Z-Machines Robot Band Programmed To Take Over
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It had to come to this eventually: a functional computerized ‘band’ called “Z-Machines.” Created by engineers at the University of Tokyo, the robot band uses around 300 kilowatts of electricity and replicates, albeit in sterile form, the sounds of an actual band. The ‘guitarist,’ ‘March,’ is two meters tall, has 78 fingers and wild long hair made of cables. Meanwhile, the ‘drummer,’ named Ashura, has 22 arms in order to do his — its — thing. And finally we have ‘Cosmo’ on keyboards.
“Using robots has this eerie narrative associated with it — the twilight area between human and machine,” composer Tom Jenkinson told CNN. Under the moniker of Squarepusher, Jenkinson has been churning out his own computerized sounds for years now. “It’s just a box of tricks,” he adds. “But it still haunts us because we see it as an impression of ourselves.”
Designed by engineer Kenjiro Matsuo. the robot band has been turning heads to all who have seen it. “We just bought a power board which has a switch,” he said. “Many people can try to make this kind of robot in their house now.” No surprise then that this robot band will soon be releasing their debut recording. ‘Sad Robot Goes Funny’ is the debut single from a forthcoming five-track EP.
“Can these robots play music that is emotionally engaging?” pondered Jenkinson, who wrote the song, “It’s a fascinating question, and one that I’ve tried to explore in this project. I’ll let people make up their own minds.” Surprisingly, perhaps, the answer is yes. Though it does have a mechanical quality to it, it is not without texture and variation, and to some degree resembles ’70s jazz fusion with a hint of prog mixed in.” It’s just another way of making sound,” he adds. “But in this case what’s interesting is the aesthetics of the instrument.”
“We are the robots,” indeed.