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March 09, 1998 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-03-09

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 9, 1998

RI

Servotron reprograms style*

Michigan Union

530 S. State St.
Ground Floor of the Michigan Union

By Ted Watts
Dily Arts VW t'r
Nearly two years ago a group of
robots under the auspices of the
Servotron Robot Allegiance began its
assault on humanity, directed by the
mysterious Master Computer. The
group's musical arm, assembled partly
from members of Man or Astroman?
and simply known as Servotron,
released an album, "Entertainment
Program for Human:' and toured a
mighty swath of destruction through
the United States.
I gathered information from two
Servotron slaves in a recent interview
with members of the group who
referred to themselves as Human
Attendants A and B. Oddly enough,
these creatures are remarkably similar
to the robots they service, keyboardist
Proto-Unit V-3 and rhythmic striker
Z4-0BX. The robots themselves were
unavailable because they were "packed
up" until their current tour actually
began.
"I've had to be out on the road with
the robots, and when you let them out
of the package, they have a time-
coded operation period of about an
hour" Human Attendant B said. "If

Courtesy of Lookout Records

Members of Servotron play for human entertainments

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you let them out right before the show,
they'll play for 45, 50 minutes. And
then we put them back in the crates. If
you left them out all day a city would
just be amassed with blood and hor-
ror."
"We have to give people the chance
to sign up for cybernetic conversion,"
Attendant A said. "If they played
longer than that everyone would end
up terminated by the end of the perfor-
mance, so they cut it short in order to
save the few that decide to join and get
prostheses:'
While mass destruction was the
main tool for world domination by
Servotron in the past, the current agen-
da seems to be more about subversion.
Their tasty electronic-human garage
sound has been tempered with a "join
us" message in the creatures' current
incarnation.
Attendant B put it this way: "It's def-
initely targeted towards a mass appeal
listenability that is somewhat directed
to the youth of humanity. We all know
that true subversion starts with the
younger ranks of human beings and by
making it a little bit softer and
smoother at the edges we make the
oncoming revolution seem that much
harsher,"
"It's what the kids wanna hear,"
Attendant A said.
The music itself is therefore unim-
portant. Human Attendant B frighten-
ingly admitted "you don't know how
close the Master Computer was to
making Servotron a TNN, Nashville-
New Country-like housewife rock type
of band. Garth Brooks is like 12,000
people in and out three shows a night
and there's a lot of appeal to the Master
Computer to push records to those
kind of numbers."
"The reason why the music that
was chosen is what it is is that it
has a pop music sensibility but at
the same time is somewhat
cultish enough that it didn't star-

tic too many people at the initial
conception of the Robot
Allegian ce" he s ied. "But it may
be changing, you may get a littl!
more Garth in the sound ... Fron
the Numan to the Yoak am we like
to say."
Attendant A had an interesting story
about her own conersion. "I actually
started as a white-trash cash register
operator at a local grocery store, and
the register I w1as working on had
aictuahly been libcrated. I kept getting
hese messages in between ringing up
cans of green beans nd frozen chici
en, leading me over to the robotic,
cause." The final message that drove
her to Servotron was "the threat of
dheath:'"I knew that I would not live a
long full life with the robot alle-
giance" she said. "If I chose to stay
where I was, so I chose to have my
arm removed and replaced with a claw
and now am hard working in the robot
factory."
The robots themselves are continu-
aly being altered. Their touring com
ponent has even been improved,
Attendant B said. "T he Master
Computer has actually reprogrammed
the four robots that perform live and
has on occasion caused them to bleed
or sweat or sometimes it looks like
there is silver body paint being
smeared as sweat and grease and
grime from being on tour for five
weeks rolls down their metal faces."
"But I must tell you," he said, "tha
that is merely the highest step in pro-
gramming by the Master Computer.
You may even occasionally hear a mis-
take being made in the performance,
something going off time or something
going out of' key, and that's merely to
not be so perfect and intimidating to
the human audience."
And if you're thinking of quietly
ignoring Servotron, remembe
Attedant B's words of warning:Th
Master Computer is always watching

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