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