Tom Jenkinson, aka Squarepusher, is known for pushing the limits of electronic music.
His latest EP goes beyond electronic sounds and into the territory of electronic musicians: robots that play instruments.
He first encountered the musical machinery last year when Japanese researchers introduced him to the Z-Machine robots: a 78-fingered guitarist, a percussionist utilizing 22 drums, and a lightning speed keyboardist. Jenkinson was immediately impressed by the robots’ capabilities.
He also discovered that in spite of their incredible abilities, they are not limitless. In fact, Jenkinson even had fun playing with pushing the guitar robot too far:
“There are elements in the recording where I’ve actually deliberately pushed it too far, because you can then start to get these very strange, random, idiosyncratic…barrage of noise that I find really fascinating and quite interesting.”
Ultimately, though, Jenkinson wanted to find out if robot musicians could make emotional music. While he is reluctant to say whether or not he succeeded, he’s fairly certain that the album went a long way in providing an answer:
“I find technology fascinating in it’s own right, but my criteria for releasing a piece of music is that it has something above and beyond that. It has an element which can’t be written down, it can’t be quantified.”
Listen to a Spotify playlist built by Ben Johnson featuring artists from our Playing With Machines series, and others:
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.
Give today and get our limited edition tote.