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Audio: April 2010 Archives

There was no particular direction intended with Bleep Radio (as usual I guess), but what seemed to happen was I took a tour through the mid 90's. While not all of it is from that period, a lot of it at least has that feel to it.

Luke's Anger Tunes-Disgo Mix by Disgo

Luke just brought this mix to my attention. Sometime in the near future he is playing at a night in Glasgow called 'Scrabble' which is hosted by Dj Disgo; hence the mix of Luke's Anger tracks.

Si Begg has had a good few records behind him. I've always considered him more hit and miss than Mark does, but that's only because we're two different people with tastes that don't sync 100%. Regardless, even this mix is worth grabbing. I've got the sucker downloading right now. I think today my daughter is going to get a schooling in Noodles.

Today's Bleep was supplied via recent guest Psychomantix. Tastendrükka being a friend of his. This set is something you don't hear too often. I don't even really know how to describe it. It's definitely harder than I usually go here, but I felt it none-the-less.

It's a live-set that he put together using a bit of kit both hard and software. Here's the grocery bag for those who dig that sort of thing...

Recorded live at E-lectribe, in Kassel, Germany. One of my best gigs in ages, great organisation, great location, great soundsystem, great music and great people! Went and hung out at the Local House/Techno radio station "Minimal City Radio Kassel", whilst Louis Osbourne rocked it out on the decks playing tracky house classics. Did a small interview in German with Michael, the radio host, which was a lot of fun and drank a few beers & some sickly kind of cherry schnapps with some of the other people hanging out there. It was the perfect pre-club hang out!

Two of the three TSR fellows were supposed to play in Germany (for Cynthia Stern's night I believe), but due to Iceland feeling like they need to share their ash-clouds there were of course canceled flights.

The comfort-of-home rehearsal mix that Tomas and Fredi had ready to go was recorded, which was very clever of them. It was even more clever to send it over to me to share.

Thanks guys!

While cruising the Internet, Livesets in particular, I stumbled across a two part Jerome Hill set. It's a recent recording of him down in his second home in South America. I believe I have a friend who is sending up a recording (better quality) of another party as well. Be patient.

Like most weeks this was a matter of grabbing things and seeing what happens. This week feel as if I didn't do Bleep justice though. One or two weakly chosen mixes is enough to irritate me to no end. I may have to do a new Electro mix soon to bring myself up out of my funk.

I was asked about playing stuff along these lines at something in Toronto in May. To get myself into the spirit of things I piled up a stack of wax and began to play.

The real SFG # 17 is here. Mark has concocted his own version of the Acid Mix for us in this one. You'll notice straight away it's a no holds barred banger.

DOMO ARIGATO, MR. ROBOTA

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When I was five-years-old, I went to the late lamented Gardiner toy shop and bought a toy robot with the money my Nan gave me for my birthday: a made-in-Japan, wind-up tin carouser whose major identifying feature was a big 'W' emblazoned across his chest.

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Just occasionally I still wonder what that 'W' really meant. Is it some secret identity or code? 'W' for 'Wind-up'? An honest Jenglish mistake, like Wobot? Nothing earth-shattering at all?

I still have old Dubya. He's like Old Yeller, but never bites. He's rusty, missing his arms, and has been deconstructed several times, but he still works when you tweak the metal key that's stuck above his right foot.

He sits proudly atop the mantle next to my desk, having returned to Japan from Australia nine years ago. We even found his mint-condition, spitting-image double at the Yokohama Tin Toys Museum, which was a bit unsettling for us both.

It's Dubya's fault my childhood infatuation for robots moved on from the Cybermen and Daleks in Doctor Who and the Cylons from the original series of Battlestar Galactica, on into giant robot mecha-action anime - starting with gems like Mazinger Z and Tetsujin 28-go (better known outside Japan as Gigantor).

Some things don't change, like my penchant for things robotic - no real surprise then that the name of my new Little Nobody vinyl EP through IF? is 'Robota'.

However there's another trace element influence here. Nope, it's not related to the project by Star Wars art director Doug Chiang - I only just discovered that today on Google while doing hack research for this piece - nor the freaky 'educational and therapeutic devices' promoted here. It isn't even a wayward misspelled homage to Styx's 1983 classic 'Mr Roboto'.

Instead I nicked the name off Wikipedia.

Yep, you read right. I was checking out the entry on robots and the origin of the word, and deep in there I discovered this pearler: "The word robota means literally work, labor or serf labor, and figuratively 'drudgery' or 'hard work' in Czech and many Slavic languages. Traditionally the robota was the work period a serf had to give for his lord, typically 6 months of the year."

Being a lazy git myself with an eye forever on the couch, I decided to call the track 'Robota'. Nothing deeper than that, I'm afraid - though we can always pretend otherwise and toot some people's horns.

Toshiyuki Yasuda_Robo*Brazileira.jpg

For this baby I originally shanghaied into the arrangement Japanese producer Toshiyuki Yasuda - one of Si Begg's favorite musicians who'd just finished working at the time with Señor Coconut, a.k.a Atom Heart - to do his bloody brilliant robot-style vocoder vocals as Robo*Brazileira.

"Robo*Brazileira is my singing alias, a fictitious Brazilian robot," Yasuda patiently explained to the unenlightened (in this case myself) at the time. "For me, the robot is one view-point with which to see ourselves as humans. To see us more cautiously, I think I must have external eyes."

With an attitude and moniker like that I had no real choice but to get the laddie involved.

Then to do their own wind-up remixes of the original combo we first lassooed in the insanely respected Mr. Steve Stoll - a man who's released motorized techno over the years on labels like Proper NYC, NovaMute, Djax-Up-Beats and Harthouse.

Steve Stoll 2.jpg

I was a huge fan in the '90s and first interviewed him just over a decade ago (along with a more recent chat for FITM here); fact is that the guy continues to steer my personal techno inclinations pretty darned effectively and I love his drums - both real and programmed.

We also got on board the irrepressible Dave Tarrida, whose output through his old label Sativae and since then through Tresor, Musick, Neue Heimat, Dancefloor Killers and Feinwerk has been my repeated refill cuppa tea for years; his recent stuff continues to kick my butt about, and he nicely hit me up with some canny comments last year for the FITM piece on digital downloading.

Rounding out the remixing troupe is Germany's Cem Oral (a.k.a Jammin' Unit/Ultrahigh/4E), a man we also previously featured in Fun in the Murky - here - and the erstwhile genius behind Cube 40's 'Bad Computa' and Air Liquide's 'Robot Wars'.

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How on earth (or indeed off it) couldn't I include him here?

Finally, I indulged in a wee bit of the tyranny-of-distance e-mail mud wrestling thing, this time between Tokyo and Sydney, as me and fellow Aussie Simon Nielsen (DJ Hi-Shock of Elektrax notoriety) did the final mix.

There's a ripe possibility we'd together like to intimate that this record is machine-based disco-funk-tech for the next decade - the promo propaganda sheet says precisely that - then suggest you should hop online and order the wax now, since it's available from today (surprise, surprise)... but the fact remains that none of these musos, who are also mates of mine, would be so pretentiously narcissistic. They're cool individuals with a great sense of humour and a definite interest in music for music's sake.

So instead, for shameless promotional reasons of a more ulterior bent, I gathered together all the boys involved in the vinyl remixes and bounced around some silly robot-related queries. Far from earth-shattering, completely self-indulgent and occasionally obscure, this reads as follows:


What do you really think of robots and robot culture?

"I think we Americans need to embrace our robot brothers and welcome them into this country," Steve Stoll espouses. "I never get mad when I see a hard-working robot having success; I mean isn't that supposed to be the American Dream?"

"I think I have a old fashioned view about robots," says Cem Oral. "The friend of man, the enemy from outer space and such is more my cup of tea than robots doing the industrial jobs of man. Robot culture? Tell me more about it."

"Robot culture may include our wishes or desires rather than real future," muses Toshiyuki Yasuda. "So it's good to be fantastic and dreamy even if they have useless functions like singing."

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When Dave Tarrida thinks robots, he thinks Japan. "I love Japanese culture in general, with all the gadgets, technology, etc, and robots have always gone hand-in-hand with this," he says. "There's nothing better than heading into their toy stores and checking out the robots and anime figures!"


In a war of robots, which one would win?

Stoll: "The shiny ones with big meaty claws."

Oral: "If you mean man against machine, I think man because there still hasn't been a robot created instilled with the will to live and energy through belief. But who knows..."

Tarrida: "My money is on the robots."

Yasuda: "No war please."


Why do boys often obsess about robots?

"Because they do what you want and they are strong. Definitely a power thing," Oral says.

"I am actually obsessed with analog synths, so perhaps it's a similar obsession to want to control/program things - but mostly I think it's because boys have too much free time," muses Stoll.

"Robots have various aspects that boys love: They could be vehicles, arms, servants, friends..." Yasuda ponders.

"We all love the futuristic escape from reality - but the make believe is slowly becoming the reality," adds Tarrida.

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What's your favorite robot (character or toy)?

"Armitage the Third, the sexy robot that could bear children," suggests Stoll.

"The one from the original 1951 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still. A 'good' against 'evil' one. I was eight years old when I saw that movie and I got very, very inspired!" (Oral)

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"Mazinger Z, from my youth. It was the first real robot animation I ever saw." (Tarrida)

"Of course my fictitious Brazilian singing robot Robo*Brazileira."


What's your favorite law of robotics as suggested by Isaac Asimov :

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Stoll: "I think most robots are against Asimov's 'Laws' as they take all the fun out of being born robot."

Tarrida: "I'm down with all three."

Oral: "Law number 4: A robot must switch off by ORAL command."

Yasuda: "There must be a loophole in there, whether I like it or not."


Do robots actually need laws?

"Don't think so. They're limited by their programming." (Oral)

"Maybe not. Limitation instead of laws would be enough, but the idea itself that laws are needed is interesting." (Yasuda)

"We all need law, right?" (Tarrida)

"I've always thought robots should be free to run ape-shit through the streets, with big flaming red LED eyes and flailing metallic fists; I mean that's what they do in the wild, so who are we to put restrictions on them?" (Stoll)

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What's your preferred robot-related movie?

"Maybe Metropolis, the original robot movie." (Tarrida)

"I haven't watched too much robot porn, but the few I have seen are pretty good." (Stoll)

"2001: A Space Odyssey. 'Daisy' was sung by a robot!" (Yasuda)


In the original Astro Boy (鉄腕アトム ) our hero shoots a cannon concealed in his buttocks and in Mazinger Z, Aphrodite A (アフロダイ) fires missiles from where her breasts should be. Which part of the human anatomy do you think makes the best weapon for a robot?

"I personally have always liked butt cannons, but only as a secondary weapon to the trusty titty pistol." (Stoll)

"Haha, well you mentioned some parts. I would add the rectal flame thrower." (Oral)

"I'm still a fan of the fist. You just cant beat an old fashioned punch." (Tarrida)

"Eyes!?" (Yasuda)

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Is it possible for a robot to have a sense of 'music'?

"Of course - as robots become more human like, they must take on what humans feel." (Tarrida)

"Sure." (Stoll)

"Maybe. Humans have definitely a sense of robot in the music." (Oral)

"Yes! It may be an additional function but it often occurs that kind of useless things turn out to be very popular features." (Yasuda)


Why are robots necessary?

"To do human work. That was the idea of automation." (Tarrida)

"They wouldn't be necessary in a world where people got up off their lazy asses. I hate lazy people with their robot butlers and fancy sexbots. By the way, I only like sequencers with knobs and I also hate midi and fuck Protools. I also hate when people download tracks illegally, and then blame their robot for doing it when they get caught." (Stoll)

"I think they're definitely not necessary. In my opinion they belong to the Industrial Revolution and therefore lead nowhere but self destruction for mankind. But on the other side we're lazy and love our little helpers and seem to be willing to pay the price - it's a Faust thing." (Oral)

"Not necessary." (Yasuda)


What kind of robot/automated helper is essential in your life, and why so?

"The cruise control in my car on long road trips." (Stoll)

"Hmm, the only servo motors I can think of are in the hideaway lights of my 1968 Cougar..." (Oral)

"My Mac." (Tarrida)

"Not essential." (Yasuda)


Describe your remix of 'Robota' in 21 words or less.

"Automated dance music for humans, and robots if they like." (Tarrida)

"Rrrraaaaaawwwwwwwkkkkkkkk. That's robot-speak for 'techno'." (Stoll)

"A more mechanical-sounding perspective of the iron made friend. Inflexible but funky!" (Oral)


What angle did you choose to take in the remix you did, and how do the Robo*Brazileira vocals sit with that interpretation?

"I just thought 'If I were a robot, how would I sequence this?', and it seemed to work." (Stoll)

"I cut out the words robotica and dance; why cant robots dance too?" (Tarrida)

"Hmmm." (Oral)

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What do you think of the record's artwork by Marcin Markowski - and is this your style when it comes to robots or are you more serious-minded?

"The artwork is catchy!" (Yasuda)

"I like robots that look like they want to rip off your arms and smack you around; Markowski kicks ass!" (Stoll)

"I think they are half of the concept and I really like them. Serious-minded is something that should be avoided like a disease." (Oral)

"I love it, the green really stands out, it's a really striking image." (Tarrida)


What do you think of the over all record musically?

"It's a great mix of versions, important for a remix package." (Tarrida)


Is vinyl a bit old fashioned for a release that's focused itself around a sense of the 'future' - or can robot iconography and ideology be suitably retro as well?

"Robots make records, so I think it works fine." (Tarrida)

"Edison cylinders are old fashioned and hard to beat-match with. Vinyl is still viable and now unprofitable." (Stoll)

"The vinyl sound fits that kind of music very much, I think!" (Yasuda)


Why are records important these days, anyway?

"For their bigness!" (Yasuda)

"Sorry, they're not. Vinyl isn't handy, it's heavy, gets scratches, eats up your space at home, costs a fortune, needs oil... BUT IT SOUNDS BETTER THAN ANYTHING WE GOT YET." (Oral)

"It's good to lift heavy stacks of vinyl to stay in shape, but remember to bend at the knees. I recall changing apartments in New York and the movers saying 'What the f**k do you have in these boxes?!'." (Stoll)

"There's room for both vinyl and digital in this world." (Tarrida)


Would robots prefer to play wax or digital?

"Of course robots have access to both the Internet and a built-in player!" Oral laughs. "To please his master he's able to DJ with several decks simultaneously."

"The record would be nice for the contrast, " hankers Yasuda, while Tarrida is more the realist here: "Pre-2005 robots would play vinyl, and post 2005 would play with Serato..."

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And Stoll is right on the money.

"All serious robots listen only to Morton Subotnick - Google him, kids - on vinyl," he says.

"I should also point out that they only use audiophile turntables that're synchronized to the earth's exact rotational force. By the way, robots are seriously offended by Kraftwerk's portrayal of them and have openly vowed to destroy Florian; that's why he left the band." (Stoll).


For what it's worth, 'Robota' is out now via Prime Direct in the UK.

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This page is an archive of entries in the Audio category from April 2010.

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