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The concept of "space" has fascinated scientists
and artists throughout centuries. Likewise it has
captivated the mind of German composer and
producer, Robot Koch, who has been enthralled by
space's nuanced and multifaceted implications in
music since a kid; "One of my childhood memories
is me sitting at my mom's piano and just pressing a
random note while holding down the sustain pedal
and just enjoying how the sound reverberated in
the body of the piano and in the room" he
explains, "I loved the decay of the sound in space,
how it slowly rings out."
His recent and highly acclaimed album Sphere
takes the exploration of space to new grounds that
reach far beyond sound. Conceived as the
soundtrack to an audio visual live show, designed
in collaboration with the artist Mickael Le Goff, the
project was not only a musical exploration of space,
but also an observable voyage through outer space
made especially to be exhibited in planetariums
and full dome venues. "I wanted to do something
entirely new and different, move out of my comfort
zone. I've been playing in clubs for more than ten
years and the idea to do something in a
planetarium has been in my head for a while. I just
loved the idea of doing something totally
immersive; it's an experience somewhere between
watching a 3D movie and being at a concert,"
Koch explains.
His follow-up album Sphere Out Takes, which
includes songs originally written for but ultimately
left out of Sphere, is not an inch less immersive or
cinematic- and its tracks are by no means
'leftovers'. In fact some of the songs in the Out
Takes album have a distinct astronomic presence,
that, as Koch views it, called for a different context
than that of the preceding album, "Certain songs
that are now on the album just didn't blend in on
the album," he says, "maybe because they needed
to stand on their own." Sphere out Takes also
includes remixes of tracks from the album by
collaborators and friends Daniel Brand, Ryan Davis
and Chi Than.
Similarly to Sphere, the Sphere Out Takes album
conveys an immensely visual sci-fi character, with
eerie sounds that refer to otherworldly presences,
such as those heard in the appropriately named
track Another World, or dark pulsations and clanks
that channel a post-human dystopia, as present in
the track Data Religion. It comes as no surprise that
Koch is a long-time fan of science-fiction films, an
allure perhaps magnified by his residence in the
silver-screen capital of the world, Los Angeles: " I
got into science fiction as a kid, everything about
space travel, aliens and otherworldly sounds really
sparked my imagination," he explains. "I grew up
on 80s sci-fi movies - like the original Star Wars
trilogy, Alien, and Blade Runner. I just adore
soundtracks and the cinematic aspect of music
generally."
But while futurism certainly plays a part in the
Sphere Out Takes, it is also teeming with organic
and wholesome sounds that feel very human.
Movement I, a predecessor to Movement III, one of
the most streamed songs on the Sphere album,
relies on temperate piano and strings, interjected
by what seems like a woman's soft mumblings at
instances, "I'm fascinated both by warm, analog
sounds, that evoke a notion of safety like the sound
of a piano in a living room, there is this intimacy
and directness to it which I love." Koch explains
"But on the other hand, I'm also really into
otherworldly and strange sounds. I like that friction
and finding the right balance between a sound that
embraces you enough that you feel at home and
taken care of, but then also alienates you enough
so there is a notion of alertness and curiosity in the
mix too."
As a listener, you are certainly kept on your toes.
The friction between the familiar and the alien
animate the album beginning to end, both
between and within tracks. And in many ways one
can listen to the album as a narrative of sorts; an
intriguing dialogue between technology and nature
that seems particularly relevant to the times we live
in. There is also a feeling of departure, of leaving
familiar grounds to something that lies beyond,
"Maybe it sounds like traveling through space, with
all the beautiful and scary moments such a journey
involves," says Koch. It is this confluence of beauty
and fear that likewise grant the tracks in the album
a quasi-religious or shamanic motif, as the BBC's
Bobby Friction noted on Koch's music; "it sounds
like artificial intelligence discovering religion."
Sphere Out Takes is an album with enormous
depth, and there is darkness to be found in depths.
Much like the darkness one sees in a night sky,
Koch dauntlessly delves into these dark pockets
that separate stars, sounds, and ultimately feelings,
"The space around things, the no-thingness of
space, fascinates me and I seek that space in my
work too, the right amount of reverb around a
sound, making it small and intimate or epic and far
away is something I play with a lot."

For more information:
Juste Survilaite II Le Tigre Noir
+49 (0)30 285 019 27
juste@letigrenoir.com

Release

Sphere (Out Takes & Remixes)