10 Unique Exclusive Music Releases

IDEA: An overview of unique physical music releases.

WHAT: Examples of very limited edition music releases and music recordings where the medium retains a physicality in music and connects the artist with its audience.

WHY: Certain musical works are difficult or impossible to source, and in the digital underground, they can achieve legendary status.

BY: Those Who Make Waves

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, All lights fucked on the hairy amp drooling

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, All lights fucked on the hairy amp drooling

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, All lights fucked on the hairy amp drooling

In 1994 the Canadian music collective released their first recording, in a limited edition of just 33 audio cassette tapes. No one’s ever been able to source a copy, and no one really knows what it sounds like. Perhaps somewhere, at some Montreal flea market, or in some aging music fanatic’s basement collection, arguably the internet’s most desired piece of unpirated music is still waiting to be found.

Nicolas Jaar, The Prism

Nicolas Jaar, The Prism

A compilation called Don't Break My Love, featuring 12 'mostly unreleased' tracks by Jaar and collaborators from culture house Clown & Sunset Aesthetics. The label sampler will not be available on vinyl, compact disc, or cassette, but rather in the form of an aluminum cube that fits in the palm of your hand. Designed by Jaar, the Prism format is meant to retain a physicality in music and promote connectivity, with two headphone jacks on either side of the rechargeable cube. Four buttons allow listeners to start, pause, and skip through tracks, much like the Playbutton format.

Keith Rowe, Atomy

Keith Rowe, Atomy

Keith Rowe's one-copy vinyl

Former French label Onement have actually taken the concept to the next level. Atomy (1678) is a 40 minutes one-cut vinyl of exquisite sounds by the tabletop guitar master Keith Rowe.

Radiohead, Videotape (James Rutledge Remix)

Radiohead, Videotape (James Rutledge Remix)

Radiohead, Videotape (James Rutledge Remix)

A four-hour remix of Radiohead’s ‘Videotape’ by James Rutledge, recorded to a single videotape, as a "comment on the state of the music industry". There are no promo copies or mp3s available. The whole plan is that it isn’t widely available. It was auctioned on eBay – signed by all of Radiohead – to raise money for a missing people’s charity.

Flaming Lips, Chocolate Skull

Flaming Lips, Chocolate Skull

Flaming Lips, life-sized chocolate skull with early recordings

A hand-crafted, custom-made, anatomically correct and life-sized skull, made of quite a substantial amount of high-quality, gourmet chocolate. The 1984 debut Flaming Lips EP will come together with a signed 12" green vinyl next to a coin good for entry to any Flaming Lips show.

Beck, Song Reader

Beck, Song Reader

Beck's sheet music

In 2012, Beck released an album as individual pieces of sheet music. An alternative that enlists the listener in the tone of every track. It could be considered a brave new way to see how other musicians interpret and perform your music, or it might be proof that Beck couldn't be bothered to record it himself. 

Jean-Michel Jarre, Music For Supermarkets

Jean-Michel Jarre, Music For Supermarkets

Music For Supermarkets

Jean-Michel Jarre made an edition of one for a supermarket-themed art exhibition at a Parisian gallery in 1983. Music For Supermarkets was created as a unique art object, destined to be sold off at the end of the show along with the other works (hence the supermarket theme). The album was played in its entirety on Radio Luxembourg, however the shabby sound quality of the AM radio didn’t result in a sleek bootleg. Fans of Jarre had an admirable stab at recreating it, and the bootleg can still be heard online too.

Max Tundra, Parallax Error Beheads You (Kosher Chicken Soup)

Max Tundra's Kosher Chicken Soup

To celebrate the release of Max Tundra's album 'Parallax Error Beheads You', Domino Records launched of a new kosher format: Max Tundra's limited edition Kosher Chicken Soup. Each soup can comes with a unique code and a link for you to download all the MP3s.

Alcopop, Alcopopular 6: Highway to the Velodrome

Alcopop, Alcopopular 6: Highway to the Velodrome

Alcopop's fixie

Alcopop! Records took it up another gear with 'Alcopopular 6: Highway to the Velodrome'. It was released in the form of a fixie bike, featuring 'drop handle bars and super-awesome wheels'.

Wu-Tang Clan, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin

Wu-Tang Clan, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin

Wu-Tang Clan's last CD

Said to be the Wu-Tang Clan’s final release, this 31-track double album is being sold as a limited edition—of one. They contracted the online auction house Paddle8 to manage the sale, which was bought by Martin Shkreli. He receive the only existing physical pressing of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin: two CDs, cased in a hand-carved silver box, further nested inside a velvet-lined cedar box, bound in leather.