Massive Attack's Fantom Sensory Remix App

February 19, 2016

Since the dawn of musical media, artists have constantly evolved their creative approach to entice folks into picking up their album. A few that come to mind are Nine Inch Nails’ mini disk bonus-track release with ‘Broken’, Tool’s ‘10,000 Days' interactive CD artwork, and Radiohead’s donation campaign for ‘In Rainbows.’

As album releases become less and less physical, the struggle for labels and artists becomes more and more real. It’s been exceptionally difficult over the past decade. But Massive Attack has embraced the personal device/app age, tying it into their latest release in a way that hasn’t yet been done. It's the ‘Fantom Sensory Remix’ app. There’s a bit of irony in there somewhere: a group that many would argue is no longer relevant, releasing music in the newest and most cutting-edge way.

The Fantom app remixes the duo's latest EP while you’re listening, based on time of day, environment, your pulse and other parameters it works into the ‘mix’. The result is a different mix every time as the the pallet is constantly changing. It is pure artistry…and not only within the music.

The moment you open this app it welcomes you with a beautiful aesthetic, indicative of the groups integrity in everything they do. You’re immediately aware that it’s not just a means to release the music, but the app itself is part of the release. As visually rich and vast in depth as it is sonically. 

From the main menu you select a track which leads to a prompt with two choices: ‘original’ or ‘personal.’ Tapping ‘original' will link you to purchase the music, which I’ve yet to do. But the personal selection is where the fun begins, a rabbit hole you won’t want to descend unless you have some time on your hands and a full battery. This beast of an app really heats up your device! Literally.

Then the music plays, heading in infinitely many ways based on the aforementioned parameters. The visuals keep pace as superimposed images sweep past and filter through what the camera sees. It’s hypnotic, serving up a captivating audio and visual experience reminiscent of early MTV. Only what you’re seeing and hearing is personal, unique to your current reality.

The app lets you record and share these remixes (well, up to 14.8 seconds worth, which seems to be the magic number for social media as of late), a brilliant incentive for you to organically market and promote the release. As a whole, what they’ve done is impressive and demands admiration from all lovers and makers of music, as well as app developers and tech-geeks.

To give you an idea, here are three remixes I made of the first track ‘Dead Editors’. I recorded them in the morning, afternoon and at night in different locations. And I don’t suck at filming. The camera movement is intentional to get an extreme reaction out of the app. I’ve posted the original as well to put it all in perspective.

Massive Attack are back, and if their new music doesn’t leave an impact, the relevance of integrating the release into the modern world of apps and devices certainly will. Zach

Video of Massive Attack Dead Editors Zach Fantom Backyard Remix
Playing around with the Massive Attack Fantom Sensory Remix app, morning in the back yard.

Video of Massive Attack Dead Editors Zach Fantom Stadiums Remix
Playing with the Massive Attack Fantom app, afternoon near the stadiums.

Video of Massive Attack Dead Editors Zach End Balcony Remix
Playing with the Fantom Sensory Remix app, from the balcony of the studio at night.

Video of Massive Attack Dead Editors 2016