Caesar Sant is a four-year-old child prodigy with a gift for playing the violin.
- Posted on Sep 30th 2011 5:00PM by Jesse Ship
Reproducing human voices opens up debate over the validity of the musical experience and, of course, leads to the possibility of sci-fi scenarios where artificial intelligence assume human roles (it's already started with Japan's 'real-life' virtual pop star Hatsune Miku).
"I think it scares a lot of people," Turner tells Spinner. "Because any kind of intelligence than what we can't classify as natural is going to be alien, disturbing and threatening. But we should obviously make computers our friends, it would be silly not to.
"[For our work], we use software incorporating phonemes [ie: phonetic bits of words] while paying attention to things that happen in our own mouths and throat. There's a lot going on with the pitch and the breath. It's an interesting process to examine, it's actually incredibly complex."
In fact, aside from a guitar, very few instruments were used on the album at all, as the British duo opted to recreate a warm, almost acoustic, sound using synthesizers. "As you get more evolved in writing music, the concept of instruments becomes unimportant and you get more concerned with the sound. The goal was to create something that you couldn't quite tell [how it was made], and had a spooky quality."
The Warp Records sound -- once tagged as IDM (Intelligence Dance Music, a name Turner finds hypocritical as he says the purpose of dancing is to escape the intellect) or electronica in the '90s -- was spearheaded by other groundbreaking acts like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. The style has evolved since then while 'Scintilli' is a return to that golden age.
"For the interest of music, we think electronics were finished in the '50s at an academic level," says Turner. "But it took decades of tinkering for it to filter through and become accepted by most people's ears. We're just finding new ways of performing and interacting with machines. That's where the future is -- but it won't be perceived as 'electronic music,' it will just be seen as music."
Not only are Plaid making human voices and instruments irrelevant, but the futurists have also taken aim at the CD. They're still offering their album via CD but they've included a Japanese hanging paper ornament called a muda no mono ("useless object") puzzle, calling the package a "mausoleum," as if to mock the format, but still reward, surprise and delight their fans.
"It could be a mobile or a desk display," says Turner. "It doesn't have that much of a function but it's certainly more interesting than a digi-pack, of which we have hundreds sitting around the house and studio. Lots of bands, like Parliament, for example, used to do cool things with vinyl gatefolds and album cut-outs so we wanted to do the same."
"Data storage methods will quickly overtake CD," he adds. "The end will probably come when we get to the point where people have hard drives in their cars -- vehicles are really the last strongholds of the format."