Kickstarter has its fair share of interesting and just plain weird projects, but a recent project involving unreleased music from legendary electronic music producer Aphex Twin may be one of Kickstarter’s most unique.
Aphex Twin, whose real name is Richard David James, produced some of electronic music’s most seminal pieces in a career that’s spanned from the early 1980s to the present. His most well-known and productive era of music lasted from the late 1980s to the mid-2000s, when he produced under a number of different monikers.
He’s cultivated an aura of mystery around himself. He owns a post-WWII battle tank, reportedly has gone without sleep for weeks and it's rumored that he wrote one of his most loved records while lucid dreaming. He’s also built a reputation for having massive volumes of unreleased material, all of which his hardcore fans would trip their own grandmothers to get their hands on.
One of the most famous pieces of unreleased work is a 1994 full-length record under the name Caustic Window that was ultimately axed, but not before at least five test pressings were made and given to James and his close associates. A friend of James revealed its existence in 1999, but aside from two tracks that appeared on compilation tapes, no actual audio from the record has surfaced.
Twenty years later one of these test pressings of the record appeared for sale on popular music-trading site Discogs from an unknown seller for $13,500 (eventually talked down to $9,300). Members of the most popular electronic-music forum, We Are The Music Makers, a name itself taken from an Aphex Twin song, half-jokingly thought up the idea of crowdfunding the money to pay for the test pressing and subsequently release it with the blessing of James and his record label, Rephlex.
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And now it is actually happening. The Kickstarter campaign is simple: pay $16 and you get one digital download of the record. There’s none of your typical Kickstarter perks. Only people who contribute the $16 to the fund will be legally allowed to have a copy of the record. Since launching on Thursday, the Kickstarter has raised over $32,000 from almost 2,000 backers with 28 days to go.
James and Rephlex said themselves that the record will not be released commercially in any other format or time, so this is the only chance for fans of James to get their ears on a genuine copy of one of the “holy grails” of electronic music.
The campaign was originally open to only 500 backers, but it’s since been opened to unlimited backers and support has been pouring in. The organizers will now have to figure out what to do with all the excess money. Some will go to James and Rephlex and some backers have suggested donating it to a charity, because it appears there will be plenty to go around by the end of the campaign.