One should never inconvenience Socrates when discussing the whats and hows of electronic music. One should always refrain from making reference to the allegedly enduring nature of music because, after all, unlike “sound”, a tune is a filthy product of mere reworking of the truth. The word “imitation” springs to mind, instantly denying the purity of art, demolishing the elegance of inspiration. Is therefore real music inherently non-determinist? If it goes full-circle to return to the state of “sound”, it undeniably is. And this is exactly what “s_traits” is all about.
When composer John Supko met media artist Bill Seaman in 2011, they had barely any time to talk at all, I imagine. Or at least they wasted little time expressing themselves in ways other that the ones of their 110 hours of assorted sounds, noises, ideas, feelings, meanings and values. This gigantic database was a timeless, elegantly chaotic assembly of trunked interpretations of vaguely coherent harmonic substances. Not enough to put an album together, way too much to come up with an intelligible work of craft.
What they did, therefore, was let the software pick and choose, organise and smoothen sonic chaos to turn it into a steady cosmos which had nothing to do with reason but lots in common with the hyper uranium these ideas came from. The resulting work is musical pornographia: an unmediated output that is so sincerely clueless that it appears raw and defenceless. Alas, this is where the magic ends and method takes charge of the project. Supko and Seaman decided to rework the first drafts generated by the computer to make them more organically erotic. Did it work? The loss of this computer-generated spontaneity can be certainly heard in echoes of Brian Eno’s Plateaux of Mirror here (“The Angle of the Lips”) and there (“Chance and Change Motioning”) but, overall, the organic flow is mostly absent or indeed very discreet, at best. Even when bits and pieces of Stockhausen and Ligeti merge on a tune like “In Flight”. Nothing is under control; everything is.
Therefore, although the human factor retains control of the final result, this is chance over method: a real post-industrial display of art born out of an immediate flow of ideas, immortalised onto a disk, assembled by the very negation of art that is genuine calculus and roughly adjusted by man. “s_traits” is entertaining, sentimentally charged and intense, but what would be interesting in the future would be to see that envelope pushed to the extreme. Deconstruction, generative music grammar and soul.