Tune in, AI out

It's artificial intelligence week at Drowned in Sound....

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The robots are coming, and people are fearful / excited about the potential for AI and music to collide.

The discourse surrounding artificial intelligence is hard to escape, with various projects launches or low-level things reaching critical max in 2023… and whilst the water’s warm, we thought DiS should dive in.

As someone who is pretty cynical and emo about everything, I feel oddly optimistic about some of AI music's potential futures. There’s a lot to be concerned about (the intellectual property issues surrounding the training data, the ease at which it can copy something, which poses a particular threat to people who create create library music), but there’s plenty that AI can do which will save us time and energy that can be better spent enjoying or creating music. It may also enhance our experience of music and maybe become an even ensure music becomes a more profound part of our lives.

I’m especially excited about the developments surrounding the collision of science, technology and more 'functional' strands of music in the wellness end of things. As a lover of Sigur Ros, side two of Bowie's Low and contemporary composers like Poppy Ackroyd and Grouper, I’ve somehow become a heavy user of the Endel app, so was thrilled that they could pop on a call for the Drowned in Sound podcast.

Endel composes/generates music in real time, using sounds, textures, samples and frequencies, to create soundscapes to listen to whilst you focus, relax, walk, sleep and more. I think I like it because when I’m doing emails, I sort of feel disrespectful to the music if I’m not focussed on it, whereas with Endel it’s sort of unfurling sound that’s burbling away as I type this is not “designed” for me to lean into, but moreso to rest upon.

In the first of two podcast episodes about AI this week (keep an eye out for the ChatGPT special tomorrow), two of the Endel co-founders Oleg Stavitsky and Dmitry Evgrafov (listen to some of his non-AI music on bandcamp here) discuss everything from circadian rhythms to their love of Brian Eno.

They also help me explore the science and tech behind an 8-hour Sleep Science playlist that they’ve just launched with Amazon Music (listen here).

Interestingly, the playlist opens with an Amazon Original piece of music featuring electronic duo Kx5 (Kaskade and deadmau5) that was produced using the hit track “Escape”. The source material, including synths and chill vocals, was processed by Endel Pacific to create a high-quality, relaxing soundscape activating the parasympathetic nervous system and getting the listener ready for sleep. We get into how that all works and much more in this episode.

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Intrigued? You can get a free month trial of Endel to better understand what we're talking about with this link (worth getting it just to hear the James Blake soundscape)

Also mentioned in the intro to this episode of the Drowned in Sound podcast was the pioneering Bronze Format which blew my mind a decade or so ago, Max Richter's groundbreaking SLEEP album, and toward the end Oleg encourages you to join Endel's Discord community, which is here.

As always, if you have any thoughts or ideas, contact me @seaninsound on your social platform of choice and subscribe to our mailing list here.