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Tom Vek releases new album, launches crowdfunding campaign for artwork-focussed digital music player

By | Published on Thursday 12 November 2020

Tom Vek

Tom Vek has surprise-released his first new album for six years, ‘New Symbols’. At the same time, he’s launched a crowdfunding campaign for a new kind of digital audio device, which returns album artwork to prominence alongside the music.

As always, the new record is produced and entirely performed by Vek himself. It’s also his first self-released album. Aiming to provide a tonic to these times – and in contrast to his previous LP, ‘Luck’ – the new album offers nothing but positivity. With songs covering getting through hard times, being grateful for what you have and going easy on yourself, say the press release, Vek is “encouraging us to look for new symbols of happiness”.

Alongside the album comes Vek’s new digital audio player, the physical manifestation of his Sleevenote smartphone app, which aims to rekindle the combination of music and artwork in the album format. A “visual hi-fi”, as he describes it.

Featuring a square 7.5 inch high definition screen, it will be compatible with downloaded music and streaming services, displaying a record’s artwork as it is played. Priced at £533, the new player requires 1000 backers on Indiegogo to become a reality.

A graphic designer as well as musician, Vek has long spoken about his disappointment of the treatment of artwork in the digital age – prompting him to launch the Sleevenote app several years ago.

“I was designing the packaging for my second album [‘Leisure Seizure’] in 2011 and realised that there would be people buying the album digitally who wouldn’t be seeing this extra cool stuff I was adding to the experience”, he told CMU in 2016. “Packaging was always what made albums real rather than just demos to me”.

“I’ve been pretty shocked how poorly treated the album as a package has been [by digital music services]”, he went on. “I think I expected Apple with their tasteful approach to most things to have done it better … I feel like it’s late, but will never be too late to create a compelling digital format that makes something feel more owned, even emotionally more so than literally. I say this freely – the vinyl revival should make digital music feel ashamed of itself. That’s our benchmark, it needs to be better than vinyl”.

If you agree, then this new audio player could be for you. And you can listen to ‘New Symbols’ as you put your money into bringing it to life. Find out more about the Sleevenote player and how to back the project here. You have until 11 Dec.

Meanwhile, here’s the new album’s opening track ‘Survive’: