Sure, most people would say that the massive success of French dance act Daft Punk is that their music is so ridiculously catchy. Anyone who says that “Get Lucky” didn’t take up temporary residence inside their head after just one listen is either severely mistaken or outright lying, let’s be honest. But it’s arguable that their whole schtick of always wearing robot helmets has helped them get where they are, as well. After all, by pretending to be robots, the band manages to sidestep many of the drawbacks that most bands face – No chance of an embarrassing interview in which someone says something to embarrass themselves, or ruin the band for some sensitive fans! – while also delivering both a memorable visual and aural hook for those seeking to write about the band. Clearly, more bands should pretend to be robots.
Or, perhaps, more bands should actually be robots. Take, for example, Z-Machines. It’s a Japanese three-piece made up entirely of automatons that made its live debut in a popular Tokyo club this Monday in front of an eager audience of curious onlookers and excitable reporters.
The band is the creation – literally – of Yoichiro Kawaguchi, an IT professor at the University of Tokyo, and mechanical designer Naofumi Yonetsuka, and is made up of drummer Ashura (with a sound that, according to Yonetsuka, is “the equivalent of four people playing drums”), keyboard player Cosmo, and guitarist Mach.
Ashura’s wonderfully over-the-top design – with six arms, “he” is able to play 22 drums simultaneously – is far from unique within the band. Mach has 78 fingers (and 12 picks), allowing him to manage guitar tricks that even Jimmy Page would have trouble mastering, whereas Cosmo is literally wired into his keyboard. Despite all of these technological advantages, there was still something that Z-Machines found itself lacking, however: a lead vocalist.
Filling that void for the band’s debut live performance on Monday was Amoyamo, a popular Japanese musical duo made up of two models call Amo and Ayamo. Together, the temporary five piece performed a new song called “Post People, Post Party” written especially for the occasion by DJ Tasaka, a famous electronic musician in Japan. Talking to press after the event, Tasaka said that he had originally planned to write something that sounded traditionally “disco-electro” for the band, but once he saw the robots in action, he came up with “a much more complicated piece, thinking, take that.” He added, “But then they were able to play it.”
Discussing the origins of Z-Machines, Kawaguchi said that he wanted to create something new, futuristic, and exciting with the band, and hinted at the new frontiers awaiting them in gigs to come. “My goal is to have [the band] play in outer space someday,” he said. As DJ Tasaka would say, take that, Daft Punk.