German techno producer, composer and artist Robert Koch, known professionally as Robot Koch, released his artist album Sphere last year. Now to follow up, he has released his new project Sphere Outtakes, which includes extra songs that were made during the sessions for Sphere, reworks and remixes of tracks on the LP.
A big theme for Koch has been space and how sci-fi can impact music. The new project often sounds dark and menacing, like the threat of AI or some life form out in space. It then buckles down into more soothing, calming compositions of lush melodies and strings as if soaring on a ship through space.
In the past he has made compositions for TV shows like Vampire Diaries and The Blacklist and that compositional nuance is found woven into the record.
With the theme of space firmly in our mind, Koch says his music is best enjoyed in planetariums and he has been playing shows at planetariums. Since most of us don’t have a planetarium handy for digesting this record, we have to rely on our own faculties and recourses. Luckily, we asked Koch about how space is related to each song on Spheres Outtakes so you can feel the same sort of experience he was and meant to have with this record. His collaborator and visual artist on the project, Mickael Le Goff also pitches in with some thoughts.
"Looking up at the night sky impresses me as much today as it did as a child, not only because of the infinite number of stars but mainly because of the unfathomable space around them," explains Koch.
"So the space around things, the nothingness of space fascinates me and I seek 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. Distance vs intimacy. I’m also very interested about how space is described in spiritual teachings, the idea of space consciousness which represents freedom from the ego and materialism."
Stream the record below and get a copy here.
1. Movement I
I made this one with collaborator Julien Marchal. It's the predecessor to “Movement II,” one of the most popular songs on the Sphere Album from last year. It plays with different spaces around sounds. 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. Distance vs intimacy.
2. Black Hole Revisited
This is another version of the track "Black Hole" from the Sphere Album. It's more melodic and has this piano motive that makes it it's own piece, even though it borrows the drums from the original “Black Hole” track. I like sampling and resampling my own ideas.
3. Another World
Originally written with collaborators Alek Fin and Curtain Blue for the Hypermoment Album that came out on Modeselektor's label in 2015, this track went through different transformations until this version was finally ready to go on Sphere last year. But somehow it didn't seem to blend in there either – it needed space to stand on its own. So now it's part of the collection of tracks that have a life of their own.
4. Data Religion
This is an important track in the Sphere Planetarium show, which people were asking about after the shows.
Mickael about the visuals:
The visuals for "Data Religion" bring the viewer into a complex mechanical structure, representing the big data machinery that surrounds us these days. To keep a link with the Sphere space theme, all these gears were designed upon two ancient astronomical apparatus, the Antikythera and the Orrery.
The title "Manifold" stands for the multitude of shapes that organic life takes, ever changing and shifting, like countless variations of a bigger theme. This song comes with an amazing video by Mickael.
"Manifold's" music video explores the genesis of new organisms with the use of computational growth algorithms. The emergence of these structures comes from a set of rules inspired by natural growth behavior, expanding a single mesh into an intricate and complex form. The mesmerizing evolution of these digital entities reminds of an organic living being.
This is another song that was only used as part of the Planetarium Live Show so far. It features Savannah Jo Lack on Violin and was made with this Russian analog synth Lyra 8.
Mickael on the visuals for this track:
The black and white scenes bring some familiar space imagery into the show. We discover a star and some planets that can be related to the Sun, the Earth, Mars or even the Moon. A man-made element appears in form of a futuristic satellite, suggesting being in another time period.
7 . Crystal Grid (Ryan Davis Remix)
I first heard about Ryan Davis through his Nils Frahm Remix, which Aphex Twin played in a set of his. We met up in Berlin and kept in touch. Really love the different parts this remix goes through, it's full of musical ideas.
8. Crystal Grid (Jan Wagner Remix)
A stunning ambient electronica rework of my track by upcoming artist Jan Wagner from Berlin.
It's so cinematic and epic while still being so delicate and subtle. I love all the space it has.
9. Blurry (Daniel Brandt Remix)
Daniel Brandt from Brandt Brauer Frick has a two great solo albums out on Erased Tapes, we recently played on the same bill in Austin for SXSW but we've know each other through mutual friends since a few years.
10. All In Your Mind (Chi Thanh Remix)
Chi Thanh made a remix for a track I made with Delhia de France 2 years ago, which came out on Diynamic Records. It's been a staple drop in Solomun's after hour sets. I'm sure this new remix he made for “All In Your Mind” will find its way in many DJ sets as well.