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Friday, May 02, 2008

Thomas Dolby's Golden Age Of Radio(head)

It's hard for me not to want to keep an eye on Thomas Dolby. He kept making interesting records years after the mainstream industry wrote him off as a one-hit wonder, and then, when it became clear that making records was a sucker's game, he became part of the Web's fabric by becoming CEO of Beatnik, a Silicon Valley tech startup. Chances are, if you've got a ringtone on your cellphone, he was behind the technology that put it there.

So leave it to Dolby to turn something as mundane as wondering how far outside his house he could go before he lost his Internet connection, into art.

The story goes that, a few weeks ago, he wandered down to the beach behind his house (he has one - the whole technology thing was apparently very good to him) and sat down for a bit to check out the connection. Waves lapped against the beach, seagulls squawked at each other - generally, a pretty idyllic situation (except that it was pretty cold outside; he's brought a blanket to huddle up in.) While there, browsing the net randomly, he happened upon the news that Radiohead were making the component tracks for their song "Nude" available to the public, who were invited to submit their mixes. He grabbed a track and hit play, and the single track, which was silent for much of the time up until that instrument's part came up, wound up working so well in the environment he was in that he sampled the ambient audio and set to work on his own remix...then submitted it, pretty much the way anyone else would.

The thing I find most endearing about the story is that Dolby is clearly - and I mean this in the best possible, most empathetic way - a geek for the ages. Anyone who turns technology into art is aces in my book. So, as it turns out, are Radiohead, for having the foresight to offer the remix program in the first place.

Listen for yourself:

And that, by the way, is the other cool thing about it - I don't have to just rell you about it, I can post it myself and encourage you to vote. So yes, there's a bit of electioneering going on here...

[You'll be able to catch it tonight on the Altrok Radio FM Showcase, at 10pm Eastern at 90.5 The Night - do listen online if you can't tune in on FM.]


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