Track By Track: Alexander Robotnick – Simple Music

firenze 20.11.2015: maurizio dami, music producer.foto guido mannucci

To someone with even a basic knowledge of Italo Disco should recognise Alexander Robotnick’s name.

If you do, it’s most likely down to his seminal record ‘Problèmes D’amour’ originally released in 1983. No, that might be almost 40 years ago but Robotnick’s work rate has not slowed whatsoever – he’s still releasing incredible music to this day.

Since he’s pioneering days in the Italian disco scene, he’s notched up plenty of releases, all strung together by his signature arpeggios. There’s been outings on Bordello A Parigi, Permanent Vacation, Clone, Bosconi and of course his own Hot Elephant Music, which is also the home of his newest release and eighth album.


Simple Music is driven by the idea of creating straightforward sounds that “generate genuine feelings”. Having been in the music scene for so long, Robotnick has heard countless grooves and melodies circling and re-circling, this album is about bringing it back to basics and bringing it back to emotion.

There’s disco house and electro, punchy drums and retro vocoder vocals, it’s a celebration of tradition but also evolution; something that Robotnick knows a thing or two about in his 40 plus year tenure in the music industry.

Following its release, we asked him to give us a bit more intel on the tracks, which he does here with the addition of some lovingly made emoji titles.

01 Babel 2

It’s a song about the impossibility to understand one another even when we talk the same language and share the same culture. 

When and why did it all start? Probably with my generation (the “boomers”) which never managed to be up to the previous one  in any field, from art to cinema, from literature to science and  was followed by a dramatic collapse of the average IQ.

02 It is so easy2

Here a very smug character in the refrain instead reveals his rather critical situation in the verses. A bit silly. 

I first composed the instrumental part of the refrain and  as it sounded fairly stupid I added an even more stupid text to it. Then I moved to the verse where the character’s girlfriend walking at his side constantly makes him stumble. There’s a funny harmonic transition from the verse to the refrain, it’s not correct but it really works.

03 Why2

On an electro-disco base the character complains about his lover’s inconsistency.

It’s a very sad song. Although there’s a bit of humour in it too. The base is derived from old recordings. It was voiceless for a while, put aside because it sounded a bit sad. Then I got the idea: let’s write a sad text so that it’s going be a sad track and that’s it!

04 Underpass2

It’s a dark vision of a walk along an underpass. It’s made with original Robotnick sound from the early 80s.

In the early 80s I wanted to make a video of “Dance Boy Dance” but hadn’t got the money. “Underpass” is the description of the video I wish I could make, which was set in an underpass. 

05 Virtual Empathy2

It’s about the empathic feelings induced by mainstream TV to manipulate mass consensus. 

For many years now the so-called “social sciences” (social studies, cultural anthropology, social psychology) have become the tools for mass manipulation. In the 90s a MIT student did a very interesting experiment about that (the bonsai kitten) showing how easy it is today to manipulate consciousness. It’s a track written in 6/8, a deeply African rhythm. 

06 I Want To Know2

Here Robotnick describes his dreams and wonders about their meaning. 

I wrote it in Sri Lanka at a time when I often remembered my dreams, especially recurring ones, and I had the feeling I was living in two parallel realities.

07 Intro Robo2

“Intro-Robo” it’s the only instrumental track in the album. Very simple music. 

I wrote it as an introduction to my live concert, based on an arpeggio-phrase performed at different speeds, the result is quite complex but interesting. The piano at the end of the track is there to give some sense to the whole track. 

08 Simple Music2

It is the track chosen as the album title.

It takes us back to the sound of my early tracks made in a small studio I called “The Crypt”. I was coming from Jazz then and I had just started composing electronic tracks using triads only and focusing more on the melody. Simple Music therefore.