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)

Jun 9, 2017

Jesus be praised: Orbital's brand new 7" is a Kraftwerk cover

Orbital have a new single out, and blow me down with an electronic sausage, it's a Kraftwerk cover.

The Greetings From Düsseldorf seven-inch single is a special limited edition available from Electronic Sound, the magazine tyrants who shake me by my ankles every month until a column drops out.

One side is Orbital's version of Kraftwerk’s Numbers, which is like crossing the streams in a good way because the ectoplasm smells of techno. And the other side is Wie Die Wind Weht by Der Plan, an electronic trio reuniting after 25 years.

Grab the single along with the latest magazine by jumping on the Electronic Sound website now.

Incidentally, on page 30 of issue 30, you will find my latest column. I like to think of it as extended sleeve notes for the Orbital single. I mean, it's actually not. In the column, I rewrite the Bible. It's kind of epic in a quite disturbing way.

It's also worth getting the magazine because it looks and feels amazing. It really does. I'm going to have to stop writing this blog post so I can touch it.

Mmmmm. Techno.

Jun 7, 2017

A party political post on behalf of the Fat Roland party

I'm writing this on the eve of a UK general election that will probably return an increased Tory majority.

That's despite Theresa May promising to pour spiders into the nostrils of orphans and feeding ground puppy dogs to millionaires. Or something. I haven't been paying attention.

Not a single party has promised to pipe continuous Boards of Canada into every NHS hospital, and none of the manifestos have declared Ed Sheeran illegal.

A while back, I decided not to be political on social media. Twitter is the sound of a billion loose bolts rattling around an ageing tractor engine: I don't need to add to the noise.

Although I did have two separate Tories have a go at me on Twitter, unprompted, because I said something positive about my neighbour's mosque. Make of that what you will.

My first decree if I was prime minister? Compulsory acid house parties for everyone. All day. Every day. It would be relentless and awful, but in a good way.

Anyhoo, it's election day coming up, and soon none of the echo chambers and poll bubbles will matter. It's going to be spiders and nostrils all the way, I think. I hope I'm wrong.

Just remember this as you place your X in the box: at that precise moment, you're not only deciding the fate of the country, you're writing the name of Ed Sheeran's second album (artwork pictured above).

You monster.

Jun 5, 2017

Delia Derbyshire Day - even more original than the Atari

Get yourself to Band On The Wall this Saturday for an evening dedicated to the great knob-twiddler Delia Derbyshire.

Derbyshire would have been 80 years old this year. That means she pre-dates the Black Eyed Peas, Dappy and other modern musical legends. Ahem.

John Rylands Library has a whole bunch of Delia stuff in its archive, so for Delia Derbyshire Day there'll be new presentations of material offering glimpses into her working methods, She lived in a time before synthesisers were a thing. It's hard to believe, but she didn't even have Garageband. Not even Cubase for the Atari.

Delia used frequency generators and household objects like bottles, clocks and - most famously for the Tardis sound - piano strings. Which is why you should never climb inside a piano because you could end up in medieval times.

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop will be in attendance on Saturday, alongside artists responding to the archive. There's gubbins happening during the day, and tickets for the evening are only a tenner.

Picture: BBC

Jun 3, 2017

Listenable new video gunk from Warp Records

No explanation needed, really. These are all from the past couple of months, and each chosen because they'll ooze melody right down your lug-tunnels.

Jun 1, 2017

Fat Roland teams up with The Lowry - an announcement

I'm de-flipping-lighted to announce that I applied for a Week 53 #DevelopedWith commission at The Lowry - and won.

"But what the heck does that mean, Fats?" I hear you weep through snotted face.

Good question, reader. It means I get to work with The Lowry theatre in Salford to put on a show.

"What kind of show?" you sob-laugh amid shuddering wet bawls of resigned sadness.

Thanks for asking. The show will be a development - and then some - of the kind of music-related hot guff forced onto audiences at my first two Edinburgh free Fringe shows with Laughing Horse. So expect plenty of all-new Fat Roland weirdness, an actual real story narrative, and a whole world of cartoons when the show opens in May next year.

"What kind of cartoons?" you whisper weakly from the chasm of your own despair.

Stop asking questions now, it's getting annoying. Apparently there were 154 applicants, so I'm dead chuffed to get this. It was a lot of fun pitching to The Lowry. Check out previous #DevelopedWith people here.

Any questions?

May 30, 2017

Was John Noakes techno?

Here's John Noakes wrestling with a load of reel-to-reel tape recorders and a VCS 3, a synthy bit of kit beloved of prog rock bands.

What was the legendary Blue Peter presenter doing? Was he pumping out sick techno? Was he having it large with block rocking beats?

Was he, as I strongly suspect, putting a donk on it?

I think we should be told. I would google it, but I'm busy making a pair of y-fronts from sixteen Fairy liquid bottles, a tub of battery acid and two hundred yards of sticky backed plastic.

Spotted via @mulhollandrew on Twitter. 

May 28, 2017

Insert clever Bola pun here

Oh my pants, Bola's back.

Bola's debut album Soup came out around the same time as Boards Of Canada's Music Has The Right To Children, and I would spin from one to the other like some kind of techno mother trying to choose her favourite child.

Darrell 'Bola' Fitton also had a hand in Autechre's Incunabula and the Gescom project. About a decade ago, after releasing a properly decent fourth album called Kroungrine, Bola disappeared. Piff paff poof, in a burst of smoke, he vanished.

By the way, it took me about two years to realise his debut album was a pun. And it's taken me until now to realise his follow-up albums were also puns. Look:

> Soup (1998) - as in, Bola Soup = bowl o' soup;
> Fyuti (2001) - as in Fyuti Bola = footballer;
> Gnayse (2004) - as in Bola Gnayse = bolognaise - well done, you're catching on now;
> Kroungrine (2007) - as in Kroungrine Bola = crown green bowler;
> D.E.G. (2017) - as in Bola D.E.G. = boiled egg.

Yeah, it got a bit tenuous there.

On first hearing, there's plenty of chunky techno warmth on new album D.E.G.., with all the signature digital growls and spun-out ambience. The slow motion electro loops of Avantual are already nestled under my skin. Have a listen yourself on Boomkat. Or just hit play below to hear the first part of a triptych dominating the second half of the album.

I'm going to enjoy this one. A great Manchester musician making a welcome return. Eee, Bola.

Further Fats: My greatest idea once more crumbles to dust like a great big crumbly bit of dust (2010)

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

May 26, 2017

The 5 best electronic music tracks of the decade so far

Someone had posted on Facebook asking about the best tracks of this decade so far. I always find these things impossible to answer, like choosing my favourite chocolate bar or torture instrument.

However, I plumped for five tracks. I'll probably change my mind next week, so take this with a pinch of salt. (Any brand of salt - I haven't got a favourite.) In fact, for all of these you could choose numerous other tracks. Although Brazil really is quite something.

What you're about to hear or see is:

> Luke Abbott's glorious Brazil from his 2010 album Holkham Drones. Every part of this track oozes warmth and melancholy and a kind of purple glue for which I don't know the name.

> Moderat's Bad Kingdom, a desperately melancholic 2013 single with a video that's likely to cause all kinds of seizures in parts of your body that haven't even been discovered by science.

> Clark's Winter Linn, a robust slab of techno that feels like shoving your head up a synthesiser's bum then not being able to pull it out again, despite a blind text to Uncle Kenneth who not only has experience in this kind of thing but also has an extra large plunger.

> Jon Hopkins' Collider. That breath sound. Oh my. I've seen this live a couple of times and I did everything the woman does in the video. Gyrating, snogging, being possessed by a demon, the works.

> Scud, from the Hudson Mohawke album Lantern from a couple of year back. This one feels like a little pop song, all lo-fi yet pompous. Which is good because the names of my first two children are going to be Lo-Fi and Pompous.

May 24, 2017

The cowardly Arena attack won't stop Manchester buzzing

The Manchester Arena attack was a cowardly act in a brave city. A city forged from hard work and human rights and something to do with bees.

There's nothing meaningful I can say in the wake of this awful event. Except this: it's not just an assault on young pop fans - as with the Bataclan, it's an assault on all of us.

Dammit. That sounded so cheesy.

I can't help thinking of the 1996 bomb, and the defiant party that followed. Have a look at the flyer (from the Manchester District Music Archive). 808 State's Castlefield Arena gig six days after that bomb was reported by Mixmag here: "Dilated pupils abounded - the kids wanted quite simply to 'ave it!"

My pupils weren't dilated, but I "had it" so hard I woke up drunk in London with some record company person offering me cocaine. I refused. Long story. I'll tell you over a J2O sometime.

Anyhoo, back to the present day. My heart go out to those who lost loved ones this week, and the stories of help and heroics have been amazing to read. The vigil in Manchester last night was absolutely packed, and a rather beautiful moment of connection. Tony Walsh read a cracking poem and everyone just hung out together. Apart from a couple of grumpy Twitter people, I've come across nothing other than love and respect. And a whole lot of sadness, of course.

Point is, when Manchester is knocked down, it knows how to pick itself up and throw a big stonking gathering.

That seems trite: some of this will never heal. But this city is really good at community, whether that's ravers or vegans or goths or Muslims or hipsters or poets. Whatever label you want to wear, Manchester's just about the right size for you to find your niche. Everywhere I look, many of those communities are getting stronger.

Dammit. Cheesy again. I should have pushed the bee analogy. If I wedge a crappy bee pun into the title of this blog post, will that redeem these half-thought words? Hope so.

I flipping love you, Manchester.

May 22, 2017

Night Grows Pale: Flying Lotus has a new killer Queen track

Take a sweeping musical score, drain it of all its blood, throw in some weedy guitars and what have you got?

Queen. That's what you've got.

I've never had much time for the prancing operatic rockers Queen. Yeah, I had moments of liking them when Wayne's World and Shaun Of The Dead came out. I'm also quite taken with the Freddie Mercury doll action shots by Toyko tweeter @suekichiii.

And okay, yes, the new Flying Lotus track Night Grows Pale features a killer Queen sample from the 1974 single White Queen (As It Began). Despite my protestations in my previous blog post about Burial rejigging an old dance track, this rework is great. Nicely done, FlyLo (pictured above).

But those are the only Queen things I like. The bit in Wayne's World where they rock out in the car, the snooker cue assault in Shaun Of The Dead, that Twitter account, and the new Flying Lotus release.

And the sample in Utah Saints' What Can You Do For Me.

And the Under Pressure riff.

But that's it. That's all the Queen I like. Honest. Have a listen to the new short but sweet FlyLo below, and beneath that get a load of his Twin Peaks theme.

Further Fats: Tim & Daisy make Jay & Bob look like ****ing Bert & Ernie (2008)

Further Fats: Chosen Words: Q is for Queen (2010)

May 20, 2017

What's Burial's Subtemple EP all about, then?

If you weren't convinced we were living in bleak times, have a listen to the sinister new sound of Burial's new Subtemple EP (below).

Throw away all that is good. Bin your belongings, tear your clothing to shreds and sell your children, Down in the Subtemple, with two tracks of extended dark ambience, there is no hope.

Subtemple itself is seven minutes of vocal shards scattered across a beatless wasteland, micro mechanics clicking at us amid the static. Meanwhile the breathy synths of the ten-minute Beachfires slow things down even further as we succumb to a kind of slow-motion armageddon.

Burial's recent work could be seen as a bit patchy: his breakbeat remix of Goldie's Inner City Life for Record Store Day saved all the best stuff to the last couple of minutes, while his ravey white label Temple Sleeper was a direct lift of Solar Quest's 1994 acid gabba track Into The Machine.

When he removes the drums, he sounds much better. The distant rhythms of November's Young Death / Nightmarket EP were gloriously sparse, and were a brilliant precursor to Subtemple - no apparent audio relation to Temple Sleeper - which really does cast us out into the neverending vacuum of space.

A beatless Burial shouldn't work. The joy of Will Bevan's work is the glitchiness of his loops because of his refusal to quantize his drums (i.e. he won't use the audio equivalent of spellcheck). But this is a sound of an artist developing something new. No drums? No problem.

It's approaching a decade since Burial's last studio album. Can you imagine if he dropped a long-player of static-scrubbed minimalist ambience; a devastated Eno for a new generation?

We would all instantly die as everything good crumbled around us, but at least we'd die happy.

Further Fats: Elbow nudge ahead for Mercury Music Prize win - my cat is disappointed (2008)

Further Fats: Listen: Zomby and Burial's Sweetz (2016)

May 18, 2017

Story: Elizabeth Gaskell sits at a table

Later today I'm hosting a Manchester After Hours event with Bad Language at Elizabeth Gaskell's house.

This is a venue dedicated to the Manchester writer Gaskell, the author of Cranford, and her minister husband William.

If I get time, I'm going to read a story. As a sneak preview, and because I haven't got time to blog about anything else today, here is that story.

Elizabeth Gaskell sits at a table

Elizabeth Gaskell sits at a table. On the table is a piece of paper. Elizabeth Gaskell writes a word on the paper.

“William Gaskell,” says Elizabeth Gaskell. “William Gaskell, look what I done.”

William Gaskell walks across the room including across the rug that is on the floor of the room and he looks at the word that Elizabeth Gaskell wrote on the paper.


“You did done gone write a word,” says William Gaskell.

“I did done gone write a word,” says Elizabeth Gaskell, “And a good word what I done gone and writ good too.”

They both look at the word. They both look at the word for long time. Elizabeth Gaskell and William Gaskell stand next to the word and look at the word on the piece of paper on the table.

William Gaskell shakes Elizabeth Gaskell's hand and says “well done”.

“Thanks,” says Elizabeth Gaskell. “Thanks very much.”

“Will you write another one again now?” says William Gaskell.

“Another what?” says Elizabeth Gaskell.

“Another word,” says William Gaskell, pointing at the THE on the paper as if to demonstrate his point.

“Yes,” says Elizabeth Gaskell, “yes, I think I will but first I will go to sleep for a bit.”

“Good idea,” says William Gaskell, who also nods his head.

“I think the stairs in our home are that way,” says Elizabeth Gaskell, pointing out of the room.

“Yes, I think the stairs in our home are that way too,” says William Gaskell, “so you had better go that way to get to the stairs in our home to get some sleep for a bit.”

Elizabeth Gaskell crosses the room including the rug that is on the floor of the room, and goes to the bottom of the stairs.

Elizabeth Gaskell uses her feet to step up onto the first stair.

“William Gaskell,” says Elizabeth Gaskell. “William Gaskell, look what I done.”

“Coming, Elizabeth Gaskell,” says William Gaskell, who is looking at the THE in the room where the stairs aren’t.

May 16, 2017

Will you put a cross in Jeremy's, er, circle for #Grime4Corbyn?

Jeremy Corbyn is now a grime artist.

The #Grime4Corbyn campaign is a website offering tickets to a London gig if you register to vote. It's got plenty of glitch going on and even has Corbyn phat beats auto-streaming like it's back in the old days of web 1.0.

Of course what will actually happen is that the Tories will win a landslide and, with mandibles waving all over the place, eat all the country's orphans. Corbyn will quit politics and next be seen appearing as Tom in Channel 5's remake of the 1970s sitcom The Good Life.

But still, it's a nicely done initiative, so more please, Mr and Mrs Internets.

As I write this, an election van is loud-hailing it past my window. It sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher. Or it might just be the scrap metal man. I'm not going to vote for a piece of metal: I'm not stupid.

To misquote Wiley, Jeremy Corbyn is a ninja turtle, you can't step into his circle, and in a soundclash, he will hurt you. So, y'know, whatever colour of turtle you prefer, put an X in the box on polling day.

Boy Better Know photo by Ashley Verse.

May 14, 2017

Jlin's Black Origami: drums and drums and more drums

Have you ever crawled inside a drum? Actually stripped down to your undercrunkies, split the skin of a snare and climbed inside?

I have. It's flipping amazing.

Oh no wait, I'm not inside a drum. I'm just listening to Jlin's second album Black Origami. SEE WHAT I DID THERE? I thank you.

She takes the basis of footwork, that stuttering dancing music so in fashion a few years ago, and maps that into something quite new. Her percussive world is so overwhelming that it's easy to go a long time before you realise you've not heard a chord for twenty minutes. Or a synth line. Just drums and drums and vocal snippets and more drums.

Have a listen to Nandi, three and a half minutes of machine-drilled opera,

Further Fats: Chosen Words - B Is For Boss Drum (2010)

May 12, 2017

Blade Runner 2049, Jóhann Jóhannsson and an origami cow

Considering they decided to go easy on the set-build CGI, Blade Runner 2049 looks pretty smart. But what about the soundtrack?

Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson is the guy who has the trouser-soiling task of living up to Vangelis's epic score for the original film. Rather him than me. Have a listen to it in the trailer below.

I never like people who worry sacred cows, and indeed there's a skeleton yard of failed sequels throughout movie history. This project has sacred cow molestation written all over it. Yeesh. I just got shivers from Matrix Revomited, or whatever it was called.

But a good soundtrack can make a serious difference, and if we end up with a shaky film but an amazing soundtrack - like Tron Legacy - I'd be happy enough

Another potential downside? I'm an Older Harrison Ford sceptic. I even cheered a little when that thing happened in a certain big film not so long ago.

Overall, I think this particular origami cow should lead a happy and untroubled life. Jóhannsson worked with director Denis Villeneuve on Sicario and Arrival. That's some CV.

See what I did there? I referenced origami. I'm dead clever, me.

Stop reading this and instead read Electronic Sound's interview with Jóhann Jóhannsson where he maps out some of his musical influences.

May 10, 2017

Ikonika shows her chops with Manual Decapitation

It's nice to have Ikonika back. Listen to Manual Decapitation below, the first cut from forthcoming album Distractions. Wubby synth lines, chiming bells, proper moody.

Speaking of manual decapitations, I had to kill off the new design of this blog. Shame. The template had more bugs than an NSA storage locker. It also killed my clicks, making this website more unpopular than a Robson and Jerome and Crazy Frog comeback tour.

So now it's back to looking like a crappy Blogger blog, all mouldy and dripping with melted cheese. Wait. I think that might just be my computer screen,


Yeah, it's my computer screen. Sorry about that

Further Fats: 68 million light years into inky space: Hyperdub is five (2009)

May 8, 2017

Delia Derbyshire: put a donk on it

It's official. You can use Delia Derbyshire to put a donk on it.

The Deliaphonica Game is a little web gizmo where you can manipulate loops using the restrictions Delia would have had back in her day. Y'know. Back when this was all sine waves. And yes, depending on which one-shot sample it picks, there's a donk button. You can also submit your own sounds (see the video below) using pots, pans, draining boards, spleens and whatnot.

I farted a load of waffle about Delia Derbyshire a couple of days ago, and I'm really getting the Delia fever. There's a Delia Derbyshire Day on June 10th at Band On The Wall, with workshops and talks and bleepy performances. Delia's old work colleagues will be there, and there's some interesting sound collage stuff going on.

They're also bringing some Derbyshire magic to Cheshire's Bluedot Festival, which is proper good because Orbital are headlining and those chaps know a thing or two about sampling real-world noise like Delia.

Check the events here, Come hang out on DD Day in June and we can put a donk on it together.

May 6, 2017

Which one of these Delia Derbyshire facts is a lie?

Delia Derbyshire would have been 80 yesterday. Here are half a dozen facts about Delia. Which one isn't true?

1. Like the Beatles, Delia Derbyshire was turned down by Decca Records. It seems back in those days, they didn't employ women in their recording studios.

2. Delia Derbyshire had a phenomenal analytical ear. There's a rumour that she could listen to a record and tell you exactly where any instrument was located during the recording.

3. Delia Derbyshire composed music and sounds for over 200 shows, often building "real" world sounds from sine waves because samplers weren't really a thing.

4. Delia Derbyshire once took part in an electronic music concert which also featured electronic works by a certain Paul McCartney, whoever the heck he is.

5. Delia Derbyshire never got credits for her creations because the BBC had a policy of veiling the Radiophonic Workshop workers in anonymity.

6. Delia Derbyshire invented space aliens, and even now there is a race of amphibious robot mannequins who have stored her brain in a jar in the hope that one day Mecha Delia Derbyshire will rise up against humankind and, with laser eyes shooting and bazooka knees firing, rampage across a devastated earth to explode the innards of every single person who has ever (a) used, (b) heard or (c) thought about the musical production technique commonly known as "autotune". As Delia noted in her book from the distant future How I Destroyed The Universe (she also invented time travel), gilled android dummies really hate autotune. In an ironic twist, Delia Derbyshire teamed up with Davros to co-create the Daleks. These trundling pedal bins became famous for their war cry "exterminate, exterminate" using voices which were, of course, electronically autotuned. Oh Delia.

May 4, 2017

Why did the Fat Roland cross the road?

Here's a thing that happened on a Lake District street the other day.

I'm in Kendal and I need to cross a road. It's a busy road next to a complicated mini roundabout. I'm laden with bags. I see a gap in the traffic and I begin to step into the road.

A man holding a cup of tea interrupts me.

"You've got to be quick to cross this road," he says, smugly.

I stop.

"Quicker than that. You just missed a gap. And another one."

I want to say I missed the gap because he started talking. But I can't because he's still talking to me. At me. But I can't because I'm slightly stunned and he's still talking.

"See, like this!" says the man who then, tea in hand, crosses the road. He looks at me proudly from the other side.

By now, I am agog.

I want to tell him I'm from Manchester, I'm okay with busy roads, mate. But I'm too busy trying to weigh up what's happening, which is:

A smug man has stopped me crossing the road to tell me how to cross the road. 

Oh my crap. Oh my actual crap.

But that's not the end of the story. Oh no. Mr Crossy Tea Nob hasn't finished with me.

He then says "And now, backwards!" and proceeds to CROSS THE ROAD BACKWARDS.

He looks so proud of himself.

To be fair, he didn't spill a drop of tea. And I did cross the road safely... but only once he'd walked out of sight.

THANKS, Mr Crossy Tea Nob.

May 2, 2017

Man at work: Clark begins with a Catastrophe

It's nice to watch someone going about their work day. Plumbers and their pipes, butchers and their sausages, that kind of thing.

Let's watch a techno legend do their work, shall we? Here's Clark with a live remix of his new album Death Peak (below). Look how deft he is with, er, knobs and stuff.

I like the way he begins with the sinister children of Catastrophe Anthem, a track that is as close to a modern masterpiece as Clark gets. That's like a plumber bring out the big wrench right at the start.

Or a butcher bringing our their biggest sausage.

Enjoy these sausages. It's tasty stuff.

Apr 28, 2017

The Electronic Music Symposium knows its onions (and/or turnips)

You know that allotment sitcom where Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal live next to Margot and Prime Minister Jim Hacker and all they talk about is carrots and looms?

I felt a bit like that at the Electronic Music Symposium panel discussion at Factory the other day. There was me with my home-woven dungarees and turnips made from old wood. And sat next to me were far superior neighbours next door, including 808 State's Graham Massey and Twisted Nerve's Andy Votel. I'm not sure which one's Jerry and which one's Margot in that analogy.

Also on the panel were Tom Autobot, DJ Euphonique (who took the above photo), Aaron from the Lost Village Festival and, from his pad in Ibiza, DJ Doorly. We talked about the ubiquity of music technology and how good mini-Moogs were. Inevitably for a male-dominated panel, we were challenged about opportunities for women. I brought a bunch of Electronic Sound magazines with me, which were devoured by Manchester MIDI School students.

The Music Symposium Series is run by former Ministry of Sound Operations Director, Tony Rigg, who hosted the discussion brilliantly. It was a sold-out gig and it was great to be in the company of so many fellow bleep-heads. Loads of them were young and bright-eyed and starting their first big music projects. They were so like me at that age: optimism mixed with energetic impatience and a need to make their voice heard. Actually, I've never lost that, and I hope they don't too.

Thanks to the organisers for putting me on an interesting panel, and choosing a great venue. And to Scan Pro Audio for bringing some great kit. (They're good: I described a set of headphones I once owned and, without hesitation, they told me the exact make.)

Great turnips all round, I reckon.

Apr 26, 2017

A list of acceptable sounds

Here is a list of acceptable sounds. The list is definitive.


If someone can invent a keyboard that only does these sounds, that would be great. Thanks.

Apr 24, 2017

Aphex Twin is *the* look of summer 2017

I made a joke on Twitter, but now I've started taking it seriously. I can't think about anything else.

Here's my, er, "joke".

Oh how funny, Fats. Oh how you've got us rolling down the aisles. But I really want to dress like those Aphex Twin characters now.

The green teddy bear suit looks so fluffy. It looks like it smells of lime and you'd be able to hide in a bucket of frogs without anyone noticing.

The bearded bikini Aphex looks so liberating. Imagine letting it all hang out, my ridiculously large boobs wafting in the wind, my beautiful unshaven face rustling like a bad tree. I'd be adored by millions.

Who hasn't wanted to shave their head, smear themselves in clay and scream at a little old lady? Not just old ladies. Old blokes. Old dogs. Old babies. Just scream, scream, screaming all day long.

And what's wrong with dressing as Jive Bunny?

Oh. Wait.

Why did I choose that? That would be awful. Everyone hated Jive Bunny. Flipping heck. That's taken the sheen off this whole thing, to be honest.


I wish I'd never tweeted anything. Harrumph.

Apr 22, 2017

Giving Link's Arcadian its due

Have I raved about Link's Arcadian recently? Probably not. It's well overdue a raving.

Arcadian first appeared on an EP back in 1992. I discovered it on Warp Record's brain-meltingly brilliant Artificial Intelligence compilations a couple of years later. Everyone was producing instrumental ambient techno: I should know - that scene was my world back then. This Link track stood out: it was gentle yet hard as nails, much of its power coming from that rattling snare hit.

Of course it stood out. Link was Mark Pritchard, of Under The Sun and Global Communication fame. He's seventeen shades of genius; a musical Midas. Mark Pritchard could jam his head into a wood-chipper and still produce the most beautiful sounds. "Aaaargh my face," screams Pritchard. "Ten out of ten!" declares Pitchfork.

It's not a friendly track, not like his other ambient stuff. It's metronomic and a little pinched. But that's why it's cool: it would have been tempting to take a gloopier, more leisurely path like, for example, another stand-out from that time, Spooky's Orange Coloured Liquid.

Take ten minutes out of trolling Theresa May on Twitter and listen to Arcadian here.

Further Fats: My Warp top ten: it's not all Warp and there aren't ten of them (2009)

Further Fats: New York, London, Paris, Munich, everybody talk about complicated electronica with difficult time signatures and a limited listening demographic (2009)

Apr 20, 2017

You want to read about music? Here's some politics

I'm not going to bore you with a political post. This is a music blog. You want to read about music, right? Right.

That said, what the hecking flip is going on in my country?

Firstly, we have a Brexit fuelled by phone-hacking hacks and the kind of chin-drooping chump who pronounces "Eng-er-land" with its syllables three miles apart.

Secondly, Lady Voldemort calls a snap election because she's panicking about the waning fires she's stoking in the portal to hell that is our economic future.

Yeesh. Bring back the simplicity of poll tax riots, silent Criminal Justice Bill remixes and MPs defiling themselves with fruit in their gobs.

The UK political landscape is a fire in a dumpster truck. Or whatever the British version of that is. A kerfuffle in a wheelie bin. A dust-up in a dustbin. A situation a skip.

At least we're going to get some interesting music. Whether it's the angst of Holly Herndon (pictured), the dystopia of Gorillaz or the hashtag-problems of Stormzy, our soundtrack has never sounded better as we hurtle screaming into oblivion.

See. This was about music. Pfffrt.

Apr 18, 2017

Nightwave knocks the fluff from your brain

Here's a track that should knock the fluff from your brain. It's called Wavejumper by Nightwave, and it sits somewhere between street-corner grime and teeth-gnashing techno.

You're not reading this, are you? You're either scrolling Trump's stream-of-consciousness poem, otherwise known as his Twitter feed, or preparing yourself for the most intensive six-week bunfight in history as Britain goes the polls. Sigh.

You should pay attention. Nightwave is, as the young people say, da bomb. She's a Glasgow producer who's run all-female production workshops in Glasgow. I first came across her when she released G41 under her previous pseudonym 8bitch. She's way more interested than politicians, right?

Apr 16, 2017

What can Harry Styles' back teach us?

I was going to blog about new music tonight, but my PC seems to be staging some kind of protest. It keeps switching itself off.

It's probably because I listened to the new Harry Styles single. You know the one. He's trying to sound a bit like Bowie and it goes on for ages. I want to like it but it sounds like it's been made for dads. And, as we all know, all dads have terrible taste in music. All of them.

The cover of Harry Styles' new album is a picture of his damp back. It's a nice picture of a damp back, and it reminded me that all people who have freckles are better than non-freckled people. That might sound extreme, but it's true. Everyone with freckles is better.

If your damp back isn't as good as Harry's damp back, then you are a bad person. This sounds like an opinion, but it's fact.

Although I think my computer should be on, it has decided to be off. I would prefer my computer to be on so I can write stuff on my blog. But my PC really wants to be off. There is no middle ground: my computer and I have polarised views on its ideal state. If only we could reach a compromise: perhaps it could be half-on / half-off. Some kind of digital grey area, so my computer can get some shut-eye while I get some writing done.

So I won't be able to publish a blog post tonight. I won't be able to mention any new music, nor give my delicately considered opinions on things. All because no-one's interested in grey areas, in the beauty of nuance.

All computers have ugly backs, full of warts and gangrene. Worse than dad backs.

Apr 14, 2017

The definitive top ten Aphex Twin facts

To celebrate April 14th, named by many as Aphex Twin day because of his classic 2001 track Avril 14th, here is the definitive top ten facts about everyone's favourite windowlicker.

1. Aphex Twin's real name is Richard D James. The D stands for 'down south' which is where he lives.

2. The '26 Mixes For Cash' scandal nearly ruined his career. Since then, it has been illegal for members of the House of Lords to procure drill 'n' bass remixes without declaring them.

3. Aphex Twin once owned a tank. His favourite trick was to put a goldfish on the passenger seat and ask it "how do you drive this thing".

4. His comeback album Syro used, at some point in the recording process, every instrument ever created. Apart from the five-string banjo. And the tuba.

5. The old woman who gets screamed at in the Come To Daddy video was played by Aphex Twin after a particularly long day in the studio.

6. Aphex Twin made tracks while lucid dreaming. He installed a full studio inside his head, enabling him to work while asleep. This is why he has a USB port in the side of his head.

7. He once uploaded so many tracks to Soundcloud, Ed Sheeran has been number one ever since.

8. His first album was Selected Ambient Works 85-92, which incidentally are also the measurements of his bust and hips.

9. His pseudonyms have included: Nasty Window, Twinny McTwinface, Billy Skinhole, Polygon Idiot, Tssk Tssk, Hello Brian, Susan Boyle, Caustic Postman and AFC BOURNEMOUTH.

10. Aphex Twin has wonderfully soft hair. He puts this down to never playing the tuba. No-one likes tuba.

Futher Fats: 26 Mixes For Cats: gratuitous twits and puns (2011)

Further Fats: Top ten ways to write a top ten music list (2012)

Further Fats: All things Aphex Twin

Apr 12, 2017

Special Request's Bunker will bend your ear

Back in the day, when all this were just atoms, I DJed quite a bit of drum 'n' bass. However, like with a lot of things in life, I moved on. I discarded drum 'n' bass like I discarded my old jumpers / friends / spaceships / legs (delete as appropriate).

Thank goodness then for Paul 'Special Request' Woolford, the genius behind the new Stairfoot Lane Bunker EP. Listen to the title track's Minor Science remix below - it's beautiful, devastating, ear-bending and all kinds of wonderful. Most of the EP's tracks have already appeared on a Fabric compilation, but it's nice to have it all packaged together here, all proper and that.

To tell you the truth, I still have all my old jumpers. And all my old friends and old spaceships and old legs. They're all under my desk right now. Can you hear them? They're probably eating each other for survival. I don't go under my desk. Not anymore.

Ahem. Sorry. Went to a dark place there. Where were we? Oh yes. Listening to drum 'n' bass.

Apr 10, 2017

Talking bleeps at the Electronic Music Symposium

I'm going to be on a discussion panel talking all things bleepy at the Electronic Music Symposium.

At the old Factory offices, now Fac-251, a whole bunch of music-heads will come together with other industry bods to talk about electronic music. Graham Massey from 808 State will be there, as will Twisted Nerve's Andy Votel. There'll be some fancy gear to play with too.

I'll be flying the Electronic Sound flag. If bleepy music is your thing, or bleepy machines, or if you like poking things to see if they go bleep, this is probably the event for you. It's at 7pm on 25th April and you can get tickets here.

To see what else I'm up to, pop over to my event page why dontcha.

Apr 8, 2017

Seven curious facts about Warp Records veteran Clark

Here are seven facts about Warp stalwart Clark, whose ridiculously fun new album Death Peak was released this week.

1. The drum lie

The "linn" in Clark's Winter Linn is a reference to a snare sound he didn't use on the track. The joker. Source? This Vice article. Listen to Winter Linn here.

2. The loop

The first track on Clark's first album is only 100 seconds long but someone's looped it for 927 seconds. You can listen to that track on YouTube.

3. The doppelganger

Clark and Jeff Winger were separated at birth. (If you don't know Community, I can't help you.)

4. Cruelty to animals

Part of Growls Garden's bassline is made from a Kitten. (Don't worry - it's the name of a synth.) Source? This XLR8R piece.

5. Bad education

If Clark's music teachers had been better, his electronic music career might not exist. I've lost the original source for this, but it's well documented that he was discouraged to use a drum machine,

6. No sitting down

One of Clark's albums opens with the (processed) sound of a chair being scraped across the floor. Source? Dummy Mag.

7. The movie star

This is the big one. Clark has very clear thoughts about what kind of synthesiser George Clooney would be. Source? This Reddit AMA.

Them's all my facts, which I first spewed on the Twitter tag #ClarkDay. I hope we've all learned something here today - mainly, feed as many kittens into your music as possible, and don't listen to your teachers.

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

Further Fats: Ten absolutely fascinating facts about Rephlex Records (2009)

Apr 6, 2017

2017 can't carry on without me posting this trippy video

Stop 2017. I've forgotten something. Or rather, I was so busy banging on about this in Electronic Sound, I forgot to mention it here.

Watch the Bonobo No Reason video below. When you have finished watching the video, please fetch a pair of sharp scissors and cut out the video from your screen. Blue-tac the video onto your wall. Ensure you leave enough space on the wall to write a message. The message should be written in green marker pen, and it should say the following:

"This video was posted onto the world wide web in January 2017. Several months have passed and Fat Roland hasn't yet included that amazing Bonobo video on his website. Fat Roland is an idiot. This is one of Bonobo's best tracks, and even better, the video is weird and trippy. Repeat, Fat Roland is an idiot."

Okay 2017, you can carry on now.

Further Fats: Watch the video for Oneohtrix Point Never's Animals (2016)

Apr 4, 2017

Want some new electro? Oddhoody's your dog

Here's a moody little electro number that snarls and snaps at your ankles like a little doggie, but a doggie made of music and not fur.

Stream Delusionengine below. It comes from Oddhoody, an electronic music twiddler called James Baker who also records as the colourfully-named Implosion Quintet. I have absolutely no idea why Oddhoody is called Oddhoody. I can only presume he fashions his clothing from non-standard materials such as beer mats, wallpaper, iron filings and rivers.

This is from the new EP The Deep, out on Electronic Tapes. That label's 2016 output is worth checking out, which you can see on this web page right here. In that link, you'll find noises that will make your ears fall off, but also some nice sounds that sellotape them back on again.

Oddhoody is a nice little snarly doggie. Five stars. Would pet again.

Further Fats: Some dogs are better than others (2012)

Apr 2, 2017

A very Roland-y night out

I invented some new dance moves last night. This is a list of those dance moves.

The Hip Destroyer
Surprise Jerk
The Mancunian Twitch
Polygon Windowing
The Tragic Octopus
Jackhammer Backflop
The Seven-Fingered Fly Swat
Reverse Moonwalk
The Slow Bez

Why the dancing? I went to the tenth anniversary of the I Love Acid club night. The venue was Hidden, a no-frills warehouse tucked along the banks of the River Irwell. It was a great space with a nicely uncommercial feel. They had triangular speakers (pictured). Star of the night for me was joyful acid-twiddler Ceephax, But Luke Vibert was pretty flipping acid-tastic too.

The strangest moment of the night came when I read about the death of Ikutaro Kakehashi. He's the chap who founded the synthesiser company Roland, whose TB-303 unit makes the acid sound techno-heads like me adore. As I read the news on my phone, 303 squelches burst from the speakers and there was a guy next to me wearing a Roland TB-303 brand t-shirt. RIP Ikutaro Kakehashi - without you, I'd just be Fat.

All this came after a trip to the brilliant ARC in Stockton-on-Tees at which I performed a set of cartoon idiocy. Some people on the line-up did proper dancing. There were a load of theatre and venue professionals in the audience - they even gave feedback, which is a pretty flipping rare thing to receive. Thanks to Arcade Platform for letting me be part of that.

What a day. I'm off to perfect my Mancunian Twitch. Hopefully this time I won't have someone's eye out.

Further Fats: Manchester International Festival: hot, sweaty, dramatic fun (2013)

Further Fats: Fats goes to Herbal Tea Party - a Storify slideshow (2016)

Mar 31, 2017

Mar 29, 2017

I'm too techno to be Brexit

I'm too mired in Belgian techno, German house and Liechtensteinian glitchstep to be anti-Europe. The stars of the European flag are my disco lights.

I grew up surrounded by people whose parents may well have been fairly new to the UK. And even then, my non-BME friends were geeks and weirdos who never quite fitted in. 'The other' was, in some way, the default of everyone I knew.

So I don't get any of this. People talk about taking back control, but that's hogwash. I've no doubt the Brexit wrecking ball was swung for nefarious reasons, whether it be blatant racism or a niggling distrust of 'the other'. The politics of pressure led to a terminal state of crapage.

That last sentence was constructed from Front 242 titles. They're from Aarschot in Flanders and they make music about the destruction of all that is good.

Yes, the European mainland gave us Aqua, DJ Otzi and Basshunter. And they will pay for this in the Great Pop Putsch of 2019. Dammit, I've said too much. But Europe also gave us... us. If we're not in union with ourselves, then we're little more than post-Zayn One Direction.

Today, little Britain got a little littler.

Further Fats: In the belly of the beast: a week in Tory politics (2009)

Further Fats: This is not an analysis of the EU Referendum (2016)

Mar 27, 2017

Nathan Fake's creative block has made something beautiful

It's funny how creativity ebbs and flows. Sometimes it doesn't even do that. It flubbles, all blobby and heavy, and leaves your heart all sunken and no good.

Nathan Fake's recent track HoursDaysMonthsSeasons, taken from his new album Providence, was inspired by a creative block, apparently. It certainly has a nagging melancholy that comes to some kind of resolution later in the track.

Says Nathan: “HoursDaysMonthsSeasons is a reference to the amount of time that kept passing that I hadn’t made music, or addressed problems and thoughts that I’d been having.”

I feel like I've had a bit of a creative resurgence recently. Blogging more, making a bit of music, thinking better and dafter about things I'd like to do. I've even chucked this blog into a fresh new template, which I may or may not keep depending on how it affects my traffic.

In fact, the end of HoursDaysMonthsSeasons reminds me of those these glimpses of light (tempered by occasional moments of dull blog stat logic); those moments when the air sparkles with possibility.

Beautiful. Nothing flubbling or blobby about this at all.

Further Fats: My Harder Better Blog Writing Tour Faster Process Monday Fats (2014) 

Further Fats: Kraftwerk Badger Spacehip - an Edinburgh Fringe diary (2015)

Hire me to write for you (2016)