James Murphy x IBM & Matthew Dear x GE
Big brands covet the beat in clever new ways.
by Joshua P. Ferguson
Within a few days of each other this month, two major and iconic brands launched new campaigns that set the social buzz mills straight to work. Chief among them was the announcement that former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy is working with computing giant IBM and the US Open to create a series of productions that, in the most simplistic terms, is "music generated by tennis data." That's how developer Patrick Gunderson, who teamed with Murphy for the project dubbed the US Open Sessions, explains it.
Using algorithms plugged with data from the US Open matches in real-time, the oddball duo created more than 400 hours of 8bit gyrations, chippy synth tones and random smatterings of staccato electronic blips. Not surprisingly, the music in its original form takes on the feel of dozens upon dozens of tennis balls being dropped into a racket ball court that's been set up to generate a tone for every bounce, ricochet, volley and collision. And we say this in the best possible way.
A cheeky experiment that sees worlds intersect in strange and imaginative ways, it's as amusing to take in as it sounds. More beneficial to the legions of LCD fans out there is the fact that Murphy has already begun to remix the source material into more cohesive musical statements that share all the same computerized textures but move to rhythms that are a bit easier to groove to. Listen to one the first mixes here (we're particularly fond of "Match 104" remix). More will appear in the coming weeks and all will be available for free from your usual sources for fine digital music files and streams.
Shifting gears to the auto industry and motor city, one of our favorite techno creators Matthew Dear took to the factories and design labs of the GE industrial complex to collect more than 1000 samples of MRI scan sequences, acceleration tests and machines that measure light over fiber optic cables. The collection has been consolidated and reworked into "Drop Science," a three-minute deep techno odyssey of machines making music from the sounds of machines.
The campaign is yet another feather in the cap for GE, already scoring points as an early brand adopter to photo sharing social media site, Instagram, where its team has done a magnificent job of visualizing the breathtaking possibilities of its technology. Here, they translate this for your ears with a heavy helping hand from Dear, who churns out a characteristic mix of lush melody, introspective melancholy and pulsating minimalism. Download the track for free from Soundcloud below.