1: 08 May 2019
This music resonates with me, but not on the level of conscious comprehension. The rhythms abide by a stuttering logic that transcends my own computational prowess, adherent to a pattern that zig-zags above me and all around me. I recognise the elements – shards of voice, synthesised hand claps, swoops of violin – yet they’ve been obliterated and rebuilt, forming shapes that no longer fit into the crevices and indents of my body, no longer nestling into the palm of my hand or between my thighs. For the most part, my traditional dance moves are useless. If I can’t anticipate the next thump or harmony, then I can’t flail my arms and legs in prescient unison with the sound. Instead, the only dance that feels appropriate is a sway of bodily submission, reducing limbs to a liquid that sloshes side-to-side, aligned not with the beats but with the sentiment: that surge of connection between mind and sound. It resonates at a level that feels fundamental and chemical, in a language spoken exclusively between dTHEd and the neuronic committee that constitutes me. I sway forward: compelled by the sounds I know. I sway backward: perplexed by the way they fall.
When listening without close attention, these tracks materialise as splatters of happening. On “Đæⱶūň”, snare drums pinball around the room, cradled by the fizz of exposed wires, bouncing at crooked angles against a floor that bloats with murky synthesiser chords. Voices dangle from the ceiling on “ŞmpŁø-π” – some vivid, soft and irrefutably human, others in a glitching holographic cascade – as the electronic beat approximates a jazz swing, rendered macabre uncanny by the heavy-handed dose of syncopation. “5ẘrƓn^” start out like a biomechnical Don Caballero, before taking a bizarre tangential line into spritely woodwind orchestration and flashlit glimmers of feedback. It’s beautiful, but I don’t immediately acknowledge as such. dTHEd press all the right buttons in a fucking weird order.
As taken from the press release from Hyperbeatz vol. 1:
“The idea is to defy the capacity to mentally anticipate patterns in real time or recreate them ex-post, as well as the sheer ability to actually perform them, without necessarily reaching high BPMs.”
That’s one of the remarkable aspects of this record. It’s not necessarily an absurd, mechanical athleticism that causes these songs to outstrip the limits of human capability. It’s more the inability of a human beatmaker to fathom these rhythms in the first place. The sense of timing is dazzling, written upon a ribbon of logic that takes all manner of wretched chicanes, kinetically activated in a manner that feels both peculiar and yet inexplicably smooth.
It’s clear that the AI isn’t merely mangling the music and spewing out the remains. These rhythms are the result of careful calculation. They forego human heuristics like time signatures and recurrence (notions that simplify the attainment of musical movement) so as to render a motion that feels more complicated and more real, punctuated with the sort of tumbling impacts that characterise object thrown off a hillside. It seems random, yet the dialogue between gravity, energy and undulating surface is exact. Again – perhaps we dilute our connection with sound when we introduce the requisite of consciously comprehending what we hear. If we charge the subconscious with the job of understanding those clattering, somersaulting arrays of percussion and melodic dots, we open the doors to a sound-body dialogue of a much deeper, more spectacular complexity.