THE BEGINNING

Alcopop Records have no desire to release records the way you’d expect them to

Alcopop Records have no desire to release records the way you’d expect them to

Since it reared its head and we respectively started to whinge about the damn thing (first in Issue 2 of Loud And Quiet), Spotify’s existence has seen us obsessively quiz bands on how they feel about the digital streaming phenomenon. That ends here with issue 5, namely for the sake of our sanities. At our last tally the nays had been roundly trounced by the ayes, but before burying the subject that’s achieving very little when it’s not making us look like stuffy technophobes, we dragged it on one last jolly to our Horrors cover feature. They’d never even of heard of it, so we explained and Faris Badwan promptly surmised, “There’s no character in a bunch of mega-bites.” We’d ended on a high; closure was ours. And then we heard that an Oxford indie label felt exactly the same.

Alcopop – the Big Scary Monsters-affiliated team from the home of Radiohead – have always prided their celebratory compilations on their special packaging and creative formats. The series – called Alcopopular (clever, eh?) – reaches volume three on May 15th and the brains behind its conception have outdone themselves in making sure that their latest comp contends with those that came before it.

“First we had a 3″ CD,” explains Jack, the man whom founded the label with winnings from a football bet he made with his dad’s money. “Next was a hand spray-painted tape. Now we have the bottle.”

You’ve not turned over two pages at once, and Jack is not living up to his label’s namesake by being faced‚” we think. To explain, “the bottle” is to be just that: a sleek glass receptacle, usually dedicated to holding a beverage, now completely empty but for a scorched parchment containing a URL address and password. The proprietor of each bottle then downloads the album via the unique information given to them.

It might all sound a bit post-modern (a digital release in a physical package), but Alcopop ensure us that’s not knowingly the case, nor is combating the laziness of MP3 buyers the aim.

“We’re not attempting to be overtly post-modern in truth,” says Jack “or make people work harder for their songs. We’re just trying to make the music we deliver (which we love and hope others will too) much more appealing. This is a reaction to the drop in standard, duel case, run-of-the-mill sales. We continue to love physical releases but it needs to be something special. No longer can record companies lumber about releasing the same old formats month in, month out and expect to survive. We’re pitching at real music fans, and in our experience people appreciate not just quality music but a bit of creativity, and something that’s a bit special. The quality of the songs from the likes of Tellison, The Computers, Unicorn Kid, Electric Owls and Paul Steel (and everyone else on the new compilation) deserve to be presented in the right way!”

As gimmicks go, they don’t come much more fun than this these days. When Spiritualized originally released ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space’ they did so in massive plastic pods with foil lids that resembled paracitamole packaging. Listening to the CD was almost a shame because it meant ruining the box it came in. The cassette release of Oasis’ ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ was sold in a cardboard sleeve mocked up to look like it housed fags; Manic Street Preachers’ debut single, ‘Motown Junk’, was initially going to be partly covered in sandpaper so that it scratched and destroyed every other record or CD it came into contact with. Today, digital music has made us more concerned with how quickly we can hear new music, and at the most cost-effective price. In the middle of a recession it’s completely understandable, but maybe it’s now that we need labels like Alcopop to offer us something a little out of the ordinary. There’s no character in a bunch of mega bites but there’s a hell of a lot in a bottle containing a modern day pirate treasure map that leads you to some audio booty.

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Originally published in issue 5 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. April 2009

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