Bloom is a new generative musical application for iPhone and iPod touch, created by Brian Eno and software designer Peter Shilvers. It’s quite simple, but if you’re looking for some soothing musical strains to float out of your mobile Apple device, this is your ticket. At launch, you’re given a choice of either using a pre-determined set of rules, or tapping in your own parameters and patterns. The touch interface lets you use your fingers to add note patterns, which then repeat and mutate. If you make your own composition, you’ll start those patterns from a blank slate, but even if you choose an existing composition, you can tap solos over the top. The taps turn into patterns that transform themselves when the system is “idle,” rather than repeating indefinitely.
The results aren’t terribly deep – everything has a more or less similar ambient vibe, and tapping patterns in feels only barely interactive. It’s tough to predict the results and the patterns generally mutate on their own. The app is clearly geared for casual users, though it’s pretty wonderful for that audience. If you want depth, I’d stay tuned for the launch of RjDj; its generative apps, built in the open-source modular multimedia software Pd, are virtually unlimited in their musical capabilities, and they make use of the iPhone’s mic and sensors. (More on RjDj coming later this week.) See also full-featured generative software on PC/Mac, including the free Nodal, the excellent and deep Intermorphic offerings (from a team that has collaborated with Eno in the past), or even the game soundtrack for EA’s Spore, led by Eno as composer.
But that said, the compositions here are really beautiful, and it’s fantastic to watch the Apple mobile morph from simple playback devices into generative, interactive computers. Any fan of Eno or generative music will definitely want to snap this up for US$3.99.
Here’s what the app sounds like:
Let us know what you think. Any other similar apps coming out on iTunes?