Meet Dadabots, the AI death metal band playing non-stop on Youtube
Depending on your tolerance for loud, relentless heavy metal music, this latest example of AI-generated creativity could be either glorious ear candy or the aural equivalent of waterboarding. Currently live-streaming on YouTube is a non-stop, algorithmically-generated torrent of technical death metal, and regardless of one's personal musical taste, it's undeniably an impressive example of machine-driven creativity.
Dadabots is the brainchild of CJ Carr and Zack Zukowski, a couple of musicians with a strong interest in algorithmically-generated music. For a couple of years now the duo has been working on developing a recurrent neural network that can produce original compositions after being trained on specific datasets from singular musical genres. Early experiments incorporated a variety of different genres, before the duo discovered metal and punk in particular seemed to be better suited to the erratic and often random nature of the algorithm.
"We observed that electronic music and hip-hop instrumentals did not seem to train as well as organic, electro-acoustic ensembles of musicians," Carr and Zukowski write in their most recent paper. "Music genres like metal and punk seem to work better, perhaps because the strange artifacts of neural synthesis (noise, chaos, grotesque mutations of voice) are aesthetically pleasing in these styles. Furthermore, their fast tempos and creative use of loose performance techniques translate well to SampleRNN's rhythmic distortions."
The end result has been dubbed Dadabots, and the neural network has produced 10 albums to date, inspired by artists including Dillinger Escape Plan, Meshuggah and NOFX. As well as creating the music for each album, algorithms were created to design the album art and generate the song titles.
The most recent Dadabots project is a live, non-stop stream on YouTube called Relentless Doppleganger. In this instance Dadabots was trained on the music of a Canadian band called Archspire. In a recent interview Carr suggests the system responded better to the fast, technical metal of Archspire than anything it had been fed before.
"Most nets we trained made shitty music. Music soup," Carr told Motherboard. "The songs would destabilize and fall apart. This one was special though."
The output has been so stable and consistent that the duo created a live-stream that autonomously plays everything the neural network generates in real time. The result is a harrowingly intense stream of continuous death metal. To the ear of someone not well versed in the genre, the stream is an impressive simulacrum of death metal: distorted monotonal vocals, muddy guitar thrashing, and sharp, discordant tempo changes.
Take a listen to the Dadabots live-stream in the video below.