Shit Robot – From The Cradle To The Rave
Originally posted on The 405
Having sound tracked the latter part of the 00’s with LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy has infamously stated recently that it may well be the end of LCD, and boo many of us cried into our skinny ties. However, this will of course give the God-like figure even more time to plough his creativity and brain into his co-owned record label DFA, on which Shit Robot belong.
Marcus Lambkin (Shit Robot’s real name), originally from Ireland, set sail to New York in 1994 and eventually struck a relationship with Murphy thanks to a kindred dance-music spirit; in fact, the name Shit Robot even stems from a drawing Murphy did, which was of a robot, and, well, pretty crap they deemed. The two along with other friends regularly played at the Plant Bar in NYC on Friday nights, featuring what were to become DFA artists and acting as an unofficial headquarters of all things modern disco, that DFA sound.
Enough of the history lesson, as relevant as it is; so what of the years-in-the-making smartly titled debut album, From The Cradle To The Rave?. For anyone who has listened to Shit Robot’s most famous-to-date track, the instrumental choppy-electro sound of Chasm (featured on Fabriclive 41: Simian Mobile Disco), it marks a subtle, but marked change in tone.
Opener ‘Tuff Enuff’ outlines proceedings with a cracking Kraftwerk-esque minimal and repetitive structure, as Murphy pops up on robotic vocals that he co-wrote – and he generally acts as a moral compass throughout the album. Neighbouring at tracks three & four are handily the two stand-out tracks, the first being ‘Losing My Patience’ featuring the vocals of Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip. It genuinely sounds like the closest thing that exists to a DFA and Hot Chip inspired love-child; the quite frankly magnetizing, heavenly and melodic delivery from Taylor is straight out of One Life Stand (not literally), even in the lovely-warm lyrics: “finish what you start, finish what you start when it comes to love”. This alongside a smooth yet clinical electronic back-drop makes for compelling listening.
‘Take ‘Em Up’, the second in this double header, showcases Nancy Whang of The Juan Maclean on steamy vocals, maintaining the traditional DFA family affair. A driving, bass-line of funk proportions and suggestive nods to disco combine with a dominant modern electronic vibe; but it’s at the oft-repeated chorus that swaggers in, rips the chair from under you and broadens your smile two-fold that shines; infectious, danceable, yet mellow – and is allowed to do this by being paced out at over seven minutes long.
Herein lies the sound of the album. An almost languid pace is evident, as tracks are allowed time to breath and subtle changes take-fold – in a similar way as minimal tech breathes (without falling under this category). What is of influences however is the earlier days of 90’s dance music such as hints of acid house, but still it’s foot firmly in the contemporary – classic, yet modern. This is best illustrated in penultimate track ‘I Got A Feeling’, boasting those soul-filled vocals reminiscent of early 90’s dance. It’s a track that has future single written all over it and will surely be tore up by many remix demons. Finale ‘Triumph!!!’ lives up to its name and exclamation marks, an ambitious instrumental number.
At a lengthy hour long and only nine tracks in total, during certain whole-listens elements can get a touch lost with a potential for boredom to seep; but as a rule no–one particular track falls down. From The Cradle To The Rave is a terrific and an assured debut underscoring deft strokes of inventiveness and intelligence, and one that wears clothing of DFA not only comfortably, but with a strutting confidence. LCD Soundsystem may possibly be gone, though with output like this that will quickly be forgiven, become forgotten.