Warp Records has announced a new EP, composed by Squarepusher and performed by three music robots (the Z-Machines) will be released on 7th April (8th in North America).
Here’s what Squarepusher has to say about the 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.
Here’s a video of the Z-Machines performing Squarepusher’s Sad Robot Goes Funny. The track showcases the chops of the robotic guitarist, playing multiple melody lines with 78 fingers and 12 picks:
- MACH -Robot guitarist challenging the speed of over BPM1000
- ASHURA -Robot drummer that can play the most complex rhythm on 22 drums
- COSMO -Robot keyboard player resembling a future life form
See the Warp site for more details.