Earlier this year, former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy and IBM made music out of U.S. Open tennis matches by using a computer algorithm to synthesize the players’ moves via the IBM cloud. Now he’s releasing 12 remixes from those original tracks, in association with IBM, on the album Remixes Made With Tennis Data. Where many of the raw matches sounded like bleeping video games, Murphy added enough musical elements to the avant-garde works to make them stand-alone electronic pieces.
A building chorus of vocal aahs, a minimalistic beat and a warbling bass line help “Match #187” – one of the remixes included on the LP – sound like more than the grunting back-and-forth of a men’s final match, and the algorithmic electronic pitter-patter of the original track. The track is now almost hypnotic in the way it slowly builds.
The project is the result of IBM spending several years gathering and analyzing data, ostensibly to figure out what makes the athletes great. To put a new spin on the data, the company used an algorithm to create music out of the matches and invited Murphy to sift through 400 hours of that original music, comprising 187 matches. The producer then selected his 12 favorite moments and remixed them.
Some of the remixes surfaced in September. Murphy’s new approaches to “Match #4” and “Match #104” are still streaming. “When a young player beats a top-seeded player, like in this match from August 25th, it’s bound to make some noise,” the description of “Match #4” said at the time, though it did not mention who was playing. “And in this case, that noise is glorious: a series of simple, almost sweet opening notes that slowly transform into unexpectedly intense, mature sounds. Beats bubble up from out of nowhere, swiftly take over and set the track in an uncompromising new direction.”
Remixes Made With Tennis Data will be available in full via soundcloud.com/ibm on December 19th.