I recently stumbled across a Bandcamp page featuring a program titled DADABOTS. The purpose of this program was to use the magic of fine-tuned algorithms to synthesize large swaths of an artist’s musical output and fabricate entirely computer-generated songs. It was as though I was listening to a zombified reanimation of the source artist’s music: stylistically recognizable, but shallow and altogether unrewarding. The effect was eerie.
All this to say after I listened through Intelligent Music Project’s 2019 release (or rather, re-release, but more on that later), I walked away having had a somewhat similar experience. Song to song, I got the sense that I was listening to someone’s rigid approximation of what a classic rock album should sound like. “Sorcery Inside” as an album meets the requirements of music, but almost mathematically so; a jigsaw puzzle with colorless pieces.
Intelligent Music Project is primarily the venture of Bulgarian business and medical magnate Milen Vrabevski, who founded the company in 2010 with the stated purpose of “promot[ing] the Bulgarian cultural heritage, contemporary music and performing arts throughout the world by creating an unique [sic] musical product featuring performers of international authority and fame.”
With the creation of “Sorcery Inside,” a mind-numbingly bland and factory-produced pastiche of what Vrabevski remembers 70s and 80s American rock sounding like, the Intelligent Music Project seems to fail at these goals. The exception would perhaps be his desire to hire and record with “performers of international authority and fame.” The album boasts a lineup featuring Joseph Williams and Simon Phillips of Toto, as well as John Payne of British progressive rock band Asia.
Despite my love for some of the music that these performers created in their prime, the album wastes no time in quickly showing that both these performers and the tracks they perform are antiquated. The instrumentation, vocal processing and dusty mastering of this record cause its songs to sound so strikingly antiquated that it feels more like a long-forgotten collection of 70s era b-sides than a high-gloss modern recording. Not a single musical idea or lyrical passage sound like they were imagined this side of the Reagan administration.
All the same, assigning the phrase “unique musical product” to what Vrabevski and his hired guns have doctored up would be a generous application of all three words. Every cliche pioneered by bands such as Boston, Foreigner and Styx shows up in spades across the 45-minute runtime of the album. Consider this lyric off the flagship track “Yesterdays That Mattered”: “There’s no race to win, it’s more like boldness, a fairytale / It’s all magic, go! Don’t stop the feeling! There’s no way to fail.” Does this sound like something a human being sat down and wrote? I struggle to picture a group of musicians, including two of the men who penned “Africa,” writing a verse this vapid and meaningless.
Intelligent Music itself proves enigmatic in its release strategy. This album, which is stated to be a “Master Version” of an identical project released in December 2018, is only available for streaming on YouTube. Clicking the “free download” link on their website will lead you to an error page offering to direct you to a long-since abandoned discussion board. However, if you for some reason wish to delve deeper into the Intelligent Music Project’s past outputs, there are working links directing you to iTunes, where you can “order” their previous three albums.
In all my years of watching videos on YouTube, I have never looked forward to the solace of an ad-break so fervently as I did after my second or third listen-through of this record. Mercifully, Intelligent Music delivered on this front with an advertisement strategically placed mid-song every three to four minutes, which I can only imagine was to break up the monotony of the music itself. Indeed, the real “sorcery inside” this project was their magical ability to create so thoroughly an album which, song after song, proved devoid of any soul or creativity. I would give it a D+ at best.