REVIEW: An Introduction To The A.I. Powered Electronica of JG and the Robots
Though the warnings of an eventual techno-takeover of the world by rogue robots has been both predicted and imagined in both academic research and fictional media (I'm looking at you, T2), most everyone embraces and adores electronics in one form or the other. JG and the Robots is no different; this electronic project consists of the self titled JG (Jay Gillian), several robotic companions that assist him on stage, and AI technologies. However, before taking a deep dive into his most recent releases, a bit of an introduction to JG is in order.
JG got his start in electronic music with the synthpop duo T-4-2 based out of Dallas, TX. Staking claim as the first major 1980s electronic act out of Texas, T-4-2 served as a predecessor to JG's future works thanks to its focus on synths, drum-machines, and computer voices. The releases under T-4-2 included their 1984 album "Shockra", the cassette "Hot on Top", the Oak Lawn Records' 12" single 'Don't Let My Love (Push You Away)', as well as Columbia Records' "Intruder" whereupon T-4-2 entered the studio with Information Society's Paul Robb. An extended studio hiatus happened in 1993 when bandmate Will Loconto decided to work with Information Society. Though JG continued to perform live shows under T-4-2, it wasn’t until 2010 when the two got back together. Since then they have released a retrospective compilation “Voltage!” in 2011, a remastered version of “Hot on Top” in 2017, and a brand new studio album titled “Decoder”.
However, in between the T-4-2 reunion, JG found the time to work on his own solo output. The idea is to transcend the current EDM scene and craft a unique audio-visual work of art. JG gets into character under the JG and the Robots moniker, calling himself a Robosapien cyborg who is accompanied by other robots. His early releases included collaborations with Kurt Harland of Information Society and Die Krupps side-project Die Robo Sapiens. After working with anarchist-run record label and artist collective eMERGENCY heARTs in 2019 producing a 30th anniversary remix of Lesson Seven, they joined the label in 2020 joining the likes of Clan of Xymox, Meat Beat Manifesto, Front 242, and more.
This leads to the modern day where JG and the Robots has begun a series of singles that started in February 2021.These singles have been released separately to one another and, as far as I’m aware, there is no plan to release them as a collected album at the time of this writing. That being said, rather than reviewing each single in a separate article with a separate score, I am reviewing them one-by-one below with a score given at the end of the associated paragraph. It’s a lot easier than posting separate articles and removes a lot of repetitive fluff that I would otherwise have to type. In any case, here goes.
The first of the above-mentioned singles is ‘Robots In Berlin’. While many folk might put off JG and the Robots just for the fact that they label themselves under EDM, there’s more to this project than just the standard mindless four-on-the-floor rhythm that’s catchy just to capture the masses. ‘Robots In Berlin’ has a bassline that belongs in any EBM or electro-industrial repertoire. This is no surprise given that Jean-Luc De Meyer of Front 242 collaborated on this single with JG and the Robots. The vocals are slightly gruff and a bit spoken word with slight rhythm; they fit thematically. In between the regular vocals are digitized vocals that sound robotic. Overall, it’s a fun, stompy time. There is an alternative version of this song called ‘Roboter In Berlin’. It’s the same exact song except it has German lyrics rather than English ones. I prefer ‘Roboter In Berlin’ as having a song about the capital of Germany sung in German is rather fitting.
7.5 out of 10.
The second of these singles is titled ‘I’m Thomas Dolby’. Just like their previous single, JG and the Robots find themselves working with electronic tropes and yet gravitating towards an EBM-like bassline that hits and pulses hard. Though this has no weight on the review itself, the video for the single features an AI developed deepfake version of 80s popstar, producer, and composer Professor Thomas Dolby. What does hold weight on the review, however, are the vocals on the song. The way the vocals are sung are extremely digitized. While they start off fairly clean and a bit squeaky, the vocals begin to almost tear at the seams as the song goes along. What this develops into is a very annoying set of chords that I could not stand beginning around the two-minute and ten-second mark. While everything else about the track is sharp (instrumentals and production is top notch) it’s that aspect about it that ruined the second half of the track for me. Still, I have to give credit where credit is due. While I won’t be returning to this song, it’s not terrible and it can be quite catchy at times.
6 out of 10.
The latest of these singles, and subsequently the final one I’ll be discussing in this feature, is ‘We Want to be Like Humans’. While listening to this song, I began to think of the now separated Daft Punk. However, this is more of an evolution of Daft Punk. Though the duo revolutionized electronic music multiple times throughout their career, their music was on the softer side of the spectrum. On this single, JG taps into his synthpop roots and provides a futuristic touch to his track with ample basslines. The lyrics are once again digitized, but with a clarity that recognizes the theme of the track as well. It’s generally a well thought out and produced track that I loved every time I played it.
7.5 out of 10.
Thus the history of JG and the Robots is spoken of and their music analyzed. The future is bright for JG and the Robots as they continue to work on their series of singles and their collaboration with eMERGENCY heARTS. The next scheduled single is a cover of Norman Greenbaum’s 1969 track ‘Spirit in the Sky’ in September of 2021. JG will also be opening for Gary Numan under T-4-2 on September 25th, 2021 at Numbers Nightclub in Houston, Texas.
This review was commissioned through our Ko-fi page.
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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