Have you ever wondered how humans are beginning to experience machine-like problems and machines are beginning to experience human problems? We’ve got you. Let us introduce the perfect match for your taste, a sextet from Athens, Georgia called Partials.
Partials is not your ordinary group of six people playing around on instruments. Dane, Jeff, Adriana, Ian, Alex, and Bailey came together as a group of musicians carrying on the traditions of names like Talking Heads and LCD sound system. Partials’ music is a combination of electric and electronic instruments accompanied by dance beats and catchy, almost tribal vocals.
However, Partials tells Trouge Magazine a more straightforward justification of their unique sound: “We take an experimental approach. There are a lot of interesting, catchy things that haven’t been tried and we want to try them. Fresh, approachable stuff comes out if you can find the right ideas to wire up together. We especially like music that speaks to both the head (good for listening in your bedroom) and the body (good for dancing your ass off at shows)”.
Having six people to agree on and work on a joint project may get tricky. In this case, working on an album, it is interesting to discover how this sextet even came to life. “It’s been a long growing process, but it crystallised into our current line-up about a year before recording Glossolalia. Some of our members have a long history, which helps our telepathy. Others have joined more recently, which helps our ideas stay fresh. We came together to make musical worlds”, Partials explain. Each member brings own knowledge and unique talent to the group.
First off, there is Alex, who is described as ‘occasional international musical chaos creator,’ writes dancy songs and is known to be the inventor of a new instrument – the garbage drum.
Next, Ian, the hardware expert, working on the Rhizome, and playing guitar or synth and writes synth songs. As well as Ian, Thomas also works on the Rhizome, ‘tries not to let the bass fall out of the pocket’ and almost has a master’s in Artificial Intelligence. Thomas writes rhythmic songs.
Adriana writes apocalyptic songs, ‘occasionally leaves her percussion rig to jump out in the crowd and dances.’ Another member is Jeff, who is more of an exotic addition, as he lived in India and studied sitar, which he still refuses to play to the band. Besides being a guitarist, he writes flavourful songs and knows quite a lot about music history.
Last, but not least, Dane is told ‘to be well acquainted with the line between terribly brilliant and brilliantly terrible, but usually ends up on the right side.’ While having ‘to carry two keyboards down tiny staircases when the band plays house shows,’ Dan writes lyrical songs.
Now that Partials have introduced themselves, Trouge Magazine presents their debut EP ‘Glossolalia.’ A track list long of six psychedelic-dance songs floating around the same theme that is language.
In more detail: “We’re especially interested in machines, which have no speech but the speech we give them. This gets brought together in the EP title (glossolalia means “speaking in tongues”). Some people who speak in tongues see it as speaking with the voice of their creator. From that perspective, if computers only speak with the voices we give them, isn’t all their speech glossolalia?”, the band elaborates.
The extraordinary message that is so very relevant in today’s age had to be partnered up with a perfect artistic match for the artwork for ‘Glossolalia.’ The art piece itself still floats the same boat of the issue of humans versus artificial intelligence. Even though, the band described it as ‘an extremely labor-intensive process,’ the ‘Glossolalia’ artwork is not your ordinary image or painting.
“It was generated by an algorithm called neural style transfer, which takes the style of one image and applies it to the content of another image. You can use it to do things like make photographs look like they were painted by Van Gogh. In our case, we used a Tibetan mandala as our style image and a beautiful geometric piece by Bruno Borges as our content image”, Partials reveal the story behind the several-months-long journey to 1000 combinations later, beautiful artwork for ‘Glossolalia.’
To give you a cheeky sneak peek of what track from ‘Glossolalia’ entail, here’s a track-by-track digest. Fear of Silence starts off the EP on a personal note before the weird music breaks off its leash. Anemoia stands for “nostalgia for a time you’ve never known” that is beautifully highlighted by very cool mixing from producer Drew Vandenberg .
Man Made Machine with Strange Loops are ‘the crux in the loose arc of the EP’: “They represent the narrator’s transition from the biological to the artificial. The lyrics drop away to a single repeated stanza, and the groove becomes super tight and robotic”. In Strange Loops, “the narrator, now more artificial than natural, chews on the Liar’s Paradox (“everything I say is lies / everything I say is right”) and the curious, cyclical relationship between humans and the things we make.”
Tear Drum is a groovy one building on it’s Afrobeat roots by adding synth and chord changes between sections. Regarding the narrator, there is a reflection of their new nature as a spiritual machine. With Polyglot, there is a blend idea from EDM and West African music. “The glossolalia that shows up during the build and drop is produced by an artificial intelligence algorithm trying to speak without being told what to say. Narratively, this track circles back around to the beginning of the EP: the narrator, fully artificial, still finds themselves faced with human problems”.
With this comprehensive overview of Partials debut EP ‘Glossolalia’ and their introduction to Trouge, there are places where you can catch the sextet yourself. In June, they will play at AthFest, a local non-profit festival, and Friendship Music & Arts Festival in North Georgia. In July, they will join a DIY festival, Sign In July in Athens, Georgia.
Go, get your funky-electronic groove on.