Squarepusher teams with robot band for <em>Music For Robots</em> EP

Do androids dream of electric beats?

Last year, Tom “Squarepusher” Jenkinson worked with a team of Japanese roboticists and producer Kenjiro Matsuo, composing ‘Sad Robots Goes Funny’ (below) for the Z-Machines robots.

Unsatisfied by just one composition, Jenkinson re-teamed with Matsuo and company for the material that would become the Music For Robots EP, due out April 7 (April 8 in North America) via Warp Records in digital, CD and vinyl formats. Jenkinson explains the project further: “In this project the main question I’ve tried to answer is ‘can these robots play music that is emotionally engaging?’”

“I have long admired the player piano works of Conlon Nancarrow and Gyorgy Ligeti. Part of the appeal of that music has to do with hearing a familiar instrument being ‘played’ in an unfamiliar fashion. For me there has always been something fascinating about the encounter of the unfamiliar with the familiar. I have long been an advocate of taking fresh approaches to existing instrumentation as much as I am an advocate of trying to develop new instruments, and being able to rethink the way in which, for example, an electric guitar can be used is very exciting.

“Each of the robotic devices involved in the performance of this music has its own specification which permits certain possibilities and excludes others – the robot guitar player for example can play much faster than a human ever could, but there is no amplitude control. In the same way that you do when you write music for a human performer, these attributes have to be borne in mind – and a particular range of musical possibilities corresponds to those attributes. Consequently, in this project familiar instruments are used in ways which till now have been impossible.”

The tracklist, cover art, and video of Z-Machines performing ‘Sad Robot Goes Funny’ are below.

01. Remote Amber
02. Sad Robot Goes Funny
03. World Three
04. Dissolver
05. You Endless

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