Simon Posford ( Hallucinogen, Shpongle, Younger Brother ) recently released his official self titled smartphone App. Is it any good I hear you ask - let's take a look under the hood.
The app is available for iOS and Android and comes with a free 7 day trial where you get access to all content before deciding if you want to continue with a monthly subscription.
As far as content goes it's pretty great - you get access to all past Hallucinogen, Shpongle and Younger Brother albums, streamed live events, a centralized place for all his social media output ( Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube ) and a handy lively fan wall where users can leave messages for each other and talk about all things Posford related. There are also exclusive videos, an events calendar ( tour schedule ) and an online shop for his various merchandise. Perhaps the most attractive point of the app is access to previously unreleased songs as exclusive content. That's right - there are tunes in the app that you have never heard before !
The app runs pretty smooth on my iPhone - a clunky old 4s by the way. It did crash once while doing something but I'm guessing that was because I had a ton of other apps running concurrently. There was also a video that refused to play for me but that seems to be sorted out now with a re-upload.
The most polemical point about the app would have to be the exclusive music content. At the time of writing there are a number of previously unreleased Hallucinogen and Purple Om ( another Posford moniker ) tracks available for download. You can download these as part of the free 7 day trial too. Obviously once your trail period is up you no longer have access to the songs unless you choose to become an active subscriber.
The problem for some people is that this content ( and other musical content ) is locked into the app. This means if you want to hear the new songs on your high end sound system speakers then you are out of luck unless you have a high end sound system with smartphone dock. I can understand Simon's approach here - it's obviously a way to get people to pay for a subscription.
I don't have a problem with paying for a subscription - it's pretty cheap at 240 yen ( about $2 US ) a month. I agree it would be great to hear the tunes on a better sound system though, rather than my iPhone. One fan on the wall mentioned an idea about giving people who pay for content a code that allows them to download it outside the app in WAV/FLAC format. This also seems reasonable to me but you have to appreciate that once things hit the web proper they are instantly open to pirating which gives the app less appeal.
I've current payed for the next month of content. So for now I'm happy to see how far my monthly subscription will go - if there is enough new content each month to make it worth the money I'm more than happy to continue paying. The way I look at it is that a subscription can also be seen as sponsoring an artist you appreciate.
How are the tunes ? The new tunes are indeed good. I was certainly surprised to see new old Purple Om tracks. My favorite would have to be the latest one - "On The Runners (Dub)". In case your are wondering if there are any new Hallucinogen tracks in there well, yes there are two previously unreleased hallucinogen tracks. Both are downtempo affairs though so fans waiting for more "Hallucinogen in Trance" will have to keep waiting for now.
Another exciting feature is access to live recordings from past shows such as the 2 hours of Live In Seattle ( Shpongletron 3.1 ) show from this year and the awesome Hallucinogen live in Paris from 1996. This stuff is gold and as someone who likes to play long Shpongle sessions while doing art it is a real bevy of inspirational brain food. I just discovered the Seattle show is actually available on YouTube - not sure if it was released previous to the app or not. It seems to be an unofficial upload though.
Another feature I really like is the exclusive video content. It's got some great goodies in there. I really like the way it takes you behind the scenes on tour and also a look around his house as he shows off his old DAT collection ( possible more future contet for the app ? ), studio, general live setup, improvised "name the tune" sessions on piano and more.
Overall it's a big thumbs up from me and I recommend it for fans of any of Simon Posford's catalog.
- easy access live streams
- access to new unreleased music
- access to back catalog
- behind the scenes videos
- chat with other fans
- regular updates from Simon Posford
- locked content in music section may upset some
- silences music playing from iPhone music app
- streaming can be a bit pixelated but hopefully will improve with future streams