BOSTON — If you’ve ever wondered what your smartphone might sound like if it suddenly burst into song, you may be interested in “Death by Robot,” a new song released this month by electronic artist Feed Me.
Feed Me, the British artist formerly known as Spor, and legally known as Jon Gooch debuted the song on a new three track EP of the same name just weeks before his U.S. “Feed Me with Teeth” tour kicked off recently. He’s making his way to Boston for a two-night stint at the Royale on Feb. 4 and 5 with fellow electronic artist Mord Fustang.
The tracks “Death By Robot” are less abrasive than previous Feed Me and Spor tracks, which reflects an ongoing transition in Gooch’s music. Since joining Mau5trap, the record label founded by popular electronic artist DeadMau5, his songs have become more house-like. Dramatic drops and ear-drum-crushing synth loops are either used sparingly or not at all. It’s easier to dance along to this music, but to a dubstep fan, Gooch’s latest work might sound more like samples from the original “Age of Empires” PC game over a backing beat than a tribute to their favorite genre.
If you’re Feed Me that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Death By Robot” is catchy and that’s important if you’re trying to build a fan base. The title song on the album contains the basic elements of a dance song: drum machine claps, a simple bass drum line and a short synth riff that repeats many times before the track wraps up in just under four minutes.
What makes Feed Me unique among dance artists is that you can still tell Gooch is behind the keyboards and MIDI controllers. He makes sudden changes in tempo, rhythm and timbre and uses grittier synths than most of his contemporaries.
The EP’s second song, “Dial Up Days” is a nice bridge between both the dubstep and dance genres. The track starts out with the sound of a dial-up modem connecting to the Internet which is quickly given its own rhythm. The remainder of the song features modulating synthesizers fighting for the lead part in both the bass and treble lines.
While the melodies in “Dial Up Days” are simple, Gooch still manages to include unique melodic synth loops in his latest EP. “Gravel”, the last song on the album, is a demonstration of Gooch’s ability to compose memorable loops. At times you might even think Rick Wakeman or Keith Emerson stopped by the recording studio to warm up on one of Feed Me’s microKORGs. That added complexity shows how different Gooch’s approach is to the dance genre when compared to archetypical house artists like Australian music duo Pnau.
Creating a stage presence may require even more unconventional thinking for electronic artists than composing. It’s not easy to make pushing buttons and playing keyboards look interesting live, which presents a set of exciting but risky decisions for musicians in this genre. Feed Me made his music visual during recent shows by performing
behind a giant LED version of the eyes and teeth of his monster logo. If he wants to proves he’s as entertaining in person as he is on your headphones, he’ll bring that setup and other fresh ideas with him to the Royale.
Dustin Wlodkowski is a journalism student at Emerson College and is a managing editor for WEBN TV Boston. Follow him on Twitter @WEBNtvWLODKOWS.