Tragically, this was Bob Belden’s last recording before his premature passing May 20th 2015. Listening to this darkly dystopian concept album makes one wonder:
What would Miles Davis have done had he lived long enough to create the soundtrack to Matrix?
To help Belden realize his futuristic 2001: A Space Odyssey-inspired vision for Machine Language, he enlisted vocalist Kurt Elling as narrator for this cyberpunk opera:
“My own memory of any conversations regarding the piece is that there was minimal discussion before making the voice over,” said Elling, who had previously appeared on Belden’s 1996 project, Shades of Blue. “The only real direction I received was to ‘sound like a sad, well-spoken computer.’ I did the actual recording by myself at a studio in St Louis, with Belden occasionally commenting via ISDN. I did a cold read once down, without music, and expected Bob to make whatever edits and adjustments he wanted. I was in and out of the studio in an hour.”
Belden’s text for Elling reads like an excerpt from Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,” which later became the literary source for the 1982 Ridley Scott movie Blade Runner. And the darkly foreboding music, performed by Pete Claggett on muted trumpet, Roberto Verastegui on electric keyboard, Matt Young on drums, Belden on soprano sax and Bill Laswell on electric bass guitar, takes part of its inspiration from Miles Davis’ 32-minute ambient requiem for the recently-deceased Duke Ellington, “He Loved Him Madly” (from 1974’s Get Up With It).
Can a machine dream?
What would a machine’s dream be?
Can a machine dream like a child?
Can a machine have an imagination?
Or does a machine dream of conformity, of accomodation, of servitude?
Will a machine’s dream be inspired by a human model?
Or can a machine create and develop a unique dream into a reality?
Or would the machine’s dream be to create a new human machine,
a virtual existence gestated and nurtured by the pure machines?