Jul 21, 2017

Listen to Orbital's new single Copenhagen

The Orbital brothers have released a new single. Originally called 'Cooping Lisa' by someone who probably got the name wrong, 'Copenhagen' is a free download on Soundcloud.

The track sounds very Orbital, dontcha think? Vocals are by folk singer Lisa Knapp. Have a listen below. They played this at their recent BlueDot Festival appearance (thanks Aimée for jogging my memory). I've included their set-list below the Soundcloud embed, in small writing so you can ignore it if you want to be surprised when you see them live.

'Copenhagen' is the latest in a geographically-named series of tracks. Others include 'Belfast', 'New France' and, er, 'Planet of the Shapes' which apparently is just outside Chelmsford.

A little bird tells me Orbital are working on a new album, which should be ready in 2018. By "little bird" I mean "an interview with Orbital which was recorded after their soundcheck at the BlueDot festival then uploaded online which I then watched using the internet".

That BlueDot track list in full (I think): Lush > Impact > Copenhagen > Wonky > Forever > The Girl With The Sun In Her Head > Satan > Halcyon On And On > Belfast > Doctor?* > The Box > Chime > Where Is It Going?
*with The Radiophonic Workshop

Further Fats: Gorgeous Pauls (2010)

Further Fats: Orbital get a keyboard fixed (2017)

Jul 20, 2017

No-one wants songs about the moon these days


Today's the billionth anniversary of humankind setting foot on the moon.

Do we have colonies on the moon now? Are we whizzing around its craters in bubblecars? Can we speak into our wrists to order cocktails from little green alien butlers?

No. Total waste of time.

Here are all the UK number one singles with "moon" in the title. They're in order of success (number of weeks at number one then number of weeks in the chart) because I am too stubborn to throw off the notion that chart trivia stripped of its context is a useful thing.

I can only assume from this list that since the turn of the millennium, no-one wants songs about the moon.

Connie Francis - Carolina Moon. Number one in 1958. I don't know this one and because the title reminds me of 'Oh Carolina', I can only imagine her sounding like Shaggy.

Stargazers - I See The Moon. Number one in 1954. Is 1954 even a year?! The moon wasn't even invented then.

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bad Moon Rising. Number one in 1969. "Hope you are quite prepared to die." Thanks for that, Clarence or whatever your name was.

Showaddywaddy - Under The Moon Of Love. Number one in 1976. Reality TV stars before there was reality TV, with a band name to match.

Danny Williams - Moon River. Number one in 1961 / 62. You spelled 'rover' wrong, Danny, jeez.

Marcels - Blue Moon. Number one in 1961. Their in-your-face rendition of a staid classic probably rustled a few starched feathers. Apparently the song has been adopted as an anthem by some small-time Northern football team. Can't remember the city.

Leann Rimes - Can't Find The Moonlight. Number one in 2000. Clouds, Leann. It's probably clouds.

The Police - Walking On The Moon. Number one in 1979. Most notable for Sting's poetic development of the moon landing communications: "Giant steps are what you take... I hope my legs don't break."

Jul 18, 2017

Fats at the Lowry: a Curious trip to the North East

I recently performed to a marvellous Mother's Ruin crowd at the Curious Festival in Stockton-on-Tees. It went so well I actually punched the air after I walked off stage. This is very unlike me.

Sorry, the air. You didn't deserve to be punched.

When I say "well", I don't mean that the audience was throwing garlands. Going "well" is more about me hitting my intended 'marks' throughout the performance: script, tone, pacing. Making it look loose and uncontrolled, and yet ticking mental boxes throughout. Performing things that make me laugh, performing them properly - and hoping that the audience will come along with me.

I also sneaked in possible ideas for my Lowry show, which I have previously waffled on about on this site. My gigs have become more music-filled than before, giving me more freedom to lark about doing nonsense. This change in style is a huge signpost towards what I want to achieve for my 2018 show.

Partly because I want to be transparent, and partly for my own recollection, here is my set list from that 20-minute performance. If you weren't there, this is going to make little sense. Enjoy!

1. Intro music, massive eye dance, destruction of radio
2. Annoying voice-over, mentioning "elephurbs"
3. Musical cartoons: lad with his head in a box.
4. Fat Roland's daring feat: counting up from one
5. Deeply inspirational ornithological moment
6. Alan the Buffalo
7. Musical cartoons: strangers in the night, afraid, very sexy rose
8. Jumanji elephants
9. Massive Whitney moment to rapturous applause and possibly fear

PS: The gig was excellent: great performers, brilliant hosting, supportive venue. After the gig, we went to a pub. I realise Stockton is only *just* out of North Yorkshire, but this was the first time I had ever been to a pub in the North East of England. There was a guitarist in the pub. What was he playing? Crocodile Shoes. Of course.

Jul 16, 2017

Listen to Prayer's new Seeing EP and be converted too

My nostalgia bone is tingling. Sorry about that. I'll put it away.

There's something brilliantly retro about the new Seeing EP from Prayer, just out on Black Acre Records. With Alone, I'm thrown back to 4am chill-out rooms listening to Unkle or Moby or Genaside II. That heavenly break-down at the three minute mark. Tingles.

And what about those breakbeat vibes on the EP's title track Seeing? We've had plenty of 1990's comebacks, but no-one's quite nailed the post-club thing like this.

Calling this 'retro' is a bit reductive: explore Prayer and you'll hear proper modern bass music beefed up by a filmic sensibility. Listen to the trappy hi-hats and techno snares on Decline, for example. Prayer - who started 2017 with the epic Lost EP - is retro, modern, full of dark and light. I'm a convert.

Jul 14, 2017

Let Adam Curtis control your music taste

I'm catching up on the excellent Adam Buxton podcast, and I really enjoyed the episode with documentary mind-crusher and possible Illuminati-in-chief Adam Curtis.

Particularly when he was raving about Burial and his track Come Down To Us.

"He takes what is essentially industrial noise and songs," says Curtis, who is probably also the shopkeeper in Needful Things, "and fuses them together to create something which is epic and romantic."

"It's so emotional... it's just wonderful," wibbles Adam Curtis, who is definitely the love child of Sauron and the Child Catcher.

Adam and Adam both have a knack of making creativity intelligent, fun and sometimes truly profound. Nice work. Take it away, Burial.

Jul 12, 2017

Enjoy Aphex Twin's new track Korg Funk 5 - and the technology behind it

Here's the Korg Monologue in action, a nifty little music-making machine with a very specific boast: it contains presets made by Aphex Twin.

The synth also contains a pretty innovative microtuning function, which the Aphexed one had a hand in. This shifts the frequencies of the notes from their standard tones to make a more textured sound. The change isn't huge - just enough for you to think that something's pleasingly "off".

For example: we all know that the lit green person on a pelican crossing means "cross the road". It's a standard we all recognise. But what the green person was wearing a fedora? Or a cape? Or one big shoe? You'd still cross the road, but perhaps with a little frisson in your step.

Aphex Twin has given the Korg Monologue one big shoe. The results sound great.

Click here to read a geeky music technology interview between Aphex Twin and the guy he worked on the Monologue with, Tatsuya Takahashi, whose home is pictured above. Takahashi designed loads for Korg as an engineer.

And below, listen to a brand new track called Korg Funk 5 created by Aphex Twin on three Monologues and a whole bunch of other Korg gear.

Jul 10, 2017

'Scoping out the 2017 BlueDot festival

I went to BlueDot Festival. I missed loads because I was working, but here are some highlights...

Looking up to see the radio telescope everywhere I went. Monitoring. Watching. Judging.

Talking about key signatures with the Radiophonic Workshop.

Going to a brill science demo about the brain which was probably meant for kids but OMG BRAINZ!

Trying to escape the radio telescope, but no, it's still there. Always there.

Watching a robot turtle and frog having a stand-off in the woods.

Tumbling back to the 90s with a particularly retro Orbital set.

Wowing at Shobaleader One and the speed-bassing and flashy lights. Noodly but hugely entertaining.

Giving in to the radio telescope. It's the only way.

Making a zillion new friends. This was the friendliest festival I've been to. So many impromptu conversations.

Finding myself at the front of a Hawkwind gig surrounded by fans that have followed them since 1827.

Meeting the tremendously talented Hannah Peel from The Magnetic North... and the brass band she performed with. Parp.

Praising the radio telescope. All hail the radio telescope.

Hugging a big blue humming ball.

Witnessing the Radiophonic Workshop join Orbital, complete with headlamps, for a mega rendition of the Doctor Who theme tune.

What's that, radio telescope? I should press 'publish'? As you wish, radio telescope. All praise and glory to the ra--

Jul 7, 2017

Oramics in the mix

I'm still on the go, so no time to blog. At all. I've not even got time to write this sentence. See? Told you so.

Have some Oramics. This is the method that Daphne Oram developed of turning drawings into sound. It's giving me ideas...

The blokey in this video makes a really good point about constraints. Working with designated limits is a good idea with most creative projects, whether it be music making, story writing or building a Nutella sculpture of DJ Khaled.

Jul 5, 2017

For extra points, listen to Wilmslow Road on Wilmslow Road

Things are a bit hectic this week, so pouring words down this blog drain may be more difficult than usual.

In lieu of quality written content, enjoy this old track by Lionrock.

I'm posting this because I mentioned Justin Robertson's Lionrock to someone the other day and they had never heard of him. We were stood a stone's throw from Wilmslow Road, Manchester. As in the Wilmslow Road featured in the Lionrock track Wilmslow Road.

Tssch. Sometimes I doubt people's commitment to geographically-themed records.

So here is Wilmslow Road, from Lionrock's debut album An Instinct For Detection (1996).

Jul 3, 2017

Fats at the Lowry: checking out their bunkers

I recently enjoyed a tour of the Lowry theatre - stage spaces, back offices, helicopter pads, secret bunkers, biscuit drawers, shark pits, the whole works. I was there to chat about my 2018 Lowry show and how the heck I'm going to create it.

This was my first meeting for my Developed With commission. The result of my partnership with the Lowry will be a Fat Roland show held over two nights at Week 53 festival in spring next year.

I can't tell you much about the show yet because I haven't written it. Writing will be my focus over the next few months. I've bought an infinite number of monkeys, an infinite number of typewriters and an infinite amount of Buckfast. It's going to be great.

At this stage it's also about poking themes with a stick and seeing if they squeak. And since those themes will be, on the surface, about music and seven-inch records, I'll track my progress on this site.

Alongside this show, I'm facing questions about how I best splatter my creative stupidity into people's faces. Do I use a trowel? Do I use a slingshot? Do I just throw things into a fan and hope? This is apparently called "artistic development".

Just how DOES a total panda-drawing idiot develop artistically? Inbetween my endless posting about the latest techno tracks, maybe we'll find out as I track my progress in the lead up to Lowry 2018.

Jul 1, 2017

Five great tracks from the Artificial Intelligence album

Hacienda-era ravers eventually had to take it easy - and that happened in 1992.

Warp Records' Artificial Intelligence was a series of post-rave albums designed for "long journeys, quiet nights and club drowsy dawns". The series began in 1992 and furthered the nascent work of Plaid, The Orb, Aphex Twin, The Black Dog and Richie Hawtin.

Perhaps most significantly. its seventh release was Incunabula, the debut album by Autechre.

The first Artificial Intelligence album, cleverly called Artificial Intelligence (released in the US the following year on Wax Trax!), is one of most influential compilation albums in any genre. Here are my five favourite tracks in no particular order. Enjoy.

Musicology - Telefone 529

Otherwise known as the massively important IDM duo B12. They later scooped up a whole bunch of their limited coloured-vinyl 12-inches for the Electro-Soma Artificial Intelligence album.

Autechre - Crystel

One of the Rochdale band's earliest tracks.

The Dice Man - Polygon Window

No doubt named after the Luke Rhinehart book, The Dice Man would later become Polygon Window, which is the name of this track. Confused? Polygon Window would release Surfing On Sine Waves as part of the Artificial Intelligence series. What became of this particular artist, I have no idea.

UP! - Spiritual High

An early appearance by Richie Hawtin, aka Plastikman - someone who would go on to conquer the DJing world. A touch of Detroit via Canada.

Dr. Alex Paterson - Loving You Live

The Orb kingpin was already top of the ambient world and didn't really need the Artificial Intelligence exposure. Indeed, this live version of Loving You was just a segment of A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld, its original Millie Riperton sample long since exorcised. Still... flipping great track, right?

Jun 29, 2017

Listen to Shinichi Atobe's magical Regret

Here’s a track that doesn’t really do much, but ends up doing something a lot more. A kind of techno alchemy. It’s Regret by Shinichi Atobe.

This is from a recent album called From The Heart, It's A Start, A Work Of Art, which comes from further plundering of Atobe’s lost archive. Much of the album is from an acetate cut in Berlin 17 years ago – only five copies were made until now.

Until a few years ago, he had released one solitary 12-inch (Ship-Scope EP) before vanishing without a trace. Over a decade later, the Demdike Stare label tracked down the elusive producer and discovered a stack of unreleased tunes. A recent album almost made my top albums of the year list.

If the YouTube rip below disappears, have a listen here to Shinichi Atobe’s album on Boomkat.

Jun 27, 2017

Everyone loves a geeky A-Z list, right?

Down the side of this blog, you will see a long list of band names. This is an alphabetical list of every artist featured on this website.

I’m not really a completist. I’m too easily distrac--

Wait, let me just write a tweet.

Where was I? Oh yes. For a while, I tried to snaffle every bit of Warp Records vinyl I could find. And for some reason, I became obsessed with gathering every possible version of Adamski’s Killer. Although I drew the line at George Michael’s Killer, all imbued with an arena-sized strut.

That long list down the side of this site LOOKS thorough. But this site has never attempted to be comprehensive - or even in any way coherent. With only one or two entries on most links, it has no depth at all. It’s shallow. Surface-thin.

If you're reading this on a desktop, the big long list (currently called 'FOR COMPLETISTS') is down that there column at the other side of this page - you'll have to scroll down a bit. If you're reading this on a mobile phone, goodness knows how you find it. Still, have a browse. You may find somethi--

Ooo, someone's tweeted back!

Jun 25, 2017

Underworld's smashing video for Push Upstairs

Let's take a moment to appreciate the woozy monotones of the video to Underworld's 1999 top twenty single Push Upstairs.

The video and its disorienting effects, the result of a glitch in the equipment, were produced by Underworld's design arm Tomato. They shot it in the incessant rain of the Blue Mountains outside Sydney.

Below Push Upstairs itself, watch a much overlooked making-of video, which features the stuntman chap jumping through glass in real time. It took three takes.

In March 1999, the band was featured on Top Of The Pops alongside Whitney Houston and B*Witched. As far as I recall, no windows were jumped through.

Jun 23, 2017

1997: what the flip was going on?

Someone tweeted about 1997 being an incredible year for music. Can't remember who. (Cool story, Fats.)

And yeah, there was Daft Punk and Propellerheads and Prodigy and Chemical Brothers and Roni Size. You were right, tweety person, you were right. 1997 was a great year for music.

It's good to measure these things so let's get specific. I decided to look at the singles chart exactly 20 years ago. 23rd June 1997. Let's wallow in a memorable year of fantastic tunes, shall we?

1. Puff Daddy's mawkish I'll Be Missing You was number one. Okay. Not so great. But all the good songs get to number two, right?

2. Bitter Sweet Symphony. And there's the good number two. Never did make it to the top of the charts. THANKS, Puff.

3. Mmm Bop by Hanson.  Three flesh muppets talking nonsense. Oh dear.

4. Ocean Colour Scene? Bog off. I'd drain the oceans and watch all aqua life writhe and die before listening to this shambles again.

I'm not convinced this is really working. Let's speed things up. Time to skip some numbers and get to the real meat of this burger of musical joy.

9. Guiding Star by Cast. Possibly the most annoying band of the 90s, and the band I have heckled the loudest. Make them stop.

11. Celine Dion? Crumbs. I'd forgotten about the boat-mouthed siren that was Celine. Ouch.

18. Savage Garden?! Worst S-band name ever. Apart from Shed Seven. And Salad.

22. The Friends theme tune that was in the charts forever. I'd rather have the clap clap clap clap.

This is terrible. This week in 1997 was a travesty. Jon Bon Jovi, Sarah Brightman, Brand New Heavies, Wet Wet Wet. All this chart proves is that 1997 was a verruca on the foot of the 1990s - and even then it's not a foot, it's just some weeping stump on the diseased leg of the 20th century.

No wait. I've found something.

87. The Saint by Orbital. Not their most remembered track, but with 11 weeks in the chart and a high point of number 3, it remains their best charting single. Kept off the top spot in April 1997 by I Believe I Can Fly and Song 2.

Yay! Told you 1997 was good.


Jun 21, 2017

Bag it up: the #mcrwithlove compilation is out now

Manchester With Love is a 226-track compilation of Manchester music to raise funds following the Manchester attack.

The album is a tenner and you can get it from Bandcamp and Boomkat. That's less than 5 pence per track - less than you'd pay for a carrier bag.

If you think each track is worth more than a carrier bag, say a bag-for-life with flowers on, or one of those hessian totes that look really scratchy, you have the option to pay more.

It's worth it - all funds go to the 'I Love Manchester' fund by the Red Cross.

Here are some names on the album: 808 State, A Certain Ratio, The Buzzcocks, Caro C, Denis Jones, Fingathing, From The Kites Of San Quentin, Honeyfeet, Illum Sphere, Matthew Whitaker, Mind On Fire, Nabb Gang, Neko Neko, Swing Ting, The Whip.

That's 14 carrier bags right there. That's a proper big shop. Have a listen to some highlights here - and give money too.

Jun 19, 2017

Brian Cant's guest appearance with techno legends Orbital

I'm sure many older readers of those blog will be saddened by the death of Brian Cant. His presence on children's television was once as ubiquitous as Roland Rat, Mr Tumble and that weird vacuum cleaner thing in the Teletubbies.

What you might not know is that Cant once appeared in an Orbital video. In the promo for the 2001 track Waving Not Drowning, he directs a disastrous version of his own Play School programme.

This was not Orbital's best period, and the DVD containing the cut - The Altogether - felt more like a series of curious offcuts than a full package. Hence the second clip below with Cant skitting like a silly sausage, which I seem to remember being a hidden extra.

It's nice to know everyone's favourite children's telly star had a connection to the techno legends. After all, it's kid's TV references that helped kickstart the careers of the Prodigy (Charly) and Mark Pritchard (Roobarb and Custard).

Jun 17, 2017

'Tis the (Off) Season for Joy Orbison

Joy Orbison's Off Season takes me back to sweaty jungle clubs, the bass shuddering the walls, the air thick with smoke, everyone with an octopus hanging from their pocket.

What? The clubs you went to didn't have free octopuses for every attendee? No, YOU'RE weird.

Along with the disturbingly-titled Toss Portal, Joy Orbison is spending 2017 releasing his first solo material for some years. Below, listen to his recent cut Off Season. Feel the tension, the paranoia. It's a proper roller, this one.

I suppose if I think about it, it WAS a bit odd. You'd have to nip to the toilets every hour to sluice them with water. Made your pocket all wet.

If anything, this website is all about creating conversation based around universal experiences. Do leave a comment if you miss the days when bouncers wouldn't turn you away from discotheques if you had aquatic creatures dripping out of your trench coat.

Further Fats: Fat Roland goes to Crosby beach (2014)

Jun 15, 2017

Top 10 bestest Orbital tracks

You know about comfort eating, right? The baggy jumpers of the food world? Ice cream, pasta, pizza, nettles, that kind of thing?

This is like that, but with my favourite Orbital studio tracks. Here is a very imperfect top ten Orbital tracks.

I've generally stuck to main album content, so no Naked And The Dead, US remixes or soundtrack stuff. And you'll notice I've missed off Chime, Halcyon and Impact because they're probably best saved for a 'best live tracks' post. That said, the final track in this listing is a roof-raiser.

I also tried to lay off 1993's brown album - mostly - because if I was really following my heart, that would be the entire top ten.

This is in alphabetical order because this is like choosing my favourite child, and I don't want to tell little Timmy that he's the one sleeping in the coal shed tonight.

Here goes...

Belfast (1991)

The Box (1996)

Funny Break (One Is Enough) (2001)

The Girl With The Sun In Her Head (1996)

I Wish I Had Duck Feet (1994)

New France (2012)

One Perfect Sunrise (2004)

Remind (1993)

Style (1999)

Where Is It Going? (2012)

Jun 13, 2017

Chew on Talaboman's addictive Loser's Hymn

Posting just one track from The Night Land, the latest album from Talaboman, isn't too helpful. The album has a cumulative effect, a slow morphing into something quite addictive.

A bit like Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles. One pastille is satisfying enough, even if it's a blackcurrant one. But the true joy is the cumulative effect. A blackcurrant one followed by a lemon one followed by one with an uncertain flavour but you like the colour.

Suddenly, you've filled a dessert bowl with Fruit Pastilles. A salad bowl. A wheelie bin. There you are, face buried in a stinking wheelie bin of Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles as you declare, all muffled from sugared gelatin, "the cumulative effect, the cumulative effect."

So yeah, it's a bit like that. Talaboman are Barcelona’s John Talabot and Stockholm’s Axel Boman and their album came out in March. It's sublime. Go listen.

Jun 11, 2017

Joanne Pollock's breaking down pop music, Snares-style

Pop music in seven different time signatures. This seems to be the manifesto of Canadian singer Joanne Pollock. Also, she tweeted it.

Pollock first collaborated with twisted king of broken beats Venetian Snares back in 2013 under the name of Poemss. She has now released her debut solo album Stranger on Snares' label Timesig.

Have a listen to Carnival below. In this song, I can hear the experimentalism of Lamb, the sublimity of Grimes and the clanking awkwardness of found-sound Fluke. But mostly, I can hear Pollock setting out a pretty fascinating vision for electronic pop music.

Looking forward to this. Below Carnival, listen to the nicely simplistic Love Song from a few years ago.

Further Fats: They say you can't keep a good tune down. This is a lie. Tip a lorry-load of bricks onto it, that should do it (2006)

Further Fats: 5 pop music predictions for 2014 (2014)