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Uphill City

I Am Robot and Proud

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Album Review

Toronto-based IDM specialist Shaw-Han Liem (aka I Am Robot and Proud) is no stranger to melodic precision — fans of Lemon Jelly and the Postal Service will find much to love here. As a dexterous spinner of melody from the often-impenetrable abyss of binary blips and bleeps, he's been crafting little electronic webs of instrumental pop bliss since his 2001 debut. Uphill City may break little ground in the I Am Robot and Proud canon, but the familiar template of sped-up samples stacked upon each other in five- to ten-second increments still illicit instant comfort, even when they occasionally take a turn towards the dark, like on the chilly title cut. The newfound ease and affordability of creating computerized pop music may have spawned its legions of crap, but in this case the cream does indeed rise to the top.

Customer Reviews

Passionless Electronica

Four albums and one Piehead Records compilation later, I'm convinced that the artist behind I Am Robot And Proud is too comfortable with sounding neutral. Uphill City takes a small incremental step forward from previous albums as a technical exercise. The sound is more fleshed out and interesting, as if it is drawing inspiration from Vince Clarke. The difference here is that I Am Robot And Proud always cuts itself off before taking a pop melody to its natural conclusion. Take the opening of "Something To Write Home About", which starts happy and enthusiastic, with a chorus-like swell that makes it very promising indeed. Alas, one-third of the way into the song it changes gear and just sort of limps its way to the end. Another example is "The Melt" which starts off great but has no end. Certainly this is no Samuel Barber's "Adagio For Strings", but it sounds to my ears that I Am Robot And Proud has a long-held inhibition about expressing himself. Consequently, the music suffers, and instead of it making a connection with the listener, it relegates itself to the equivalent of background chatter.

Another success

Awesome stuff, white noise for the N.A.S generation


Born: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

I Am Robot and Proud is Toronto-based Shaw-Han Liem, who combines both electronic and organic instrumentation to produce gentle instrumental electronic pop. In the early 2000s, he released two full-lengths on Catmobile Records, The Catch (November 2001) and Grace Days (October 2003), as well as a few EPs and a remix album. His third LP, The Electricity in...
Full bio
Uphill City, I Am Robot and Proud
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