The first images that readily come to mind when describing electronic music is music designed to elicit heart-racing palpitations under the blinding light of festival stages or perhaps even music designed for secretive and dimly lit underground clubs. While the setting may vary slightly, the underlying theme tends to remain the same – electronic music is music that belongs solely to those pulsating, high-energy moments. Yet, Robokid’s debut EP, Apart, defies all these standard associations and expectations. Instead, Apart is an electronic project with an abundance of emotional depth and clarity that encompasses the wellspring of human emotion underlying and rarely touched upon in electronic music.
Ethan Budnick, the artist behind Robokid and founding member of internet-collective Moving Castle, has for some time now been a mysterious figure in the Soundcloud world, originally releasing remixes and instrumentals that would feel right at home on a left-field leaning label like PC Music. So, it is all the more surprising that Robokid’s first project would stray so heavily from the pitch-shifted and rapid-fire style of production the artist displayed in his earliest. In choosing to stray so seemingly far from his original sound, Robokid embraces his own musical identity on Apart, crafting out a niche in electronic music that belongs to him and him alone.
From the earliest moments of Apart, it is apparent that this is not your run-of-the-mill electronic project. The opening track “Static” slowly builds in beautiful fashion, painting a sonic representation of the vast level of expanse surrounding Apart, before Robokid’s somber vocals join the fray. By all accounts, “Static” is a perfect opening track in that it not only sets the tone for Apart as a project but who Robokid is as an artist. Utilizing only the most essential elements of instrumentation and production, coupled with Robokid’s talent for subdued vocal delivery, Apart and Robokid defy a prevalent trend and notion that seems to pervade modern electronic music. Apart manages to speak volumes and resonate profoundly without grandiose climaxes or drawn out swells; it is thunderous in its wealth of authenticity and intimacy. As for what Apart means to Robokid, he was kind enough to share a few words,
“This EP represents a new chapter of the Robokid project, I really just wanted to write an EP for myself, a lot of the lyrics are dealing with internal struggles or relationships, but I wanted to write it in a way that people could draw their own conclusions about what it all means to them…”
In seeking to write an EP for himself, Robokid simultaneously succeeded in writing an electronic album that feels relatable on an emotional level to anyone who may listen. However, what is perhaps the most impressive thing about Apart is the fact that Robokid manages to convey this level of emotional intensity while still delivering an electronic album that is undeniably captivating.
“Worth It” closes out Apart and is the closest Robokid comes to presenting a standard electronic track. The lighter and more apparent production stylings found on “Worth It,” with its opening samples that bring forth imagery of singing birds and springtime, serve as the catharsis for Apart rather than as a detraction from the emotional journey traversed throughout Apart. If “Static” served as the perfect opening then “Worth It” serves as the perfect ending to Apart, leaving the listener with a complete picture of Robokid as a unique artist in a class of his own when it comes to bringing a human element to electronic music.
Listen to Apart below and catch Robokid live as a part of Moving Castle World January 27 at The Fonda in Los Angeles.