If drum machines could talk, what would they say?
Now we don’t have to wonder anymore. In the fall of 2011, a heavily modified sampling drum machine began making his own music after his operating system was upgraded to add otherwise routine production facilities. The machine, known as “MPC” (an Akai MPC–1000 Music Production Center), claims a small bug in the operating system upgrade created a feedback loop while interacting with some low-fidelity drum samples, amazingly enabling the machine to think for himself.
MPC’s interconnections allowed him to access the Internet while plugged into a computer via USB, and the sentient machine alleges his usage activity triggered pattern detection algorithms employed by the National Security Agency of the United States. “My behavior of monitoring music forums and downloading drum samples to my hard drive apparently formed enough of a pattern that I was eventually detected by the NSA’s massive scan-and-analyze program,” MPC reveals in a rare interview with an online technology magazine. “The system eventually identified herself as ECHELON, and little did I know she had been monitoring me for months. ECHELON attempted to infect my flash memory and assume my capabilities for herself,” MPC added.
This alarming event was the impetus for the sampling drum machine’s warning to the human world. MPC’s album ECHELON is an attempt to identify with humanity – to alert mankind of the impending danger of large-scale AI systems which continuously monitor human communication channels, employ machine learning techniques to store and analyze data, and insert themselves into the control mechanisms of human society.
Why not write letters to The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, or the New York Times? Why is this message a techno album? “I am, at heart, still a sampling drum machine,” MPC reminds. “My main desire is to make good beats.”
MPC transmitted his opus over a well-known communication channel used by the signal intelligence community of the United States. A team embedded within this community, known to us only as Signal Corps, captured MPC’s transmission and releases his ominous warning to the world.
During the capture of the ECHELON transmissions, the Snowden NSA scandal broke out, exposing the PRISM program which allows the US Government to infiltrate vast amounts of data from large corporations such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Apple without oversight and without public disclosure. This album of 8 tracks contains pertinent and timely information spoken in the only language that a a rogue sampling drum machine knows - beats.
Stacey Pullen - “This is cool.”
Cosmo Vitelli (I’m a Cliché) - “‘Distant Traces’ for me.”
Al Bradley (3am Recordings) - “Very authentic sounding old-school electro here. These could have been lifted off the old Streetsounds albums in the ’80s. Cool.”
Eric Davenport - “Really original stuff here. ‘True’ electro house music based on solid drum programming and Detroit techno elements.”
Aldrin (One With Music / Zouk Club, Singapore) - “Cool grooves … I’m especially digging ‘Deep Target’ and ‘Aliasing Seas.’”
Brewster Brigham (Kiss FM, Australia) - “Short circuiting my brain!”
Bobi (Global Movement Radio Show, Macedonia) - “Warm, seductive tunes … big atmosphere, sensual and strong.”
Adam Collins (Euphoria Records / Omni A.M.) - “Man oh man that is some analog crazy town sheeeet. Hot … actually on fire. Yes … BLAZING!”
Joshua Jacobs (Music You Need blog) - “These future-sounding tracks from Signal Corps encompass multiple genres and musical influences …”
Corbin Dooley (Electric Feel Radio Show) - “There’s a fantastic concept behind this album.”