Blueblut, the world’s favourite theremin, guitar and drums trio is back with their perhaps most ambitious album yet. The follow up to their ‘German Record Critics’ Award’ ‘Critic’s Choice’ album ‘Andenborstengürteltier’, this new album sees the trio expand their ranks with both robot and human members and take their sound in even more new directions.
When Blueblut guitarist Chris Janka began working on his ‘Totally Mechanized MIDI Orchestra’ (www.midi-orchestra.net
), it was clear that the trio wanted to find a way to collaborate with the robots, but how? Thus began the trio’s challenge, to work with the orchestra as a sort of ‘backing band’, creating programmed tracks that the trio could then played both composed and improvised material around. Blueblut first premiered this music live during the first COVID summer in Vienna: (www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WlSwCRS3SU
The trio continued to both refine the material and their way of working with the MIDI Orchestra, and this material makes up the first 6 tracks(First LP) of this collection. They developed this project further in 2021 and drafted in AI master and guitar supremo Nicola Hein. (www.nicolahein.com
). Nicola had created a software that enabled robots to improvise alongside live musicians, and he was able to customize this software to work with the robots that Janka created for his Orchestra. In 2021, funded by SKE Fonds, the band was invited into the ORF’s (Austrian National Broadcaster) fabled ‘Radiokulturhaus’ studio to record both approaches to working with the orchestra.
The session was basically split into two parts, one full day improvising with the orchestra and Nicola Hein, and one full day playing the songs that Blueblut composed for the session. What you hear on track 7-11 (Second LP), is what happened on that day of improvising, there were no rehearsals for improvising with the robots, the band was in at the deep end from the start.
The question remains, can robots actually improvise?
Well, clearly yes, because they are doing it, but it’s different than a human to human relationship. The band needed to learn in real time how best to work with machines that they couldn’t ask questions to, so they learned to listen and respond. The resulting improvisations have that distinctive Blueblut mix of groove, soundscapes and noise, but the orchestra also moves the band into new directions. The session was made into a documentary by award-winning German filmmaker Angela Christlieb (www.angelachristlieb.com
) which is touring the film festival circuit at the moment, and can be seen in short form here (www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6rM7uShty8&t=284s
This project brings the band, and their robot friends to even greater heights and 2022/23 will see them touring both with and without the MIDI Orchestra, come and see them when they come to a town near you!
Emerging from Vienna’s thriving underground music scene, Blueblut is arguably one of its most intriguing combos. The trio, founded by three musical powerhouses, famous in their respective spheres of jazz, electronic and avant-rock music, have the intensity of rock, the space and openness of electronica and the razor sharp precision and wild improvisation of jazz.
In Blueblut’s now ten year history, they have wowed audiences across Europe, Japan and South America on their relentless touring, being described as “…the most effective wake-up call you could ever experience” by taste-maker blog Louder Than War and picking up praise across the pond with the Brooklyn Rail(U.S.) declaring “Most of these tunes come across like highly abstracted, well-executed cover versions of pop songs that never were.” As well as featuring on the German Record Critics’ Award quarterly Critics Choice list.
released October 28, 2022
Chris Janka, guitar, Robots Creator
Mark Holub, drums
Pamelia Stickney, Theremin
Nicola Hein, guitar, AI-programmer
THe Totally Mechanized MIDI Orchestra