I know. I should be blogging. The Punk. The Boards. The Panda. The Zombie. All the lovely names are releasing new stuff.
Mike Paradinas, King of Planet Mu, is releasing his first album as µ-Ziq in six years. His last album Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique created an, um, what was it? (Checks old blog post.) Oh yes. It created "a see-saw effect right where your dinner's settling". I think that was a good thing, overall.
The new one sounds great. Stream µ-Ziq's Chewed Corners here.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013
You may remember me contributing to Electronic Magazine for Future Publishing a while back. I probably ought to tell you where that led to.
I'm now a columnist for Electronic Sound. The mag for Future seemed to do quite well, but I'm probably not alone in thinking there's not an easy, er, future for niche print magazines unless they're about guitars or gaming. So the team behind the original print magazine have gone independent to launch issue one of Electronic Sound for the iPad.
My column is a hilarious take on the Performing Rights Society: not exactly a minefield of comedy, but honestly, it's gigglesome. The app also has a picture of a synth with utterly ridiculous tags puked from my stupid brain (pictured above: the circles link to my nonsense), while I've thrown in some album reviews for good measure.
Issue one also includes OMD, Dave Clarke, Billie Ray Martin, Gary Numan, Utah flipping Saints and that bloke from the Human League. James Blake and Autechre are among the reviews.
I think you can just about still get issue one for the introductory price of 61p, although you'll have to be quick. The second edition is about to land, and this time I'm banging on about Daft Punk, The Black Dog, Juan Atkins and what all the numbers mean on the labels on records (note: possibly not accurate).
Sorry that you can't get it if you're not an Apple addict, but this has been put together by some amazing people on limited resources. First stop, the iPad. Next stop, forehead projection implants where you scroll to the next article by blinking or clenching your buttocks.
If you have an iPad and a vague interest in things that go bleep, you love me enough to get this, right? Beats blimmin' pretend air hockey.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
There are parts of Daft Punk's new album Random Access Memories I want to store in my RAM forever... but this is only part of the story.
Let's get some context. For a band that has only released three albums, Daft Punk's effect on dance music has been stratosflippingpheric. Every French house band from Cassius to Letherette gets a Daft comparison.
However their output over time, as they've moved from Revolution 909 to Aerodynamic to Robot Rock, has lost traction. You could argue their nadir was the Tron Legacy soundtrack, and even though the album itself it's much better than you think it is, the movie did translate as some kind of weird Bangalter-Christo vanity project.
The problem with Daft Punk releasing a new studio album after all this time is the Justice Imperative. The Justice Imperative is where a great Parisian electronic music act - let's for argument's sake say, er, Justice - feels the need to fall so in love with their own arse, they prog themselves until they disappear completely. Except it's not prog: it's more "The Who teaming up with David Guetta". Have Daft Punk fallen into the Justice trap?
Tragically, yes. At least, to some extent.
The clue is in the epic riff that opens Give Back to Music. The riff disappears quickly and we're into a disco jangle ripped straight from Get Lucky, which is also here in (thankfully) extended form. But remember that opening few seconds. It will return.
Let's start with the positive. Doin' It Right featuring Panda Bear is exactly what you'd want a DP / Animal Collective collaboration to sound like and it's brilliant. Slow, teasing, melodic and glorious. Lose Yourself In Dance is utter disco singalong, lifted by Pharrell Williams's vocals against the robots' cheerleading him with "come on, come on".
Giorgio By Moroder starts, literally incredibly, with Moroder himself waffling at length about singing in discotheques and his lovely Moogs before launching into a spiralling, string-laden emotive nine minutes - a theme which is, incidentally, revisted on final track Contact. They spoil Moroder though with a bit of jazz noodling, but the track is pulled back with hi-hat-abusing live drumming that rises into a distorted acid shred climax.
The rest of the album is either bold experimentation or .. well...
Touch is bonkers. We find ourselves in a Doctor Who horror hell, which then inexplicably morphs into Michael Ball in Phantom-mode, sinister strings and oodles of expansive trip hop. Vocals are by Paul Williams, who wrote the Muppets' Rainbow Connection, and that kind of makes sense and it's kind of brilliant or, more worryingly, it's something else. Parts of this track can be coupled thematically with Motherboard, which comes across as an ambient rhythmic UNKLE, its arpeggios the only clue as to it being Daft Punk track.
And now the rest. The horrible, horrible rest.
It's either bold experimentation or... this. That's what the opening riff alluded too. You're expecting 80s hair and flares and anything but a touch of Sade or Warren G, but there it is on Beyond which g-funks it up so much it's almost a total steal of Michael McDonald's I Keep Forgettin'. And The Game Of Love's guitar harmonic MOR barely sticks its head above 90bpm and it is smooth. Not just smooth, but Sade-smooth. We're talking Smooth Operator smooth. Okay, let's cut the crap: it's basically Smooth Operator.
Instant Crush, an obvious single, could be an Avril Lavigne track when it starts out but it gives in to Europop territory with light Royksopp or Mew vocals. Utter cheese... but they've softened us up with Get Lucky, so it's less of a shock. Still. This is Daft Punk and they've lost da funk.
Fragments of Time is awful MOR pop - Todd Edwards should stay on the other side of the microphone - and the line on ballad Within which says "there are so many things that I don't understand" will seep into your subconscious all track long until you are diving for Teachers (the track and the drink) to make everything okay again.
On Random Access Memories, the experimentation is sometimes brilliant, but it is all-too-often the sound of a band losing their confidence and losing their sound. There are parts of Daft Punk's new album I want to store in my RAM forever and some parts I'm going to need an anti-virus programme to purge.
There is enough here to make this their biggest album to date. They've gained traction again - but at what cost?
Further Fats: Please spell Freeland versus Daft Punk. "OBAMA." (2009)
Saturday, April 13, 2013
"Have you heard the new Skrillex? It's really banging to the roof, I can't wait to jack it up on my mp3 disc player."This is, of course, the natural reaction to anybody who ever says "I prefer their earlier stuff". It's the attitude of real ale drinkers, broadsheet journalists and people who take BBC class surveys. These people should be shunned from society.
"I've heard it, yeah. I preferred his earlier stuff."
"Oh screw you. Screw you and I hope you die a thousand times."
At the height of 1990s Underworld when Born Slippy provided a pulsating soundtrack for every heroin lover everywhere, you would have found me harking back to their earlier stuff like a white-gloved, pill-popping Saxondale.
"Have you heard that lager, lager, lager track? It's rad to the club max. I can't wait to jive to its funky beats down the discohouse."
"I've heard it, yeah. I preferred Rez."
"Oh stick it up yourself. Stick it up yourself and swizzle until you explode a thousand times."
Ah, Rez. The track happened when a creatively exhausted Rick Smith was banished to the studio by his wife. He locked himself away and came up with Rez. What he produced was an antithesis to all the bog standard 12-inch remixes that stuck another load of bars into the middle and roller-pinned out the intro a bit. It was a thundering epic with rolling rhythms with nowhere to go but upwards: in retrospect, a shoegazing Higher State Of Consciousness.
Rez got me trawling through the likes of Lemon Interupt and Junior Boys Own 12-inches. More importantly, I didn't hesitate in buying their next album Dubnobasswithmyheadman - despite it not containing Rez and instead having its addictive Karl Hyde-vocalled sequel Cowgirl.
Underworld went on to score Danny Boyle films and frighten millions of people on TV. They also went on to produce two decades of brilliant music - and to write many lyrics of entertaining nonsense. But for me Rez would be the track that taught me boundaries were there to be broken in techno music, that it didn't just have to sound like sine waves jostling for position through MIDI connections. Techno could have soul. And you could record it in your back bedroom.
No Rez would have meant no Cowgirl, no Dubnobass and no reference point for all those bands that hook into some extra kind of kinetic energy in their 4:4 rhythms. So much goes back to Underworld.
I think I've started with an obvious one in 1993 Changed My Life. Part 2 and a new track / album coming up...
Other parts of this series:
Intro | See all
Further Fats: This is the future: some pilled-up nutter going wild as a retro dance-rock beat combo plays a dead festival (2007)
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Last year, or twenty recessions ago, I blogged about how I discovered Orbital up a tree. The moment still flutters hazily in my Blue Nun-numbed brain: one of those memories that may manifest itself as a crystal-clear hallucination once dementia robs me of my sharp, er, thingy, mind.
Following that blog post, other flashes of memory appeared: other albums or tracks from the same period that now seem to carry echoes of the music I have since loved. I'd remember an old rave beat and hear within it the sound of later drum 'n' bass or electro.
And then I noticed that most what I was remembering was from the same year. 1993. I can't think of another 12 month period that has been so formative in my passion for music, despite hearing life-affirming albums every year since. 1993 changed my life. You'll have your own Year-with-a-capital-Y, I'm sure.
Nostalgia is dangerous. On YouTube the other night, I watched a current-day 5ive, Atomic Kitten, Blue and PJ & Duncan perform a medley of their hits for Saturday Night Takeway. It was horrific. It made me think the world would never be a good place again, especially since it climaxed with a ridiculously energetic Let's Get Ready to Rhumble that was not only cretinous the first time around, but will be even worse when it returns to number one this Sunday.
There is a danger that by launching a blog series reminiscing about a year that may have little relevance for you, this will be your equivalent of you ogling the telly and saying "blimey, Lee from Blue's been on the pies, hasn't he?"
Except that's what I'm going to do. Welcome to a new blog series. Twenty albums or tracks from 1993 that meant the world to me. Some of them are awful, but all of them are important.
I'll post a couple of times a week and we should be done by, ooo, early June. By then, Rhumble will be a distant memory and the weeping can stop.
Further Fats: more nostalgia on A low-denominator, low-rent scally by any other name would smell like sweets
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Words are great, aren't they? With their cute little letters and dots and that?
I have a constant paranoia that I tend to lean on certain words, especially writing about music. For example, I'm fond of blithering, such as a blithering vegetable here, blithering into a micromophone or me being a blithering hypocrite.
And searching for 'fatroland' and 'crikes' may overload google to the point of exhaustion. Crikes.
Many music writers do it. I've rarely seen the word 'sophomore' outside of rock-album-speak, while the NME's rendering of Northern swearing as 'fooking' is as prevalent as its Southern 'facking' counterpart is as absent.
'Crepuscular' is normally reserved for animals that come out at dawn and dusk, such as the crepuscular nightjar. That link says the nightjar is a 'goatsucker' and spreads a disease called 'puckeridge'. Bands are not, generally speaking, goatsuckers, but they do tend to attract the adjective 'crepuscular'. Especially if it's the Guardian describing them.
The Guardian has taken the word 'crepuscular' to new lengths in its music writing, as pointed out in this sweary tweet from my Electronic Sound collaborator Bill Bruce. It's a useful word, really, because 'crepuscular' relates to 'twilight' - but you can't say 'twilight' because people think of vampires.
An early Grauniad music usage was Alexis Petridis' two crepusculars in a Blur live review and album review from 2003. But I think Caroline Sullivan pips him to the post with her short 2001 review of Copenhagen's Tales From the Forest (scroll down) where she called them the "Tindersticks school of crepuscular pop".
How crepuscular is the Graun's music writing? Let's add to those three uses another 27 crepuscular musical references in the Guardian from 2010 onwards (I stopped counting after three years of archives). And there's me blithering on for years without using it once. Crikes!
Every Guardian music 'crepuscular' reference since the start of 2010, probably
Deptford Goth: Life After Defo review by Kitty Empire 2013)
"...this album's crepuscular jag recalls Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago gone post-dubstep..."
New band of the day: Lulu James by Paul Lester (2013)
"...this is a decent refinement of that kind of crepuscular ambient music with soulful vocals..."
Dinos Chapman's debut album: here comes the Luftbobler! by Alexis Petridis (2013)
"...he's only talking to me because he has an album coming out: a collection of crepuscular electronica called Luftbobler..."
OAE/Rattle; Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Manze; A Midsummer Night's Dream – review by Fiona Maddocks (2013)
"...A.S. in Memoriam, by the Swedish composer Rolf Martinsson (b1956), was a crepuscular recreation of Schoenberg's already pretty shadowy Verklärte Nacht..."
New band of the day: Sohn by Paul Lester (2012)
"...there is a fine line between the two, with a similarly contemplative, crepuscular ambience conjured, but the rhythms are less twitchy, more regular than Blake's..."
The xx: Coexist – review by Kitty Empire (2012)
"...'Did I not let enough light in? asks crepuscular, whispering Madley Croft on Chained..."
The Vaccines: Come of Age review by Alexis Petridis (2012)
"...musically it's terrific: winding, crepuscular, decorated with spikes of Pixies-esque guitar..."
The Weeknd: Sounds and sensibility by Hermione Hoby (2012)
"...songs built around a fogged, crepuscular production to set off the keening perfection of his voice..."
New band of the day: Daughn Gibson by Paul Lester (2012)
"...playing on one a series of country songs or noir torch ballads and, on the other, some creepy, crepuscular dubstep..."
Bobby Womack: The Bravest Man in the Universe review by Kitty Empire (2012)
"...informed by the insectoid tickle and crepuscular haunt of London's post-dubstep sound..."
Bob Dylan's Tempest: first listen (2012)
"...In terms of the Dylan canon, does it bring to mind the crepuscular menace of Not Dark Yet? Perhaps it's more Forever Young..."
New band of the day: Psychic Dancehall by Paul Lester (2012)
"...a fair dollop of David Lynchian 'crepusculiarity', a contraction of 'crepuscular' and 'peculiar' that we just coined, cos we're crazy like that.."
New band of the day: Flume by Paul Lester (2012)
"...there are similarities with the Toronto wunderkind's crepuscular penthouse blues..."
Lana Del Rey review by Caroline Sullivan (2011)
"...her America is defined by crepuscular creepiness crossed with nostalgia for the Rat Pack 60s..."
Esben and the Witch: Violet Cries review by Caroline Sullivan (2011)
"...the crepuscular drama that constitutes their sound has been out of fashion for 25 years..."
The Horrors: Skying review by Kitty Empire (2011)
"...an endpoint steeped in irony, considering the band's fetish for all things crepuscular..."
Mogwai: Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will review by Ally Carnwath (2011)
"...And their grasp of mood is undiminished, not least on the crepuscular blues of 'Letters to the Metro'..."
New band of the day: Gold Panda by Sean Michaels (2011)
"...his music is vaguely reminiscent of Burial's dubsteppy, crepuscular melancholia..."
Jamie Woon: 'I've always wanted to make pop' by Paul Lester (2011)
"...enough crepuscular ambience, to convince doubters that Woon is more than just a soulboy in dubstep clothing...."
Timber Timbre: Creep on Creepin' On review by Paul Mardles
"...combining doo-wop, crepuscular blues and, on 'Swamp Magic', woozy chamber pop..."
Nero: Welcome Reality review by Killian Fox (2011)
"...attempts to create soundscapes as vast and crepuscular as dystopian futuristic cities...."
New band of the day: Funeral Suits by Paul Lester (2011)
"...Mournful and majestic, with elements of crepuscular drama..."
Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos 2 & 11 by Andrew Clements (2011)
"...The opening movement, with its crawling, crepuscular string lines, is the most extreme music Shostakovich ever wrote..."
New band of the day: Trophy Wife by Paul Lester (2010)
"...They manage to turn Joanna Newsom's The Book Of Right-On into a thing of crepuscular rhythmic beauty..."
New band of the day: Anna Calvi by Paul Lester (2010)
"...brooding intensity and crepuscular, simmering sensuality..."
New band of the day: Lonelady by Paul Lester (2010)
"...a lifetime spent listening to crepuscular disco and dolorous songcraft..."
Lucia di Lammermoor by George Hall (2010)
"...the emotional extremity and shocking physicality of the production align well with the fiery exterior and crepuscular interior of the score..."
Further Fats: Top ten ways to write a top ten music list (2012)
Posted by Fat Roland at 2:29 AM
Saturday, March 02, 2013
I appeared in the Independent today, in the bit where they go on about music and stuff. They paper-retweeted my total fanboy response to Chvrches first headline tour. Assuming paper-retweeting is a thing, which is most definitely now is.
I won't rattle on about the gig in question because I've written a review for a magazine, which I will link to when it stumbles bleary-eyed onto the internet for all to see. But the tweet the Indie purloined pretty much sums up what I thought: "Based on tonight's incredible Chvrches headline slot, they've enough killer tunes for a memorable debut album. Just amazing." So, sitting on the fence, then.
Quickly recognising my instant fame, I capitalised on the new, national interest in my Twitter feed with the following tweet:
To the hundreds of thousands of Independent readers now reading my tweets: I am a buffalo beautician and moon repair man. Hi.That should do it.
I then changed my profile picture to match that of Electronic Sound, another magazine that will be parping my word juice from its internet pipes at some point soon. So that's all the Independent readers confused, then. Sorry 'bout that.
Thanks must go to Max, who told me about the Indie appearance just in time for me to catch the last copy in my local Spar. Max is far more famous than me: he appears in proper videos and that and puts my feeble Indie column inches to shame...
Further Fats: The Guardian puts a clonk on it (2009)
Sunday, February 24, 2013
As Weebl puts it, "this is possibly the most effort ever put into something so childish ever."
Further Fats: Skrillex is fourth in the BBC Sound Of "Zane Lowe"
Further Fats: Skrillex is fourth in the BBC Sound Of "Zane Lowe"
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Some of the user comments on Justin Timberlake's boring new single Suit & Tie, some directed at the video, some directed at other users. All comments posted in the last few hours.
i ruined your mom's bed last night
haha u retarded?
f--k yourself with a burning end of a stick.
LOL, you suck and are gay.
he looks so gay he should have married lance bass
If you see he dose a Micheal jackson thing
A lot of Bruno Mars moves
he sounds like Justin Bieber
WHY IS HE WEARING A SUIT AND BOW WHEN THE SONG IS CALLED 'SUIT AND TIE' !??!?!?
Justin's Bow tie keeps disappearing and reappearing!
A BOW IS NOT A TIE.
his bow tie jumps on and off jheeeze wavy. This is my new s--t
its called a bowTIE
Why does the mike keep changing.
The mic that JT is using changes like its magic every camera angle change... COME ON! So unprofessional.
WHY IN GOD'S NAME DOES HE KEEP CHANGING MICS?!?! Dear GOD!
now I make $35h - $80h...how? I’m working online!
Hey EveryBody Go Check My Channel Out I'm a really Good Dancer
Check out our Harlem Shake!
all the dislike in this video is the size (inches) of my dick
He genuinely belongs to music industry
Why is no text written under the clip?
Why is he suddenly look so 30++?!And now some of the user comments on FaltyDL's great recent single She Sleeps, some directed at the video, some directed at other users. All comments posted in the last two months.
Awesome song & video.
I can´t stop moving my feet right now!
Such a great track! This album is gonna be big when it drops
This track put a smile on my face this evening :) Such a lush video...
Great video FaltyDL's album is shaping up to be pretty terrific.
FaltyDL being the f--king man brought me here.
Foster the people, that is why i am here.
Shut the f--k up about Foster the people, seriously.I know which corner of YouTube I prefer.
Further Fats: FaltyDL's been building something in his garage (2011)
Monday, January 28, 2013
On Friday, I popped to the BFI in Londontown* to watch a film called Wizard's Way.
Wizard's Way is a comedy about a pair of documentary makers who enter the world of online gaming. They meet Windows, a legendary dragon slayer, and his burger-obsessed friend Barry. As the movie progresses, the footage the filmers capture says more about them than it does about their subjects.
I should declare an interest. I'm an extra in Wizard's Way and I'm mentioned in the credits. I know the production team that made it, so there is less chance of me saying anything negative about this film than Hugh Grant's hopes of getting the lead role in a Rupert Murdoch biopic. Still...
If Wizard's Way doesn't end up rated as one of the funniest films of 2013, I'll eat my wizard's hat. There are so many highlights: Windows' hopeless looks to camera; Barry's earnest culinary exploits, the bickering of the film makers, and the terrible game itself. It's a masterclass in comedy editing: the low-budget production and entirely improvised dialogue is chopped to perfection. It helps that one of their editors also worked on Spaced, Slumdog Millionaire and Les Mis.
The film is also full of heart, turning its social freaks into friends you really care about. And the theme tune. The theme tune. Couldn't stop singing it all weekend.
Wizard's Way won the LOCO Discovery Award 2013, hence the screening, and is listed by LOCO's co-founder as one of the five comedy films to watch for in 2013. If Wizard's Way isn't picked up for distribution this year, I'll not only eat my wizard's hat, I'll shove my wand up somewhere unmagical. Because, although I'm biased, it really is hilarious and I want to see it again.
* Hat doff to my travelling companions Dave and Mark, to Guy and Laura for providing accommodation for the night, and to the numerous drinking chums I kept bumping into.
Further Fats: best movies of 2012
Saturday, January 19, 2013
So Bowie didn't get to number one last week.
That's that, then. Let's Dance remains his most recent musical legacy of any widespread significance. Sigh.
The thin white berk had a great chance to revive an important musical tradition in the UK pop charts: that of the cheeky New Year number one. It should be easy. No-one buys anything apart from headache pills and diet books in the week after new year, so number one should be a walkover.
The new year charts seem dull these days. A guaranteed post-Xmas X Factor chart-topper, some r'n'b guff and that's about it. A drum 'n' bass track tiptoed in at number 100 and it seems Bon Jovi got back in the top 40, but neither are worth tweeting home about.
Iron Maiden famously topped the charts in 1991 with Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter, followed by the ridiculous sadistic monks Enigma. Made-up people often took the chance for a cheeky early-January number one, with Mr Blobby and Bob The Builder inexplicably retaining their top positions after Christmas because there was naff all else to buy.
Cotton Eye Joe. Chocolate Salty Balls. Even Daniel Bedingfield's squeaky anthem Gotta Get Thru This. You cannot tell me that those tracks would have had the same chart-dominating impact without lower sales across the rest of the January charts, as great (or otherwise) as they were.
This weekend may well see the return to the top of the charts by Eminem, 50 Cent and that kazoo-voiced triangle man from Maroon 5. If they were covering White Town's Your Woman, or Aphex Twin's We Are The Music Makers, I'd class it as a cheeky new year number one.
They're not. And so it goes.
Further Fats: Fat Roland's number one album chart death rant (2010)
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Many things have changed since this blog first limped onto the internet: the rise of dubstep; the dominance of downloads; Basshunter.
One of the most interesting changes for someone as geeky as me is the crossover into popular culture of the abbreviation "EDM", which stands for Electronic Dance Music.
EDM was virtually unheard of before 2005, but the last two years has seen a resurgence in the phrase, driven, it seems, by a dramatic upsurge in US dance culture. Vice have a cracking article explaining rave culture to Americans, The writer looks across the Atlantic to the crazy Americans and their worship of Deadmau5 and Skrillex, and says of Europe:
"This is a continent that had Born Slippy soundtracking political campaigns and school runs alike. We have politicians who have taken pills and DJs who open youth centres. Us watching you get into ecstasy and dance music is how I imagine you probably feel when you see footage of line-dancing classes in Runcorn and hear TGI Fridays waiters "YEE-HAW!"-ing their way to lonely and inevitable suicide."Love it.
Labels don't matter, and as soon as you discuss them, it's easy to enter a moronic YouTube clickfest that results in two people drawling "gaaaaaay" at each other until they each literally die of stupidity. Also, this blog attracts many Americans with superb taste in music.
But I'm not convinced by "EDM" either. It stands for Electronic Dance Music. In the UK, we have a name for that. It's 'dance music'. I think that article says as much. We may also call it IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) or techno or electronica, and perhaps IDM suggests a certain lineage via early Warp Records, and perhaps EDM is more energetic and commercial... but if we poke it and it goes bleep, that's enough for us. Or, at least, it should be.
Maybe I should rename this blog Fat Roland On Stuff And That.
Then again, I shouldn't bother. No-one cares anyway: just look at Google Trends.
Further Fats: The devil has all the best IDM (2010)