With Matthew Dear's third studio release, Black City, Ghostly International proudly introduces its newest label release format, the totem. More than a mere limited edition, the totem is a proposal, an entreaty to listeners everywhere to reconsider our relationship to music in the digital era. In producing an object as the embodiment of Black City, Matthew Dear and Ghostly International suggest a new path through which one's physical relationship to an album is again explored.
To create Ghostly International's first totem, the company turned to renowned product designers Constantin and Laurene Boym of Boym Partners in New York, recipients of the 2009 National Design Award for Product Design. Widely recognized for their ability to imbue objects with emotional and cultural resonance, the Boym's also have a history of exploring uncharted territory in the world of design. Among their many creations, they have been revered for their "Buildings of Disaster" and "Missing Monuments" series, two ongoing collections which explore the cultural imperative of souvenirs in a postindustrial global economy.
The MDBC Totem is both a sculptural representation of the themes explored in Black City and a symbolic conduit to the music itself. Vaguely reminiscent of one of the soot-blackened skyscrapers that might populate Dear's creeping, nameless city, the stacks upon the totem also call to mind the many shaped prongs of a universal power adaptor. In this sense, the totem is not simply a miniature building, but an abstract key to an unknown door. The branding of the totem has been purposefully reduced to its bare essentials—only the letters MDBC and unique three-digit suffixes are included—so that the totem's meaning remains discernible only to its beholder.
Each MDBC Totem is inscribed with a unique four-character suffix that will allow users access a private page on matthewdear.com, where Black City may be streamed in its entirely from any web-accessed computer, or downloaded. Owners of the totem will also receive an exclusive track, not previously available on the standard album release. Unlike current delivery methods, the totem is a physical format for cloud-based listening, an acknowledgement of two seemingly irreconcilable notions: the need for a tangible representation of music and a future in which music utterly ethereal.
The MDBC Totem is produced in an edition of 100 units. Each piece has been hand-cast in bonded aluminum with a hand-finished gun metal patina by master-crafstmen in New York City. It goes on sale Tuesday, August 3, 2010, exclusively at The Ghostly Store.