Brent Amaker is celebrating his 50th birthday Friday with a show at the Triple Door, so forgive the country music auteur for having immortality on his mind. It’s a theme that permeates his new project, Android Amaker, a concept album and art project about a future version of Amaker that has uploaded his mind into an robotic shell.
To be fair, Amaker had the fantastic on his mind far before his encroaching birthday. He said he’s always been interested in science fiction, but it was a Time magazine cover story, “2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal,” he saw a few years ago when traveling that got his gears turning for his new project.
The story featured the work of Raymond Kurzweil, inventor of the first touch-sensitive keyboard and now a director of engineering at Google, who speculated that by 2045 computers would have enough horsepower to simulate human consciousness — a moment dubbed the technological singularity.
“It sounds kind of crazy but there’s real science behind it,” Amaker said, describing digging deeper into Kurzweil and his singularity theory. “I found out Google hired Ray Kurzweil and they’ve been buying up robotics companies . . . it sounds like it’s a science fiction movie. I was talking to a lot of my friends about it, and we all kind of shared this fascination with what’s happening to the world and playing with the idea of a concept record.”
The details of the concept Amaker finally decided on seem like a cross between the cult sci-fi television show “Firefly” and “Blade Runner,” something that should excite the nerd in all of us.
“All your body parts wear out. That’s how you die, right?” Amaker said. “If you want to move forward, you’ve got to start replacing your body parts or live a virtual life. So to be out there in the world, I have replaced everything but they’ve managed to save my vocal chords and insert them into the machine. It’s kind of a Western meets sci-fi, where I’m going from one rough moon mining colony to the next, living a hard life, telling stories.”
Amaker and project collaborators Vox Mod and P Smoov debuted their first song, “I’M THE ONE,” this week and it’s wild stuff that bodes well for the forthcoming album. Appropriately spacey and plenty catchy, it benefits from Amaker’s ominous New Wave delivery and some nifty production, especially on the back end as the song races to its subdued coda.
“I’m a pretty creative guy and I really like telling stories, so the story aspect was easy for me,” Amaker said of the transition to making electronic music. “But I haven’t approached songs in this way. Typically when I write songs I sit down with an acoustic guitar and I write the chord progressions simultaneously with the lyrics and the vocals. For me the most challenging thing was taking someone else’s music and singing over it.”
Android Amaker hopes to push the boundaries in other ways as well by partnering with photographer Frank Correa, whose trippy dayglo aesthetic seems entirely appropriate for project about an android beating a hasty retreat to various hives of scum and villainy across the galaxy. They’re also partnering with Seattle fashion designer Christopher Jones to provide the proper star-hopping look.
Expect a vinyl LP and a live event that will feature art and music later this summer or early fall. Until then, drop by the Triple Door Friday for Amaker’s birthday show and catch Android collaborator Vox Mod’s DJ set in the Musiquarium lounge during the after party.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails