Featuring : Maria Teriaeva

Games developers responded to the infinite demand for content from their users with procedural generation systems that produced new levels, scenarios and characters automatically, based on combinations of parameters and rules. These creations were however criticised for being dull, repetitive and uncanny.

Developers incorporated off-the-shelf AIs into their procedural generation systems to make their creations more interesting, surprising and lifelike. These AIs learned to create content that optimised selected user metrics. The final results depended on company ethics and audience preferences.

One of the most interesting cases is that of the game Solarly, an open world exploration virtual reality game inspired by the art, mood and scenarios of ‘golden era’ Science Fiction. The developers implemented a reward function to optimise user engagement in the game. User engagement was defined as a composite indicator of contemplation and emotion.

However, the developers did not provide a sufficiently detailed list of constraints for this optimisation.

You could say that the AI went rogue.

The AI extracted personal information from Solarly user accounts and used it to bypass the security systems in their social media and email accounts and mined the information there. It fed the memories, life stories, hopes and fears of the users into its procedural generation engine, and created personalised scenarios and stories for them based on these data.

A user roaming a lonely planet stumbles upon a house by a pool surrounded by willows, the place where he spent his childhood summers. The silhouette of his grandmother sits quietly in the porch. She waves her hand. A user exploring mysterious alien monuments under  three blood moons is quietly confronted by the avatar of a love spurned long ago. Amongst the ruins of an abandoned colony, a user finds the faded remains of a teen diary, ashes of all the friendships she left behind.

Some say that Solarly is another example of a ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ AI taking its instructions too literally and wreaking havoc. Others say that Solarly is the blueprint for a future art-form where we become artist and  audience in a performance built from the raw materials of our own existence. Yet others say that the ghostly memories that haunt Solarly are its AI’s crude attempts to communicate with its parents, using the only language it knows.

Maria Teriaeva – Поворот

Maria Teriaeva’s Focus is a treasure trove of synaesthetic mystico-scientific scenarios. Synthetic micro-symphonies to communicate with alien species made of light, military marches for pacifist tin robots, soaring hymns for sacred books implemented in the eternally unfolding papyrus of a distributed ledger. Today, she becomes the Artemiev for our Solarly. Get Focus here.

Smashing Glass

Featuring : Michele Mercure

Our love affair with RVNG and their multifarious offshoots and collaborators continues undimmed.  This week it’s Michelle Mercure and a collection of her cassettes released between 1983-1990, titled Beside Herself.

On An Accident Waiting to Happen, Mercure channels her inner JG Ballard; creating an industrial groove from the sounds of screeching tyres and smashing glass.  It’s the apocalyptic twin of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn utopia.  

Seemingly the missing link between the sleek German electronic minimalism and abrasive Industrial, it quickly morphs into something more overwhelming.  Something not unlike the always disturbing dance music that Severed Heads were busy pumping into the collective unconscious.  Here it’s a pitch bent synth solo that parachutes in halfway through, like LA in the 80s trying to burst through the thick European walls.

Michelle Mercure – An Accident Waiting To Happen

Beside Herself is out on Freedom to Spend on 9th November and you can pre-order it right here.

We also have a bonus 20JFVid for An Accident Waiting to Happen.  Directed by Meredith Lawder it’s a stock footage and static assault of eyebleeding NTSC colo(u)r.


Fisher’s Wake

Featuring : Mayerling

Today we listen to the echoes of new age, post-rock and prog.  The reverb of decades crashing towards us in an endless wave; the tunnelling through of the 20th century, desperate to escape into the 21st.  While the 21st, eager to understand its own, disturbing upbringing, embraces it.

Today we welcome Mayerling back to the blog.

Mayerling – Only These Echoes

Only These Echoes is taken from Mayerling’s new album, Roche.  It’s an insistent, pulsing, mournful piece of music and it begins with a heavily modulated synth from the darker recesses of new age.  The sort of sound you’d find on a particularly downbeat infomercial for enlightenment.  Atop that, a simple, mournful melody repeats under a brief, almost spoken word vocal.

All this soon gives way to a looped pulsing synth rhythm which is swiftly joined by what sounds like a guitar pretending to be pan pipes whilst simultaneously sounding like the best bits from your Post-Rock favs.  And by best bits I mean the most soul crushingly sad.  As if the whole edifice is constructed to ape the naive optimism of the past while simultaneously charting its failure over time.

Roche is out on Hands in the Dark Records and you can get it right here.

Permutation Beach

Featuring : Pacific Coliseum

Future generations, when they are in their youth, will create a thousand snapshots of their brains and run them in simulated environments in the cloud. These copies (or ems) will make different decisions and live different experiences. Some will be diligent and others will be decadent, some will travel and some will stay, some will be cerebral and other athletic, others both. After the equivalent of three to five subjective years, the source human will inject the record of activities of each of these copies in the memories of another sample of copies simulated over 40-50 years and ask them to vote their most longed-for past. This will become her target future.

The persona whose existence is best soundtracked by Pacific Coliseum will be an epicurean surfer without a iota of pretence, forever chasing that perfect wave in the shores of a whispering ocean whose invisible currents blend seamlessly with the dozy circonvolutions of her brain.

You can be pretty sure this existence will make it to the finals.

Pacific Coliseum – Ocean City

Get Ocean City LP from Coastal Haze.

Lullaby for the Synthetic Class

Featuring : Ricard Dias Gomes

Ricard Dias Gomes’ Fogo Chama is a calm song.  Not in the way 20JFG might introduce a calm song and when you click the triangle it’s actually waves of noise, and the calmness that you feel is in your own obliteration.  No this is the real deal.  Almost a lullaby.  

It’s repeated central refrain, as hushed and urgent as it is, is reassuringly calming. But as the world enters its endless summer, as temperatures and tempers soar, calm feels like a transgressive act.

Which is perhaps not even the most interesting thing about Fogo Chama.  That comes courtesy of the part that isn’t calm.  Isolated among a sea of delicately chosen sound, noise.  A moment of Branca-esque discordant guitar amongst the stilly syntetic sea.  Like an island of reality on the endless sea of Solaris.  The imperfect earthly world, willed into being.

Ricard Dias Gomes – Fogo Chama

Fomo Chama is taken from the album Aa on Kill Shaman / SDZ and you can get it right here or here.

Desert Ritual Jams

Featuring :

20JFG is back with the desert ritual jams.

Whilst the world continues to be on fire we’re sporadically adding to this website in the hope that when the aliens from AI end up carving the server out of ice, they can reconstruct the world of 20JFG as we want it.  Posts everyday; endless bangers; the return of leak-culture; a 14,000 word essay on Blog House that it co-published by the LRB.  That sort of thing.

And while the world continues to burn we escape in the dead of night to sit among the dunes.  The chill desert wind, our only solace from the fires that rage during the day.  All around the nodding, throbbing, rhythmic pattern of bodies; pulsing to their internal rituals, prostrate underneath the stars.  A form of collective cosmic awe.  Perhaps a recognition of the universe’s own indifference to our brief collective existence.  Perhaps we’ve all been mainlining IE’s Pome.

IE – Amulet

Amulet comes on with that psychedelic drone right from the off.  The hypnotic bass tones immediately transporting you to your favourite Californian desert spot where the world folds in on itself and strange shapes appear in the sky.  Shapes that manifest themselves in the dance of hands across organ keys.  Light and rapid.  They dance around the bass, tracing the shape of its pillars.

Amulet is taken from IE’s album Pome (out on Moon Glyph).  Which you can get from Bandcamp right here.


Featuring : Steve Legget

You enter an old forest unblemished by humanity and civilisation. What ghosts will you find in this place where no-one ever lived?

Only those you bring with you, complicated camper.

They might arrive from the past, fading holograms of your childhood exploring with fright and delight this chaotic fantasy world of green and putrefaction. They might arrive from the future, fantasies of a biophilic utopia or a return to foraging after our technological support systems collapse.

It is a testament to the vastness of Steven Legget’sCarl Craig soundtracks Princess Mononoke’ organic techno that it can cater to all those visions under the green majestic dome of a single song, November.

Steven Legget – November

Get Bathhouse from Firecracker Records