For me, one of the biggest advances in music in recent years was when they started giving away free mp3s. If you accept that your tracks may well not get played on the radio, then releasing traditional singles is probably a bit pointless. So why not give away an edited version of one of your album tracks instead?
This was how I originally came across Shit Robot, and having only come across them this year I think it’s fair to say that I was pretty late to the party. But I suppose it’s never too late, and From the Cradle to the Rave is a quite excellent album.
I really don’t like the term “retro”, but on this album there’s something very retro about the whole affair. Every track is very definitely a 12″ mix, and would not have entirely sounded out of place on the dance floors of the late 1980s. Well, no more out of place than some of the stuff that was there, anyway. For instance, it might lack some of their lyrical ingenuity, but I Found Love edges towards Yazoo‘s soulful electro.
The real surprise for me is the third track Losing My Patience with a wonderful vocal performance by Hot Chip‘s Alexis Taylor and a whole load of absolutely stunning throbbing synth lines which surely make it a candidate for one of the best synth tracks of the last few years.
The 12″ (OK, album) version of Take ’em Up is rather too long, just like all the best 12″ mixes from the 1980s. In truth, the tighter (and more free) single edit has all of the key parts of the song, and the album only adds a couple of slightly unnecessary sections. But it’s still a really powerful song, with a bass line borrowed from West End Girls and another excellent vocal. Towards the end of the album, Simple Things (Work It Out) is a quite brilliant vision of the future from forty years ago, complete with a house/disco piano line and a screeching soulful vocal from someone called Ian Svenonius.
From the Cradle to the Rave is also surprisingly a bit of a grower. You’ll find that tracks you’d initially forgotten about start cropping up at the back of your head without warning. I only bought the new-fangled download version, but if you get the CD it looks as though you can get a bonus disc mixed by Shit Robot as well.