A Very Clever Robot - "A Daring 160 R.P.M." (Fortyseven Records 2003)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: March 2004
Automatons rule, the machines rock, and all human is error in the thoroughly mechanized universe that AVCR inhabits. Though no credits are given on the sleeve, the group's influences and antecedents are easily discernible. The Düsseldorf school of German sound engineering (Kraftwerk, Neu) wed to elements of 90s Euro-trance (Vapourspace, Kraftwelt) drive almost all of these very hypnotic, digitized dirges for robots and cybernauts. Synthesizers, drum machines, loops, and an assortment of electronics make up the arsenal from which A Very Clever Robot construct their technocratic anthems for the cyberage. Almost no human element (vocals and guitars, for instance) is detectable in the synthetic paradise of songs like "Wito," "Apparatus for Signaling without Wires," and "Reaction," but when AVCR "rock" (as in "Power Outage"), they generate some fearful positronic drive. In AVCR's best songs, the kling-klang of Kraftwerk is welded to the metronomic pulse of Orbital and it all gets punctuated with the bleeps, bloops, pings and pongs characteristic of any number of ambient/techno/trance/whatchamacallit groups that are currently so fashionable in clubs across the globe. But AVCR is actually far more listenable than most of the faceless loopers/samplists/DJs we seem to be inundated with right now. The achingly beautiful "Regarding Liquid" attests to that. Its pretty but melancholic piano phrase, haunting synth melody and backdrop of whooshing filtered white noise almost make it sound like a lost track from Eno's Another Green World or Jon Foxx's Metamatic. If robots made music-and who knows, maybe AVCR really is one-this is what it would sound like.
For more information you can visit the Fortyseven Records web site at: http://www.fortysevenrecords.com.
Reviewed by Charles van de Kree