LCD-Illuminated: Shit Robot



The funny thing is, with all of the hype surrounding the last handful of LCD Soundsystem shows currently wrapping up in New York, Marcus Lambkin is front and center. Not only is he playing alongside James for his epic “45:33” breakdown, but the Dubliner is debuting his live show at Terminal 5, opening for James Murphy and crew. Essentially, he is at the precipice of the spotlight, able to launch himself into the electro-disco vacuum that the end of LCD Soundsystem will create. Except, he doesn’t really want to. “I’m not one for standing up on stage. I’ve always been a DJ, and I’ve never considered myself a musician,” he sheepishly admits.

Instead, the jovial, often-smiling Lambkin prefers to be the man behind the mask, a secret component to Murphy’s very visual, very present DFA Records—the guy with all of the guts but not much of the glory. “I’ve always said I’m not going to do a live show. I’m a DJ! I’m a DJ!” He emphasizes jokingly, referring to his two-decade-long history that stretches from Dublin to Germany to the East Village. “But the album was so well-received, so many people were like, ‘Well, we have to see something.’ But I’m not going to pretend I can play an instrument up there and sing. I don’t know how James and all those people do it.”

Yet, for the final farewell, Murphy chose a fitting, storied figure as his opening act—one that would bring something new to the audience, but not be a surprise to hardcore DFA fans. Lambkin was with DFA since its inception: he met Murphy when the two of them shared an office space in the late ’90s and DFA Records was in its infancy. Therefore, his worldwide debut isn’t really an unveiling, per se. Most listeners familiar with artists like Hot Chip, The Juan MacLean, and LCD’s Nancy Whang have been watching Lambkin’s interactions with DFA for nearly a decade.

But with his album, cheekily named From the Cradle to the Rave, a three-year undertaking released at the end of 2010, Lambkin had to finally accept that he actually makes music instead of just playing other people’s. So while he has been behind decks for ages, no one (including James Murphy) has seen Lambkin perform his own work in its entirety until this week. The fact that Shit Robot’s live beginning is LCD’s ending is no coincidence: Lambkin’s album-making career was partially engineered by Murphy himself. “Making music is still kind of newish to me, because I’ve always been resistant to that world. And James pushed me into making music.”

Fans expecting the funk-infused, Talking Heads-reminiscent stylings of LCD Soundsystem should look elsewhere, however, because Shit Robot has its aural roots planted firmly in the roots of rave music. Round, thick basslines, throbbing drums, and an obsession with all things computerized comprise Lambkin’s send-up to dance culture. And his show is similarly futuristic, with a large screen with Lambkin standing front and center, like a glorified DJ or a rave master of ceremonies. “I have all of these collaborations, but it’s not like I can have Nancy, Alexis [Taylor, of Hot Chip] and so on following me around,” he says about the difficulty of a live show. “So we came up with the screen, with visuals projected onto its front. When we have Alexis on, I have Alexis on stage with me, singing on screen.” For Terminal 5, he presented his stage set-up. Peeking from the center of the lively screen, masked by a glowing robot apparatus he wears, is the face of a quietly bemused DJ playing a live rock-and-roll show.

At the time, Lambkin said that he doubted Nancy Whang would join him at Terminal 5 (as she had her own show to prepare for), but in true, collaborative DFA form, when Lambkin launched into the hypnotic “Take ‘Em Up”, there Whang was, singing along with the digital projection of herself. While its leader may be stepping down from the stage, the future of DFA Records is certainly secured: there will always be the collaborations, the dance hits, and the New York-centric singalongs. To quote Murphy himself, “It keeps coming, ’til the day it stops.”