Review: Leonardo Barbadoro Unveils World’s Largest Robot Orchestra on new LP ‘Musica Automata’

Leonardo Barbadoro, formerly known by his electronic alias Koolmorf Widesen, is an Italian musician and producer based in Florence. The versatile composer released his highly anticipated album ‘Musica Automata’, comprised of music performed entirely by robots, released via Helical Records. As Koolmorf Widesen, he has performed alongside the likes of Apparat, Venetian Snares, DJ Spooky, and 808 State. On ‘Musica Automata’, the frenetically loud and explosively quick, ‘Bomi’, single premiered with support from electronicgroove, while the ‘Hypr Spirogained support from CLASH Magazine. In addition, tastemakers at The FADER added this instrumental album to their New Music Friday selection on its release day, 3 November.


Enthralling electronics merge seamlessly with orchestral acoustics on this innovative LP. As a composing engineer and music producer based in Florence, Leonardo believes that robot ‘hands’ should make music too. On ‘Musica Automata’ he showcases his prowess at programming algorithms to produce their own rhythms, whilst never actually playing anything. With this new album, Leonardo Barbadoro unveils the world’s largest robotic orchestra. Recorded at Logos Foundation in Belgium, the automated interfacing ‘arms’ are connected to an eclectic collection of instruments both conventional and uniquely folk; like an organ, percussions, woodwinds, and brass. Barbadoro showcased the first iteration of his eccentric electro-acoustic experimentation on the Tomorrowland stage in 2019. Released on 3 November 2023, the full album Musica Automata’ is now available to stream. Watch the stunningly immersive video for ‘Bomi’ below:



Remotely controlled by Leonardo, many of the orchestra’s sonic parameters (dynamics, envelopes, and more) add subtle ‘human’ nuances to the performance, breathing life into the automated process. Pushing boundaries, Leonardo Barbadoro pioneers the interaction between analog and electronic influences, presenting a finished product that is spellbindingly differentiated from so-called ‘AI artists’ or other artificial arrangements. Resulting in an otherworldly hybrid of human and machine. And landing somewhere that isn’t quite classical or contemporary. Resplendent with chillout poly-rhythms, intricately exciting meditative motifs, and microtonal flourishes, this new album wows at every turn.


Hybr Spiro’ begins with an eddying wave of percussion. A measured and simple four-to-five note melodic motif emerges on the Hybr organ and a spinet. Not to mention the smorgasbord of sousaphone, helicon, bassoon, trombone, French horn, clarinet, and oboe which all feature. Like ‘Bomi’, Hybr Spiro’ is accompanied by a video where we see an acoustic array of sounds being produced entirely by mechanical and digital impulses. This footage features animations from Barbadoro, with videography from Tanja Busking. 


This release subtly straddles the line between exploring a gradual telos of timbre and melodies; instead of falling back on outright experimentation. What we hear on the new LP, and the featured track, ‘Vibi’, is a finely tuned composite of Leonardo’s core concept. Written for the vibraphone, ‘Vibi’, like many of the tracks on ‘Musica Automata’ includes compositional impossibilties, not fit for human hands. Enormously complex crescendos clash with delicately soft ‘organic’ notes. The track features Leonardo Barbadoro’s custom experiential delay which is utilized by one of the robots to ‘write’ with, and perform the bouncing effect without any post-production audio manipulation. Listen to ‘Vibi’ and the rest of ‘Musica Automata’ below:



“‘Musica Automata’ represents a turning point in my compositional and instrumental research. It is music that brings together two dimensions often perceived as incompatible, even antithetical: the boundless expressive possibilities of electronics implemented by an acoustic instrumental body in a sensory reality, beating, vibrating, and blowing”, said Leonardo Barbadoro about his new album.


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