You can only hear this album if you hack it

Band takes unique approach to debuting music

Hey guys! I just came out with a new album, but you can’t hear it unless you’re able to hack the wall it’s hidden behind.

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Yes, that seems to be the marketing approach behind promoting the new album from Netcat, a Seattle-based electronic band. You see, the group’s latest drop, entitled “Cycles Per Instruction”, was released on Github, but only to those who are able to “hack” its contents; that is, in order to hear their newest songs, listeners need to have a working knowledge of the Linux operating system.

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Why the focus on computer software? Well, the band actually uses a fairly technical setup for their music, including 8 to 10 laptops, an instrumented WiFi network, statistical language models, speech synthesis software, and a synth-based on computer vision algorithms. To make sure the level of complication associated with their music carried over to the release of their latest album, the band decided to use a loadable kernel module for the Linux operating system. The alternative was a custom hardware schematic, but their love of software point them back to something less physical.

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All of this is no surprise when you consider the gents that make up the band: Brand Lucia is a research with a PhD in computer science, David Balatero is a computer programmer, and Andrew Olmstead is an engineer . . . in the aerospace industry. They all agree that in making the music harder to access, their listeners would appreciate what they’re listening to a bit more.

After a few days, though, the band did also make the album available on Bandcamp, hack-free. You can access it there, but for those looking for a bit of a challenge, you can install the kernel module from Github here.