Squarepusher is known for his insane performances—when he's not playing frenetic bass guitar, he's standing in front of an LED backdrop in an LED mask warping audience minds with an audiovisual attack. And now he's collaborating with a robot band, Z-MACHINES—featuring a guitarist, drummer, and keyboard player—and Daito Manabe, who directs the piece, for a track called "Sad Robot Goes Funny".
Exploring and aiming to lay waste to the claim that for music to be emotional it has to come entirely from human hands, Jenkinson's already capable ability has been augmented by him having control over 78 fingers, 12 picks, and 22 drums (three of them bass) to take the listener on a polyphonic jazz-ride. "I kept the guitar sound clean (i.e., no distortion) so I could freely explore the possibilities of polyphony." he says.
And if you were wondering what the song's about, it's a narrative about the plight of our mechanical friends. Shunted by the public as nothing more than crowd-pleasing performers, the robots are sad that they're not seen for their other qualities—I'll let Squarepusher explain the rest:
And so this sadness comes out in the music they play, and strangely becomes one of the reasons why the public like them because they seem to be able to evoke strong emotions in their audience. But when the public goes home, the robots play their own music which is more fun and to do with their playful aspect —they think back to being young robots, before they were employed in the sphere of public entertainment, and remember the silly antics they used to get up to. So the first section of the piece is them entertaining the public and being sad, then the second section is them having fun when the public goes home, and lastly the third section is when the public comes back and they are sad again.
No doubt you would've figured that all out anyway.
For more Squarepusher check out his performance at our San Francisco event below...