Niall Byrne: Artists who branch out
The xx commissioned a music video and sculpture piece by Saam Farahmand which was exhibited in London last year. The installation allowed visitors to watch three audio-visual columns, one for each member of the band, playing through the songs from their Mercury Prize winning album xx.
That sounds great, but for those outside London there is now an iPhone app that goes some way to recreating the idea. Featuring the first three songs of the album, the idea is you install it on you and your friends' iPhones, press connect and the three iPhones will play the role of the columns, playing back each part of the song simultaneously. You can download it at bit.ly/thexxapp.
Another artist who is doing things in different mediums is The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne who, far from immersing himself in technology, has extracted some of his own blood for use in a screen print of an upcoming gig poster.
"We thought it would be silly to use some chicken blood... they don't need to sacrifice their vital fluids any more than I need to," Coyne reasoned. The entire process of the making of the poster can be watched on YouTube (bit.ly/flipsbloodposter), but is probably not for the squeamish. Let's hope the proceeds from the sale are going to a blood donor clinic.
In the land of the Danes, earthy chamber-popsters Efterklang have started an initiative to raise awareness of the need for music in public schools. Efterkids (efterkids.com) began when the band did a virtual performance with students from New York's Special Music School in which the students performed in front of a 20-foot-high projection of the band.
Efterklang are currently working with students in Germany, Poland, Boston and San Francisco, and interested parties are encouraged to download the "course materials" for two songs, which consist of the musical score, the parts score, a playback track and a strings-capella track so that students can both perform their own Efterkids concert and also raise awareness.
Meanwhile, while Irish law halts the major Irish label's application of "three strikes" pressure on Irish internet providers, the French government is looking to change the downloading behaviour of young people. After implementing the "three strikes" rule recently, the government is launching "The Carte Musique" -- a music download card which costs €25 and comes with €50 credit for music subscription services (€25 subsidised by the government). The scheme is aimed at 12 to 25-year-olds and will run for two years with each customer allowed one card per year. That's certainly one pro-active and useful way of getting down with the kids.