PREMIERE: Fred Und Luna - Im Element [Compost Records]

by Slav Ka

In the 1950s, at the very dawn of computers and artificial intelligence, Alan Turing developed a now famous test: the test would involve a human being having an online chat with an invisible counterpart and then the human was asked if he was chatting with another human or a machine. In Turing's opinion, "artificial intelligence" would reach maturity whenever a human would be unable to distinguish between having a chat with a human or a machine. In music, one could ask a similar question: is what we are hearing done by a human musician playing an instrument or by a synthesizer, a sequencer and a drum machine?

Electronic music is typically obvious: drum machines and sequencers and modular synthesizers rule the electronic music world. Im Element by Fred und Luna is a curious puzzle: we could hear both the human and the machine, depending on where we listen. Percussion is quite mechanic an drum-machine-like, with bass and rhythm also feeling sequenced. And it's tempting at this point to say it's "a machine", but the melody throws me for a loop (pun intended): it is precise and hypnotic enough to be sequenced yet has a very obvious hint of a groove and sway that only jazz players are capable of injecting into a piece.

Can a sequencer groove? Is it a human musician sitting at the keyboard, grooving over a drum machine? Or is it even a drum machine or a drummer with a metronome-like precision? Turing would be proud of this track and, if the old man had any sense of rhythm and groove, he'd surely start swaying along with it, forgetting his most important question: human or machine?