There are the CD and vinyl limited and collectors editions, of course. But those are mostly only meant to sell a record a second time to an artist’s fans. But what is much more interesting, are personalized copies.
I personally know these from the cassette movement in the early 80s. I still have a box of them at home. Some of the artists are well known, like The Cleaners From Venus. For some, it was a start in a new career, like Everything But The Girl‘s Tracey Thorne with the Marine Girls. But most of the bands are only known by a few dozen people.
What was so unique about the cassette movement, was that the tapes were copied at home, the cover manually copied and often hand colored. A thing that is not possible with vinyl, and was not possible with CDs back then.
These personalized releases, born out of necessity, is now taken a step further by an artist called Spruke from Buffalo, New York.
In 2015, Spruke launched a Kickstarter campaign for his project Music To Die Alone In Space To. In his electronic album, he tells the story of a marooned astronaut, and it has been re-recorded in entirety for each backer, making each copy unique. The campaign was overly successful, and instead of the planned 30 copies, Bill Boulden, the man behind Spruke, had to record ten times as many. It took him about two years to do all the work. Interestingly, his fans exchanged their copies to compare the versions and created a whole new universe out of 300 unique, but connected recordings.
Bill took notice and learned from his community of fans a valuable lesson. Therefore, in his new – still running – Kickstarter project Pieces – A Thousand Albums At The End Of America, Spruke forces his ideas to a new level. Not only is every one of the thousand copies unique, but the project it is also a distributed storytelling project. This time, Spruke even forces his backers to come together. Because only by combining the different versions, the mystery of how the world fell apart, can be solved.
Therefore, even if you’re listening to the music at home digitally, you have a collective experience, unfortunately too often lost in today’s way of listening to music with your earphones on. Noticeably, Spruke not only tells a story in addition to the music, but he also takes great care of the artwork.
It doesn’t matter if you like electronic music or not, this is indeed a one of a kind project worth supporting!