Meet The Retro Robot Band From The Fabulous '50s

The Trio Fantastique — made up of guitarist Wink, drummer Blink and saxophonist Nod — was the creation of a Belgian engineer with the Scifi name of Zenon Specht. The robot band was a feature of Antwerp's Robot Club, but also appeared in fairs and made a tour of department stores in Paris and Lens, France in 1954 and 1959.

Meet The Retro Robot Band From The Fabulous '50s

The Trio Fantastique even put out a popular album.

Meet The Retro Robot Band From The Fabulous '50s

Meet The Retro Robot Band From The Fabulous '50s

Inspired by a number of robot musicians that had sprung up around the world following the war, Specht's band was operated by piano roll technology, where a punched paper tape controlled electric switches that in turn controlled the operation of the band. The Trio's repertoire included not only bebop but jazz, tangos and classical tunes as well. Anything, in fact, could be on the club's dance program so long as it had been recorded on a paper tape. Although one news report suggested that the robots only pantomimed to music being played on a hidden record player, it would appear that Wink, Blink and Nod really did play their instruments (though when Nod introduced the songs, his voice was surely pre-recorded).

Meet The Retro Robot Band From The Fabulous '50s

Meet The Retro Robot Band From The Fabulous '50s

Robot Club customers got three songs for a nickel. When the robots were done, they sat down. When another nickel was fed to them, the trio got up and swung out three more numbers. According to a contemporary news item, although the trio is "somewhat mechanical in their endeavors" it does manage to produce "faultless dance music." It was certainly good enough music for the dancers in the Belgian night club.

Meet The Retro Robot Band From The Fabulous '50s

Although this clip is only seven seconds long, it's enough to haunt your dreams tonight.