Who is YACHT, and what is artificially intelligent music? The Computer Accent, a documentary written and directed by Riel Roch-Decter and Sebastian Pardo, answers these questions and more. The award-winning founders of the production company MEMORY examine the creative achievements of the electronic pop music group YACHT (Young Americans Challenging High Technology), an experimental band of musicians that has continually railed against the confines of conventional music making.
The film is primarily concerned with the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence and music composition as YACHT embarks on its latest venture. This material may seem somewhat fringe and esoteric. In fact, it may alienate some viewers. However, the subject could appeal to curious, burgeoning, or experienced artists and musicians. Many interesting questions about the alternative directions of technology, especially as they relate to art, are raised. Furthermore, the historical context of electronic music and the details of algorithms used to generate A.I. music are inherently thought-provoking ideas.
The band’s knowledge of computer-related applications is quite impressive, and the pure musical proficiency of the group is evident. The combination of the two elements is a fascinating endeavor. Their songs go beyond “new wave” or “new age” and venture into science fiction territory. The lively soundtrack is inspirational, and the footage of live performances and the musicians composing is supported by supplemental archival video footage and helps connect viewers with YACHT’s progressive musical direction. To the credit of directors Roch-Decter and Pardo, they capture the creative technological processes and the aspirations to find originality, illuminating a new aspect of music as we know it.
“Who is YACHT, and what is artificially intelligent music?”
The Computer Accent has an aesthetically pleasing assortment of scrapbook snapshots charting YACHT’s progress as they move to create something genuinely transcendent. Essentially, the film is about theories and ideas, which indeed are provocative, as one may ponder the future of creativity and technology merging. YACHT’s sheer ambition serves as the driving force.
However, at times, the general thread of creativity becomes disjointed as the film moves back and forth between the technology and the personal contributions of the artists. The documentary falls into a by-the-numbers depiction of what eventually turns out to be a mildly interesting subject matter that loses its novelty. Eventually, the narrative turns tedious. As intriguing as the possibilities of A.I. are, the challenges of a band grappling with new technologies and pursuing transcendence lose momentum about halfway through.
The film needs to generate excitement about some intriguing artistic revelations. Unfortunately, it is too restrained by jargon and talking points. The music, while fascinating, is not quite enough to propel this to prompt much more than a brief discussion. Anyone interested in both technology and art and/or the combination of the two should check out The Computer Accent. However, those not interested in computer-generated algorithms to create sound should beware.