Boomkat Product Review:
Agent of disruption, Sam Kidel simulates a free party in a Google data centre and baffles Amazon’s Alexa on ’Silicon Ear’, his superb follow-up LP to our AOTY 2016 ‘Disruptive Muzak’
The Bristol-based composer and music teacher now turns his subversive “analytical artistry” towards global corporations. Where his ‘Disruptive Muzak’ piece adapted the early hacking technique of “phreaking” - manipulating telephone exchanges - his two new works logically follow with a signature mixture of mischief and uncanny insight, suggesting super crafty ways to subvert AI voice recognition and simulate a rave in a server centre.
“First exhibited at EBM(T) in Tokyo, Live @ Google Data Center trespasses in Google’s data centre in Council Bluffs, Iowa to perform electronic music amongst the humming banks of servers and endless cable runs, without actually breaking in. In a process he describes as “mimetic hacking,” Kidel used architectural plans based on photos of the data centre to acoustically model the sonic qualities of the space. The resulting acoustics on Live @ Google Data Center simulate the sound of Kidel’s algorithmically-generated notes, rhythms and melodies reverberating through the space, as though a bold illegal party was being held in the maximum security location.
The generative audio patch Kidel used to make the B-side, Voice Recognition DoS Attack seeks to disable the functionality of voice recognition software by triggering phonemes (the smallest units of language). The project, first developed for the Eavesdropping series of events in Melbourne, exploits a weakness in voice recognition that cannot distinguish between individual voices. When you speak while the patch is playing, the cascading shards of human expression mask your speech and thus protect you from automated surveillance, questioning our vulnerability in the face of global data giants. In amongst these displaced sounds, Kidel fed additional musical elements into his patch to create the version of the project heard on this release.”