Enigmatic electronic music icon Aphex Twin is giving fans a chance to harness his signature sound thanks to the release of the “sample mashing app”, Samplebrain. Created with UK artist Dave Griffiths, the app allows users to explore the notion of concatenative synthesis through the use of various audio samples.
According to a post from the Aphex Twin blog, The Lanner Chronicle, the idea behind Samplebrain has been in the works for roughly two decades, and was inspired by the then-recent launch of Shazam.
Aphex Twin teams up with Dave Griffiths to launch the Samplebrain
Dave Griffiths and @AphexTwin launch ‘Samplebrain’ – free sound design software, available now.
— Warp Records (@WarpRecords) September 24, 2022
“Richard [D. James, Aphex Twin] mentioned an idea he had about something like a giant brain that you could feed samples to,” Griffiths recalled. “If you gave it enough, it would be able to take all the right bits to recreate a new sound you fed it.”
In the blog post, James wrote, “What if you could reconstruct source audio from a selection of other mp3’s/audio on your computer?
“What if you could build a 303 riff from only a cappella’s or bubbling mud sounds?
“What if you could sing a silly tune and rebuild it from classical music files?
“You can do this with Samplebrain.”
As per the app’s official Gitlab page, Samplebrain works by chopping up samples of music into “a ‘brain’ of interconnected small sections called blocks which are connected into a network by similarity”. From there, it works to process a target sample (which it also chops up into smaller blocks), before attempting to match the samples together and then play the resulting audio in real time.
“This allows you to interpret a sound with a different one,” Griffiths explained. “As we worked on it (during 2015 and 2016) we gradually added more and more tweakable parameters until it became slightly out of control.”
According to videos shared by users on YouTube, using the app results a unique experience that produces dissonant and glitchy electronic music, much like the work of Richard D. James himself. The Samplebrain app is currently available via Gitlab.
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