Damon Albarn of Gorillaz is making an album entirely on his iPad, and will be offering it for free by Christmas. "It's ironic," Albarn said recently, "being the sort of technophobe and Luddite that I am."
Sort of a weird thing to hear from a guy known for hyper-produced albums represented by visionary animated videos with a sci-fi flair.
"I hope I'll be making the first record on an iPad," Albarn said.
Not quite, though. The first major record on an iPad, certainly. But at least one other artist earned the distinction first, it seems. A fellow going by the name of Doctor Popular put an album up on bandcamp.com in November (asking price: $1), and tweeted, "I'm not sure, but I think my new album could be the first iPad album on Bandcamp."
Here's a video of "Spider," a single from the album, the appropriately titled Beeps and Smudges.
Since Doctor Popular notes that some tracks on his iPad album were in fact made with an iPhone, then maybe Albarn does hold the iPad album distinction after all, for purists. But either way, neither was the first one to have the idea to make tracks or perform live exclusively using the iPad. The November issue of Fast Company featured, for instance, Rana Sobhany, the 24-year-old New York DJ who produces music with a dual iPad set-up. "We're going to see some mind-blowing developments when people start thinking about the iPad from a creative standpoint," she said.
Here, one of Sobhany's videos (shot on an iPhone 4, naturally, and featuring a man with an iPad for a face):
And a bit of browsing on YouTube or Google shows that we're already seeing those developments. In late August, a group calling itself the "iPad Orchestra" (more properly, a quartet) played "Sweet Dream," composed by Ilya Plavunov. The members sat rigidly still in concentration as they played, and wore simple black shirts declaring what instrument was represented by their particular iPad—"cello," "flute," "clarinet," "violin."
And here's a loony one, spotted by the folks over at ismashphone.com. A guy calling himself "VJFranzK," bearing very little resemblance to Kafka, invented a vaguely guitar-shaped contraption that locks in your iPad, and hooks it up to two synthesizers. "Allow me to present...the Mantaray iTar!" VJFranzK deeply intones. (There immediately pops up onscreen a disclaimer: "It's no longer called 'iTar,' because another company owns that name.")
"Mantaray! It really is half-guitar, and half-DJ set-up!" VJFranzK says excitedly.
Of course, you know when a musical instrument has finally come of age when it's being used by street performers. Here, a young woman plays an iSitar of sorts, using the app Seline HD.
And we'll leave you with a festive one, in honor of the coming Gorillaz Christmas gift. A few days ago, the North Point Community Church "iBand" channeled the holiday spirit through Apple devices, playing a set of Christmas tunes entirely on iPhones and iPads.