We've been hearing the moans and groans of the music industry for a while about its demise due to lack of interest in the physical music product. And some of us still love that physical experience of putting on a record--the scent of it, delicately placing the needle on the vinyl, and pushing play. Luckily designers and other creatives see these changes as opportunities, and interesting new ways of experiencing and connecting with music are finally picking up some steam. A recent example we wrote about is Boym Partners' collaboration with Ghostly Records, involving a "totem" designed to bring tactile life to Matthew Dear's Black City album.
And Arcade Fire seem to be on a roll with their new album The Suburbs, first by accompanying the digital version of the album with virtual liner notes to browse while playing it on your smart phone. Now the Canadian band has unveiled their next tech-y endeavor for Suburbs, collaborating with Google and writer/director Chris Milk in the release of a pretty incredible and personalized experience for their song "We Used to Wait." The "Wilderness Downtown" is Milk's interpretation of the Arcade Fire song, and also a great experimentation with all the bells and whistles one gets to play with by working with Google.
The program is specific to Google Chrome (of course), and you have to close out of everything else to watch, but this actually adds to the experience. Once you're in, various windows open and close as digital flocks of birds fly by and a boy runs at sunset. And then, using Google Maps and Street View, the program weaves in shots of the street you grew up on and your childhood home. Adding more wow-factor and tear-jerk moments, the program then takes a pause toward the middle, asking you to write a note to the kid-version of you, all in a growing-tree drawing tool. When complete, you can send off your note to be read by others, or respond to someone else's message. The overall result is both poignantly nostalgic and technologically intriguing.
As Google says, with HTML 5 in Google Chrome, the site uses: "Choreographed windows, interactive flocking, custom rendered maps, real-time compositing, procedural drawing, 3D canvas rendering..." and all successfully establish an entirely new experience for listening to music.