Today, April 5, 2021, is the 27th anniversary of the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Coincidentally, Over the Bridge released a new project called Lost Tapes of the 27 Club, which includes new song that was very much influenced by Nirvana called "Drowned in the Sun."
The song was written entirely by artifical intelligence software and wrote the song based on being fed 30 Nirvana songs to analyze. Using Google AI Magenta, a new song in the same style was written. The software digs into vocal melodies, chord changes, guitar riffs, solos, drum patterns and lyrics and then takes all that data to create the new piece.
The project also worked on new songs from artists like Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix.
The project recruited vocalist Eric Hogan, who sings in a Nirvana tribute band to provide the human vocals, although he was just singing everything the computer programmed for him to sing.
Over the Bridge board member Sean O’Connor to Rolling Stone “What if all these musicians that we love had mental health support?” said “Somehow in the music industry, [depression] is normalized and romanticized … Their music is seen as authentic suffering.”
The music definitely sounds like Nirvana, but when the vocals kick in, it sounds more like a late-90s Nirvana knock off you would hear on radio. For Hogan, it was a bit difficult to decide what to do with the music. “I was like, ‘I don’t know how to [sing] this,'” he remembers. “I had to have the guy who came up with the AI track mumble and hum [the tune]. I would feel weird trying to assume what [Cobain] would do. They had to give me a little bit of a roadmap, and then from there, it was fine.”
He continues, “If you look at the last quote-unquote Nirvana release, which was, ‘You Know You’re Right,’ this has the same type of vibe. Kurt would just sort of write whatever the hell he felt like writing. And if he liked it, then that was a Nirvana song. I can hear certain things in the arrangement of [‘Drowned in the Sun’] like, ‘OK, that’s kind of an In Utero vibe right here or a Nevermind vibe right here. … I really understood the AI of it.”
The song kind of reminds me of that recent experiment from the audio engineer who "time-corrected" the Van Halen song. It still sounds like band, but a bit soulless.
Here's the attempt at a Hendrix song, which definitely sounds like a Hendrix cover: