Restive – Generative 2


Ever since Brian Eno himself introduced the SSeyo Koan Generative Music software (way back in 1996!!) I have been interested in the Generative Music concept: music that is ever-changing, evolving from a single “seed”, consistent through musical parameters defined by the ‘artist’, the creator that has to refrain from influencing the ‘path’ of the music once it has left off.

For his release Generative Music I, Brian Eno chose the most radical medium possible: a diskette containing the software, only reproducable when using the correct hardware (the SoundBlaster AWE32 soundcard: I actually bought one of those just to be able to reproduce Eno’s Generative Music!!).
Which sadly means you’ll have a hard time now to reproduce this music as it was intended then.

This represents the dilemma for musicians creating Generative music. Apart from using it in sound installations, there is no way to distribute the music in its generative form, since every recorded medium stops it from being generative (= different with every new performance).

Which does not mean that a recorded ‘instance’ of generative music is not interesting to listen to….on the contrary. But, like a photograph compared to movement, it is a ‘frozen’ capture of an ongoing (musical) process.

Enter Restive with “Generative 2”which can be freely downloaded from the website (along with quite a lot of Restive’s other albums, and some additional generative tracks on 2.1).

Not much is known about this artist, except that he’s from Cape Town, South Africa, and creating experimental electronic music since 2004.
Neither is he very elaborative of the generative creation process he’s using, apart from the simple statement that it is created with semuta soundscape machine by servovalve. ï»¿

I am not familiar with that software, but the results on this album are very very impressive to my ears.   
Generative 2 presents 20 tracks, all exactly 3 minutes in length, of fascinating electronic soundscapes.
These sounds feel like they are generated using large objects in installation settings, heavily treated afterwards.
It’s hard to imagine them being created by ‘just’ software. There is a distinct industrial feeling, and though all different tracks fit together perfectly, there is not a boring moment on the album: I even found myself listening to it ‘on repeat’.

Since I do not know anything about the software, I don’t really know whether the credits for these sounds should go to the artist, to the software, or both.
I guess it’s both, since usually it’s not just about the tools but about how creative you re in using use them.

Whatever the creation process involved, I found this Generative 2 album a pleasurable repeated listen – also because it’s distinctly different from most other current releases in the electronica field.

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