An album in 12 different formats: Trevor Jackson mines audio history
The UK’s TheGuardian.com reports that every track on the artist and music producer’s new album FORMAT will be issued on a rare or near-obsolete physical format. Eamonn Forde explores the fashion for dipping into the archives of sound technology.
In a stand against digital ubiquity, the fetishisation of physical products in music is heading for a high water mark. Bobblehatted purchasers of “vinyls” in Urban Outfitters are now commonplace, and the latest timeworn format to be deified is the cassette, despite it being the least elegant audio product of all time.
Admiral of the antediluvian Jack White had his Russian doll-style novelty release of Lazaretto last year, marking a point where the vinyl revival verged on self-parody. Artist and music producer Trevor Jackson has gone one step – well, 12 steps – further with the release in February of FORMAT: each of the album’s dozen tracks will be issued on a niche or near-obsolete physical format.
It’s as much an art prank as a keenly timed marketing strategy, mainly because much of the hardware required to play these formats ended up in skips or museums years, if not decades, ago. Tracks will be released on vinyl (7in, 10in and 12in) as well as CD, mini-CD, cassette, USB, VHS, MiniDisc, DAT, 8-track and reel-to-reel, like a This Is Your Life montage sequence for recorded sound.