OK Go's DNA album and other unusual music formats

Never ones to miss a trick, OK Go have opted to release their latest album, ‘Hungry Ghosts’ on DNA. Admittedly, you won’t actually be able to listen to the music, but you’ll get 100,000 copies in one small vial.

The group have teamed up with Sri Kosuri, a UCLA biochemist, who is translating their music so that it can be stored in SNA. He’ll be taking the OK Go album and encoding it into the DNA building blocks that are the A, G, T and C bases.

(Ok, we don’t really understand that bit either.)

Kosuri described DNA simply as ‘information’ and said, “Our bodies use it to code for life, but it could be anything.”

Once he’s successfully completed the encoding process, he’ll create the actual DNA in an electrophoresis machine and store it in a vial, dissolved in water.

“Legally speaking, it’s unclear whether we will be able to sell the DNA to anyone, or how we would physically get it to them,” lead singer Damian Kulash said. “This stuff is regulated really f*****g heavily.

“Obviously it’s an artistic gesture and a scientific project, not the most efficient way to actually buy our album.”

OK Go aren’t the first musicians to release their music on an unusual format though, here’s a few more examples of unusual releases…

The Flaming Lips – Zaireeka

The Flaming Lips’ eighth album was actually a set of four CDs, which were intended to be played simultaneously across four different stereos. The idea behind Zaireeka is that factors such as the position and quality of each player would cause a slight variation in synchronisation and thus give you a unique listening experience each time you listen to the album.

The band got their inspiration for this album from vocalist Wayne Coyne’s Parking Lot Experiments, which was a series of concerts that involved 40 separate cassette tapes being played simultaneously on different car stereos.

The Dead Weather – Blue Blood Blues

Jack White and his band came up with a triple-decker vinyl to release their Blue Blood  Blues single. Essentially, the triple-decker record involves a standard 12-inch, complete with b-sides, with another seven-inch record stored inside.

To get to listen to the seven-inch, you had to crack open the 12-inch and remove it from inside. This video shows Jack White demonstrating exactly how to do so.

Deadmau5 – Remixable album

Not quite a release in the same way as some of the others, but pretty innovative nonetheless. Deadmau5 came up with an app that enabled fans to remix and create their own new tracks out from Deadmau5’s music. The apps lets users load any of 10 Deadmau5 tracks into its dual track-back playback engine, which works like any professional DJ software, but is still easy enough for anyone to experiment with. Users can than play with BPM, control up to four concurrent effects, skip to the next phrase or back to the last one, loop a phrase and cross fade between the two tracks.

Mogwai – Tracy

Scottish guitar band Mogwai opted to create an old-fashioned hand-cranked music box that plays a version of their track ‘Tracy’ when you wind a crank on the side. Obviously due to the limited technology in a music box, it plays only the guitar riff, but you can’t deny that it sounds pretty amazing.

Beck – Song Reader

Music fans seem to be preferring more retro music formats, with vinyl and cassettes experiencing increases in sales. But you don’t get much more retro than Beck who released his Song Reader album as sheet music that you have to perform yourself.

Or, of course, you could watch other people performing it on YouTube, with different styles, including some brilliant ragtime verisions.

Thumbnail from gettyimages


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