The members of prolific UK electronic outfit Underworld have spent most of the last year exploring solo creative endeavors. Karl Hyde released his debut solo album, Edgeland, in April, while Rick Smith scored the soundtrack to Danny Boyle’s latest film, Trance. Now, the duo are reconvening for their first project of new music since the 2012 Olympic Games by collaborating with Volkswagen on a new app for drivers. Album schmalbum, y’all.
The pair’s “Play The Road” app features a soundtrack that shifts with each change in the vehicle’s movements, so that “every turn of the wheel, gearshift or location change, is reflected in the music.” Volkswagen added that Hyde and Smith “created musical stems that could be attributed to locations and specific driving behaviors,” resulting in a “unique and exhilarating driving experience” that drastically shifts the soundscape based upon vehicle speed, the number of turns, the distance of each trip, and even how much pressure is put on the wheel.
For the more tech savvy of us out there, Volkswagen outlined the app’s inner workings:
The innovative app reads how and where you drive, translating it into music live. The app gets speed and RPM data from the GTI’s on-board computer. The steering acceleration and location data is calculated from a combination of the accelerometer, gyroscope and GPS receiver present in the iPhone. All of the data collected is filtered and smoothed before use.
The application makes use of the musical programming language PD (Pure Data) to generate the music and effects live. So you create unique music with your drive in real time.
Because it was created in association with the German manufacturer, the app will not be available for general release, only for use by Volkswagen in “monitored environments for competitions and track days.”
In a press release, Hyde talked about how his love of music is tied intimately to driving, adding, “Driving and music are probably the most important things in my musical education: sitting in the back of my dad’s car at night. It was a filmscape to me, it was beautifully lit and the dashboard was magical, and radio Luxemburg or some pirate station was on the radio and that was everything to me. It’s still the root of why I love music. Being in a car surfing the radio, finding stuff that suits how you feel.”
For a look at the app in action, watch the demo video below. For more info on the app’s creation and programming, head to Volkswagen’s website.