Squarepusher x Z-Machines: Music for Robots

Squarepusher x Z-Machines: Music for Robots

(Warp, 4/8/14)

First things first: the Z-Machines are a robot band featuring a guitarist wielding 12 picks and 78 piston fingers, a drummer beating 22 drums with 4 sticks, and a keyboard player that shoots green lasers from its face. This isn’t the kind of animatronic bullshit you find at Chuck E. Cheese’s, heralding a crusty pizza and an equally crusty ballpit. The Z-Machines are otherworldly — on some levels, even frightening — but with a setlist composed by the reality-bending Squarepusher, the listening experience is unparalleled.

Despite the Skynet flashbacks (flash-forwards?), Music for Robots isn’t as soulless as one might suspect. In fact, the album is surprisingly human-sounding. There’s a fair bit of mecha-muscle flexing, but the mood and atmosphere is so lush and the progression is so gradual in tracks like “Sad Robot Goes Funny” that when it eventually progresses into the realm of human impossibility, it sounds like a natural progression — for better or worse, the musical singularity.