It’s hard to know what to say about James Swift’s album, ‘Killbots have feelings too’ without sounding too gushing.
I’m reviewing it while at work and have it on bud earphones in a busy office. I can say two things about it. 1. It’s transformed my mood from angry to calm, and 2. I drift in and out of actively listening to it, only to be occasionally jolted by how wicked it is.
It’s electronic, its glitchy, its jangly, its smooth and it hits the spot.
He breaks it down: “All the tracks at least in part follow a theme I tried to sum up in thetitle.
“Machines, moods, art versus technology, journeys, and a little bit of humor so as not to take myself too seriously. Sometimes I try and imagine what future robots folk would sound like and go for that. I’d be interested to see if you identify the same themes in the tunes.
“Also there are a couple of longish tunes that require patients and I think there is a pay-off after several listens. The only sad thing with the advent of mp3s is the slow death of the grower album so to write one (obviously, in my opinion) feels great. I think enough people will find it too harsh at times.
“Musically I like to play with obscured melodies and subtle variations. I personally love sounds that sound kind of half traditional and half machine noises. Then again it’s fun to just write something simpler and fun and not take everything so seriously, hence the closing track.
64barmusic friends and family will recognise Hesitant Pressure from being on fourth 64 bar challenge mix, however, for his album he’s given it the extended mix treatment and the result is a silky five minutes with the familiar jauntiness of the original embossed with a chunky ass kick drum and a haunting string section that hits the spot.
He tells me he made this album whilst on the move on an epic tour that began in his adopted home of Australia, and touched down in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and ended in Iran.
It clearly provided some cultural inspiration that build on earlier exposure to the likes of Orbital, Meat Beat Manifesto, Scanner, early Underworld and a lot of that 90s electronica after the pure fun days of the early 90s rave era.
But what about his method, how the fu*k does he put this sh*t together?
“Most of my recent tunes I did in Ableton Live. Some of I bang out on an microkontrol midi keyboard and some of the more natural rhythms I did on a MPD16, but it’s all hooked up to Ableton Live. On the road I’m limited to a cheap little netbook and it’s a completely different and challenging way to write music. No keyboard and no processing power for more then 1 or 2 effects in real time. So I have to bounce the tracks down a lot to wav and so on. Time consuming but it’s a good exercise to write with limitations. Too many toys can be distracting.
His album is available on itunes here, I suggest you buy it before you die.
For now: check it on Soundcloud