Any day that 10th Letter drops a surprise new project and video is irrefutably a great day, even if that day is less than 24 hours removed from the Atlanta Falcons pulling a nearly impossible choke job on the biggest stage against possibly the most hated team in professional sports. If nothing else, you can spend the next half hour lost within the surreal walls of Jeremi Johnson’s latest soundtrack where artificial intelligence has pushed technological progress far beyond the grasp of humankind and even Tom Brady is forced to bend before the might of our robot overlords (probably).
Debuted live at TechSquare Labs on January 28, “Nature in Singularity” is an experimental ambient piece Johnson wrote that explores the theme of nature in the time of the singularity. “I took the approach of an AI having a walk through different geographic landscapes,” Johnson explains. “Throughout the recording you get to hear some of the AI’s inner thoughts… It’s very conceptual. In some ways, more conceptual than [my last LP] The Revenge.”
Much like his work on last year’s excellent Escape from ATL, calling this composition “dystopian” or “post-apocalyptic” is probably true to a certain extent. There are certainly sections that feel dark and menacing where 10th Letter utilizes dramatic, elongated synth blast to conjure an atmosphere of foreboding tension. But it’s critical to note that humanity, or the idea of human civilization, has all but been removed from this work. Even the video, with its revolving carousel of natural backdrops, forces your eyes towards a world that is increasingly mechanical and digitized.
What concerns Johnson on this record is the mind state of the AI and it how it goes about “coming to terms with the state of its being.” Just as our protagonist wanders through various landscapes, the music is broken into four corresponding movements, portions of which are far more tranquil and ethereal. The end result is a deep, complex soundscape that blankets the listener in manifold details and ever-shifting nuance. If this is the future, it sounds an awful lot like the present: stormy and visceral with glimmers of light amidst the precarious dark.
10th letter will perform on Thursday, February 9 at Mammal Gallery in support of CJ Boyd, Dan Carey Bailey and Rasheeda Ali, and DUX. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $5. 18+ to enter.