Saturday, June 4, 2011

TMBG Shirt #23: League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots

Four years ago this week I had the distinct pleasure of attending a special TMBG performance for Robosonic Eclectic, an extraordinary show in downtown Manhattan produced by the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots (or LEMUR for short), a Brooklyn-based non-profit corporation founded in 2000 by musician and engineer Eric Singer that is dedicated to building musical robots that play themselves. It is truly fascinating stuff.
It should be noted that the shirt is not accurate in terms of what these musical 'bots look like. They're not at all humanoid like C3PO of Star Wars fame, Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot and Honda's non-fictional ASIMO. To be clear, they're not robots that play instruments but robots that are instruments.
There are two versions of this shirt, and I was having a hard time deciding if I was more ROBOT or HUMAN. I was able to silence the internal debate as well as double my "donation" to this worthy non-profit corporation by resolving to purchase both of them. I suppose that makes me something in between, perhaps some kind of thirsty cyborg with a taste for human flesh.
The robotic instruments that accompanied TMBG included a GuitarBot (to the right), a XyloBot (to the left and behind them) and a ClangBot (above and between them) as well as several other percussion bots scattered about the space. John and John performed three songs as a (human) duo, each of which was rarer then the last. The first song was a shortened yet lovely rendition of With the Dark, one of my favorite songs on The Else. John Flansburgh played a tiple, an instrument that falls somewhere between a ukelele and a guitar.
The second song performed was Vestibule, which was never performed live before these LEMUR shows and never since. I'd already felt that this song from Cast Your Pod To the Wind has a kind of mechanical feel to it, which seemingly makes it well suited for the robotic arrangement.
The final song performed was an unreleased rarity that was only played once before and never since called Our Cannibal Friends. My camera unfortunately decided that this song was just too rare to capture in its entirety, stopping itself a little bit short of the end of the song. Boy, was I steamed. So sorry!

MP3 of the Week:
Robot Parade

Continuing with the robotic theme, here's the "Adult" version which opened the show on 4/30/01 @ The Bowery Ballroom in New York City.

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