Coditany of Timeness is decidedly generic black metal. The riffs are eerie but uninspired. The drumming is competent but not compelling. Rough vocals punctuate the songs with enough regularity to keep things interesting but unremarkable. It is in every way forgettable, which is exactly what makes it so fascinating—because Coditany of Timeness is the first black metal album written and performed not by mortal humans but by a machine-learning algorithm.
Music producer Zack Zukowski and tech worker C.J. Carr created the songs by feeding audio snippets of pre-existing musical compositions into an artificial neural network, which then tried to guess which segment should come next, generating its own fresh combination of sounds.
The algorithm has since been used to create tracks in the styles of extreme metal and rhythm-defying math rock, all released on the website Dadabots—described as a "platform for artificial artists." Though still in its infancy, the technology offers the promise of a future where music-listening apps go beyond curating play-lists of human artists to churning out individually tailored, genre-specific compositions to suit any mood or occasion.
Musicians and technophobes are sure to fret about yet more jobs taken over by machines, more creative endeavors stripped of all humanity. It's fortunate that the first genre to go could end up being black metal. Most of those artists are already unemployed and maintain such a bleak and misanthropic worldview that they are unlikely to bemoan the scrubbing of human spirit from their craft.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Coditany of Timeness".