Squarepusher and Z-Machines: Music Performing System


Squarepusher, UK based recording artist famous for the live instrumental playing and digital signal processing has again hit the music world but this time, in a collaborative effort with the Z-Machines, Japan’s party robot band. The evolved band has come up with a 78-fingered guitarist stringing out with 12 picks and a dreadlocked robot drummer.

The effort is to explode the stereotypical myth, says Squarepusher where people think human touch or emotion is necessary to churn out the melody, which goes into the music. He wanted to prove that machines too are capable of giving out the essence of real music. His latest song, “Sad Robot Goes Funny” is a proof of it, where the musical piece transcends from chamber music into Miles Davis and Steve Vai’s android love child.


The guitar robot is able to carry out tasks efficiently that would otherwise be impossible to be done by humans because of their anatomical limitations. For example, the machine can make use of 12 picks simultaneously, all the ‘fingers’ work independently with respect to each other, they are far from influencing each other, which of course in not the case with humans.

The band do not hesitate of claiming that it could be a mixture of Charlie Hunter’s bass line and lead melody with Joe Satriani’s speed. Period.


Here is the link of the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkUq4sO4LQM

“Sad Robot Goes Funny” sounds good no doubt about that but as far as emotions are concerned, I personally don’t think machines have reached that level of efficiency as yet. I myself don’t know much about guitars, I’d say I’m still at level zero but I do look upon great names like Jimi Hendrix, John Fahey, Keith Scott, Tommy Emmanuel, John Petrucci, James Hetfield, David Gilmour to name a few. I can bet, anybody who’d listen to either of them even at least once, would feel the ethereal quality of music, the melody which has the similar effect like that of panacea on the soul, no machine can ever equal to that experience.

Even if these machines copy the body language and human tricks of producing notes or finger picking patterns, which I can envision. They might still reach the proximity of humans but as far as emotions are concerned, I am still doubtful.


Source: Warp

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