Back to the womb | Robert Farrugia Flores

Ahead of the launch of their sophomore album GUF, Teodor Reljic catches up with the frontman of Plato’s Dream Machine, Robert Farrugia Flores, about what this second full-length release and what fans can expect from this fresh effort by the genre-hopping outfit

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Teodor Reljic
3 April 2017, 7:53am
Robert Farrugia Flores (centre): “The word guf (womb) has this obvious association to a new start, opening up to new possibilities, which in many ways the album does point towards”
Robert Farrugia Flores (centre): “The word guf (womb) has this obvious association to a new start, opening up to new possibilities, which in many ways the album does point towards”
Last time we spoke, you said you were getting ready to record your second album... and now, here you are! Did the process of writing and recording GUF go as planned, and did you make any interesting discoveries about the material as you went along?

Oh yes, here we are! I keep saying that to myself every day for the past month or so. It’s been (and still is) one great trip. For this album we had much more of a plan than the previous one – the latter being more of an ongoing experiment. This new album has been in our hearts and minds from the very start. We had a goal post which we were aiming at. 

Still, we did leave some room for try-outs and new ideas to complicate our process, especially when it came time to hit the studio. It is at the studio where everything starts to become more lucid, vibrant and clear, as the sounds become more refined and articulated. I believe that the two things that have really hit us hard this time are: minimalising the sound to a more pop-ish vibe and doing multiple layers of vocal harmonies. Both were challenging for us, but must say we handled them pretty well.

How does GUF contribute to the Plato’s Dream Machine sound, and were there any particular ideas you wanted to explore?

Our new album’s sound is not completely new to us. We had already tested the waters with the previous album when we played around using electronic sounds on top of a rock-ish kind of sound. However, it still has a novel leap to it, as we ventured more into a synth-based type of music, completely omitting the use of guitars. So yes, GUF is both a continuation and a new-fangled expedition for us.

What lies behind the imagery of the album’s title, and does it signal any thematic threads within the album itself?

Yes it does. It had to capture the main spirit of the new songs as well as indicate a continuation with the previous album. The word guf (womb) has this obvious association to a new start, opening up to new possibilities, which in many ways the album does point towards. 

It also fairly contrasts with the previous album title GHERA, which had this somewhat vulnerable, uneasy feeling about it brought about by a sense of isolation. I believe that with GUF there is this new found refuge, or harbour, in turn signalling a presence which gives this isolation a different meaning. 

These ideas are explored lyrically through the themes of faith, hope and love. I have here humbly tried to pen this down in my lyrics, as some kind of ode to our multi-layered, often irrational, lives. 

Plato’s Dream Machine will launch GUF at the Valletta Campus Theatre on April 8 and 9
Plato’s Dream Machine will launch GUF at the Valletta Campus Theatre on April 8 and 9
Could you tell us a little bit about your quirky stop-motion video for one of the new songs off GUF, ‘Paralizi’? How did you come up with the idea for it, and what was the process of putting together the video like?

Since my late teens I was always fascinated with stop-motion videos. Seeing inanimate objects turn into animate ones is just spellbinding to me. I’ve always dreamt of doing one. I came up with this wish last month and here we are! All this thanks to Chris Mallia, who photographed and edited the whole video sequence. The whole process was super fun. Chris and I spent hours assembling and moving objects around, at times out of sheer spontaneity. 

We filmed the whole thing at my living room. I hoarded my place and my parents’ house and took anything I deemed fit for this video. I took the liberty of not being constrained by the lyrics. It worked wonders, and I’m overjoyed that it got such positive feedback. 

Finally – what can PDM fans expect from the launch party for GUF?

This is going to be a special concert. We’ve put all our energy (and all of our personal cash) into it. We will be delivering a live interpretation of our new album, along a singular, tailor-made stage design and light show by the great LATE INTERACTIVE duo. All this in the new refurbished Valletta Campus Theatre (MITP). This concert will be seated and has a very limited capacity, making it all the more special and intimate. 

At this rate, I’m presuming the event will be sold out in a couple of days. I urge all those who are leaving it for the last minute to book their place. We have a special bundle offer when buying the entrance ticket together with our new album. We will also be having a very limited amount of colourful GUF t-shirts on sale that night. What can I say… come and see for yourselves!

Plato’s Dream Machine will launch GUF at the Valletta Campus Theatre (formerly known as MITP) in St Christopher’s Street, Valletta, with a two-day concert on April 8 and 9. Doors open at 20:00 on both nights. Bookings:
https://shop.trackagescheme.com/


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Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...