Alexander Robotnick

The Disco-Tech of Alexander Robotnick

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Maurizio "Alexander Robotnick" Dami, the producer behind the '80s crossover club classics "Problèmes d'Amour" and "Dance Boy Dance," spent several years away from club-oriented music and immersed himself in fusing and modernizing music from the countries of Algeria, India, and Kurdistan. (Don't know if it was a Genesis pisstake or not, but one album from his group Govinda was titled Selling India by the Pound!) Whether finances or the desire to reconnect with the music he helped pioneer was the motive, Dami returned to the clubs as a laptop DJ who mixes up old electro, synth pop, and Italo disco with some recent favorites that draw from that era. Apparently his preference of cassettes over vinyl discouraged him from spinning back in the day, so the ability to click from file to file and work with software has made it more of an enjoyable activity for him. Some unexpecting young clubbers might be surprised to see a middle-aged European gent resembling director Steven Soderbergh's cranky-looking yet fun-loving uncle behind a computer, but few people know this music like Dami, and it turns out that he's a fine DJ with all the right instincts. His distance from the dance community works to his advantage in the end -- it's almost always good to see a DJ throw caution to the wind and include tracks that have fallen out of fashion with hipsters and know-it-all DJs. Depending on whom you ask, this form of track is too popular, not rare enough, or otherwise just not the proper thing to play. So we hear some big hits -- OMD's "Enola Gay," Visage's "Fade to Grey," New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle," Tom Tom Club's "Wordy Rappinghood" -- interspersed with inclusions that the average DJ would find more reasonable. Plenty of underground Italo classics (Scotch's "Penguin Invasion," 'Lectric Workers' "Robot Is Systematic," Charlie's peerless "Spacer Woman") are worked in, along with underheard synth pop (John Foxx's "Underpass") and newer tracks that fit nicely into the framework (Memory Boy's "[There Is No] Electricity," Miss Kittin & the Hacker's "Frank Sinatra," Bangkok Impact's "Traveller"). Beyond being a fun mix to play over and over, it's refreshing to see an innovator embrace modern technology and acknowledge some of the current producers who owe him a debt.