Monday, April 5, 2010

Domo Arigato, Mr. Robota

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 out today 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.

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.

I was a huge fan in the '90s and first interviewed him just over a decade ago; 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.

Rounding out the remixing troupe is Germany's Cem Oral (a.k.a Jammin' Unit/Ultrahigh/4E), the genius behind Cube 40's 'Bad Computa' and Air Liquide's 'Robot Wars'.

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 here (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 waffling conversation can be online at the Fun in the Murky website.

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