Jun 25, 2017
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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)
Where Is It Going? (2012)
Jun 13, 2017
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.
Read more on: talaboman
Jun 11, 2017
Pop music in seven different time signatures. This seems to be the manifesto of Canadian singer Joanne Pollock. Also, she tweeted it.
pop music in 7 different time signatures— Joanne (@joannepollock_) May 7, 2017
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
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.
Jun 7, 2017
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).
Read more on: ed sheeran
Jun 5, 2017
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.
Read more on: delia derbyshire
Jun 3, 2017
Jun 1, 2017
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.
Read more on: Lowry