Everybody is freaking out about the advent of super-smart Artificial Intelligences, and/or about the world’s almost complete takeover by really dumb ones. Your 20JFG reporters respond with a musical exposé where they delve into some techno musics which provide a artistic (silent, vociferous, ambivalent) response to the mysteries of Artificial Intelligence.
An obvious place to start is the ‘Artificial Intelligence’ series of compilations released by Warp records in the 1990s, where a bunch of (don’t call it intelligent) techno luminaries ‘demonstrate the capabilities of electronic music’.
If trance and rave producers are like the UFO crazies waving their welcoming placards at an armada of robotic dreadnoughts between being blown to smithereens, the philosopher kings of synthetic music in the AI comps resemble the PhDs in linguistics in Stories of Your Life and Others (aka Arrival), a cadre of highly specialised scientists developing a sonic language to communicate with those unfathomable minds which may be lurking inside the machine.
UP!’s (aka Richie Hawtin) Spiritual High builds a space of wonder at the marvel of consciousness which human and machines can share. AI systems being able to observe the micro-dynamics of their cognitive processes perceive this as the ripple with which the weights of deep neural networks are optimised to represent and predict complex reality in a multidimensional space. When you project this into human sensoria, the pounding beats, acid squirts and replicant chorus in Spiritual High provide a good enough approximation.
More information about Artificial Intelligence in Discogs.
Imagine the platonic concept of the beat like a software class with a set of methods with some parameters which are randomly initialised, producing a rich variation of outputs all of which satisfy the constraint of making you lose your shit. Susumu Yokota’s Alphaville carries out a pretty thorough exploration of that possibility space.
Its beauty is in its minimalism. No bass, no melody, no effects. Only a sheer army of rhythm pushing forward with monomaniac purpose, like the dystopian civilisation in Zamyatin’s We as it constructs an Integral to conquer the galaxy, or that sorcerer’s apprentice AI in the Goal Misalignment fable, covering the solar system with paperclips you can dance to.
Alphaville is included in Susumu Yokota’s masterpiece Acid Mt. Fuji. Read more about it here.