I Am Robot and Proud

Catch/Spring Summer Autumn Winter

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2001 was a good year for pixel pop fans -- at least, it was good for the lucky few who were able to get a hold of one (or both!) of the first two discs crafted by Shaw-Han Liem (aka I Am Robot and Proud), The Catch and Spring Summer Autumn Winter. Those who weren't able to snag a copy of one of these babies through official means can rest easy, however, now that they've been reissued on one attractive, pale yellow disc. Like his later work, this is shimmering, skittering stuff that echoes the tender, computerized meanderings of Lullatone and Mum. Tracks like "The Satellite Kids" and "Vendredi le 30 Mars" cover the kind of delicate, warm and fuzzy territory that would eventually become a trademark in Liem's work. It's also the kind of friendly, feel-good lap-pop that makes listening to his albums a joy, and there's plenty of it to be found throughout these 12 tracks. But if there's still a good deal of material here that suggests how mellow I Am Robot's work would become over the course of the next few years, there's an equal amount of jumpy, percussive movement suggestive of Kraftwerk and, to an extent, Aphex Twin. The Catch's title track is stiff-jointed with blips and synths, as is "James' Equation," what with its clinical skips and chirrs. Which isn't to say that these tracks are any less human than Liem's more organic pieces -- they're very much alive, in fact. But it's neat to hear Kraftwerk's pronounced influence in these earlier works, especially when you take into account the kind of lush trappings Liem would apply to this basic skeleton in the following years. This disc is a must-listen for newcomers and established fans alike -- especially for those fans who didn't have a chance to hear The Catch the first time around.

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