Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Minotaur Shock does a Radiohead


...except he doesn't. Since last October, how many bands have been described as 'doing a Radiohead'? Artists from Cliff Richard to Nine Inch Nails have been said to have followed Thom & Co's footsteps into this brave new digital world. Yet, although some albums have been given away free online, as far as I'm aware, no-one has done the whole pay-what-you-want thing. Bloc Party releasing their album online first is hardly something that's not been done way before even In Rainbows came along.

As it turns out, what Minotaur Shock, aka David Edwards is doing is exactly the opposite of what Radiohead did last year. Yes, his new album Amateur Dramatics is available online, but he's dictating exactly what you should pay for it. It's not like he's only just stipulated a price for the whole album (£6.41 by the way) - he's actually specified what each track is worth, and they're all different - ranging from 33p to 77p. How'd you do that, then? The answer is quite complex - head over the the Minotaur Shock website for a track-by-track breakdown of the component worth of each, and through a detailed scoring system taking into consideration things like 'technical difficulty rating', extra musicians rating' and 'fun/replay rating', the price is arrived at. That may explain why Beekeeper is more than double the price of Two Magpies, if you're really interested. And if you think this is all a gimmick to increase sales, you might be right, but David needs it - reading between the lines it seems clear that there was no way 4AD was going to give Amateur Dramatics a proper release, so he's opted for an online one instead, but with an added quirk.

But what about the music? Well, it pains me to glibly refer to it as pleasant electronica, especially since Edwards has not only spent a long time crafting each tune, he's also put so much effort into classifying and describing each one. But that's sort of what it is. Nothing too frantic, the beats never really intend to whip the listener up into a dance frenzy. Instead they burble and glide past smoothly and carefully, electronics merged with real instruments, and even the occasional real human voice. Apart from a couple of more abrasive numbers, the whole virtual record makes a pleasant, if unchallenging listen. But then again, on my tube journey home tonight, I don't want to be challenged. I just want to listen to something soothing while I read and try not to get too crushed and sweaty on the Central Line.

Finally, I'm probably doing David a big disservice here by posting a couple of his carefully-priced songs for free, but they won't be up there for long, and if you care for this sort of thing, I'd strongly encourage you to show your love by buying Amateur Dramatics for the required price.

mp3: Minotaur Shock - Jason Forrest
mp3: Minotaur Shock - Snapdragon

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