Happy Valley Band + bLectum from bLechdom + Zachary James Watkins

4/20/18 at 8:00 pm
Idea Fab Labs: 2879 Mission St. Ext., Santa Cruz
Buy Tickets: $10

Indexical, Idea Fab Labs, and Unintelligible: Noise Against Capture present the deconstructed pop songs of the Happy Valley Band, glitchy techno of bLectum from bLectdom, and long-form drones of Oakland-based composer and electronic musician Zachary James Watkins.

Happy Valley Band

The Happy Valley Band is pop music as heard by a computer algorithm. Bay Area composer and performer David Kant translates machine learning analyses of pop songs into music notation in order to explore the biases and assumptions inherent in digital automation. The transcriptions, which are impossibly over-specific, microtonal, and brimming with artifacts of the machine listening process, are performed by the Happy Valley Band, a group of Bay Area and New York City musicians.

The project has been described as “a shitty MP3 to MIDI converter,” “the Shaggs meets Guitar Hero,” “James Brown backed by Sun Ra,” “the best executed worst idea,” and “generally distressing to listen to.” According to Kant, “it’s not exactly about getting machines to hear like (we presume) humans do. Machines hear in as many different ways as we design and build them. We should use machines to hear differently, not to reinforce our expectations — because whose expectations are they anyway?“ The project is about highlighting the assumptions implicit in algorithm design.

Formed in 2011, the Happy Valley band released their debut album, ORGANVM PERCEPTVS, in 2017 on Indexical. The recording features interpretations of pop icons from Madonna to Patsy Cline to Phil Collins.

Making music through machine ears
ORGANVM PERCEPTVS liner notes
Interview with The Wire
Bandcamp Daily: Meet the Artists Using Coding, AI, and Machine Language to Make Music

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