Not all black metal is written by disgruntled teenagers on a desperately cold Norwegian night. It turns out, an artificially intelligent (AI) neural network can do a pretty convincing job too.
CJ Carr and Zack Zukowski, two music-loving machine learning engineers, are the brains behind DADABOTS, a “band” that imitates the sounds of black metal, death metal, and many other genres using artificial intelligence tools.
DADABOTS have created a number of albums since their inception in 2012, bridging a whole number of genres, from skate punk to black metal. For their latest project, called “Relentless Doppelganger”, the duo have created a live stream that plays an endless symphony of AI-generated death metal for 24 hours a day.
In their words, the project is a step towards "eliminating humans from black metal."
“Most style-specific generative music experiments have explored artists commonly found in harmony textbooks such as The Beatles, Bach, and Beethoven, but few have looked at generating modern genre outliers such as black metal,” reads a previous paper of theirs from 2017.
“While we set out to achieve a realistic recreation of the original data, we were delighted by the aesthetic merit of its imperfections. Solo vocalists become a lush choir of ghostly voices, rock bands become crunchy cubist-jazz, and cross-breeds of multiple recordings become a surrealist chimera of sound.”
Artificial neural networks are inspired by the way the human brain processes information, but instead of brain cells, the system uses thousands or even millions of artificial neurons or nodes. In simplest terms, the network consists of input and output layers, as well as “a hidden layer” that basically does the “thinking” by turning the input into something that the output layer can use. In the case of this 24/7 AI-generated metal, the input is music by the Canadian metal band Archspire. The neural network is essentially trying to imitate the sound of this music, which you can hear in the output.
As you can hear in the video, it’s surprisingly on point. Although the music sounds a bit messy and disjointed at times, it does a pretty effective job at capturing the mood and sound of metal music. It's especially impressive when you realize this live stream is solely the AI’s work, warts and all, with absolutely no curation from its creators.
You can check out more from DADABOTS on their website.