Albums of the 21st Century
The conventional album – a set of a dozen or so discrete tracks in a fixed order – is a throwback, a trip down memory lane. The technical constraints that necessitated the form are no longer present. But the notion of album as collection of pieces held together by an overarching principle or theme is still a good one. Here are some starting-point ideas for albums of the 21st century.
Single album: An album consisting of one track. Manifold album: An album consisting of many (20, 200, 2000, etc.) tracks. Miniature album: An album whose total duration is 5 minutes or less. Gargantuan album: An album whose duration is several hours (days, weeks, months, years). Hybridizing these, how about an album of one track that lasts for three days? Or an album of 40 tracks that lasts for three minutes? (That’s an average of just under 5 seconds per track.)
Shuffle album: N tracks to be played back in random order. Enhanced album: music tracks with accompanying slideshows, animations, movies, games, etc. Homogeneous album: N variants of the same song. Heterogeneous album: N utterly different (genre, instrumentation, duration, mood, etc.) tracks. Interstitial album: between-track (interstitial) material is as important as the tracks themselves. Kamikaze album: destroys itself after playback. Plastic album: tracks change (subtly, moderately, dramatically) each time they are played back.