Andy Kaufman is considered not necessarily one of the greatest comedians of all time, but one of the most popular, who was also an extensive practitioner of anti-humor. What he did for comedy is make people think about comedy, not only in the anatomy of the jokes, but in the way in which they are delivered. He did not want people to sit in front of televisions and be mindlessly entertained with drug and sex humor, but wanted you to think about jokes. What Andy Kaufman did for comedy, Yea Big has done with their new album The Wind That Blows the Robot’s Arms.
Yea Big is the name that Stefen Robinson has chosen to headline this specific musical project. He’s worked heavily in other projects such as Oh Astro with Yea Big collaborators Jane Dowe and Hank Hofler and work for a compilation remix album Lord Lucan is Still Missing. The Wind That Blows the Robot’s Arms, while somewhat similar to his other works, is still a large divergence from even the fringes of music today.
The Wind That Blows the Robot’s Arms is an instrumental album with the only vocals too fast or too high-pitched to understand, having them serve mostly as an instrument as opposed to a vehicle for lyrics. The first track of the album will immediately turn away those who less accepting in their musical tastes as it is almost all feedback and static and has almost no comprehensible rhythm. This is slightly remedied in the next track, but not to an extreme degree. The next track to speak of is track four in which a typical rhythm is introduced and finally gives a glimpse of what a listener might hear for the rest of the album. Yea Big uses quick cut hip-hop music laid overtop the soundtrack of daily life, hearing static and sounds familiar to the clipping of coupons, licking of stamps, or something else entirely too domestic for people to take notice of. On track seven, “Manufacturing Morals,” this technique is utilized at its best as a highly active rhythm is pieced together from a series of office sounds. The next track, “Touch You or Touch Them” uses some of the same techniques but includes pieces of vocals and a background percussion that appears as a motif throughout the rest of the album. The album takes a slow down on “Nice People Are Those Who Have Nasty Minds” but quickly turns the somber strumming into the hip-hop beats we are familiar to on such other tracks as “First Meal.” Each of the tracks on the album are very unique, having their own feel and instrumentation, even though some of them have the same titles. The album overall takes some of the quickest and strangest splice spice mixes and has fun with them.
A treat for any listener on this album is to have the album on repeat and witness what happens at the end of the album as it loops. Start the album from any track and let it run on album repeat and wait for it to get back to the track you started at. When listening, just think about any coherent story that this selection might be a soundtrack for. Any selection is different from the one before it; any can entertain on long drives or on rainy days.
Sure, technically, Yea Big’s The Wind That Blows the Robot’s Arms is music, but not in the usual sense. Yea Big makes the listener think about what they are listening to, not giving them traditional melodies, romantic lyrics, or even a chorus or instrumental refrain to secure on to. The Wind That Blows the Robot’s Arms is a life raft in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and you have to find out how to get home.
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