Tom Jenkinson, aka Squarepusher, composed a piece of music for robots last year called “Sad Robots Goes Funny” (you can watch that at the bottom of this post). Jenkinson worked with a team of Japanese roboticists and producer Kenjiro Matsuo to compose the piece for the Z-Machines robots. The Z-Machine robots feature a guitarist with 77 fingers and a 22-armed drummer robot. (Is the Z for Zima? Also, it appears that Zima still exists!)
Well, that wasn’t enough for Jenkinson. He’s working with Matsuo and the Z-Machine robots again for a five-track EP that will be released by Warp Records on April 7, April 8 in the US and Canada. Jenkinson has emphasized that he enjoys the idea of create music with emotion for robots to play as the standard perception is that music performed by robots will lack emotion, that it requires a human to do that.
That means were are just one EP closer to Bladerunner becoming reality.
Here’s what Jenkinson has to say about the project:
“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.”
Check out “Sad Robots Goes Funny” and the EP tracklist below.
01. Remote Amber
02. Sad Robot Goes Funny
03. World Three
05. You Endless