Don’t ever make a bet with Matthew Friedberger. Here’s why: You (yeah, all of you!) were hanging around with Mr. Fiery Furnaces, just talking and kicking back some brews. The conversation lulled and, all of a sudden, Friedberger just spat out, “Hey, I’m going to release eight solo albums next year!” Of course, you were skeptical and had every right to be — I mean, eight solo albums is a lot of solo albums — so rather than letting it slide or laughing it off like you normally do, you just had to get all up in his face and yell “Malarkey! I bet you a million dollars you won’t do it!”
Well, bad news: Friedberger actually went and made those eight albums. With the help of Thrill Jockey, Friedberger is releasing all eight albums through a $50 subscription service, starting with the release of Napoleonette on January 25. Every two months, a new record in the series will be delivered, until the sixth installment is released. “Six? But I bet him he couldn’t make eight records,” you say. “I don’t owe him any money!” Sorry, buddy, but that sixth record is actually coming with two additional records. And if you were wondering where subscribers are going to put these eight records, an old-timey “Tip On” LP box with a hand-mounted photo comes with each set.
The whole thing already sounds pretty crazy, but wait’ll you learn about the series’ uniting concept. Each album focuses very strictly on a single instrument. As in, Friedberger plays only that instrument (though not necessarily the same exact instrument — e.g., different guitars may be played on the guitar-focused record) throughout the whole record. Where the aforementioned Napoleonette will feature piano, the as-yet-untitled second album in the series will feature guitar. The purpose here is to illustrate a Cretan-Lacedaemonian principle in which every group of instruments is against every other group of instruments; every instrument is against every other instrument; and, finally, every instrument is against itself.
If you’re not particularly familiar with Cretan-Lacedaemonian principles, well, that makes two of us. Perhaps Friedberger’s LP series will clear things up, but we’d better make sure to actually subscribe: the records will only be available on vinyl — no digital or CD releases are planned. Very small numbers of the individual records will be available in stores, as well as through Amoeba, Experimedia, Aquarius, and Other Music (for the UK and Europe: Norman Records, Rough Trade East, Boomkat, and Monorail). Considering that only 700 of each record is being made, those numbers will truly be very small. Not that it matters to you; all your money’s going to paying the guy back anyway.
Check out “Shirley” from Napoleonette at the Chocolate Grinder.