If Ian Anderson established the flute in rock, the same could apply to Volker Kuinke's recorder on Syrinx Call's albums. Their new, now third work goes one step further. More prog than before, less world music and new age. With no less than three musicians from the Eloy camp, including mastermind Frank Bornemann himself, they are also musically prepared for a highly sophisticated work about the evolutionary step of an artificial intelligence towards human empathy. Volker Kuinke (flutes, wind instruments), Jens Lueck (production, keyboards, drums, vocals) and Doris Packbiers (vocals, concept) provide information. In addition, the three Eloy musicians involved, Frank Bornemann, Hannes Arkona and Klaus-Peter Matziol, deliver enthusiastic statements in conclusion.
eclipsed: "Mirrorneuron" has become a genuine and highly ambitious concept album, similar to Jens Lueck's Single Celled Organism project. How did this approach and idea come about in general?
Volker Kuinke: I had the wish to realize a concept album for a long time. The first two albums were certainly a way towards that. And to dare this step with the leading instrument recorder has appealed to me in a special way. I think this is an absolute novelty. Doris had the idea for "Mirrorneuron" when we were still looking for a name for a track on the last album. It "rang a bell" with Jens and me immediately. It was clear that something special would come out of it and not just the name for a track.
eclipsed: Can you summarize the exciting, but also challenging concept around an AI that becomes capable of empathy in two to three sentences?
Doris Packbiers: Whew, difficult... So, a complex humanoid AI controls an oil drilling platform in the Arctic. Due to 'his' calculations of target and actual state in relation to sustainability, the system crashes = burn out. He (Kai) is supposed to be 'repaired' and has to undergo a kind of psychotherapy due to his complexity. In it he develops the ability to empathize, and it even comes to triggering a strong emotional stirring in the therapist (Mara). He dismisses himself as "cured" and continues to follow the logic of his calculations, but notices that his "connection" to Mara remains.
eclipsed: Where did the specific inspiration for this come from? In the meantime, the topic of AI has long since grown out of the narrower circles of classic science fiction (Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Stanislav Lem) and has also been processed in major Hollywood films or series (including "AI", "The Machine", "Archive", "The 200-Year Man", "Humans", etc.). How seriously you take the topic in terms of content can also be seen nicely in the printed story in the booklet.
Packbiers: The AI actually came into the story only in the second place. First the mirror neurons were in the center and with that the empathy ability. Since we humans have not yet "delegated" this, like hard work to machines, computing to computers, etc., the thought came up, what if AI were to catch up with us or even overtake us, as in other areas. At the same time also the question, is there still more in us and can AI do that at all?