YACHT announce new LP ‘Chain Tripping’ + share ‘SCATTERHEAD’ single

YACHT press photo
Credit: Neurography by Mario Klingemann, Training photos by Jaclyn Campanaro

YACHT has announced the details of their new album ‘Chain Tripping’, which will be out on August 30th, 2019 via DFA Records. The LP features the new single SCATTERHEAD (which is out now with an accompanying lyric video – watch it below) and (Downtown) Dancing. The album is available now for pre-order.

SCATTERHEAD (out now as a three-track single bundle) splits the difference between postmodern rock and no-wave dance music with wiggly ease, like “vaseline on the dance floor,” says YACHT’s Jona Bechtolt. Throughout the album, surrealistic idioms and demented earworms surface unexpectedly, riding on a current of oddly hooky, destabilizing melodies and grooves.

The SCATTERHEAD lyric video brings several AI typography experiments to life—neural vector fonts adapted from a recent Google Brain research paper and low-res, morphing bit fonts created with a custom tool that YACHT will reveal more information about next month—against a background of jittering bodies generated using a human pose estimation model called DensePose. YACHT is adapting advanced research science to their pop presentation and doing it all from their home studio using beta software and minimal resources.

The band’s frenetic sound is toned down on (Downtown) Dancing, a scotch-taped disco track with an anxious, funky bass groove that Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip calls a “nimble sprightly chugger,” already in heavy rotation on KCRW, KEXP, and BBC Radio 6, among other tastemaking radio stations worldwide.

‘Chain Tripping’ — the band’s seventh LP and third for DFA — was recorded between Marfa, Texas and the band’s home in Los Angeles. The ten songs are unlike anything YACHT has ever made: pop experiments from a sideways dimension coaxed into their studio through a portal opened by machine intelligence.

“AI and Machine Learning represent a revolution in music equivalent to the introduction of the synthesizer or the beginning of laptop music. We’ve been a band long enough to watch technology overwrite our assumptions many times, and felt compelled to bring these new tools into our life,” explains YACHT.

YACHT (an acronym for “Young Americans Challenging High Technology”) is Claire L. Evans, Jona Bechtolt, and Rob Kieswetter. For ‘Chain Tripping,’ the trio invented their own working method, at the intersection of DIY and high-tech: they used neural networks to break their patterns apart into infinite variations, which they re-assembled into new songs that they then learned, performed, and recorded live. Rather than rely on any single tool, they brought together several distinct AI processes to generate lyrics (Char-RNN), musical data (MusicVAE), raw audio (SampleRNN), and instrumentation (a “neural synthesizer” called the NSynth). They were inspired by the long history of generative composition, from William S. Burroughs’ cut-up writing method to David Bowie’s custom “Verbasizer” lyrics software from the ’90s. Using the framework of this album, YACHT was able to unite a disparate group of artists from around the world to showcase the state of the art in AI-assisted typography, lyrics, composition, audio, video, instrumentation, and photography.

Collaborators include artist Ross Goodwin, “neurographer” Mario Klingemann, programmer and poet Allison Parrish, senior research scientists at Google’s MagentaProject, and the New Zealand-based visual artist Tom White, who used an AI “perception engine” to create a suite of screen-printed computer abstractions for ‘Chain Tripping’.

“All of this experimentation would be meaningless if it didn’t result in something larger than the sum of its parts,” explains YACHT. “This album challenged us in unexpected ways, opened new dialogues, and ultimately touches something deep about who we are. This is what technology can do it if it’s wielded with love, in a spirit of self-discovery. This is what artificial intelligence can be if we think of it not as an endgame but as a starting point.”

YACHT Chain Tripping cover
Chain Tripping tracklist
(Downtown) Dancing
Hey Hey
Loud Light
Blue On Blue
Sad Money
California Dali
Stick It To The Station
Little Instant

2019 marks the 10th Anniversary of YACHT’s critically-acclaimed See Mystery Lights, named Best New Music by Pitchfork, selected as a Critic’s Choice by the New York Times, and called a “start-to-finish powerhouse” by the Washington Post.

For more information on YACHT, visit teamyacht.com.