Thom Yorke's Surprise Is Nothing New

In typical Thom Yorke fashion, the Radiohead front-man released a new full-length solo album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, without warning or prior promotion, using a relatively new BitTorrent interface as a “way of handing some control of internet commerce back to people who are creating the work.”

The surprise release of Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes is not, in fact, all that surprising.
Yorke posted a photo of a mysterious white vinyl earlier in the week, the Boxes logo imprinted on its center label. (1)

Surprise releases and unconventional formats are nothing new for the musician, either.

Radiohead’s King Of Limbs was announced a week prior to its 2011 release as “the world’s first newspaper album” and 2008’s In Rainbows was announced ten days prior to its release, which infamously allowed fans to choose the price of the record.

Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes can be downloaded for $6 here(2), with an elaborate vinyl issue available via W.A.S.T.E. (3)

According to W.A.S.T.E., the 180 gram white vinyl contains “heavy white board inner and outer sleeves…printed with a metallic silver laminate then multi-tone black and a striking neon green; the whole is enclosed in a bespoke anti-static shield bag -- a metallised laminated material usually used by the electronics industry for protecting components from electrostatic interference. The bag is printed with neon green on both sides, and has a resealable grip closure.”

The record features a dark, electronic sound, more ambient than Atoms For Peace but still prominently featuring Nigel Godrich’s flawless production.

Here’s what Yorke and Godrich had to say of the release:

“As an experiment we are using a new version of BitTorrent to distribute a new Thom Yorke record.

The new Torrent files have a pay gate to access a bundle of files..

The files can be anything, but in this case is an 'album'.

It’s an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around ...

If it works well it could be an effective way of handing some control of internet commerce back to people who are creating the work.

Enabling those people who make either music, video or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves.
Bypassing the self elected gate-keepers.

If it works anyone can do this exactly as we have done.

The torrent mechanism does not require any server uploading or hosting costs or ‘cloud’ malarkey.
It's a self-contained embeddable shop front...

The network not only carries the traffic, it also hosts the file. The file is in the network.

Oh yes and it's called
Tomorrow's Modern Boxes.

Thom Yorke & Nigel Godrich”

- Alex Wood



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