The Happy Valley Band is pop music as heard by a computer algorithm. Bay Area composer and performer David Kant translates machine learning analyses of pop songs into music notation in order to explore the biases and assumptions inherent in digital automation. The transcriptions, which are impossibly over-specific, microtonal, and brimming with artifacts of the machine listening process, are performed by the Happy Valley Band, a group of Bay Area and New York City musicians.
The project has been described as “a shitty MP3 to MIDI converter,” “the Shaggs meets Guitar Hero,” “James Brown backed by Sun Ra,” “the best executed worst idea,” and “generally distressing to listen to.” According to Kant, “it’s not exactly about getting machines to hear like (we presume) humans do. Machines hear in as many different ways as we design and build them. We should use machines to hear differently, not to reinforce our expectations --- because whose expectations are they anyway?" The project is about highlighting the assumptions implicit in algorithm design.
Formed in 2011, the Happy Valley band released their debut album, ORGANVM PERCEPTVS, in 2017 on Santa Cruz based record label Indexical. The recording features interpretations of pop icons from Madonna to Patsy Cline to Phil Collins.
Stream ORGANVM PERCEPTVS on Bandcamp