Plastic Robbins Band

ENS.2014.1 | 2.25.14-6.27.14 | 12’
Soprano, String Quartet

Midi Rendition of “1. My Old Job”
Midi Rendition of “2. Dig Dug”
Midi Rendition of “3. Welfare Mothers”
Midi Rendition of “4. Alien Vs. Predator”
Midi Rendition of “5. Second Helping”
Midi Rendition of “6. Plastic Robbins Band”

Download PDF of Score

Plastic Robbins Band
Poems by Michael Robbins

  1. My Old Job
  2. Dig Dug
  3. Welfare Mothers
  4. Alien Vs. Predator
  5. Second Helping
  6. Plastic Robbins Band

I first became aware of Michael Robbins when his controversial review of a book by Robert Haas (whose Cuttings I set in Body Through Which the Dream Flows) appeared in Poetry. Although I did not necessarily agree with his opinions, I found his approach thoughtful, intelligent, funny, and refreshing in its refusal to kowtow to the mandarins of high art represented by that august publication. I sought out his poetry and found some real gems, which I immediately decided to put to music.

Plastic Robbins Band sets six poems from his first collection, Alien Vs. Predator, for soprano and string quartet. The material is deliberately poppy, blocky, colorful, and catchy, but the setting is full of destabilizing elements—quarter tones, glissandos, arpeggios—which together reflect Robbins’s subversion of clichés, catchphrases, stereotypes, and banalities in his frequently hilarious but often also dark and uncomfortable work.

The songs are mostly set in simple verse forms, and the cycle’s overall shape is fast, fast, slow, fast, fast, slow. Plastic Robbins Band was composed in February and June 2014 and lasts around twelve minutes.