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Squarepusher Makes Music With Robots

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Squarepusher is still widely regarded as possibly the most forward-thinking electronic artist of today. His rich approach to creating new and exciting music, while also pushing the boundaries of what a live show could be continues to expand minds and challenge orthodoxies. From the very outset his work showed  a nous for the unconventional and this experimental edge to his production style quickly got him noticed as well as compared to other visionary artists of the day such as Aphex Twin and Luke Vibert. After swiftly making waves the young Squarepusher would then sign a five-album deal with the iconic Warp Records and begin his seminal career.

With such an illustrious back catalogue of work and series of large scale tours behind we’d forgive Tom for taking at little time out in 2014. We’re pleased to report however that this won’t be the case with LED welding mask donning maestro revealing details of a upcoming  5 track EP on Warp which will make use of his much innovative nature and see him using music-playing robots as instruments.

According to Warp Records, in 2013 “a team of young Japanese roboticists assembled with the challenge of creating a music-performing system that was beyond the capabilities of even the most advanced musicians” for a project which led to the creation of three robots called the Z-Machines.

Speaking on the new project  Squarepusher explains the appeal of working with “a guitarist with 78 fingers and a drummer with 22 arms” and his motivations for doing so stating: “In this 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 robot was programmed with specifications that “permits certain possibilities and excludes others,” Squarepusher adds. “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.”

Entitled Music For Robots, the EP is slated for release this April on via, Warp to continue his long standing relationship with the iconic imprint. Check out a video that further explains the project below:

Let’s hope a live show is in the works!

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