Tag Archive: Free the Robots


“The Balance” is Free the Robots aka Chris Alfaro third album after his self titled debut album (2008) and “Ctrl Alt Delete” (2010) and his profile hasn’t been higher than its is now. Despite being associated with the Low End Theory club night and the L.A. musicians such as Flying Lotus, The Gaslamp Killer etc it’s taken a long time for Alfaro to emerge from their shadow. But he’s here now and we’re all the better for it.

The album opens with the heavy reverberant piano chords and downbeat drums ‘Ophic’ which features a swirling organ melody and the smoky vocals of Jessie Jones. ‘Reflect and Reform’ starts off with wah-wah filtered synth and female voice singing ‘la la la la la’, then a huge, slow moving hip-hop beat drops and a glassy, whistling synth hovers over head. Around 1 minutes 30 seconds in a busy, fast tumbling drum beat and computer game synth bass and melodies kick in, before the woman returns around 2 minutes in. The song changes again with the last minute this time sounding like a glitch hop beat with a simple more reflective lead synth melody over the top.

‘Parallaxis’ kicks off with an upbeat drum break, bass guitar and muted guitar riff, this intro reminds me of getaway music. Then the track breaks down to a head nodding hip-hop beat and synth bass splurges. An 8-bit synth melodies kick in around 1 minute and 30 seconds, before the chase music feel returns brief. Then the track switches back to the head nodding beat. ‘Innervision’ explores the more electronic side of the Free the Robots sound and features slow and stretched electronic drums, twangy, spooky guitars and detuned sounding synths. Later a slow synced LFO bass line drops and takes over. Voice samples are placed in the background throughout. A warm electric piano melody kicks in for the last quarter of the track.

‘Blindfold’ matches thick analogue synths that dive in, bubbling up and bringing in a rolling hip-hop beat full of flams and rolls before an organ melody take over lead duties. Later on great slabs of synth bass dominate the second half of the track and a computer game synth melody hovers above it. The album’s title track is another highlight combining dark reverberate piano chords, a complex beat full of rolling bass drum and snare. These are followed swiftly by a resonate synth melody and a counter point played on organ comes in after 1 minute 30 seconds. The melody becomes a yearning flute around 2 minutes 30 seconds in.

“The Balance” is a good title for this album as Alfaro attempts to bring together many disparate sounds and genres that it could all go wrong so easily. Yet he found a balance between all of these elements and created a great album out of them. Definitely one for fans of Flying Lotus and anything on the Ninja Tune and Stones Throw labels.

5th  August


Blondes – “Swisher” (RVNG INTL)

The duo of Sam Haar and Zach Steinman was last heard demonstrating this transcendent practice – one favoring analog serenity to digital flare – on the duo’s 2012 self-titled debut album. Tracks were titled with conceptual dualisms, released on opposing 12” sides prior to album compilation and gleaned house and techno rudiments with spiritually escapist split ends.

Around the release of Blondes, Haar and Steinman advocated the humanistic side of dance culture, mentioning the meditative potential of electronic music as channeled through their interest in the physicality of music making, such as hardware instrumentation and improvisation. At the same time, Blondes’ live performances steadily flared up in various types of venues, mostly outside of the DIY spaces the duo got their start: the traditional club, the art museum, the open air festival, and some of the best sound systems throughout Europe.

The evolution of sound systems on which Blondes played created a curve along which Haar and Steinman built a universally impactful sonic experience. After rehauling their gear and settling into a new studio space, Blondes’ busy year ended in an intensely focused production period during which Haar and Steinman sculpted the boldly detailed Swisher.

Moderat – “Moderat II” (Monkeytown/Mute)

Back in 2009 Apparat and Modeselektor teamed up for what seemed like a one off album release. However, they’ve announced a new album the Moderat side project. Combining Apparat’s emotive soundscapes and Modeselektor’s twisted hard hitting club beats, this album promises to dominate underground dance in 2013. You can see the art and track listing for “Moderat II” here.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/69467838″>Moderat “Bad Kingdom” | Monkeytown Rec.</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/pfadfinderei”>Pfadfinderei</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

12th August


The Bug – “Filthy” EP (Ninja Tune)

The Bug is back in full effect with the “Filthy” EP, and has hooked up with the inimitable Danny Brown and his King Midas Sound cohort Kiki Hitomi for the ferocious “Freakshow”. It promises to be a great taster ahead of the long awaited “Angels and Demons” album.

19th August


Free the Robots – “The Balance” (self-released)

Shortly after the release of his excellent In Other Worlds EP, Free The Robots is on to his full-length, The Balance. Santa Ana’s Chris Alfaro plans on dropping the album on his own accord. With features from just Jessie Jones and Jonwayne, this album is sure to be yet another expansive and exploratory instrumental adventure.

Julia Holter – “Loud City Song” (Domino)

Loud City Song is Holter’s first studio album proper, and it both continues and furthers the singular vision of its predecessors, 2011’s debut Tragedy and last year’s Ekstasis, as she experiments with intricate arrangements of words and pop melodies to build both an individual collection of songs as well as one unified story–a “song” of songs.

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