Press the pound sign for "probably inevitable now that we think about it." If the humble cassette tape could mount a mini-comeback, then of course listening to music over the phone would stand a chance at enjoying its own retro moment.
Late last year, ecstatic L.A. racket-makers Foot Village premiered their entire new album, Make Memories (due out March 19 via Northern Spy) over the phone. The ploy brought to mind how music-by-phone was an actual thing before widespread broadband Internet use, whether through They Might Be Giants' famous Dial-A-Song service or MCI Communications' short-lived 1-800-MUSIC-NOW. At one point even SPIN had a 900 number where you could listen to editors' favorite music.
Now, as Consequence of Sound points out, Trent Reznor and Beastie Boys have done the samem in connection with the upcoming Beats digital streaming service, an old-meets-new intersection that parallels the way the convenience of digital download cards has paradoxically made tapes and vinyl records more appealing. Dial 310-299-8756, and you can hear "And the Sky Began to Scream," an electronics-seared rocker from Reznor's band How to Destroy Angels' upcoming Welcome Oblivion, due March 5. You can also hear a Paul's Boutique-era Beasties B-side, the still-galvanizing instrumental version of hip-hop classic "Shadrach."
That phone number also gives you access to messages from Reznor and the Beastie Boys' Mike D, and you can leave messages for them, too. First, press two to get to the music, and then press one for the Beastie Boys or two for Reznor. Press pound after leaving your message, and then you'll hear the song. A text message will follow with a link to download an MP3. There's also an amusing computerized operator — way better than the usual hall-of-robots customer-service phone call experience.
The project is part of an in-progress app called Twilio. According to Twilio's site, it was developed by Ian Rogers, CEO of the digital music service code-named Daisy and reportedly branded as simply Beats, where Reznor is chief creative officer. The site says Rogers is coming up with other features for the phone service, called Maebe, including the ability to call and get a music recommendation from the company's staff. For now, Reznor and Mike D's picks will have to hold us over.