Nov 30, 2022

Token November post with added Subway shutter

I can't let November pass by without at least one blog post, so here's what I've up to this past month (or so). Think of it as a show-and-tell although I'm not going to show you anything, and what I tell you will be pretty dull.

Plaid played the White Hotel in Manchester. It's a no-frills venue that makes you feel like you're about to get murdered by a Tesco Value murderer. But the sound system's great, the staff are lovely, and there's always a nice crowd. Highlight was the dizzying peaks of C.A. from their new album Feorm Falorx.

I nuzzled my nozzle in nostalgia at the Warehouse Party's Hacienda 40 bash. Orbital, 808 State, Graeme Park, Happy Mondays, Justin Robertson, K-Klass, Jon DaSilva, A Guy Called Gerald. It kind of boiled down to a warehouse full of men dancing like Bez, but there were lots of fun chats, and Orbital were all kinds of ace.

The Delightful Sausage delighted me for a second time this year when I saw their Nowt But Sea show again. The friendly farce is shot through with daftness and nods to classic TV comedy tropes. Amy and Chris are so good together, and there's an extended reminiscence by Chris which I just think might be genius.

With a clutch of cartoon cats, I read a co-written story with my embarrassingly talented writing buddy David Hartley. Fellow scribe and word-reader Adam Farrer sums things up pretty nicely when he posted on Instagram: "Got to hang out with some brilliant folks, sold some books and saw @fat_roland dressed up in a cardboard disguise, reading a story off the back of a cat’s head. It’s all I wanted from today."

Oh and I took a selfie in front of a colourful shop shutter (see above). I think it was a Subway. It was very late at night and colder than a whittler's canoe.

Not a bad November-ish overall, hey.


Oct 31, 2022

Hello, Halloween

I love a bit of Halloween. The ghosts. The witches. The turnips. Is it turnips? What's that orange thing? Watermelons? Anyway, I love it all.

To celebrate the best festivity of the year - let's be honest, it easily beats Easter and National Talk Like A Pirate Day - I've decided to collate my best spooky @FatRoland tweets.

Get ready to be scared. Wooooooh. Turnips. Aaaaaargh.

Fact:
Today is Halloween, which as we all know comes from the phrase "Hello, Ian".
31 Oct 2021

Foodie:
Ooo, I'm a scary biscuit. [climbs into biscuit tin]
23 Jul 2015

Visitors:
I only got one trick or treater coming up my drive last night. Thankfully, my blood catapult seems to have worked.
1 Nov 2010

Abbreviation:
The G in 5G stands for Ghosts. Be careful out there.
4 Apr 2020

Pick up:
Actual conversation with a taxi driver today, September 7th.
Driver: It's been quiet today.
Me: Change in weather, I suppose.
Driver (sternly): No.
Me: *all the awkwards*
Driver: It's because people are getting ready for Halloween.
7 Sep 2018

Liturgical:
"Wooooh, I'm Martin Gore, Demon of the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost."
7 Jan 2014

Digits:
Ooo, Halloween, oooo, fingers everywhere. Lots of spooky fingers. Is it a ghost? No, it's a finger. Wooooooh, fingers.
31 Oct 2017

And check out these spooky steel spiders in Sheffield. Oh and this creative use of pumpkins near where I live. While we're at it, here is a blog post about the most Halloweeny music acts ever,

Crikey, that was scary stuff, wasn't it.

Sep 30, 2022

Prodigy's Experience turns 30: that's a lot of small furry animals

The Prodigy's debut album Experience was released 30 years ago this week. It only seems like yesterday! 

Which is nonsense. 30 years is flipping ages ago. Shrews tend to live for less than 12 months. 30 years is over 30 full shrew generations. In human years, this means Experience came out during the reign of Julius Caesar. I hope you're following me on this.

I'm not sure Experience did much to separate the Prodigy from the xylophone-clonking mass of novelty ravers at the time. Their transformation into aggressive firestarters was some years down the line. But Charly pouncing into the top ten in summer 1991 was quite the landmark moment.

The best thing about that album is it's daft. Look at the lyrics. "Feel the bass come down on me  baby… Give me a number one, give me a number two.. . I take your brain to another dimension, pay close attention."

And whatever that cartoon cat was miaowing about. The boy tells us he was mewling road safety messages. I'm not convinced. Personally, I think Little Johnny 2D-face was gaslighting that poor cat. Let it dance into the road, you monster. Let it high five the cats eyes. 

This was originally meant to be a deep analysis of Experience, track by track, with 3,000-word essays and everything. However, I'm too busy listening to the new Bjork album to, er, pay close attention. Let's just say it's a classic that sounds as wild now as it ever did. Even better, actually, now we can consider Experience without the shadow of Jilted Generation, Fat Of The Land and all the chart-topping tomfoolery that came along with them. 

Let's finish this with some Amazon reviews of Experience. Really pay tribute to a great album. 

the album i received is absolutely shocking quality it jumps on every track, such a shame - one star

Record just doesn’t work, keeps skipping and jumping. Not pleased with this product - one star

I ordered it twice and both times the records jumped! Very disappointed - one star

The record arrived warped and not even close to being level. It wobbles on our record player - one star

Ordered Prodigy - Experience.... received Jimi Hendrix album. Rubbish - one star

Oh. Erm. Oops. 

Sep 26, 2022

The downfall of Ian Brown

Ian Brown

Monkey-faced Mancunian Ian Brown is being roasted on Twitter for a gig he did in Leeds.

His concert at the O2 Academy Leeds on 25 September was part of his first solo headline tour in over ten years. And when he means 'solo', he really means 'solo'. Videos abound of him alone on the stage, drawling to a backing track.

One tweet has him murdering FEAR, Another tweet posted a clip of him looking distinctly lonely on stage as he sang First World Problems. The tweeter said:

"turn up to his £40 a ticket, sold out gig at leeds tonight WITH NO BAND. I’m a life long fan but it was bad. #ianbrown does karaoke and butchers his own tunes. Most were too pissed to care but I had to get out after this one. Longsight M13 was a highlight."

It wasn't all negative. A guy called Ryan said, "You absolutely smashed it tonight… You had the place bouncing and your performance was electric." While another complainer seemed disappointed with his singing and his lack of band, yet found it in their heart to say, "he still has the swagger and he’s still a legend in my eyes"

You can't really roast Ian Brown for singing out of tune. The whole point of Manchester acts like Brown and the Happy Mondays and Mark E Smith is that they sound like boozed-up karaoke. It's kicking-out time at the Brass Neck & Baggie and Uncle Darren's off on one. This is what marketers call a unique selling point. 

But it's a bit of a cheek to turn up without a backing band. I'm quite happy for, say, Karl Hyde from Underworld to be a one-man car wash inflatable, flailing around while Rick Smith keeps himself to himself behind his keyboards. But for indie bands, you need the guitars. The musicianship. Something for beardy journalists to write about in Mojo magazine.

He'll appreciate the extra cash pocketed from not paying a band, though. His caché has been increasingly passée in recent years. He's been churning out Covid-19 conspiracy theories, resulting in him being thrown off Twitter and losing a song on Spotify. I think at one point he used the phrase "lame stream media", which instantly loses him any credibility.

Twitter will have its fun. There will be lots more Brown bashing, mostly from people who didn't attend the gig. I still remember a recent tweet showing a few seconds of Mick Hucknall singing off key at a recent performance. People were scandalised. And they ignored a similar clip of Hucknall recently singing like the angels; a stunning set of pipes. Twitter's engine runs on decontextualized outrage. With someone as odious as Ian, it couldn't happen to a better person.

Is this the downfall of Ian Brown? Not for a minute. Do you really think his anti-vax rants will play badly to ageing bucket-heads? Although he may lose a few ticket sales, is his career really going to be harmed by singing like a drunken monkey man on the loose? Not a bit of it.

No. I reckon the worst is to come. Ian Brown is a crusty old white man with big opinions and a screw-them attitude. He is privilege, he is patriarchy, he is Morrissey. The controversy that fully downs his career hasn't happened yet. He'll overstep the mark in some horrible way. Say the 'n' word, become the new Savile, set fire to an orphanage? Probably not. But something.

To quote one of his songs: "I swim with the fishes; you come from the sea. The dolphins were monkeys that didn't like the land."

Nope. Me neither.

Further Fats: Who do I hate more? Morrissey or Axl? (2010)


Aug 31, 2022

It's got a cow as a logo

This weekend I went to Moovin Festival. It's got a cow as a logo. Moo. Moovin Festival.

It's a tiny music festival nestled in Etherow Country Park in Stockport. Lots of tree-covered rolling hills, an impressive multi-layered weir, and tonnes of geese honking all over the place. Actually proper gorgeous. 

Let's talk about the music. I loved Mikey Don's showmanship. Northbase and Mickey Finn brought some mad drum and bass. DJ Frosti provided a welcome shot of dubby progressive house. 

Black Grape replaced the Sugarhill Gang on the bill, which doesn't seem like a fair swap, but suited a crusty Mancunian like me. Shaun Ryder stood reading his lyrics from an autocue while a sprightly Kermit ping-ponged around the stage bringing the party. It was kind of wonderful, and they reminded me how much of a tune Reverend Black Grape is. 

The main reason why I was there was Orbital. They seemed on cheery form, and blasted us with their usual Satanic charms. At one point I got so excited, I turned to my fellow dancers and shouted "come oooon!". Someone shook my hand. You can see me significantly enjoying myself in the above photograph, taken by Orbital themselves. 

To my surprise, Orbital weren't the number one highlight of the weekend. I was there on my own, and most of the line-up, especially on the Sunday, held no interest for me. So a lot of the time, all I had to do was sit and chat to random people. 

And what people! I've never had so many random conversations, with one guy even scaling a hill just to talk to me. I've already done this on Twitter, but I must give a shout out to Rafe for his easy hospitality and the lift home, and Alex and Myles who became immediate mates and absolutely made my Sunday.

This was the best fun in a Stockport park since I went joyriding in a milk float. Would recommend.

Further Fats: I'd advise skipping to reason ten lest you fall asnooze from my word vomming (2012)

Jul 31, 2022

One small BlueDot with Bjork, Anna Meredith, Jane Weaver and tonnes more

I went to BlueDot Festival and had a brilliant time, thanks for asking. The camping was a little tough because I am now as old as a mountain, but with the help of a hastily-bought camping chair and a steady supply of Tango, I got through it just fine. Festivals are back! Woo!

BlueDot is a science and music festival based at Jodrell Bank, which is a clever science centre with a telescope that looks like a satellite dish. You know the scaffolding that Tom Baker Doctor Who fell to his death from? It’s based on that telescope. It’s a small, chilled festival full of nice people. You should go.

I’m going to reel through everything I saw and did, so brace yourself. This is a quick and dirty blog post, so it’s all first draft. No photos – you can find them on Twitter by searching for fatroland and the blue dot emoji. Right. Let’s do some words. Let’s go!

Sunday’s main headliner was the Halle Orchestra featuring Bjork. So good, I cried twice. She was as otherworldly as ever – you can google the costume she was wearing. But she was also earthy and emotional, and she did old tracks like ‘Come To Me’ which made me a very happy boy indeed. The orchestra was phenomenal, and reminded me that there are certain melodic arrangements that sound very Bjork indeed. It’s not all about the voice, as it happens.

I ought to take this chance to tell you that I have also sung with the Halle Orchestra. I was a founding member of Manchester Boys Choir, and we sung in proper concerts and everything. We even did Songs of Praise. I’m not saying that makes me as good as Bjork and/or Jesus. I’m not saying that. That is for you to decide. Ahem.

Mandy, Indiana knocked the tent pegs out of the place with their claustrophobic drums and apocalyptic Frenchness. The lead singer took a bad tumble on stage and ended the gig laughing like a maniac. Breathtaking start to finish.

This seems like stating the obvious, but Yard Act were cheeky, hilarious and very Yorkshire. I loved the bit where he railed against middle-class kids and their confectionary, then tried to list as many middle-class kid sweets as he could. Frubes. He mentioned Frubes. Also worth including in this very-Yorkshire section is the Eccentronic Research Council, whose brilliant festival-closing set involved some amazing gruffness and Maxine Peake reading out people’s dreams. Adrian really does have a very impressive hat.

It was so great to see Kelly Lee Owens, who trod a perfect line between Canderel-sweet vocal harmonies and grubby warehouse techno devastation. She clashed with Groove Armada, but this was an easy choice. Kelly Lee flipping Owens.

Anna Meredith took to main stage and converted everyone to her tuba techno and her bold, brassy, brainy beats. And her digital Tom Cruise. So much fun. Last gig of the year as she turns her focus to album production.

I got to see Koreless, my album of the year for last year. Intricate, powerful, all the good things – but cut short because I had to pop off to Squarepusher. Mr Pusher was in a furious mood, barraging us with audio fractals for a solid hour before allowing even a slight notion of melody to show its face. ‘Detroit People Pusher’ was a fractured highlight. Cracking stuff.

Jane Weaver revived the spirit of melodic 1990s indie and put in a remarkable and mesmerising set. Head and shoulders above most of her peers. I’ve seen LoneLady several times since I did my interview with her for Electronic Sound magazine, and it was good to see her on a proper big stage. Front rail, boogied a lot, sorted.

Hannah Peel and her Paraorchestra was a fine appetiser on a quiet Thursday. Norrisette brought some quirky and masked Stockport realness to the festival. Dirty Freud reminded us of 1990s trip hop. Caro C did a delightfully engaging performance of her Electric Mountain album, complete with found sounds. All rather smashing.

What else? Henge once again beamed in from space to deliver their mix of Spinal Tap and Galaxy Quest fun. Always good value. Sad Night Dynamite were fun too but probably more aimed at kids. I saw some Sea Fever, the projected by Johnny Marr’s bass player Iwan Gronow. Sounds From The Other City did a colossal DJ takeover – another great festival you should check out. Tim Burgess knocked out some Charlatans numbers on main stage, which was endearing, like watching your poodle dance on its back legs. There was Mogwai too. But I didn't watch them. Soz.

Among the non-music things I saw were Matthew Cobb talking about brains and entertaining us with AI-generated Love Hearts slogans, comedian Bec Hill and maths funny man Matt Parker doing a live podcast and Brainiac Live doing science experiments probably – I missed almost all of it because I was chatting and facing the wrong way. I caught A Certain Ratio talking about the olden days with affection and humility. Anna Meredith ran an album listening session which was engaging and funny. The spoken word artist ROY did a hugely enjoyable and expletive-ridden reading and Q&A.

Oh and astronaut Tim Peake talked about being astronaut Tim Peake. This was amazing because he’s a chuffing astronaut and I am most definitely not a chuffing astronaut. Or perhaps I am an astronaut. Perhaps I am. That is for you to decide.

A few personal things. Shout out to my camping buddies Deb and Tom and Michelle, and to the many friends I hung out with. BlueDot is a bit like everyone in Manchester dumped into a field. Hat doff to Ben, to Adrian, to Helen, to Electronic Sound, to my Blackwell’s buddies, and to Dave and Hannah whose BlueDot experience was robbed by Covid.

Would I go again? Of course. I’m addicted to this festival. It perhaps needs more stalls and traders, and more places to buy a bacon butty, and less sponsorship from Dyson which was a bit odd. But the food was immense (masala dosa!), the stewarding was great, and I got to be in a room with a flipping astronaut. Well. Not quite in a room. Outside the tent. Sat against a fence. Just enjoying the BlueDot space vibes. Brill. 

Jul 26, 2022

Happy ten whole candles to Electronic Sound magazine

Today marks ten years since my first Electronic Sound column appeared in print, and indeed ten years since the very first edition of the magazine.

I still remember discovering it on the shelves of WH Smith. "Oh look, it's on the shelves," I blurted while pointing as hard as I can at their music magazine section. "Look, everyone, there it is." I pointed with two outstretched arms but the commuter drones queuing for their daily paper and expensive chocolate weren't looking at me. "I'm in that! That magazine there! Hello? Hello?" Turns out strangers don't like it when you shake them by their lapels.

Writing my column for Electronic Sound is the longest job I've ever had. The magazine started as just 'Electronic', no doubt named after Bernard Sumner's best band. It has been iPad-only, a digital edition with interactive buttons, but most of all it has been a gorgeously produced print magazine. My column has featured in every edition. It's amazing what an steam-powered automatic sentence generator can do. I've been illustrating it since early 2020, a move which single-handedly brought on an international pandemic.

The column is still going strong, as are my "illustrations" (which are actually high-resolution 4D photographs, they just look like cartoons due to the limitations of the human eye). The mag has exciting plans for the future, and I'm happy to say I'm now part of Electronic Sound Premium. This means that, by pressing a few groats into their palm, you can read loads of my columns. They've given them titles titles like 'Unnecessarily Repetitive', 'Why Am I Not A Famous Novelist?' and  'I Am So Very Good At Kicksporting Football Soccer'.

Writing for Electronic Sound continues to be great fun. The columns come easy (although they're often second columns having written a burner column just to get to the "good" stuff). The illustrations are harder, especially as I never write the columns with an illustration in mind. I like to test myself. I occasionally sneak in references to the magazine in my cartoons, sometimes in number plates and sometimes as morse code in a Daft Punk visor (see picture). I also write features and reviews, and scrawl "FRAT ROLEND IS TH BESST" on every page in invisible ink.

Big up to Push and the gang for continuing to publish and, worryingly, encourage me. I'll finish this with a beautiful poem. It's composed from bits of first lines from some of columns. Imagine you're reading Shakespeare or Carol Ann Duffy or a crossword. In the meantime, you can subscribe to Electronic Sound's digital and print editions here.

Picture the scene
We’re all going on
a summer holiday
Tossing
Electronic music
is far too sexy
This is Geoff
Old Blighty
the drug of the nation
Cymbals
Filters
More tossing
Thought you’d never ask
Gird your Union Jack cummerbund
Cancel culture has gone too far
On the first Friday of every month
Stick your finger
in a page
of this magazine
Great Uncle Albion
With words so good like what this sentence
You think you’re clever don’t you
signing up to
my new social media network
Did I ever tell you
about washing powder?
Land O’ Bowler Hats
you’ll no doubt remember
I am ill
Oh
Flaps

Jul 20, 2022

Raving about Orbital and being Picky about Post Malone

Depeche Mode

The current episode of the Picky B*stards podcast features me raving about Orbital and losing my mind over Post Malone.

Before we continue, I realise that starring out the podcast name is extremely snowflakey of me. However, Blogger has a limited enough reach these days without profanity filters further restricting its readability. They're still a thing, right? Internet filters? Fudge knows. 

Guests on the P*cky Bs podcast nominate:

a new album for review, 
a classic album that none of us have heard, 
and a personal favourite artist. 

It's a bit like Desert Island Discs without the benefit of a free holiday and the chance to boast that you've been on Radio 4 at parties.

Let's go through those choices.

For the new release, I plumped for Moderat's unexpected fourth album More D4ta. I'd not had a chance to listen to it, so what better to introduce myself to the album while surrounded by three grumpy podcasters primed to tear my music taste apart.

For the classic, I chose Depeche Mode's debut Speak & Spell, an album which contrasts with their later work for reasons I explain in the episode. This choice was a risk, because the Pick* Bs are young and cool while I am old and decrepit. I feared I would present myself as a crusty old pensioner brandishing a dusty gramophone and wax-bunged ear trumpet. As it happens, (a) Speak & Spell is way before my time so shut up, and (b) my fellow podcasters' response was surprisingly positive.

My favourite band p*ck was Orbital. I don't need to explain this. If you're reading my blog and haven't picked up on the fact I'm obsessed with Orbital, you are as dense as a black hole or an actual hole.

We also reviewed Ethel Cain, who I was a bit harsh about but find more of a connection with later in the episode, Poliça, who I quite liked despite my pronunciation of their name, and Post Malone, who... you'll just have to listen to the episode.

This was immense fun, and it's always a treat to hang out with fellow music nuts. I won't spoil things by writing much more. Dive straight into episode 55 of **ck* ***t**ds: here are all the listening links. Alternatively, launch your podcast app and shout my name until your phone melts.

Jul 12, 2022

Are number one singles getting shorter? (TL;DR: #1s shorter Y/N?)

Harry Styles in the As It Was video

Are number one singles getting shorter?

Harry Styles amiable earworm As It Was (pictured) spent ten weeks at number one recently. That's more than double the chart-topped weeks achieved by all of One Direction's singles combined. He's a one-man One Direction twice over.

One of the most notable things about the track is its brevity. It's short, like my trousers, my temper or this senten--. It doffs its polite hat for a bit then, at two minutes 44 seconds, bows out quicker than you can say Larry Stylinson.

When I think of singles that camp out at number one for ages, I think of really long songs. Epics like Bohemian Rhapsody and that archery song by Bryan Adams. And quite right. If a track is going to wedge itself in the top spot for what seems like an eternity, it had better have some heft. BoRap was just shy of six minutes. Ten-weeker I Will Always Love You was almost five minutes long. Almost five excruciating, ear-destroying minutes.

Styles isn't the only shortie to shoot his shot at number one. TikTok star Gayle's abcdefu comes in at two minutes 54 seconds, two minutes 53 of which are very rude words indeed. The current number one is LF System's Afraid To Feel. This is essentially a caffeinated sample of 1970s funk band Silk, and it comes in at just two minutes 54 seconds. The 3 minutes 30 seconds of Dave's Sinatra-themed chart topper Starlight seemed like Homer's Odyssey in comparison.

Obviously, there are still longer chart-topping singles in the 2020s. Adele knows how to string out a narrative, and those LadBaby lads certainly know how to string out their sausages. It just seems these days, we're more likely to get a Stormzy or 24KGolden dropping something brief. Not dropping their briefs. That's an entirely different thing.

Let's take a quick sample of the charts ten years ago as a comparison. All the number ones are long. Maroon 5, Florence & The Machine, Gotye: their four or five minute structures feel substantial. Strong. Beefy. They were proper units.

Is this the result of the truncated window of Instagram or TikTok? Pruned because of the platform? you can be more throwaway if you're not traipsing into town to buy the vinyl from HMV. Soundcloud dump? Make 'em short, it doesn't matter.

I haven't done much analysis, and I certainly haven't done what I should have done: entered every number one's track length into a spreadsheet and pressed a lot of complicated buttons. In fact, this entire blog post took one minutes 22 seconds to write, which is half a Harry Styles, or about 0.00001% of that archery song.

Jun 30, 2022

Crabby birthday: The Prodigy's Fat Of The Land turns 25

The crab from the cover of Fat Of The Land

The Prodigy's Fat Of The Land was released 25 years ago today. It was the fastest selling UK album of all time, and propelled the Prodge to the top of the charts with Firestarter and Breathe.

The album cover featured a zoomed-in shot of gecarcinus lateralis, otherwise know as a Bermuda land crab. It's a species of crab that is quite happy to hang out on beaches without rock pools, as long as the sand is moist enough for its gills to operate. They tend to be vegetarian, but will chomp on animal matter if needs be. Crab facts!

I'd make a cake to celebrate this anniversary, but the Prodigy never struck me as a cake kind of band. They seemed to hang out in grotty basements while writhing in threatening ways. Feels like an unhealthy place for a cake.

Fat Of The Land was incendiary. The single Smack My Bitch Up attracted claims of misogyny. Yeah, the word bitch is ugly, but I betcha if the protagonist in the video hadn't been a woman, no-one would have batted an eyelid at the video's hellraising. They should have got me to star in it. I would have stayed in listening to Future Sound of London and playing Boggle.

The album also gave us Keith Flint, God rest his sausages. The pointy-haired bovver boy became the face of rebellion in the 1990s. Keith Flint was quite happy to hang out on beaches without rock pools, and would chomp on animal matter if needs be. Apparently, Keith used to go on motorcycle rides with the saxophonist of Madness. That's an actual fact and not some nonsense about crabs. Who knew.

Music for the Jilted Generation was a more artistically interesting album as it turned a band bordering on novelty rave into a serious act. But Fat Of The Land might the most important. Along with the Shamen, it thrust proper dance music into the uber-mainstream while, perhaps unlike the Shamen,  losing little of its musical power.

It didn't impress everyone. To finish off this short waffle, here are some reviewers who didn't get along with the fat, the land and everything between.

Leftin, Amazon
Sexist lyrics set to appalling neo-metal/house bilge. One star.

Anonymous review, Entertainment.ie
I didn't want to admit it. I refused to accept it. But somewhere in my brain, the honesty section probably, something was telling me that it was a piece of sh*t.

boogie woogie king, Amazon
ID RATHER HAVE CRABS THAN LISTEN TO THIS!!

ozzystylez, Rate Your Music
I listened to this in my car the other day. The bass kicks hard and my car has reasonably good speakers. But I found myself turning it down as I drove through areas with a lot of people on the road in case they laughed at me for listening to such a cheesy, dated and worn out record.

Carlos Mancilla, Amazon
The album arrived a little bent at the top corner leaving a wrinkle in the cardboard.

Peter Barczak, Amazon
Only bought cos it was a penny. Not played it yet. Three stars.

All of these reviewers need rock pools for survival, and so are limited in the range of beaches available to them. Happy birthday, Fat Of The Land.

Jun 28, 2022

Eight tracks that deserve a Running Up That Hill revival

Kate Bush

I have enjoyed watching Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill get a new lease of life thanks to Stranger Things. 37 years between number one singles gives hope to us all.

However, I can't help thinking a better song could have ridden this wave of revival. It's a cracking tune and all, but here is a list of eight tracks that definitely deserve a Kate-style comeback.

Ash: Sick Party

At the end of Ash's album 1977, there's a hidden track featuring the band vomiting in their studio. Felix's classic house track Don't You Want Me kept Ash's Girl From Mars out of the top ten, so maybe that's what they're thinking about when spilling their innards. I can think of no better song that sums up current society than the sound of musicians delivering pavement pizza.

Aphex Twin: Milkman

This mid-1990s track features a rare moment of intelligible vocals on an Aphex Twin track. The song is about how someone wants the milkman to pop round so they can breast-feed from the milkman's wife. It's a classic 1990s track in that it's disturbing, performatively weird, and lazily misogynistic. Let's get it to number one for 47 weeks.

Jake Paul: It's Everyday Bro

I haven't heard this song by Jake Paul. In fact, I have absolutely no interest in Jake Paul. I know he used the n-word, has called Covid a hoax, has faked a marriage, has used a riot for clicks, has been accused of sexual assault and has a brother who has used suicide for laughs. Somehow, he feels like the hero this rotten world deserves right now. Give him a Grammy.

Muse: Supermassive Black Hole

This song was everywhere when it came out. We were all humming it. But now? No-one can remember how it goes. Go on. Sing it. You can't, can you. The place where it should be lodged in our memory is now a void. Amazingly, the song has become its own title. Musical antimatter that, upon returning to number one, will suck in all the gravity from our hopes and dreams.

Sam And Mark: With A Little Help From My Friends

Clearly better than the Beatles' version, this Sgt. Pepper classic scored Sam and Mark a number one single in 2004. It denied Ronan Keating a fourth solo number one single. This means Sam and Mark are the greatest entertainment duo in history, and that includes Danger Mouse and Penfold. I wish they could be my friend. By the way, I am high on spice right now.

The Teletubbies: Cha Cha Slide

The fact these multicolour morons have never done a cover version of DJ Casper's exorable party song is entirely irrelevant. This imaginary song wot I just made up deserves a revival in 2022. Christmas number one! This year's big charity hit! The subject of a miming scandal! Let's make the Teletubbies notorious for a track that doesn't even exist.

Axomrph: kebb sn Onfule Xb

See? That's just letters. It's not even a thing. I just ran my tongue along my keyboard and it came out. Let's get it to number one. Put it out on marbled vinyl. Stick it in all the Spotify playlists. Have an oompah band perform it on Good Morning Britain. Here, let's write the disappointing follow-up single. *drops my trousers and slaps my wang across the punctuation keys*

Orbital: Halcyon

Seriously. It should be number one. Why did it never get to number one? It's clearly deserving of number one. I was joking all the other times. But this really should be number one. Please make it number one. Who do I speak to about getting this to number one? Hello? Can someone help me? I need to actually get this to number one? Hello? Anyone? Number one? Hello?

Further Fats: No-one wants songs about the moon these days (2017)

Further Fats: Here are Aphex Twin's biggest hit singles (2019)

May 31, 2022

This got me: the infuriating pizza pop

A line of dominos (the tiles, not the pizza)

There’s an advert that is getting on my wick. It’s twisting my melon. It’s doing my noggin in.

I don’t want to mention the brand because I don’t want to give them clicks. It’s a pizza company. They’re named after the table-top game in which you link together spotted tiles. You know the one. Stand the tiles vertically then watch them fall over one after another. Yes. That pizza company.

The advert appears when I watch YouTube on my mobile phone, or on any device that hasn’t got an ad-blocker. It’s maybe only ten seconds long, but it’s a lot. A LOT. I’d embed it for you, but I can’t find it on YouTube. Let me describe it.

It leads with rhythmic music: staccato percussion that sounds like a woodblock pinball machine. Cue a meaningless montage of pizza images. Once the rhythm has looped, it adds on more percussion, as if a drum kit is trying to hump another drum kit. More meaningless images. As it reaches its conclusion, it coalesces into an urgent tick-tick-tick climax.

And then it commits a cardinal sin.

The final sound is meant to be one last percussive hurrah, like the closing bwoom in the Countdown clock music. The sound is someone popping their mouth with a finger. Like you do when you’re imitating a balloon pop. Puffed cheek, pursed lips, finger in and *pop*. Except the finger-pop is not in time. It comes in slightly early, just before the 1-beat of the 4/4 rhythm. It’s meant to sound offbeat and syncopated, but it just sounds like a mistake. Jarring enough for me to vomit up my pizza.

I know commercials are meant to be in-your-face. And this kind of straight-jacket techno is not unusual in idents. There’s another advert that’s meant to feel trip-hoppy but it just sounds like someone’s copied-and-pasted from sample pack. An audio shrug. I get it. Remember the Babylon Zoo advert disappointment in which the glorious spacy techno turned out to be indie sludge? Electronic music succumbed to capitalism a long time ago.

But this ad is infuriating. It has me jabbing the ‘skip’ button in the same way I dive for the tuning button whenever the Archers theme tune comes on. Not that I listen to Radio 4 much anymore: I’m a podcast earwigger because I’m cool and trendy.

I’m also annoyed at their “We got this” slogan. While recognising the importance of not being prescriptive about grammar, especially when it comes to representing idioms from minority cultures, this is just dumb. That phrase is nothing to do with pizza or what they do as a company. It’s ad execs throwing a scrabble set into a toilet bowl and apple-bobbing for the fewest letters possible.

I’m also annoyed that I’ve ordered so much pizza, I’m being bombarded with pizza adverts left, right, centre and everywhere else. Serves me right for accepting cookies. Computer cookies, that is. The last thing I need after a pizza is even more dietary trash.

So there you go. My rant about an advert. This blog provides cutting edge content. Next up, I’m going to write a diatribe about people commenting on YouTube vid***POP***

See? It’s annoying, isn’t it. 

Apr 30, 2022

Chemical bother: Covid finally got me

I finally caught Covid-19. Despite daily baths in 5G and regular hot tubs with Bill Gates, the bug finally got me.

I had Covid for 18 days, followed by a week of fatigue. Pretty much wrote off the whole month. This has been the worst April since R Kelly knocked Block Rocking Bears off the top of the charts. 

How did I catch it? Good question, thanks for asking. I got Covid at a book launch. A book launch! This proves that books are evil and must be stopped before they destroy us all.

Those 18 days were so weird. The NHS website lists 12 distinct Covid symptoms. I had every single one, some lasting a couple of days, others lasting longer. An ever-evolving patchwork of ailments,layering over each other for extra annoyance.

Of course, I'm lucky. I'm fully jabbed and I made it through to the other side in one piece. But it's not an experience I'm keen to repeat. The brain fog, the isolation, the lost weeks. It's the most upsetting thing to happen since Boyzone knocked Setting Sun off the top of the charts.

All those extra antibodies have now made me immune to almost everything. That's how virology works. Science. As soon as I finish this blog post, I'm going to stick my head in a wasps' nest and shout "ha ha, you can't get me, you buzzy berks". 

I'm perhaps most sad to report that Covid hasn't given me any super powers. It's not like being bitten by a spider and turning into Catwoman or something. Levitating, flying, instant sexual allure - none of this seems to be working

What can we learn from my Covid experience? Good question, thanks for asking. Nothing. There is nothing to be leaned from any of this. Human gets ill. Human has rubbish time. Life is pointless. Fish fingers are good for testing whether your sense of taste has returned. Fish fingers are pointless. 

Apr 7, 2022

I am a Mancunian and yes you can taste my honey

Bee design on a yellow wall

I am, it has been rumoured, a Mancunian. This means I was born in Manchester, which famously invented Vimto, the computer, and mouthy lead singers who say "sun-sheeiiine" instead of "sunshine".

What Manchester might not be as famous for is the apiarian emblem of the worker bee. The Victorians invented this when their graphic design department was trying to come up with something to represent Manchester's industrial ambitions. They made a coat of arms with bees buzzing around the globe. Cute, if impractical for international trade.

There are bees everywhere in Manchester. On the street furniture. Sprayed onto walls. Actual bees. I do like the symbol of the bee. It reminds us of the mill workers in the olden days who used to dress in stripes and suck on flowers. Even today, if you squeeze a Mancunian, a little bit of honey comes out.

Other cities' emblems are much worse. Birmingham is just a pile of spaghetti to represent its road system. No sauce, no nothing. London has a corgi driving a red bus. And Glasgow has a man screaming into a drain. Lovely, but not as good as Manchester.

This vague bee blather was inspired by this bee design on Manchester Metropolitan University's student union building. It doesn't quite work because the lines are too thin, and are lost amid the brickwork. But I like the idea of students getting bee-indoctrinated. I imagine tannoy announcements calling people "busy bees" while everyone works in hexagonal hive pods.

I'll leave you with one of my favourite bees. This is Are You Okay by Mason Bee, who is not a bee but is also very much a bee. Enjoy.

Further Fats: There goes the hear: Manchester has enough gigs (2011)

Further Fats: The cowardly Arena attack won't stop Manchester buzzing (2017)

Mar 31, 2022

17 interesting postman trousers: a contractually obliged blog post

A picture of a hippopotamus

I haven't blogged all month. And I'm okay with that. Blogging is yesterday's news, like reel-to-reel tape recorders, castles and the Bubonic plague.

Of course, I started the month with good intentions. I had lots of blogging ideas. So many great ideas that if I listed them now, you would cry well into the night. But like an over-worn pair of underpants, they slowly sagged at the seams and fell to the ankles of lost memories.

Still. Here I am. Blogging. I'm sat on my sofa with a half-eaten pack of Fruit Pastilles and my washing machine chugging away in the background. I genuinely don't know where this blog post is going. I should come up with a click-bait title. Fat Roland blogs: what happened next will amaze you. 17 interesting things I found in my toilet. You won't believe what my trousers just said to the postman. That kind of thing.

I feel itchy when I don't blog. I've been doing it most of my adult life, so even if I'm just being silly about Ed Sheeran or MC Hammer or whatever, it definitely feels like some kind of foundation stone. An unbloggy Fat Roland is a sad Fat Roland.

But I'm not sad this month. I've been a busy boy, so I'm going declare this past month a blogging holiday. And all the weeks I didn't blog before that: they were blog hols too. And blog holidays are allowed. The only reason why I'm writing this post now is so I've published something in the month of March, and I don't look back in a few years' time and feel disappointed at my blogless month. But hey. I'm still on blogging holiday. Look, I'm wearing a sombrero and drinking a pina colada. Holiday.

Tomorrow is different. Tomorrow is April. I need to get back to blogging in April. If I'm not posting sixteen blog posts a day throughout April, I am a failure of a human being. Every blog post will have complex diagrams and be translated into four different languages. It'll all be in 3D and also rendered as a liquid. It's going to be the best wordings on the internet ever. No pressure.

It's weird how well Blogger works for me. I'm not interested in its custom domains or its new themes. I just want a nice plain design that I can Photoshop into looking a bit better. It's immediate and encourages play: a sandpit of a writing environment. Blogger has served me well for the past, approximately, 17 and a half years.

Okay. I've written some words. I'm going to put a picture at the top. What would you like? A hippopotamus, you say? Sure, you can have a hippopotamus. That's do really well in the Google rankings. Ahem.

Further Fats: Defending blogging against Blogger (2010)

Further Fats: Blog your spleen out (with added Balki) (2014)

Feb 28, 2022

What is the best track on Orbital's green album?

A collage of Orbital Green album covers

Orbital's first album Orbital was called the Green Album because the cover was green. Actually, it was quite a yellow hue of green, but Quite A Yellow Hue Of Green was never going to catch on as a nickname.

The album was released in 1991 and still holds up today. That said, this diamond is a little rough. Primitive production, percussion with all the grace of a sledgehammer, loops where you can easily see the join. I caught onto the Green Album a couple of years after its release, and even then I remember it sounding dated. In a charming way.

Like a lime-liveried "go" light, the Green Album started something special. And not just because it had the stone-cold classics Chime and Belfast. Music production was about to advance at light speed. Along with their NME-recommended Brown Album two years later, the Green Album launched Orbital's transformation into stadium-filling techno gods, changing the face of techno album production.

Okay. Serious talk over. Because I have to reduce things to lists or binary choices, it leads me to the question. Just what IS the best track on Orbital's Green Album? Let's have a bit of fun and rate each track according to how close it is on the colour wheel to its own cover colour, Quite A Yellow Hue Of Green. We'll be using the UK track listing.

1. The Moebius
We start off pretty strongly. This is a solid blue. Not bland Tory blue: it's Star Trek science officer blue thanks to its sample of a Next Generation episode. It's a metallic delight, all clanks and whirring machinery, part of that taken from the opening percussion in Mad World by Tears For Fears. Extra kudos for the mobius introducing a circular theme that would repeat during the band's career.

2. Speed Freak
Speed Freak feels pretty far from yellowy green. I love the bassy bouncy orchestral stabs, and the splashy snares would return on The Brown Album. But the yelps and exclamatory interventions sound a little try-hard. The parpy theme that drops midway through is... okay. Speed Freak is a throbbing purple. No. Wait. There's the whole acid bit later on. It's a tastefully muted purple, almost fruity.

3. Oolaa
Oh crumbs. The great thing about Oola, apart from its intensity, is the rising acidic line that feels like a precursor to the ecstatic brass on Impact (The Earth Is Burning). Amid the enthusiastic synth washes in the tracks closing cacophony is a discordance that has always slightly bothered me. Therefore, this is not yellowy green. It is orange. A pleasing orange that would look good on a racing car or a cat. 

4. Desert Storm
Desert Storm is the slow one. It writhes, it snakes, it plods along in a dubby way that isn't entirely unlike (a) the loping gait of the titular beasts in the 1970 film it samples, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and (b) an Andrew Weatherall production. It feels less like an Orbital track than the rest of the album. The fact this was track-listed instead of Satan or Choice means this is pink. Not just pink. A blushing pink.

5. Fahrenheit 303
This track is somewhere between a burnt orange and a deep brown. Crumbs. There's not a lot of yellowy-green in this part of the album, is there. The jazzy keyboard riffs and knowing guiro scrapes are pure Jools Holland. Or Adamski on a bad day. Somewhere inbetween. The squiggly acid completely saves the day, as does the moody bass that closes out the track.

6. Steel Cube Idolatry
Dave Angel did a cracking Mutations mix of this track. But we're not talking about that. Cube is clanky and clumsy in a really good way. The unsettling vowel utterations sound like a diva trying to escape from a drain. Ace. It all feels adjacent to found sound, which makes me fond of the whole thing. This is not far from green. A blue. A dark block blue, so not something you'd decorate your bathroom with.

7. High Rise
Now we're talking. This is another blue, but it's more than that. It's bluey-green. High Rise is often overlooked, but it's one of the few tracks on the Green Album that stops me in my tracks. It's Belfast-soft yet Steel Cube-hard. Nicely underplayed acid blurps, tickly synth scales, loops ratcheted into hypnotic repetition, and those rolling snares. PLUS a random key change. This is all the Orbital I need.

8. Chime (Live)
Although not the single version, this is their crossover hit. It got them onto Top of the Pops in 1990 and it's still in their live set today. Does it hold up? Of course it does. The electronic take on church bells. The suspended chord line. The flanging. The stuttering percussion. The cool-ass acid. Even the hand claps. Almost the yellowy-green of the album cover. Banana yellow. Lemon yellow. Very yellow.

9. Midnight (Live)
Yellowy-green! We're at yellowy-green! Even though Belfast is still to come, Midnight is the staggering highlight of Orbital's first album. Such omen. So potent. The minor chords and staccato hi-hats set a moody scene before we're plunged into a swirling, exotic world of deep, deep techno, all beautifully structured. Even the playful low-pass knob twiddling is great. A song I can play again and again.

10. Belfast
There's not a lot to say about Belfast that hasn't already been said. It's beautiful and balaeric and most definitely a light shade of green. If Midnight is yellow-tinted, this is perhaps lime. Pretty dang close. Its clubby beach vibes and choral sampling are hugely hooked into the zeitgeist of the time: think Future Sound of London, Energy 52, The Beloved, Rhythim Is Rhythim, even Enigma.

11. "I Think It's Disgusting" (Outro)
This is just a run-off track, so not worth rating despite this loopy coda idea being emulated in many smokers' beats albums later in the decade. Okay. It's red. This is a red track. And a lovely red it is too.

So there you have it. Orbital's first album rendered into colours with the quality of content rendered as proximity to the album's cover art. Bet you never expected to be reading something like that today, did you.

In summary:

A cheerful colour strip representing the colours in the article


Feb 17, 2022

A finger of Fudge is not enough

Finger of Fudge advert image: "only 10p"

I felt a bit unsettled the other day. Something at the back of my mind, niggling me like an annoying puppy or a ghost. I get these moments more frequently as I get older, and I have to stop to assess my general state before continuing with my day.

I realised I was fretting over whether a finger of Fudge really was just enough to treat a child, or whether or was just a bit stingy, what with increasingly affordable modern gadgets available on the high street.

You know how the advert goes, right? If you're reading a Blogger blog, you're totally old enough to remember the song in the Cadbury's Fudge commercial. Supposedly, a finger of Fudge is "just enough until it's time to eat", which is essentially advocating chocolate dessert before the meal.

And do you know what? I'm in favour. It's a long time since I've fingered a buffet, but I love going to an All You Can Eat place and alternating between sweet and savoury. I reject John Shuttleworth's philosophy in I Can’t Go Back to Savoury Now that you can't return to a shepherd's pie once you're halfway through a treacle sponge. Mix and match. Use the same spoon for both.

The Fudge song describes the chocolate bars as "very small and neat", which is true. They are incredibly small, which brings me back to my main concern that they're too small. Not quite enough to give anyone a treat. You'd have to follow it up with a Boost or a Toblerone or an entire chocolate egg. Sorry, did I type "or"? I meant to say "and".

So anyway, that's what's been bothering me recently. The miserable months of January and February are definitely getting to me. The highlight of the past few months was when I ate Mentos and drank Diet Coke and didn't explode. Harrumph. What an insufferable drudge. Why can't we have six Augusts?

I need a new project. Maybe I should watch some Cadbury's adverts to get some ideas. I could become a drumming gorilla. Shove a flake in my mouth dead sexy-like. Perhaps I should become a Milk Tray man, parkouring over wheelie bins without dropping a single Hazelnut Swirl.

Jeez. Next time I get a niggle in the back of my mind, I won't stop to think about it. Did I want to be writing about Fudges? No, I did not. Damn you, brain.

This post is not sponsored by a chocolate company. Honest. *jumps naked into a bath of Minstrels*

Further Fats: Spoons! Marshmallows beware! and other conspiracy theories (2006)

Jan 22, 2022

Electronic Sound 85: blowing my alpine horn

In issue 85 of Electronic Sound magazine, I do a deep dive on the new Bonobo album. Meanwhile, in my column I take on cancel culture while my fictional self blows a horn. All pretty normal, nothing to worry about here.

The Bonobo review is the lead review in this latest edition, which is always a nice spot to be in as a writer. You'll have to read the magazine to find out what I think, but I can tell you it contains the phrase "frozen fish aisle". I also review the latest album by Pan Daijing ("a forest of startled birds") and Arca's new clutch of albums ("witches and queerness").

This month's column has me getting outraged about cancel culture. "Are you telling me I can’t prance around as glam-rock Brian Eno, complete with unbuttoned motorbike jacket and feather shoulder-pads, while hooting Van McCoy's ‘The Hustle’ on the alpine horn?" And yes, that ended up being my illustration for the column, with added conkers for eyes. It'll all make sense if you read the column. Probably. Ahem.

Elsewhere in the mag, in gubbins that wasn't written by me, there's a piece about the Hacienda's design, a chat with Suicide and their "battered old keyboards", Tim Hecker talking about writing soundtracks, and a piece about the ace new electro-pop project Telefis. And loads more.

85 issues, 85 columns. Good grief. Incidentally, Erasure's Oh L'amour only got to number 85 in the charts when it was released, only surpassed by Dollar's cover version in 1987 and Erasure's slightly weedier remix many years later. All the best things are number 85.

Jan 19, 2022

You wait for one Better Days and two arrive at once

Better Days artworks

I was tottering along the street a while ago when a black cat appeared from under a hedge to say hello. I always stop to fuss cats. They're cute and fun, and you never know if one will suddenly start talking French or lead you to an abandoned whelk mine.

The moment I stroked this friendly black cat, another black cat appeared. Same hedge, same appearance. I suddenly had two black cats greeting me. It was like being in The Matrix except without the pill popping and questionable spoons. 

Apart from the brief concern that I had developed a special power that duplicates whatever I stroke, a talent that could get very problematic very quickly, I handled the situation fine. Two very similar cats. Two very similar hands. The maths worked out: double petting commenced. 

Why am I telling you this? Because at the moment there are two songs in the UK singles chart called Better Days. This concerns me, because singles are less cute than cats and I don't like having two of them. 

One of the Better Days is by Neiked, Mae Muller and Polo G. It's a sunny slice of Tik Tok-famous retro pop in which US rapper Polo G asks "can I get an amen" so politely, it sounds like he's ordering afternoon tea. 

The other Better Days is a yearning torch song by Irish singer Dermot Kennedy. In the video, he falls into a puddle and stays there for a bit. It's pretty wet physically and musically, but Snow Patrol fans will like it. 

Two Better Days in one chart? I thought this wasn't allowed. I thought you had to give songs different nicknames so you could tell them apart, in the same way we all have friends called Big Tony, French Tony, Naked Tony and Seven Years In Strangeways Tony. I thought songwriters had these things allocated to them, making them queue with a numbered ticket as if they were waiting for fancy cheese.

In the past, duplicated track titles were easily navigated. Adele and Lionel Richie both had a Hello, but the songs were decades apart and Adele didn't have a bonce made out of clay. Orbital and Boney M both had tracks called Belfast. Neither are likely to get confused, unless the Orbital brothers suddenly start coming up with disco dance moves. Mariah Carey and Big Bird both had different songs called All I Want for Christmas Is You, but only one of them was about a snuffleupagus. 

It gets more difficult the closer the songs get. In the mid-1980s, there were two number one ballads called The Power of Love courtesy of Jennifer Rush and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Close in time, close in style. Meanwhile, Robert Plant, World Party and Erasure all had different hits called Ship Of Fools within 20 months of each other. It's such a colourful metaphor that, in my mind, all three songs have muddled into one vague image of a bunch of clowns on a pirate ship doing karaoke.

Whitesnake and Alison Moyet both had mid-1980s songs titled Is This Love. Go and look at the videos for the songs. Moyet and David Coverdale sport the exact same shaggy dog hairstyle. It's ridiculous. There have been 20 hit singles called Stay. It's such a bland track name, I could sing you the Shakespears Sister one but absolutely none of the others, despite the rest of the list featuring big hitters like Rihanna, Mica Paris and Simply flipping Red. Not helpful.

I demand that each Better Days song changes its name. The first one, the Tik Tok one, should be called Afternoon Tea. And the other one, the wet one, should be called Oh Look I'm In A Puddle, While I Think About It Whatever Happened To Snow Patrol. That should sort it. Who do I contact about this? Is it the Queen? Paul Gambaccini? Greg James?!

The other solution is to enact a new law in which every song is called Song. Every song ever written. All of them called Song. 

Hey, I've written a new track.

Brilliant, what's it called?

Song. 

That's great, what's it about?

Stuff.

Sounds wonderful, here's a Grammy.

I wonder if the existence of two Better Days is a Matrix glitch caused by the appearance of two similar cats. I'd ask Keanu Reeves if this is possible, but he's done four films with the word 'Matrix' in, so I'm not going to take his advice on anything. There is no spoon? I've got loads of spoons, mate, all of them identical.

Further Fats: No-one wants songs about the moon these days (2017)

Further Fats: A little cat story (it's the story that's little, not the cat) (2018)

Jan 12, 2022

Selected tweeted works: pigs, peanuts, Paul, pricks and polywonk

A broken Twitter logo

Sometimes I go onto Twitter then I give my opinions on Twitter and then I expect the whole of Twitter reads it and think "thank goodness that guy put something on Twitter".

If you are not on Twitter, you're in luck, because I'm about to spew some tweets all over this blog. Here are some highlights from my recent Twitter feed. And by "high", I mean "pretty low" and by "lights" I mean the encroaching darkness that will one day swallow us whole. 

Enjoy my stupid thoughts.

1. Genres
A guide to the different types of ambient music. 1. Ambient = chill-out music. 2. Hambient = pig-out music. 3. Diagrambient = lay-out music. 4. Wigwambient = camp-out music. 5. Victoria Beckhambient = out of your mind featuring dane bowers music.

2. Clock part one
Even a stopped cook gives the right thyme twice a plate.

3. Rockers
Have you noticed how heavy metal fans can't wink? Every single one of them. Now I've pointed it out, you'll spot it all the time. Heavy metal fans. Can't wink. Or crochet.

4. Snack part one
I ate some peanuts. Licked each one clean good and proper. Sang them one-hit wonders.

5. New year
I can't reveal my sources, but I've heard the only music we'll be allowed to listen to in 2022 is Roxette.

6. Pricked
I had my booster jab today. On leaving the pharmacy, a phalanx of seahorses escorted me on a hammock of golden plumes into the street then dumped me in a puddle. Please advise.

7. Snack part two
I'm eating Mentos and drinking Diet Coke. Pray for me.

8. Shopping
I once spotted Paul McCartney in a Currys. He was shoplifting three hoovers, trying to hide them in his enormous side flaps. He evaded security using his invisibility conch, while playing Eleanor Rigby through his gills. Three hoovers. What a guy.

9. Clock part two
I love that Orbital sample 'even a stopped clock gives the right time twice a day unless it's a 24 hour clock in which case you probably paid a little more for it so why's it stopped ffs".

10. Indifference
No-one cares: a tweet reply hammered into the keyboard, shift key pressed with stressed-white fingers. No-one cares: a caption on a gif hurled at the internet, shattering on impact. No-one cares: the strained yelp of a purple veined man, scrunching his no-one cares face tattoo.

11. Reaction
"No PCR" is trending in the UK. Quite right. Can't stand Phil Collins Records.

12. Festive food
Remember, folks, you have until January 6th to eat your Christmas tree. Make sure you start at the thin end. Good luck!

13. Movies
Se7en should have been called 5even. The Fifth Element should have been called Th3 Fifth 3l3m3nt. The 4th Matrix film should have been called MatrIX. No reason. I just like things to be wrong and annoying.

14. List
There are some things I will just never understand no matter how hard I try, namely duck hands, the concept of jeleb, the word 'xthw))rd', cloud anvils and late-career polywonk.

15. Girl power
The Spice Girls would have been more successful if they'd been called the Spine Girls i.e. they were just a bunch of dancing spines. We're all thinking it.

16. Token
This tweet is an NFT. If you read it, you owe me 92 bits of ethereal coins or something.

17. Optimism
You know it's going to be a good day when you've laid a load of blue eggs and they start whistling Van McCoy's The Hustle. No? Just me? Suit yourself.

Further Fats: Tiny promises that get me through (2016)

Further Fats: Selected tweeted works: bagel, beards, bungs and beaches (2021)

Jan 10, 2022

Guess a word, any word, no not that word

Wordle grid showing FAT ROLAND

Everyone's into the daily word guessing game Wordle. Half my Twitter feed is people posting their Wordle results. There hasn't been an online puzzle this popular since I posted a close-up body part and people had to guess if it was my ear or my warts.

For the unaware, Wordle is a bit like hangman, but you have to guess a five-letter word each time. You enter letters and the puzzle tells you how close you are to the correct ones. It has words like QUERY and DADDY and FARTS. It's nice and simple, and all credit to software guy Josh Wardle for creating a truly viral hit. Yes, the game is a letter-changed twist on his name. It could have been called Jash, I suppose.

You can post your daily results on social media, although to avoid spoilers, you can only post your answers as plain coloured squares, with the letters taken out. No, really. It's like being shown some meat at the supermarket, and when you ask what it is, they just say it's "some meat".

Of course, anyone who plays Wordle is a sad loser with nothing better to do with their time. Have I played it? Heck yes. I need to beat all my loser friends. I've even played the limitless version where you can load new games until your thumb falls off. Best correct streak so far is 57. But yes, sad losers, all of them. Ahem.

I'm glad the puzzles are only five letters long. I can't think beyond the fingers on one hand or beyond the toes on one foot or beyond the nipples on one nose. We need a game for five-lettered electronic music acts. Yello. Bjork. Diplo. Plaid. Fluke. Clark. Tycho. Bibio. Teebs. Unkle. As One. Tosca. Zero 7. 3OH!3. Chase out of Chase & Status. Jeez, it's really difficult to think of five-letter electronic music acts.

Since lockdown, I've embraced word games. This blog turns 18 years old this year: I'm not the spring chicken I once was. I'm a withered old cockerel. I'm convinced I'm going to wake up one morning and my brain will literally be a cabbage. And not even a good cabbage: one with browned leaves and loads of fungus and it's 14p in Sainsbury's. So I play word games to keep me sparking along. BRAIN. WORKS. MAYBE.

There's one kind of word game I won't do. Cryptic crosswords seem to follow some kind of arcane rule set only communicable by invisible semaphore. I think this is only played by people who understand cricket. Like most cryptic noobs, I can get the anagram ones, but I come unstuck pretty quickly. That said, I once got 13 correct answers in the Private Eye crossword: I felt superhuman. Maybe I was just possessed.

Yazoo! I thought of another one! Plone! Sasha! Cylob! They're coming thick and fast now. I can actually literally feel my brain getting younger. Quick, let me post these names on my Twitter feed but only as anonymous coloured squares. I'm sure everyone will appreciate that.

Further Fats: Chosen Words: N is for Nintendo (2010)

Further Fats: Flatulent balls – lockdown thoughts and a cartoon of a bull (2020)

Jan 7, 2022

Some January 2022 electronic music releases: Bonobo, wintertime cities and generous wildebeest

Bonobo

What is the sound of January? Is it the noise of Christmas trees being fed into a woodchipper? Is it the noise your uneaten Christmas dinner being fed into a woodchipper? Is it the noise of a woodchipper being fed into a woodchipper because that's all you got for Christmas and you already had one?

No. It's none of the above. January actually sounds like these four interesting records, all due for release at some point this month.

Here are my January new electronic music recommendations.

Bonobo: Fragments (Ninja Tune)

Seventh album from the jazzy techno man (pictured), inspired by his forays into the California wilderness. It's dead orchestral, but is also one of his more dancier outings. The Otomo collaboration with O'Flynn revives the giddy breakbeat vibes of the likes of Way Out West. One for the clubbers, and a bunch of soulful vocal tracks for the mainstream crowd too. A sunny antidote to this virus-ridden winter.

Telefís: a hAon (Dimple Discs)

This is going to be ace. Irish producer Jacknife Lee and singer Cathal Coughlan combine to make an album of snappy electro pop celebrating and satirising Irish pop culture, all with a retro / library music feel. They've got Jah Wobble on remix duties AND a track called Archbishop Beardmouth At The ChemOlympics.

Burial: Antidawn EP (Hyperdub)

I've never seen Burial and Lorraine Kelly in the same room at the same time. Coincidence?! Everyone's favourite enigma goes ambient for this new EP, as he invites us into a "wintertime city". Imagine entering Narnia where a fawn offers you a big fat blunt and never tells you its name. Like that. But spookier.

Soichi Terada: Asakusa Light (Rush Hour)

Deep house producer Soichi Terada dug out a bunch of 1990s synths for this first album in 25 years. It's Bleep's Album of the Week and I can see why. Its bright metronomic beats sit somewhere between Shinichi Atobe and early Grid. Imagine being garrotted by a furious wildebeest because you didn't appreciate the woodchipper it bought you for Christmas. This album is the exact opposite of that, i.e. it's proper nice.

That's it. Have a listen to all of that, please. Now move along before I call the police.

Jan 4, 2022

The New Year singles chart is one hot Christmas tree fire

Gayle

New Year is a time for new beginnings. New promises, new routines, new gym memberships. A lovely fresh start.

So why is the New Year UK pop chart so stuck in Christmas? Here are 19 of the 20 top ten singles in this week's chart, the week *after* Christmas. Listed in alphabetical order. Deep breath...

All I Want For Christmas Is You, Come On Home For Christmas, Do They Know It's Christmas, Driving Home For Christmas, Fairytale Of New York, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, Jingle Bell Rock, Last Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas Everyone, One More Sleep, Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, Santa Tell Me, Step Into Christmas, The Christmas Song, Underneath The Tree, Wonderful Christmastime.

What the flaming workshop elf is going on? The answer is that while last week's Christmas chart picked up all the pre-Christmas buying and streaming, this chart is picking up all the Christmas Day streams. Which is depressing because it shows the entire of the UK has had the bad taste to soundtrack their turkey guzzling with Shakin' Stevens, Brenda Lee and Elton cacking John. Wot no techno?! It's enough to make me vomit my sprouts THROUGH MY EARS.

There should be a rule. Any Christmas song that is still in the charts after Christmas should (a) be deleted forever, (b) have its artist dropped from the label, and (c) have its lyrics tattooed onto a screaming reindeer that haunts our dreams forever. This is all totally reasonable, as I think you'll agree.

Props to young Nashville singer Gayle (pictured above)who was the only artist in the top 20 who didn't have a Christmas song. Here are some of the lyrics to her smash hit ABCDEFU. It's quite sweary, so to keep on the right side of internet filters, I have replaced all swear words with antique furniture.

Louis XIII walnut tabouret you and your mom and your sister and your job

And your broke-Point de Venise floral curtains car and that regency mahogany double wardrobe you call art

Jonathan Charles side table you and your friends that I'll never see again

Everybody but your dog, you can all Edwardian corner cabinet bookcase off

The worst thing is, we won't get a new singles chart until January 7th, which means these festive songs will be in the pop charts after twelfth night. That's unlucky, like keeping your Christmas tree up for too long, or riding Santa's sleigh after midnight, or informing the authorities of the workshop elves you've got chained in your basement.

Last Christmas was at number one on last year's New Year chart, then dropped out of the top 100 the following week. This will happen again, with nearly three dozen seasonal songs about to tumble down the listings. Next week's chart is effectively a big reset button, with Gayle inevitably becoming number one and all the Santa-suppressed non-seasonal Ed Sheeran songs rising again to the surface like a bad egg.

Ho, ho, and inevitably, ho.

Further Fats: Merry pissmas (2006)

Further Fats: Whatever happened to the cheeky New Year number one? (2013)