Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Song Title: "The Night Supervisor"
Artist: Plosive
Search Term: "Plosive"

Artificial intelligence experts are apparently still struggling with creating robots that can eke out a passing grade on the Turing test (without resorting to hilarious bickering), but since the days of Kraftwerk, electronic music fans have been indulging the notion that we're listening to computers and machines singing and performing, writing with superhuman precision but human creativity. That's patently untrue, of course--even the most hands-off generative music ever made has a human catalyst--but the idea that machines could spontaneously decide to create music that successfully captures the ineffable way great compositions can touch our human souls is such a delicious one that it's hard not to allow yourself pretend, on some level, that it's the case. And if you are willing to suspend your disbelief for a few minutes, songs like Plosive's "The Night Supervisor" can be even more masterfully moving than they are on the surface. Meek electric piano and bell sounds carom around the mix with the relaxed but vivid velocity of a Pong game, a fleecy synth bass gingerly provides a warm melody, and spluttering drum-and-bass rhythms keep the song buoyant without overpowering any of the other elements. It's audibly the sound of one person--in this case, a chap named Aaron McCammon--programming noises that make him feel content, with no bristles or thistles to imperil the song's glassy smooth serenity, but the fact that it's a beautiful electronic piece, with that fantasy of sympathetic automatons lingering in the back of the listener's mind, imparts a sense that the world is a more fascinating and benevolent place than one might have suspected. I'm making "The Night Supervisor" sound like kind of a wimpy, flighty endeavor for LARPers and people who post manga drawings of human-cat hybrids on Deviant Art, but I don't think it is. It simply sounds private and intimate, removed from the need for big, extroverted gestures. It's not a vibe I've encountered often in this genre: The closest comparison I can think of is the snug merriment of the excellent indie electronic artist I Am Robot and Proud. The best compliment I can give McCammon is that this song is so friendly and comforting that it's easy to believe that it was written by something better than people.

(FYI: The album from which this track was extracted, Neutral, can be downloaded for free at the label's website.)

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