The following clipping was found in the Fat Riker notebook, but no notations of the name of the publication or the original date were included. From clues included in the story, the article was likely published in July or August, 2003.
Circa July or August, 2003
Review of “Fat Riker Controls the Universe”
It is always a loathsome day when my editor leaves a new Fat Riker album in my “Review” pile. I think perhaps he hates me; maybe I have offended him in some grievous way and this is my penance.
I cry out as he walks away, the dreaded disc freshly deposited on my desk: “Oh great George! Perhaps you will smile upon your poor servant soon and cease this constant torture! Oh woeful heavens, pour thy rain upon me so I may stand shivering within the deluge to prove my sincerest apologies to my vengeful editor!”
But all is for naught, dear reader, for the great editor George is a spiteful and cruel man who delights in my anguish. My tears fall upon the carpet, and I am spared even the dignity of them nourishing the Earth. I am a pitiful wreck.
If Fat Riker produced albums at a reasonable rate, perhaps one a year like many other bands, my torment would be lessened. Unfortunately, this group of madmen has released five albums so far this year, and it is only July.
Long ago have I abandoned trying to understand their “creative process”. For instance, their third album this year, “Turntable Time Machine 2” was a spectacularly baleful record that appeared, after my editor-mandated three listenings, to be little more than an impromptu jam session about a time travelling Victrola. Or maybe someone was sitting on a record table, spinning around, screaming about the Valanginian Age. I’m still a little up in the air about that one. I tried to reference “Turntable Time Machine 1” for orientation, but it appeared that no such album was ever produced.
Their newest effort, if it can be called that, is even more erratic and slapdash than the previous, and that is saying something. Apparently titled “Fat Riker Controls the Universe”, its sensory assault on one’s person begins before the shrink wrap is even broken. The cover is an ugly piece of work, well deserving entry into the club of “Record covers most likely to cause one to quit their job as a music critic and take up some kind of less painful work, for instance, a human guinea pig for an experimental dental drilling equipment company”, because I nearly did.
While I am no graphic designer, the cover appears to be a poorly framed photograph of the title card for the recently-cancelled “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” television show, with a giant, purple FAT RIKER logo mostly obscuring the “Andy Richter” bit. I can only assume that the group somehow wanted to pay homage to the show. That may not be true; such a logical line of thinking rarely fits in with Fat Riker’s modus operandi. It is equally likely the group simply took a photograph of a random object, opened it in Photoshop, typed “FAT RIKER” in the default font and called it a day.
The contents of the album itself are little better. The sound is still distinctively Fat Riker, with its unmelodic choruses and rough, synthy bass lines that strike the eardrum like a Scud missile. The tracks are littered with “experimental” pieces that do nothing for the record as a whole and often call into the question whether the group reviewed any of what they recorded.
Please note that all song titles mentioned in this review are inferred as the CD came with no track listings or liner notes.
Track 1 – “You Have to Pay for That Pizza” – 5:37
The album gets off to a bizarre start as this track consists mostly of a repeated, muffled cry of “You have to pay for that pizza!” followed by intense knocking as if on a door. Not a great track by any means, but one of the more solid pieces on this album. I believe Fat Riker may have stiffed a pizza delivery guy and decided to record his attempts to get them to open the door and pay for the pizza. Cruel snickers and the sounds of high fives can be heard in the background, along with sounds similar to the consumption of pizza.
Track 2 – “Fat Riker Controls the Universe” – 0:15
The previous track cuts off abruptly and the CD launches immediately into the titular song of the album. Unfortunately, this song is a blatant rip-off of the fifteen second “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” theme with new lyrics that somehow manage to squeeze in the words “Fat Riker Controls the Universe.”
It is painful, but over quickly.
Track 3 – “Fat Riker Controls the Universe” – 0:15
I am sad to report that the third track is another cover of the “Andy Richter” theme, but with slightly different words than the first instance. The group may have come to a disagreement over the new lyrics and, rather than working it out, decided to record two different versions.
Try not to listen to this track.
Track 4 – “Shower Songs” – 18:06
This song begins with four and a half minutes of white noise cut with an occasional wet “plunk”. Eventually a man begins to sing a song about teeth accompanied by a flat sounding acoustic guitar. I listened raptly for some time, and finally concluded that some member of Fat Riker had realized that he liked to sing in the shower and was doing just that. The guitar was an unexpected touch for a showering man, and seemed to get more and more out of tune as the bath lingered on.
Subsequent songs on this track include a rousing little ditty about rebuilding a transmission, a love song to scotch tape and a seemingly in-progress version of “Fat Riker Controls the Universe” revision 2. This one was repeated a number of times and included an all-gargling version.
Track 5 – “Arguing About Shoe Laces” – 3:22
The band seems to be preparing for an upcoming show, and are arguing about what kind of shoelaces to wear. It is a point of contention, but all agree that their shoelaces should match. I’m not sure why.
Track 6 – “The Sixth Track” – 4:10
An instrumental piece. Low, nearly rhythmic drumming begins until a cacophony of keyboard noises crash headlong into it, playing a tune somewhat reminiscent of Beethoven’s Fifth by way of Willie Nelson. As one’s pain receptors begin to shut down near the 2:45 mark, the track trends toward listenable. During the last thirty seconds, the keyboards stop abruptly and the drumming takes the forefront again. The drummer coughs occasionally; a deep, dangerous sounding cough that I can appreciate.
Track 7 – “Ramifications” – :0:53
A poorly recorded telephone conversation. The band appears to be trying to order a pizza, but are repeatedly told that they cannot as they did not pay for their last one. Someone warms up on a bass in the background.
Track 8 – “Fat Riker Controls the Universe” – 9:58
Apparently unhappy with their previous attempts at making a Fat Riker themed version of the “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” theme song, the band expand on the original fifteen second melody with poor results. Possibly in a bid to keep everybody happy, there seems to be little editing done to this song; no suggestion was turned down. Lyrics stretch out before the listener like parallel lines, no end in sight, but vague assurances by scientists afar tell us they must meet and end at some point.
“Fat Riker likes popcorn,
so give us all you got,
yes we really like that hot corn,
we like it a lot.”
“Controlling the universe,
is not as easy as it seems,
if we didn’t have our space crowns,
you’d really see us mean.”
Track 9 – “Who is Better at Soccer?” – 2:31
The band is not sure who is better at soccer and argues about it over an enjoyable jazzy beat. I think the music may have come from a radio accidently left on in the background.
Track 10 – “Final Track” – 0:04
A male voice instructs us that this is the final track. I was not inclined to believe him at first, but it is.
Though I can find little to say positive about the auditory contents of this disc, it is a pleasure to see that Fat Riker continues to recognize CDs are meant to be round. This is, perhaps, a success for them.
Rating: 0.5 / 10.