Essential Vocoder Songs

Andy Beta strikes again. This time around fans of Pitchfork’s Essentials series are treated to the music journalist’s historical romp through pop’s love affair with the vocoder and talk box, repurposed chunks of communications technology that transform the human voice into cyborg speech and frog croaks. His track list is a veritable house party packed with bouncing dance jams, from electro, hip-hop, electronica, and funk. A cunning curator, Beta has the chutzpah to actually leave off Kraftwerk, one of the vocoder’s most high-profile pioneers. He adds crate-digging obscurities from Can’s Holger Czukay and French disco freaks The Rockets instead. Neither is essential in terms of historical importance, yet they’re so deliciously novel that it hardly matters. Just turn them up and have a blast.