James Murphy has ended his long research into US Open tennis with his latest release. Hear how he crunched numbers into notes right here.
US Open tennis figures might not sound especially exciting to you, but James Murphy probably begs to differ. His latest album Remixes Made With Tennis Data is exactly what it sounds like. Murphy took information from a handful of US Open tennis matches and compiled them into music using an algorithm he created with IBM.
He would consider aspects like how fast players served the ball, and transform it into a string of notes. The album required hours of careful planning and data logging, followed by even more hours of translating that data into something that sounds like a song.
Murphy has accomplished what he set out to do with this record. The tracks never sound like they come from a string of numbers he pulled from a game that’s essentially two players batting a ball back and forth. The songs run together into one long, cohesive piece. It’s hard to distinguish one song from another, but that’s the nature of the medium Murphy is working in on this record.
The songs on this record feature notes pressed seemingly at random, but as each song goes on, he gets into a groove with the pattern. The notes still seem nearly random at their core, but together they build into a greater atmosphere of sound. What started as a set of high notes is set on top of a low pattern of bass tones, that are then combined with a percussive set that brings everything together.
It’s almost like a color-by-numbers way of composing music. You fill in tiny spaces that don’t look like much, but the more you fill in, the more the big picture starts to appear. By the end of it, you have a whole piece of art.
James Murphy’s decision to use tennis as a template for his notes is probably a smart one. With synth sounds that have a retro feel, his album would be right at home as the background music for a long game of Pong.
This album is more atmosphere than melody or hook. It carries listeners along its complicated musical lines without many breaks.
James Murphy released his first track from this record recently, but this is the first time he has put the entirety of it up for his audience to hear. Take a listen to his latest work below: