Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Video: David Zed "R.O.B.O.T. (Erreobioti)"

I had intended the posting above to serve as a brief introduction to this one. But I got a little carried away, as I tend to do, and had to go the full route in explaining the long-delayed wonder of Claudio Simonetti's disco music to new millennium ears.

In attempting to locate Simonetti's disco music on record and failing to acquire many of these records at a price I was willing to pay, I quickly footed it over to YouTube, where posters who have the original records have been kind enough to post these songs for the rest of us disco plebes to hear.

While on my quest, I happened to stumble across a 1980 video by someone I'd never heard of named David Zed, performing a song called "R.O.B.O.T (Erreobioti)," a tremendous electronic dance tune featuring a handsome young singer making robotic moves while vocalizing through a synthesized vocoder.

The tune, which isn't terribly dissimilar from the same year's "Funkytown" by Lipps Inc., alternates Italian lyrics with such English inanities as "On. Off. On. Off." and "Yum, yum, yum, yum" and "Input. Output. Input. Output." and "Work. Stop. Work. Stop."

More interestingly, Zed repeats the English word "Power" through the vocoder in the same way Simonetti-Morante-Pignatelli's 1982 theme to Dario Argento's 1982 film Tenebre repeats the similar-sounding Italian word "Paura," which means fear, through the vocoder.

What makes this fascinating is that Simonetti co-wrote Zed's extremely goofy follow-up single "I'm A Robot" ("not a rabbit" says someone in a silly Bugs Bunny voice…W.C Fields is among some of the other comic celebrities who seem to show up in this one) in 1980, so he must have been aware of how simple and effective it was to turn "Power" into "Paura."

It's brilliant too, like the echo-whispered use of "Witch" in Goblin's theme to Argento's Suspiria (1977) and "Mother" in Simonetti's theme to Argento's crazy Mother of Tears (2008), since Tenebre is said to take place in "the near future," which is often scored to plugged-in musical machines of some sort.

"R.O.B.O.T.," or "Robot," is a tremendous piece of electronic dance music and not the novelty this type of music would head toward (Kraftwerk's silly "Pocket Calculator" was one year away) or the type of pastiche crap that Zed would follow this up with.

Now known as a stand-up comic, Mr. Zed as he is now known, wears plastic orange hair and blue plastic suits, making chuckle-worthy pronouncements all the while pretending to be a robot. In this video, the cute, skinny young man sports an old-fashioned tuxedo and his own hair, never cracking a smile or forcing us to either. Here, he makes a robot seem endearingly human. And funky.

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