ROBOT ROCK

robysopp

We’ve come to the conclusion recently that if you want to make a brilliant pop song it should somehow involve the word ‘robot’ in the title. Seriously, take a moment and have a think – is there one song involving shiny little mechanical men that doesn’t make you want to throw down your drink and pull shapes?

“I am sure there must be a bad song about robots,” ponders Torbjørn Brundtland when we confront him with our theory. “In 1982 when the average man on the street realised they could afford a vocoder there must have been hundreds of terrible songs called ‘Robotmuzik’ or something like that – but you know I just can’t think of one.” Tall, long haired and with a strange look in his eye, Torbjørn is half of unlikely pop duo Royksopp. Together for the last 10 years, they’ve recently released their latest and arguably best album ‘Junior’ after a four year hiatus spent “getting addicted to opium and showering together in the snow”.

It will come as no surprise then that their next single, heart-stoppingly entitled ‘The Girl and the Robot’ is their best yet. Pushing a spooky sounding cosmic choir together with agitating strings and an urgent throbbing bassline, it’s a tale of a obsessive and tragic girl which needed a killer vocal.  “We’d had a crush on her voice since we were teenagers and it’s been exciting to watch her grow and make some really interesting career choices.” Of course he’s talking about Robyn – Sweden’s fiercest pop musician and all round bittersweet pop siren. “Still I’m dying with every step I take” made us wail in ‘With Every Heartbeat’ and do not even get us started on her faltering scarf moment in ‘Be Mine’ or you’ll be here for hours listening to tales of woe about our one true love.

“I just love songs that make people dance but make them feel really sad while doing so,” squeaks Robyn excitedly when pressed on the traumatic issues. “Ultravox’s ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ sums it up perfectly!” Royksopp saw her love of all things melancholy and “hoped there was a slim chance she would come and work with two shabby guys from Norway”. Spending time at their studio in Bergen, Torbjørn can’t praise Robyn enough labelling her a ‘role model’ and a ‘down to earth lovely person.’  Together they captured the thoughts of depressive singletons or crazy obsessives everywhere with cheerful lyrics like ‘Fell asleep again in front of MTV’, ‘Rain starts falling & I just sit here by the phone’ and the full on panic of brilliant opening line ‘I go mental every time you go to work’. Weep.

Although ‘The Girl and the Robot’ is certainly ‘Junior’s most spectacular moment, ‘Tricky Tricky’ featuring Fever Ray / The Knife’s beaked lady Karin comes close. Appearing on stage with the band at their recent UK date at London’s Royal Festival Hall wearing an elaborate feathery headdress Grace Jones would kill for, her dark, gothic vocals are a world away from Robyn’s bursting emotions but just as staggering. Heavy album closer ‘It’s What I Want’ could pass quite happily as a Pet Shop Boys song while the euphoric ‘This Must Be It’ further strengthens the ‘Sopp’s regular collaborator Anneli Drecker as a voice not to be ignored. Long gone are the days when a Royksopp album could be thought of solely as the accompaniment to a middle class dinner party. While the retrospective sounding ‘Happy Up Here’ might trick you, Torbjørn emphasises that “Junior isn’t a full on dancefloor album but it’s certainly an invitation to party,” cheekily adding, “don’t listen to it every day though or you might go insane.”

Written for Attitude #180 but postponed till a later date which means this exact copy won’t ever really appear as it was written for the single release.

Hush Hush

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL2c-7ovdqU[/youtube]

Do you think the Pussycat Dolls thought they’d lost touch with their gay audience?

(watch it ALL the way through)

Beware the 456

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUMipXqC6Wo[/youtube]

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to the screening of the first episode of the next Torchwood series. Entitled ‘Children of Earth’ it’s a mini series that will be shown on BBC One at some undisclosed point this summer. As a massive fan of the modern day Whoniverse, it was exciting enough to see the show, never mind sit next to RTD in the orange juice and pastry lobby. I knew I was going to be interviewing lovely Welshman Gareth David Lloyd who plays Ianto the next day, but to make things even better we were taken into another room after the screening for roundtable sessions with John Barrowman, Gareth, Eve Myles and RTD himself. On a table with experience telly journalists all fighting to get their questions in it was quite an experience. Also watching a show with the cast and crew is a strange experience because they find random bits HILARIOUS.

My Torchwood piece (incidentally my first ever print TV article – exciting) will be on the shelves in Attitude out next week but here are some sneaky cuts that didn’t make it into the finished edition

* ‘I love his tongue in my mouth.’

* ‘He’s been my long time lover for years, that’s why we’ve given him more lines.’

* ‘I have to walk through the Tardis…’

* ‘It’s in John’s contract that we all look at him with doe-y eyes’

* ‘That person up there on the screen has changed my life.’

* ‘There are a couple more snogging scenes, but most of our time is spent saving the world’

Review: Escala – Escala

escala

After having been on our televisions now for many years, we’re surely all familiar with that certain glazed eye expression Simon Cowell gets when he sees the word ‘kerching’ appear. Before Susan Boyle trotted along, the most excited we’d seen him get on the oft cringe-worthy Britain’s Got Talent was when Escala, four pretty ladies playing a string quartet, powered their way through a classical adaptation of Wings classic ‘Live & Let Die’. While Simon and Piers might have been quick to over-enthusiastically declare the girls ‘totally original’, fans of near identical pretty-ladies-playing-a-string-quartet, Bond, were quick to shout up all this was done about eight years ago, even down to some of the song choices such as ‘Palladio’ and ‘KasHmir’.

Of course Bond weren’t riding the Cowell money-wagon, and when Escala want to record the Led Zep classic they have the added unexpected bonus of Slash rocking up with his guitar. Let’s make things clear – this is not a sweet classical album to sound track your middle class suburban dinner party. It’s a pacey, sometimes frantic trip through classical styles that lends itself to a fast, angry walk around the block or a particularly strenuous afternoon in with the Wii fit with only Ennio Morricone’s ‘Chi Mai’ and a toned down version of ‘Adagio For Strings’ leaving time for a breather.

Classical-o-phobe’s shouldn’t be scared away though. While the four members of the group might all be classically trained, Haydn and Mozart have been stored away for the future, with their debut concentrating on modern day composers such as Karl Jenkins and Craig Armstrong alongside pop songs like ‘Feeling Good’, ‘Clubbed to Death’ and amusingly Robert Miles’ ‘Children’. We might have heard it all before, but it still remains just as much refreshingly fun to listen to.

<i>Originally written for Orange Music</i>