Monday, 27 November 2017

Gong : Robo-Warriors

Last time I posted two robot songs by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard; a band I've been listening to a lot of in recent months, but it took me a while to realise that they'd done a handful of robot songs (I really must pay more attention when listening to music).

This time I'm posting a robot song by a band I've been listening to for the best part of thirty years, and I've only just noticed that they've got a robot song tucked up their sleeve... and they only released it eight years ago! Gong mostly sing songs about pixies and teapots and all sorts of new-age stuff and apart from Mother Gong's Robot Woman LPs, proper Gong just don't do robots... or so I thought.

Gong formed in the fields of northern France in the late nineteen-sixties and despite numerous line-up changes, splits, reformations, disbands, rebrands, reunions and far too much mortality, they're still going strong. Gong are arguably my favourite band of all time, and it's only a handful of their early albums that keep me going back to them. My big brother introduced me to Gong in around nineteen-eighty-eight, and I was happy in nineteen-eighty-nine when Gong (under the banner of Gongmaison) came to play in Morecambe of all places, and the tickets were a mere £3. As mentioned, they've been my favourite band ever since, although their output after the Gongmaison album has (in my mind) not been great. The Shapeshifter album (1992) disappointed me on so many levels so I wasn't expecting much from their next release; Zero to Infinity (2000). It sounded like a poor impression of themselves. They'd long lost the spark that they once had way back in the early seventies, and only frontman, founder and driving force Daevid Allen remained from their classic line-up. I'd briefly listen to subsequent recordings but never returned for a second listen until I heard 2014's I See You, which was by far their best LP since Gongmaison (1989). Daevid Allen died aged 77 in 2015, and I guess I was just as surprised and bewildered as anyone when it was announced in early 2016 that Gong would continue.

In September 2016, Gong released Rejoice, I'm Dead! which far exceeded my expectations. It's arguably their best LP since 1989 and along with I See You, is the only one since Gongmaison that I've given repeated listens... which explains why it's taken me so long to discover their robot song.
Robo-Warriors is tucked away on their 2032 LP, released in 2009. After several disappointing albums, I'm not sure if I ever gave 2032 a proper listen before today, and it's actually quite good.

I can't find a video of the Robo-Warriors track, but the whole album is free to listen to. Hopefully when you press play it'll begin at the correct point, but failing that Robo-Warriors begins at around 47m.20secs.

Monday, 13 November 2017

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard : Robot Stop

It's been a long time since my last post here on 101 Songs About Robots... but it's been a most eventful year to date. Since my previous entry, which featured the hugely talented Beardyman and the Masters of Distraction performing My Robotic Skin is Bleeding live on Tom Robinson's 6Music show, I've been in talks with the B bloody BC of all people! They were impressed with my 'finger on the trigger button' approach to blogging and were keen on using the 'songs about robots' format on their network. I was keen on a six part series on BBC1, similar to Danny Baker's Rockin' Decades, but on BBC1 and in a prestigious prime time slot rather than tucked away in the arse end of BBC4.
I also floated the idea of a two part docudrama which charts my decade long search for one-hundred-and-one songs about robots. I proposed Daniel Craig play the lead role (who bears a striking resemblance to yours truly in both looks and physique), along with a supporting cast including Maureen Lippmann, Daniel Radcliffe, Billy Piper and Bjork. The BBC, however weren't quite so keen on using my 'songs about robots' format for a ratings-busting television series, but for radio!

With the wind thoroughly knocked out of my sails, I battled on henceforward and entered talks with the big knobs at BBC 6 Music. I suggested filling the Sunday 1pm slot as well as hosting (where is) Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service at 4pm that very same Sunday. This would be followed by a special Now Playing show on the theme of robot songs, curated by yours truly, as well as being the major guest on Stuart Maconie's FreakZone, taking about freaky robot songs. This would have been a great treat for the listeners since I would have previously curated the FreakZone Playlist too... but alas, it was not to be. I was mad keen on the TV show and felt that the only way I'd get it was to use my intellectual property rights as leverage. "No TV show, no radio!" is what I told 'em. I stormed out of the BBC canteen with my head held high and rather large wheel of Stilton concealed 'neath my cape.

The Sunday 1pm slot never happened, nor did my chance at filling (where is) Jarvis Cocker's shoes on the Sunday Service. And since Stuart Maconie had a cream cracker buttered an poised, ready to be clad in a modest layer of Stilton at the moment of my departure, my involvement with the FreakZone show also came to an abrupt end. I prefer the Interesting Alternative Show these days anyway, hosted by cue wielding snooker legend Steve Davis and his sidekick /slash/ Gong member Kavus Tuvetti... Tavardi... Tivolli... any way... I stormed out of the BBC taking my intellectual property with me. And what did the BBC do? You guessed it!

In the early hours of Sunday 5th November, Stuart Maconie broadcast a robot themed playlist hosted by not me, but a feckin' robot. And later that very same day, after the edition of (where is) Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service that i should have been hosting, Tom Robinson hosted a Now Playing show also on a theme of robots! The sneaky buggers had twisted my format just enough to allow them to claim it as their own. Livid doesn't come close. I phoned my lawyer and sought legal advice, only to be told that by simply removing the words 'songs' and 'about' from my 'songs about robots' format means they can claim my intellectual property as their own. I was also advised to either remove most of the above from my blog or clearly state that it mostly didn't happen, and anything stated that did happen, most likely didn't happen to me.

However the fact* remains that neither Robinson nor Maconie gave me any credit for my blog being fundamental in the curation of both their 'robot' themed shows (Maconie played Kraftwerk, Connie Francis and Black Sabbath, all leached from this very blog)... and adding insult to injury, not a single listener stated that my blog was instrumental in helping them decide which tracks to suggest for the Now Playing show (which featured Goldie Lookin' Chain, Marina and the Diamonds, Damon Albarn, Kraftwerk (again), Grandaddy, Flaming Lips, Flight of the Conchords, Gary Numan, Black Sabbath (again... very unprofessional) and many more that I'm yet to blog about)... and as if rubbing salt into the wound, Robinson didn't play my suggested track; Synthetic Man by Rockets (ticking both 'robot' and 'bonfire night' boxes).

Hard done by doesn't come into it!

But one good thing did come out of my (possibly imaginary) experience with the BBC... and that is King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Having heard their name mentioned early in the year, I was drawn to their performance on the Glastonbury coverage. They're by far the best band I've heard since Fiery Furnaces, with their raucous non-stop space infused psych-rock... but I didn't realise that they'd written a handful of robot songs until I listened to Tom Robinson's Now Playing (plagiarising!) show. Robinson played Han-Tyumi: The Confused Cyborg whilst Maconie played Robot Stop earlier that day... so by way of getting my own back, I'm going to post both of them!

From their 2016 LP titled 'Nonagon Infinity', it's King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard with Robot Stop.

I suppose I'd better throw Maconie a bone and let my loyal readers give his (ahem) 'Robot' playlist a listen, or at least a look at the track listing when the show's no longer available. I'll warn you though... most are instrumental and therefore are not 'songs' about robots, and of the songs featured, at least two of them aren't about robots either since they merely have a robot title and no lyrical references.
If I'd been involved, it wouldn't have been quite so sloppy.

*The evidenceBetween the 1st and 3rd of November 2017, 101 Songs About Robots had a total of ten page views. On the 4th it had thirty-seven page views, clearly from Stuart Maconie researching his (cough) playlist. On the 5th it had forty-eight page views, evidently from Tom Robinson's listeners looking for inspiration on this hitherto unknown genre... and on the 6th, three.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Han-Tyumi, The Confused Cyborg

Stealing a song from Tom Robinson's recent Now Playing show which shamelessly and blatantly plagiarised my 'songs about robots' format... I'll go one better and not only give you Han-Tyumi, The Confused Cyborg, but the entire Han-Tyumi and the Murder of the Universe suite... enjoy!

Taken from their psych-tastic 'Murder of the Universe' album... track listing is as follows:

  • 00.00 Welcome To An Altered Future
  • 00.55 Digital Black
  • 03.42 Han-Tyumi, The Confused Cyborg
  • 06.47 Soy-Protein Munt Machine
  • 06.34 Vomit Coffin
  • 08.53 Murder Of The Universe

It wouldn't be fair to throw Maconie a bone and not let Robinson share it with him, so here's a link to the Now Plagiarising show on the theme of robots... a show which didn't feature Synthetic Man by Rockets, but it would have been a heck of a lot better if it had.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

My Robotic Skin is Bleeding / Screen Addiction : Beardyman and the Masters of Distraction

I'm writing this post as this song is being composed and performed live on the fly on BBC Radio 6 Music. This isn't 'hot off the press'. it's not even on the press, yet... but it's a robot song that's fresher than a fresh thing in fresher's week.

The premise is, listeners of Tom Robinson's Now Playing show send in titles to songs that don't exist and the superbly talented Beardyman and his band, the Masters of Distraction are making the songs up live, improvised and synthesised.

You can could listen to the entire show here... but they're only available for a month after broadcast. Beardyman's hour long live and improvised set is 60 minutes in and the song, My Robotic Skin is Bleeding / Screen Addiction is a 105 minutes in (that's about an hour and three-quarters in imperial). I'll also give a shout to Ben Oldham who suggested the 'robotic skin' half of the title and thus, inspired the robot theme of the song... great work Ben! :)