Aurora Falls -
Artificial Empathy

(CD 2023, 42:65, Private Release)

The tracks:
  1- One Billion Years And More(0:48)
  2- Post-Human(5:51)
  3- Hive Mind(7:34)
  4- Reconnection(4:26)
  5- Gods Arise(1:32)
  6- Neurons(7:26)
  7- Automata(3:26)
  8- Binary Thoughts Collider(4:59)
  9- Terra (Ex Machina)(6:48)

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Artificial empathy or computational empathy is the development of AI (artificial intelligence ) systems—such as companion robots or virtual agents—that can detect emotions and respond to them in an empathic way. Although such technology can be perceived as scary or threatening, it could also have a significant advantage over humans for roles in which emotional expression can be important. A broader definition of artificial empathy is the ability of nonhuman models to predict a person's internal state given the signals he emits or to predict a person's reaction when he or she is exposed to a given set of stimuli.

You might ask yourself what has this all to do with an album review. Well it is all about the title of the debut album made by Aurora Falls. An instrumental quartet from Poznań in Poland, which was founded at the beginning of 2021. They label themselves as a post-rock band which includes drummer Leszek Drabikowski, bassist Jan Marlewski and the two guitar players Remigiusz Orchowski and Krzysztof Kwita. From the very beginning they loved to seek space in their musical improvisation, somewhere between shoegaze, post-rock, blackgaze, or dreampop.

In 2022, they decided to record some songs to share with the world. The first song they published was Neurons, showing the direction in which the band was moving music wise. Somewhere in mid-2022, the band entered the studio to record more compositions, which would end up on the album Artificial Empathy.

The album is an almost 45-minute album containing nine atmospheric instrumental compositions. The topic refers to the future of humanity. Observing the changes that are taking place in the modern world, how far humanity reaches and at the same time the regression of humanitarianism, and also how artificial intelligence slowly penetrates society unnoticed, imitating human emotions more and more often, we ask ourselves whether AI will one day be more human than humans? Could AI have more empathy? Can it replace humans in the chain of evolution? To make the message even more clear they included on the opening track One Billion Years And More a spoken introduction of an interview for NASA with engineer Herb Lassen done in 2001. Talking about the launch of Pioneer 10. He explains how long the machines will exist in space and how far they will travel without humans. This shows a completely different perspective, not of several dozen or hundreds of human years, but of millions. Will we still be on Earth then? In short you could say Artificial Empathy reflects the concept of posthumanism. The future of humanity. Observing, how the world changes, how far man reaches and in the same time the regression of humanity. How AI quietly spreads, pretending to be human. We ask ourselves whether in the future, AI will be more human than the human. Is it possible, that AI will have more empathy than mankind?

Enough said about the concept and the band. Now it is time tell a bit about the music. All of nine tracks on this release are team composition which sound music wise similar as on first hearing. What you hear are instrumental pieces of music which can be described as post-rock. With two guitar players in the band it is obvious that they dominate the music with their riffs. Unfortunately they don't include real melodic guitar solos. However that doesn't mean you can't enjoy their compositions. Most of all the track that follows the earlier mentioned spoken introduction on One Billion Years And More is how I love to hear this band playing on their compositions. Therefore I can say that Post-Human is the absolute highlight on the entire album. It is a rather melodic tune which has a nice rhythm that never really gets boring. However after this song the following songs seem to sound all a bit the same. I am not saying they are not enjoyable. But a bit more variety wouldn't harm at all. Variety is the spice after all. But I guess this type of music is what post rock is all about. Mellow songs with hardly any breaks or solos performed on the guitars and keyboards. Just songs which you can dream away on in a pleasant way! Adding some vocal parts to them would be also advisable to keep the songs more interesting.

Well if you are into mellow atmospheric guitar orientated music which move into the direction of shoegaze, post-rock, blackgaze, or dreampop Artificial Empathy might be suitable for you. But if you want to hear long compositions with different time signatures and lots of solos on the electric guitars and synthesizers together with parts played on the Mellotrons, Minimoogs and Hammond organs you can avoid this release. Just try it and you can decide yourself if the musicians of Aurora Falls made your musical heart beat a little bit faster.

*** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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