Sunday, March 09, 2008

Lesser- MP3/CDR before its time

His official website only says "I don't give a fuck what's on your iPod" along with his e-mail address and a link to his blog, which he only briefly ran last year to document leg surgery following a fall. Otherwise, it's hard to track exactly what sound manipulator/experimental artist Lesser has been up to for the last 4-5 years. When I contacted him about this, he added:

I made a couple albums for Matador ("released" in Europe only- Gearhound, Suppressive Acts: I-X)... I toured with the Matmos' a lot and put out a cd/dvd with my wife and friends under the name Sagan... i also got married and (last november) moved to providence RI... other than that, worryingly little :)

Good for him, right? I had wondered what happened to him as I was digging through an ol' pile of CD's when I came across something he put out on Tigerbeat called LS-MP3CD-R_1990-2000 (catchy title, eh?). It's your typical odds and ends collection with unreleased tracks, remixes (which he did for other artists), compilation cuts, cuts from split CD's he did with other artists (Kid 606, Rob Crow) and such.

Other than the mind-bending sounds and noises (static, beats, samples) he comes up with, what's most notable about the release is how it was put together. There's 150 tunes to consume. How do fit all that on a normal CD in the space of less than 80 minutes unless every song is less than 2 minutes (some tracks are less than a minute while another is 43 minutes long)? Simple. You put it out as a CD-R instead of a pre-recorded mass produced CD.

Coming out in 2001, the packaging warns the consumer "this release requires the use of an MP3 enabled CD player or computer." That's a laugh today but back then, not so. Instead of listing songs on the back, the sleeve lists the folders on the disc where the songs are grouped into. And yes, the tunes themselves are all in MP3 format, at 128kbps which ain't exactly high fi but it's sufficient for most of us who don't have a $10,000 stereo (and play the stuff over our computer speakers anyway). Adding to the lo-fi DIY idea, the CD face has the title hand written out in magic marker. You gotta hand it to Lesser and Tigerbeat-they keep to the concept well.

What I want to know though is that if this is so simple, why isn't this done more often? Instead of a measly 10-15 tracks, fans can gorge out on dozens of them. Of course, more isn't always better for many artists but the possibilities are worth it for the ones who do deserve extra space and time. Somehow I don't think the RIAA and its corporate masters are working on this idea though...


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