The Robot Ate Me is the work of one Ryland Bouchard assisted by David Greenberg on drums. Previously he (they?) have released a 2CD holocaust concept album and a record of nostalgic pop tunes called ?Carousel Waltz.? This 22 minute CD/LP, sold as a full length LP rather than an EP, contains 17 tracks of fragmentary pop, multi-tracked clarinets and paper-thin percussion. Bouchard?s vocals are close miked and airy, the arrangements are incredibly sparse with tracks often lasting less than 1 minute. The most striking feature of the sound is its bold emptiness; Bouchard (who also produced, mixed and wrote all the material) utilises an impoverished palette of sounds, often completely lacking any sense of fullness. Throughout the record vocal pieces accompanied by only a distant acoustic guitar or piano and thin, distorted drums alternate with fragmentary instrumentals.
The production is such that it is often impossible to tell whether a drum machine or processed drums are being used until more fully recorded live percussion suddenly emerges, fitting into the holes left in the frequency range for a few seconds before fading away. The finest moments come with Bouchard?s use of heavily overdubbed wind instruments. Varying from spacious explorations of shifting chords to strident marches reminiscent of some passages from the ?Wickerman? soundtrack, these are moments when the music moves far away from any tendency towards generic faux-naive, melancholic indie-pop that may be present in the more traditional song fragments. The mention of soundtracks in fact provides the key to the pleasures of this record: the joyous discontinuity of listening to certain Morricone or Komeda soundtracks as LPs is somewhat similar to the experience of ?Good World,? the parallel being strengthened by the use of repeated motifs throughout the miniature suites that make up the record (tracks are titled ?she owl #1?, ?she owl #2?, ?bloody knife #2? bloody knife #3? etc). But where as the discontinuous listening experience of a soundtrack LP is a result of the music?s fundamentally non-autonomous character, its specific function, Good World?s fragmentary discontinuity is simply a brave artistic decision on Bouchard?s behalf. 7/10 -- Francis Plagne (24 July, 2006)