Shit Robot – From the Cradle to The Rave Shit Robot – From the Cradle to The Rave

Shit Robot - From the Cradle to The Rave

Shit Robot is 39 year old Marcus Lambkin – an Irish born DJ whose move to New York in the 1990’s signaled his complete immersion in everything disco. Closely aligned with James Murphy a.k.a. Mr. LCD Soundsystem, Lambkin is one of the behind the scenes lynchpins of DFA. It’s surprising that it’s taken until now for Lambkin to treat us to a full length release, but he’s obviously taken the time to phone around his not inconsiderable list of DFA label mates. Alexis Taylor, Nancy Whang, Juan Maclean and James Murphy himself all make an appearance on From The Cradle To The Rave. With that
list of contributors, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a disco classic.

Whilst From the Cradle to the Rave isn’t a classic, it is classic DFA – Lambkins obviously been doing this a while and it shows. From The Cradle… incorporates not only the sort of disco punk sound that has become associated with LCD and friends but also broader sounds such as 90’s house and post punk. If forced to guess which label this had been released on most would probably be able to identify DFA, and that at least says something about not only the cohesiveness of sound but also the quality control here.

As such Lambkin never really completely misses the mark – but too often vocals are included where they are simply not needed, or one particular aspect of a track will phone it in a little.

Step up the peculiar, “I Found Love”. The electro aspects are fine – funky, arrogant, and simple. Why then Lambkin chooses to lay on an FX drenched vocal piece in a deep south accent is quite beyond me. I don’t find it to be completely awful – many critics have commented that it sticks out like a sore thumb – it’s important to remember that this is the DFA sound, a label whose disco funk hooks and inherent sense of humour seem to go hand in hand, and Lambkins vocal is if nothing else humorous. One wonders though how deliberate the faux pas on “I Found Love” really is, though. Elsewhere on “Grim Receiver”, Lambkin has a steady disco beat underpinned by a classic LCD chunky bassline; the type where you can almost hear more of the palm mute than the string. Brilliant. What isn’t, though, is Maclean’s vocal piece. Over such a confident sounding instrumental, the vocals end up sounding a bit ineffectual, and bring somewhat of a downer on proceedings.

But these are only a part of From the Cradle to the Rave. Much more exciting are its strengths. Opener “Tuff Enuff?” treads very closely to the title track off Murphy’s 2007 “Sound Of Silver”, and is all the more better for it. The vocal does its’ best Kraftwerk impression at the start, and wisely knows when to clear off. Also, if Hot Chip’s last two albums had sounded anything like “Losing My Patience”, then Alexis Taylor’s band would still be one of my favourites; i.e., they’d still be good. I’ve always thought it’s hard to go far wrong with a beautifully distinctive voice so brilliantly suited to this sort of genre, yet Hot Chip, recently, have managed to find a way. Thankfully Taylor’s vocals seem a perfect fit for Lambkins’ disco melancholy, and “Losing My Patience” stands out as an album highlight.

It’s a strong finish with House and House vocalist Saheer Umar providing vocals on the house tinged “I Got A Feeling”, before James Murphy himself lays a supporting hand on Lambkin for the closer of “Triumph!!!”, where the Irish producer gets all the ingredients just right.

From The Cradle To The Rave isn’t a classic, but it is classic DFA. Murphy and his pals seem to have somewhat of a monopoly on this stuff these days, and why not. They have the talent, the resources and the creativity to keep on doing this for as long as they want. Long may it continue.

Shit Robot - From the Cradle to The Rave, reviewed by Lemon on 2011-01-10T10:59:39-08:00 rating 3.7 out of 5

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