Robotnick is at his eclectic best with this edition of his Archives series; each of the 3 tracks can be readily classified but trying to come up with an overall thread of continuity is a hopeless cause. For those who didn’t see my interview with the Italian mad genius in 5 Mag’s December issue, Robotnick has gone through more than 30 years of unreleased odds and ends, rubbished most of it but pulled out and polished off (when necessary) the blood diamonds extracted from a long and curiously fruitful career.
Thus: Robotnick’s Archives, a monthly series of EPs to continue throughout 2012. While I stumbled for words to describe the compilation series in our interview, I think I’ve got it now: it’s the sort of series that’s usually released posthumously by an artist’s heirs. So you can say that Robotnick is, once again, well ahead of his time.
“Serenade” leads it off. Originally recorded back in 1986, the track (described in the liner notes as “minimal-electro”) gives you a good idea of the kinds of audio narcotics that powered the visions of Daft Punk; with a vocoder manned by Robotnick himself, you half expect someone to break out, chanting “Around the world around the wo-orld” over and over again. “Sharper Bluesman” is the sine qua non of Robotnick’s sound. Recorded in 2004, it sounds like Robotnick wanted to make a harder track (the stabs are absolutely vicious) but his pop sensibilities bleed through the handclaps and FX, with a funky groove and catchy little keyboard riff. “Le Freak” closes out the EP with probably the most unique cover from the Chic catalog ever attempted (most of which, it has to be admitted, have been rather sad). With bubbling keys emulating Nile Rodgers’ guitar licks, hilariously over-the-top vocals sounding rather like a French lounge lizard, this is just a hell of a lot of fun.