Mix: Waveform 036 – Alexander Robotnick

Credit: Guido Mannucci

Electro legend and pioneer of the Italo-Disco sound, Alexander Robotnick, joins us for this week’s Waveform Mix ahead of his collaborative release with Ludus Pinsky, When Machines Get Funky. The Waveform Transmitter’s Ste Knight presents.

Our mix this week comes from a true trailblazer of electronic music. Alexander Robotnick has been titillating fans of electro and Italo-Disco for over 35 years, and we are sure you will agree that this makes him what many would call a ‘living legend’ on the music scene. His contribution to those two definitive genres, as well as the wider musical landscape, is irrefutable, and we are blessed to have him join us this week.

The mix comes ahead of the release of his EP, a collaborative venture which sees him teaming up, once more, with Ludus Pinsky, under their well-documented Analog Session moniker. The results are, as you might expect, astounding, as the two creative minds come together with cataclysmic effect. You know you’re in for a real treat when these two combine their immense talent, and their forthcoming release, When Machines Get Funky, is no exception to the  rule.

Released on 25th February, the LP is packed with seven tracks loaded with analog goodness. The LP was laid down in Robotnick‘s studio in the summer of 2018, using a combination of equipment that the two producers have procured over the years. Largely recorded as improvisations, then arranged post-recording, the album offers an insight into the many influences that have shaped the sound that The Analog Session produces. The title doesn’t lie, these machines really do get funky.

The record opens with the low-slung percussion and Marianic bassline of Achtung Asteroid, before the title track comes into play, an immediately danceable track that should get the hips and ass rotating like a gyroscope. The BPM is raised for the next track, Until Emergency is Over – a retrofuturistic rumbler ready for the nightclub that the keen-eared listener may observe contains influences from Robotnick‘s decade-long exploration of world music. Also: them keys!! Beautiful.

The two tracks that follow, Lonely Dancer and Black Ground, are fresh reworks for 2019, full of improvised segments that give the tracks a whole new feel. Burning Sun contains some genuinely beautiful pad-work, which takes us nicely into the penultimate track, the hyper-cosmic and mysterious house number, Travelling to the Hidden Space.

Intermezzo is an incredible work, given that it isn’t only improvised in terms of sound, but also in terms of the equipment. Ludus Pinsky built the modular synth for this track himself, so this represents an indulgence for fans of the modular sound.

We took time out with Alexander Robotnick to see what he’s been up to recently, since finishing recording on When Machines Get Funky. Here’s what the man himself had to say.

Waveform: Hi Maurizio and thank you for taking time out of your schedule to speak with us. You’re currently of out in the Indian Ocean somewhere, aren’t you? Tell us about that. Is it business or pleasure? Or both?!

Alexander Robotnick: It’s mostly pleasure and a little business too because I’ve some gigs in India. Then I’m planning to move to Sri Lanka for at least 6 months a year.

Waveform: Do you spend the majority of your time in your hometown of Florence, then? Is that where you are ‘normally’ based?

Alexander Robotnick: Yes, I still spend most of my time in Florence but as I told you before I’m planning to spend much more time in Sri Lanka and India starting from 2020

Credit: Guido Mannucci

Waveform: So, you have a new album on the way, out next week (February 25th); When Machines Get Funky. Can you talk us through that?

Alexander Robotnick: As with most of The Analog Session‘s albums it’s based on improvisations performed in my studio by Ludus Pinsky and I.  It’s Modal music with not many tonal variations but continuous variation in tone-colour that leads to a hypnotic state. Liquid yet dramatically metronomic music. The Analog Session is the way we want to highlight the use of synthesizers as musical instruments instead of just production tools

Waveform: You’ve collaborated with Ludus (Pinsky) before haven’t you?

Alexander Robotnick: I’ve been working with Lapo Lombardi (Ludus Pinsky‘s real name) since the early 00s. We’ve released many albums under different names: LP&AR, Italcimenti, The Analog Session.

Waveform: What was the thinking behind your Waveform Mix?

Alexander Robotnick: Most tracks are by The Analog Session, from our next album and some from our first album. Then I included some more tracks that I composed, mostly tech oriented to match the mood of this mix and make something consistent.  No Italo Disco here.

Credit: Guido Mannucci

Waveform: In terms of your own sound, which artists do you find you have drawn most inspiration from over the years? You arguably invented your own style of electro, so what planted the seed?

Alexander Robotnick: Weather Report and the best bands of fusion Jazz in the 70s, Kraftwerk, Suicide and Grace Jones in the 80s.

Waveform: You’ve talked in the past about how Italian clubbers prefer a lighter nightclub rather than a dark room, to enjoy their clubbing experience. With this in mind, what are your feelings on mobile phones in clubs? Is it something you are particularly bothered about? Is it simply an extension of the ‘lights and mirrors’ in the Italian nightclubs you spoke of?

Alexander Robotnick: I don’t care about mobiles in clubs. I don’t see many people checking their mobiles while I’m playing. When I start to see more of them it means it’s time to stop because I’m getting boring. Something different is the use of mobiles’ cameras. “Can I have a picture with you?” It’s the present version of autographs. I always say yes, but only after I’ve finished my DJ set. Regarding lights and mirrors in Italian clubs (but mirrors are no longer much in use today) Italian people seem to be less shy while they are dancing than Americans and Britons who need to be in a dark room.

Credit: Guido Mannucci

Waveform: Finally, the question artists ALWAYS tell us they can’t answer (perhaps you’ll be a first), what are your top three all-time club tracks?

Alexander Robotnick: OK I’ll be the first one to do it! Giorgio Moroder/ Donna Summer : I Feel Love, Sister Sledge : We Are Family, Alexander Robotnick : Problèmes d’Amour (original) Ah!

Waveform: Thanks again, Maurizio, for talking with us! Best of luck with all your future releases.

Alexander Robotnick: Thanks Waveform

So, there you have it, fresh from the producer’s mouth! In the interview above Alexander states that there’s no Italo in the mix but, given that he was such a pioneer, the nuances of the sound are inescapable. There is no tracklist for this one, but safe to say it is packed with exclusives from the upcoming album, so get your amp warmed up and throw this one on loud, it’s cosmic. Enjoy (we know you will)…

Author: Ste Knight

Editor at The Waveform Transmitter. Lover of acid basslines, cavernous kick drums, and dark rooms. Cut his teeth to Surgeon's blistering techno assault at T-Funkshun in Liverpool and hasn't stopped for breath since.

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