Recorded over three days in the autumn of 2014 at Bill Laswell’s Orange Studios in New Jersey, mixed by James Dellatacoma and mastered by Mike Fossenkemper, Machine Language is the last and possibly most ambitious work by American composer, orchestrator, arranger, saxophonist and all-round conceptualizer Bob Belden with his historical group Animation. Belden died on May 20th this year.
Machine Language is a cyberpunk “opera,” an attempt to answer the question:
“Can a machine have an imagination?”
In order to realize his vision, Bob Belden enlisted Bill Laswell on electric bass and renowned jazz singer Kurt Elling, who acts as narrator. As for the previous album by Animation, Transparent Heart, also released on RareNoiseRecords in 2012, the lineup also comprises Peter Clagett on electrified trumpet, Roberto Verastegui on keyboards and Matt Young on drums.
Machine Language draws inspiration from multiple literary sources (e.g. Philip K. Dick, Iain M. Banks), visual sources (Kubrick’s “2001 Space Odyssey”) and musical sources (Miles Davis’ “Get Up With It,” “Big Fun” and “In A Silent Way”). Belden’s work translates them into a musical weave – electric Jazz, ambient sound, drum’n bass grooves, accompanied with a text addressing the evolution and relationship between the human mind (“The Human Machine”) and the emergent artificial mind (“The Pure Machine”). The arc of the album is developed over 12 compositions, beginning with “Child’s Dream” and ending with “Machine’s Dream.” The dialectic remains unresolved; in Belden’s world, the only constant is the universal power of imagination, which transcends all distinctions.