Saturday, July 13, 2024

A rhapsody of robots: Leonardo Barbadoro releases second single performed by robot orchestra, ‘Hybr Spiro’

Italian musician, composer, engineer and producer Leonardo Barbadoro has unveiled a fresh single, Hybr Spiro, on October 20th 2023 via Helical records. The track is the second single (following ‘Bomi’) released off his highly-anticipated upcoming album Musica Automata, a project comprised of orchestral music performed entirely by robots. The initial concept, launched a few years ago, was funded by a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2018. It gained serious mainstream attention from publications such as Red Bull, Vice, RaiNews, and CNN Indonesia. The album has been receiving widespread media coverage from the international press such as musictech. This has culminated in a live performance of the installation at Tomorrowland festival in Belgium in 2019. Under his old moniker Koolmorf Widesen, Barbadoro has performed alongside the likes of Apparat, Venetian Snares, DJ Spooky and 808 State. 

Hybr Spiro’ begins with an eddy of percussion – there is a vast array of both traditional and non-traditional instruments weaving a tapestry of playful polyrhythms. A measured and simple four-to-five note melodic motif emerges, which moves through timbral and microtonal changes on a Hybr (a type of organ) and a spinet. A microtonal countermelody and other harmonic textures are added and withdrawn in layers – sousaphone, helicon, bassoon, trombone, French horn, clarinet and oboe all feature. The melodic motif is constant while the percussion rolls around in a variety of rhythms and sounds. ‘Hybr Spiro’ is compellingly animated by its accompanying video, shot by videographer Tanja Busking. The video showcases the sheer amount of instruments and equipment being used, and watches as an acoustic array of sounds is generated entirely by mechanical and digital impulses. The footage is peppered with playful animations, and the instruments glimmer with light as they produce sound and even written lines of programming. This audiovisual experience is an exciting taste of what is to come with the release of Musica Automata in its entirety.

Lorenzo from Helical records commented: “The percussion element – sometimes organic, sometimes peremptory, and mechanical – is a meticulously honed mechanism, which, before guiding the direction of a piece, embraces and counterpoints the harmonic section, infusing it with an unpredictable flow, in constant revolution, though rigorous and necessary in every beat. The percussive mosaic on many occasions follows polyrhythmic tracks, expanding the relationship with the harmonic levels in a space where the variation in forms and directions is the governing principle”.

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