Issue 27 Print Edition
SPECIAL ROBOT EDITION, Kraftwerk, New Order, Depeche Mode, Max Richter, The Flying Lizards, the best new tech and toys, a bumper album reviews section, and so much more.
In case you hadn’t noticed, this edition of Electronic Sound is all about robots. It turns out we’ve been trying to perfect the robot for hundreds of years, as we learned at the Science Museum’s ‘Robots’ exhibition. Why is the robot such a staple of the electronic music aesthetic? In the robot, it seems, we have invested all kinds of human hopes and anxieties. They will take care of us when we are old, and they will also become self-aware and destroy us puny humans. The might even get together
to make a new Kraftwerk album while they’re at it.
Despite the idea that electronic music is somehow mechanised and inhuman, it is of course as human as all our endeavours. Take the development of the first British synthesiser, the VCS 3, as an example. Cooked up in the age of The Beatles and valve technology, when war surplus shops still dominated streets in “swinging” London, the iconic and eccentric machine couldn’t be more British; innovative, eccentric, difficult to predict, and destined to become a museum piece.
Around the same time of the launch of the VCS 3, ‘Tomorrow’s World’ introduced the country to the Moog modular synth, with Mike Vickers of Manfred Mann, synth programmer to The Beatles, demonstrating its sonic power. We spoke to him about that moment, and his work with George Martin on the ‘Abbey Road’ album.
There’s nothing we like better at Electronic Sound than uncovering great electronic music that people may have missed first time around, and the output of Philippe Besombes is a fine example. His limited 1970s discography is getting a long-deserved reissue and he talked to us about his work with Jean-Michel Jarre, Iannis Xenakis, Pierre Boulez and Stockhausen.
Elsewhere, we put Max Richter and Düsseldorf’s Hauschka together and eavesdropped on their illuminating conversation, discovering their shared favourite breakfast along the way, interview Blanck Mass about his startling new album, Thievery Corporation about their Jamaican sojourn which produced the excellent new collection ‘The Temple of I & I’. All this and Synthesiser Dave and the new Depeche Mode album, too.