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Sphere Out Takes + Remixes

26.04.2019

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.”

 

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