacc in 'Performing Flash Fiction with Fat Roland'. The two-hour Saturday afternoon workshop focuses on performing flash fiction (i.e. very short stories), but it'll be a useful workshop for beginners and just-past-beginners on how to be stronger on stage in any context.

Even better, the tickets are really cheap. If you're within a train-jaunt of Macclesfield later this month, do come - tickets here.

Now do excuse me. I need to finish these Pringles because the sweat chemicals on my t-shirt are turning Quagmire's hilarious quote into something quite illegible. *guzzle guzzle guzzle*

Photo: Mark Croasdale

Further Fats: Not much coming up (lie) (2015)

Further Fats: This is what happened on stage tonight (2017)

Nov 6, 2019

Aphex Twin as lampposts - an illuminating thread

I made a meme. I did it all by myself.

Me attempting something as modern as a meme is a bit like your grandfather skateboarding a fidget spinner over a bitcoin. But honestly, I'm a proper modern guy - I've got a mobile phone and everything.

The meme I created is one of those "x-as-y" threads on Twitter. For example, Olly Alexander as cakes. One thing looks like another thing - that's the joke.

So here comes Aphex Twin as lampposts. Scroll down to see.

Two caveats. Firstly, calling this a meme suggests the tweets went viral. They didn't. And I really should have found a lamppost that looks like the famous Aphex Twin logo. I didn't. Dammit.

The images are small for blog-loading purposes and so that I don't frighten any passing Lilliputians, so do sneak a peek at the original thread here.

This is rather reminiscent of Otters that look like Rustie. Why not create your own meme? Boards Of Canada as postboxes? Bjork as vegan sausage rolls? DJ Casper as the concept of ennui?

Nov 3, 2019

"Acid house - it's not real music, is it" said the idiot

I'm no stranger to a filter-tweaking acid house night, so I'm delighted to see that the latest Electronic Sound is dedicated to acid house records.

Along with pieces about 808 State and Luke Vibert, they're selling a t-shirt dedicated to this issue of the magazine. You'd probably assume if I wore that t-shirt clubbing, it would end up ripped from my sweaty body and left in a pool of beer and poppers. Actually, I stay fully clothed on dancefloors in case I poke someone's eye out with an errant nipple.

Flick to the back of the magazine and you'll find my regular column Banging On: 600 words of finely-hewn waffle-cabbage dedicated to the wonders of acid house.

Well. I say dedicated. The piece I submitted contains the following contradictory phrases:
"Acid house. It’s not real music, is it."
"Acid house is for losers."
"How dare anyone besmirch the glorious name of acid house."
"People who don’t like acid house are the worst kind of fart-faces, and I’ve met Jim Davidson. "
What's going on? Has my brain melted from all the acid drugs? You can find out by getting issue 58 of Electronic Sound, and while wearing the corresponding 'acid sound' t-shirt.

(Additional note: it's now too late to order that limited edition t-shirt, so forget you ever saw it.)

Further Fat Roland: A ticket to ride: bumbling into MC Tunes and putting the green suit away (2007)

Further Fat Roland: I love acid and the acid loves me (2015)