Exit Humans, Enter Squarepusher & His Band of Robots
If you thought Daft Punk had the robot music market cornered, you were wrong. In the end they’re human after all, but what we’ve got here really isn’t. Last year a team at the University of Tokyo created the Z-Machines, a fully functional robotic live band. The band’s massive lead guitarist Mach, has 72 fingers. Jake Cinninger, Omar Rodriguez Lopez, end even Jimmy Page do not have 72 fingers ladies and gentlemen. Now, before you start scrolling through Google in a fervent search for all John Connor listings in the United States, these machines are unable to write songs themselves. They need someone to program them in order to perform. That’s where Squarepusher comes in.
When the machines were created the Tokyo team asked several artists from around the world to program a song for the robots to play at their demonstration. The UK electronic music composer/musician was one of the selected few. With Daft Punk busy getting lucky, and Marcus Lambkin being a self proclaimed “Shit” Robot, who better to play with these machines than a bass-playing, robotic noise junky that barely seems human in the first place? Well one song and a demonstration wasn’t enough for this producer. It seems Squarepusher has hijacked the robots to make a full EP, titled ‘Robots Making Music’! You can read the full article on Wired here, and watch them in action below!
One could argue this was inevitable. Technology has fused itself with the music culture, and at a fairly rapid rate. We were always at the middle ground between the two. The introduction of analog synthesizers, Chicago, Detroit, the UK techno movement in the 80’s and 90’s, the DJ explosion in at the turn of the millennium, they were all evolutionary steps. Now we have robots that shred guitar (Bob Weir just may have found a way to keep touring). That’s basically why we are here. The direct human connection between the music, and the individual making it, has been becoming weaker and weaker over the years. People are making live playlists on stage and people are calling it music. There is so much more potential to be accessed, and that is why it’s so important to maintain musicianship and innovation with the technology we’re using to produce music. These digital means of music making are a privilege, they give artists the ability to synthesize any sound, for any emotion or thought they’re trying to convey. That is limitless! Why abuse such an opportunity? Arranging a few bass lines and drum patterns to make a groove is easy, but to make it yours, a piece of you, to give it emotion, that is what separates the hacks from the artists. Squarepusher makes music like no other; his incredibly unique studio work and live performances are standing proof that he, also doesn’t take electronic music for granted. Japan’s new development in robotics is a huge step forward for mankind’s modern achievements, but it shouldn’t go any further than that. They achieved a goal, and they should be proud, but does music need even more distance between the human individuals making it?
Posted on April 15, 2014, in Spotlight, Video and tagged jake cinninger, omar rodriguez lopez, robots making music, squarepusher, university of tokyo, wired, z-machines. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.