Oct 12, 2021
By Dom Gourlay
The Organizing Committee, aka Eryk Salvaggio, returns with his AI collaborator in tow for retro-futuristic pop album The Day Computers Became Obsolete.
Following on from July 2020’s The Central Memory and October’s This Is Not Fascist Disco, both created on an enforced break from his Applied Cybernetics masters at the Australian National University, living across the street from the largest supercomputer in the southern hemisphere, The Day Computers Became Obsolete is a defining statement, both theoretically and artistically, from Salvaggio.
His “tinkering with algorithms to generate music” has crafted accessible and recognisable “cyborg pop music” that brings together Salvaggio’s musical influences and reflecting a reading list of cybernetic and critical/analytic theory texts. In a world of collapse, The Organizing Committee found its weird mission to rethink the relationships between technology, society and the environment with an aural manifesto for change.
While previous albums let the AI co-conspirator take the lead, on this album Salvaggio took a more active role. The majority of the album’s lyrics are based on machine-generated text. Fed texts Salvaggio was reading for research and using prompts, titles and phrases from notes, a sophisticated model “wrote” lyrics, with Salvaggio then fitting them into verses. Musically, the album was built from ideas and song structures with building up his own tracks around them.
Given the creative process, you’d be forgiven for expecting an experimental mishmash or an austere, inhuman listening experience. In fact, The Day Computers Became Obsolete is a pure pop album, with flourishes of krautrock, synth-pop, psych and disco. There are more than a few shades of Stereolab (the track “Hypothetical Eschaton” even features an AI-generated Laetitia Sadier sample) and Broadcast in its reimagining pop’s future from a position in the past.
Marking Salvaggio’s first-ever physical release in the form of a CD, plans are also formulating to take the show on the road.
Meanwhile, morceaux_de_machines return with Saison Gonzo, their first album since 2004.
Once dubbed “the b-boys of musique concrète”, the noise-improv duo (A_dontigny and Érick d’Orion) originally formed in the wake of Québec City community radio show Napalm Jazz (in reference to grindcore legends Napalm Death). Their unconventional mix of free jazz, noise, death ambient/metal, academic electro acoustic music and audio art/sound art, the duo’s experiments titled Free Transgénique became a pivotal early release for web-label No Type in December 1998.
The project now, as it was then, is about pushing gear to its limits and emerged as part of the mp3/Creative Commons scene of the late 90s and early 00s. Because of the basic gear used, it forced glitches, soundcard hiccups and CPU struggles that the duo embraced as a core part of their sound.
Pushing equipment to its limits has remained a central part of the morceaux_de_machines. As the gear improved from debut album proper Liberum Arbitrium to the second and last Estrapade in 2004, these improvements have forced the band to push harder to push the boundaries of sound.
Over time, the referential aspects of their music (the “sampling” aspect) receded further partly in favour of a more electroacoustic approach, where the sound itself is the matter—but the humour of plunderphonics has remaine,d.
So here we are in 2021 with Saison Gonzo. Arguably their most accomplished work to date, Saison Gonzo combines new understanding and a long friendship to craft something of meaning. Throughout the album, everything shifts and moves constantly with no sound palette staying for more than two or three minutes before it is overrun by another sound or texture.
Both The Day Computers Became Obsolete and Saison Gonzo are available to purchase from Bandcamp or the No Type website.