The Happy Valley Band is the Great American Songbook heard through the ear of a machine. Composer / bandleader David Kant uses custom-built machine learning software to “unmix” pop songs and transcribe them back into musical notation. The Happy Valley Band plays what comes out. ORGANVM PERCEPTVS, the group’s release, is about bringing to life this inhuman music.
The Happy Valley Band has been called "a shitty MP3 to MIDI converter," "the Shaggs meets Guitar Hero," "James Brown backed by Sun Ra," "the best executed worst idea,” and “substantive acousmatic research.” The album, over five years in the making, is a collection of eleven songs spanning pop music history. Imagine James Brown backed by a simmering Sun Ra Arkestra, Madonna with a jittery freak-out synth rhythm section, and Herb Alpert with a Tijuana Brass that must have been led by Charles Ives.
As Kant says, “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?” In an era where we have offloaded much of our mental and biological processes to semi-intelligent machines, ORGANVM PERCEPTVS asks us to examine the biases and expectations implicit in their design.
Print booklet contains liner notes by Kurt Gottschalk and an essay “Decomposing Music” by composer / bandleader David Kant detailing the machine hearing process used to make the music.
released February 24, 2017
--- Credits and Personnel ---
Alexander Dupuis: Guitars
Mustafa Walker: Electric and Upright Bass
Beau Sievers: Drum Kit
Andrew Smith: Piano and Keyboards
David Kant: Saxophones
Pauline Kim Harris: Violin
Conrad Harris: Violin
Chris Nappi: Percussion
Joseph Kubera: Piano
Daniel Costello: French Horn
Thomas Verchot: Trumpet and Flugelhorn
Joe Moffett: Trumpet
Christoper Scanlon: Trumpet
Nathaniel Morgan: Alto Saxophone
Sam Friedman: Harmonica
Charlotte Mundy: Voice
Jane Sheldon: Voice
Eve Gigliotti: Voice
John Welsh: Guitar
Larry Polansky: Guitar
Composed by David Kant
ORGANVM PERCEPTVS was recorded at The Bunker Studio in Brooklyn, NY by Joseph Branciforte and Todd Carder. Mixed by Joseph Branciforte with the Happy Valley Band. Mastered by Cookie Marenco and Patrick O'Connor at OTR Studios. Additional recording engineering by Steve Schwartz and Arvid Tomayko, Ulrike Wentzkat, and David Dunn.
Jacket design by Rachel Cassandra, photography by RR Jones, and ceramic sculpture of David Kant’s left ear by Elizabeth Torrance. Madonna portrait by Alexander Dupuis.
Booklet layout and design by Mustafa Walker, handwriting by Rachel Cassandra, and cover image by Alexander Dupuis, with support from the University of California Santa Cruz, Arts Dean’s Fund for Excellence.
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“With Julius, he was based in repetition, but here was a spirit of openness and improvisation. His scores, if they were written out that way, were often like jazz scores. He loved multiplying instruments – four pianos, ten cellos – so there was a real feeling of the presence of the instrument, not just using an instrument in some kind of equation, as a means to an end.” ~ Mary Jane Leach
Enough said. pt