Of course, there are some differences between this experiment and that pioneered by Radiohead. Bil Bless doesn’t really have the marketing power of Radiohead. Or a major record label to fall out with. It’s probably fair to say that his music isn’t going to be quite as universal as Radiohead’s (although they have their critics) and it would be difficult to claim that he doesn’t need the cash – not that I have seen his bank statements mind you.
But for me, the major differences are as follows:
Unlike the Radiohead experiment with ‘In Rainbows’, you can actually preview Bil’s album. You can play every single track on the site, from start to finish. So, when you decide to ‘buy’ the album and are presented with a box in which you decide whether to enter a zero, or something bigger, you have some idea of what you are valuing.
And, while those who downloaded ‘In Rainbows’ ended up with the surprise of an album of 192kbps mp3’s, Bil Bless lets you know what you will end up downloading, as you can choose your format, from lossy mp3’s to lossless flac files.
But of course, these finer details mean very little in the great scheme of things. It’s the music that counts.
I’ve been a fan of Bil Bless productions for a number of years now, including tracks released under his alias, Son Of The Electric Ghost (SOTEG). It’s glitchy, experimental music. You’ll find unusual samples and irregular rhythms in his music. It can sometimes seem a little inaccessible to the casual listener, perhaps too complex for easy listening. There are tracks that I would struggle to have the confidence to play out in a set, for fear of pushing the dancefloor too far. But this album seems a bit different.
The Life Mechanism sounds more structured, more dancefloor orientated. It still has all the trademarks of Bil Bless/ Soteg, but I can see myself slipping quite a few of these tracks into a live set.
Which is why, when faced with the opportunity of giving nothing for this album, I took the time to think about what it was worth to me. In the end, I decided on $10. It’s a little less than I’d pay at Addictech, although I would probably choose only a few tracks I liked in that situation. But of course, I imagine that more of the money gets to the man who produced the music this way.
Besides, with online stores seeming to take such a large slice of the pie, the future must lie with artists selling their own music.
I for one, would like to encourage that.
You can download the album here: