Friday, January 2, 2015

You can mix music using Qbert's vinyl record sleeve

You might end up playing with this record's packaging more than you end up playing the actual record. For his new release, the double LP Extraterrestria and Galaxxxian, DJ QBert has built a Bluetooth DJ controller into the albums' vinyl packaging that allows you to manipulate songs on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. The controller is a thin sheet of paper covered in printed electronics and styled to look like a traditional DJ setup, with a platter on either side, a fader in the middle, and a handful of other buttons around the edges. The controller syncs with Djay — a fun and relatively easy mixing app for amateurs — and lets you mix QBert's new album or anything else that you load into the app.

Vinyl has been making a comeback over the past few years, and we're now beginning to see artists try to imbue the format with novel features that can't be found on other formats. Last year, Jack White released a record that included a number of unusual features on vinyl, including a groove that ran backward, tracks that played at different speeds, and a hologram. Like the bonus features that you often find on CDs or digital downloads bought from certain stores, these features all give listeners more reason to pick up vinyl. So even though DJ QBert's album may be sending buyers right back into a digital world, it'll be with an experience that couldn't be included in a smaller format's packaging.

Unfortunately, if you don't already have an order in for Extraterrestria and Galaxxxian, it sounds like you won't be able to pick up the vinyl and DJ controller. The double LP was funded on Kickstarter last year and released digitally over the summer. At the time, the plan was to only release this interactive packaging to backers, and it doesn't appear that that plan has changed. For anyone who has backed it, QBert says that the vinyl finally shipped out a few days ago, so there should be a number of these floating around soon. Also, if you're wondering what albums with names like Extraterrestria and Galaxxxian are about, listen to QBert break them down and introduce you to the Galactic Skratch Federation in his Kickstarter pitch:

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