Alex Braga straddles many worlds; he is a musician, a conceptual artist and an inventor. But regardless of the hat he is wearing on any given
day, his goal remains the same; “to find the infinite inside the finite boundaries of our world,” he says. As a conceptual artist, this involves thinking of ways in which he can throw himself into the unknown, creating pieces that evolve from pure simplicity to infinite complexity. Practically speaking, Braga created an artificial intelligence-based instrument called A-Mint.
A-Mint creates what is called ‘augmented music’, a new and bold territory in digital arts. The instrument is able to crack a musician’s style and offer a whole array of music-making possibilities within that style and in real-time as the artist plays. “When A-Mint gets your style, it becomes your augmented self and gives you superpowers,” explains Braga. In other words, as Braga plays a simple motif on the piano, the AI reacts by producing an endless amount of notes that fit into his theme, which he then wires back into the composition, and back again into the AI in a process he calls a “hyperloop of creation”. The result of his experiments into technology and sonic explorations culminated in his first record, Spleen Machine.
Created by Braga with the help of sound engineer Francesco Donatello & producer Robert Lippok (Tarwater, To Rococo Rot, Ludovico Einaudi), Spleen Machine is an EP consisting of four tracks, but for Alex, it’s almost as if the music were not the main element of his creation; “Technology always saved my life by giving me the opportunity to concentrate on pure ideas,” he says. As a kid, Braga dropped out of guitar classes to research the endless possibilities that lay, yet uncovered, between electronic music and technology. When the idea of artificial intelligence started to leave the domain of sci-fi and begin to take form as a very real possibility, Braga was enthused, “I never agreed with the idea of humanity being enslaved by a machine… My idea was rather to build a machine to take me where I could never arrive without.”