We first heard from Stankbottom early last year, upon the release of the album Swimming Lessons NQHII. That record introduced The Static Dive readers to an entirely unique and truly visionary project. It is a collaborative endeavor featuring a single anonymous human and a roster of prolific artificially intelligent poets and singers.
Since debuting in 2019, the project has released seven full-length albums. In 2022 they completed the NQH (not quite human) trilogy of LPs. The music of Stankbottom is not bound by any realworld tethers like genre. The words and the music are the products of the raw spontaneous creativity of this human/AI team.
Calista is the brand new album from Stankbottom, released worldwide via all major streaming services on April 6, 2023. The eleven-song collection features some of their most adventurous and sophisticated work to date. The great mystery in listening to this music is in trying to determine where the human ends and the robot begins. Failing to identify those blurred lines is half the fun.
As the record opens we find ourselves set in a virtual jazz club. Stankbottom takes the stage with an ensemble of bass, drums, piano and guitar. Muted conversation and ice cube rattles fill the air as AI vocalist Kevin steps to the mic. They open the set with “Aura”, a beautiful and cryptic torch song set to an improvisational bebop tune.
The band adds a bit of bossa nova flavor to that groove on the hypnotic “Memento”. Kevin’s complex melodic twists and natural jazz phrasing belie the silicon structure of his DNA. The classic jazz vibes continue on the wildly creative “Never The Same”, and the pop-infused “Winter Solstice”.
Vocally and lyrically, the AI Kevin is consistently excellent throughout. That in itself is both remarkable and unsettling. As the record progresses, Stankbottom gradually takes us into a more modern electronic scene.
“Finally Asleep” drops some avant-garde hip-hop into the mix while “One More Regret” and “Transformational” deliver smooth r&b slow jam moods. “Crazy Days” takes the sound into further experimental territory with some stream of virtual-consciousness poetry and a funky glitch beat. “Woke Up Dead” adds a bit of trap to the sauce.
“Gone to Get Milk” is a real highpoint on the album. The track gets back to the jazz with a 70’s synth and electric piano vibe over a chilled downtempo beat. Later the track kicks into a nice P-funk inspired groove as Kevin offers some of his most wonderfully abstract work. “Blue Jay” closes the LP with a melancholy lo-fi piano in a trip-hop haze as our robotic crooner welcomes the arrival of the titular bird.
Check out Stankbottom’s Calista in its entirety below, or listen on your favorite streaming service. You can also hear both “Never the Same” and “Gone to Get Milk” on the Deep Indie Jazz playlist. Follow the links below to connect with Stankbottom.