Live’n’loud: Midnight Jug­ger­nauts talk sci-fi pop ......

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS - – ROSS PUR­DIE

THE quest for mak­ing ro­bot mu­sic with hu­man hands goes on for Midnight Jug­ger­nauts – and there isn’t a Daft Punk hel­met in sight.

The Melbourne trio is back with a third al­bum that fil­ters ’70s soft rock and ’80s dance in­flu­ences into a me­chan­i­cal fist of sci-fi pop.

‘‘We’ve al­ways come from the view of a tra­di­tional band, just put through a range of ef­fects and ped­als to get a new sound,’’ drum­mer Daniel Stricker says.

‘‘That’s some­thing we’ve been in­ter­ested in for a long time, not just the robotic con­no­ta­tions of test­ing tech­nol­ogy but in the way there are end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties.’’

As well as stretch­ing their sonic palette and in­tro­duc­ing a se­ries of slow jams, in­clud­ing the come­back sin­gle Bal­lad Of The War Ma­chine, the trio did their home­work on the fol­lowup to 2010’s The Crys­tal Axis.

The ti­tle of their new al­bum was in­spired by the Ja­panese sci­en­tist Masahiro Mori, who hy­poth­e­sised in 1970 about hu­man re­ac­tions to ad­vances in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. His study sug­gested a tip­ping-point of hu­man re­jec­tion, or an ‘‘un­canny val­ley’’, if ro­bots ever be­came too real.

Stricker says the the­ory is be­ing tested as we tum­ble down the elec­tronic rab­bit hole.

‘‘We can all see CGI and ro­bot­ics be­com­ing more re­al­is­tic, and there’s the un­der­ly­ing fear that the tech­nol­ogy will take over,’’ he says.

‘‘I read about iPhone tech­nol­ogy that can in­di­cate when you’re go­ing to crash into some­thing. Ac­cord­ing to the de­vel­oper it’s been proven that as we’re pro­gress­ing, we’re los­ing some of our senses so we need in­ven­tions to make up for them. I thought that was ter­ri­fy­ing.’’

The al­bum Un­canny Val­ley was con­ceived in two stages: the first in­flu­enced by ’70s French break­beat and the likes of Serge Gains­bourg, of­fer­ing smooth and melodic tracks, such as the Bea­tles-es­que Mas­ter Of Gold.

The later ma­te­rial was shaped by mod­ern forms of elec­tron­ica, and the lo­cal mu­si­cians Midnight Jug­ger­nauts have signed to their record label Siberia, in­clud­ing in­dus­trial dance act Forces and loop­ing guru Kirin J. Cal­li­nan.

Much of the al­bum was recorded in a French church in the Loire val­ley, where they com­bined old pump or­gans with a ta­ble full of elec­tronic to cre­ate at­mo­spheric com­po­si­tions, which fea­ture heav­ily at the end of cur­rent sin­gle Me­mo­rium.

‘‘It’s all about be­ing able to cre­ate some­thing new,’’ Stricker says.

‘‘There’s the ba­sic song and the lyric that peo­ple can con­nect with but in terms of the pro­duc­tion, you can make it sound like any­thing.’’

Midnight Jug­ger­nauts have been ex­ploit­ing the am­pli­fi­ca­tions of sam­plers, ped­als and patches since the band rose to fame on their 2007 al­bum Dystopia.

While the hits Into The Galaxy and Shad­ows be­came bang­ing party an­thems on tours to Europe and be­yond, the band also won crit­i­cal ac­claim, with XLR8R mag­a­zine nam­ing Dystopia its al­bum of the year.

Af­ter open­ing for Tame Im­pala on their Aus­tralian tour, Midnight Jug­ger­nauts are back on the road in Europe be­fore they head home for a head­lin­ing tour.

Un­canny Val­ley is re­leased to­mor­row. Midnight Jug­ger­nauts play The Hi-Fi, Bris­bane, on Au­gust 30 and The Great North­ern Ho­tel, By­ron Bay, on Au­gust 31.

Midnight Jug­ger­nauts

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