Danger Mouse “Encore”
No, not that Danger Mouse, the character from a cartoon series of the same name. But the Danger Mouse also known as Brian Joseph Burton, producer of the Gorillaz’s much lauded second album — Demon Days, and also one-half of the duo Gnarls Barkley who created the popular song “Crazy.” (A video of their memorable Top of the Pops performance is posted below.)
Danger Mouse first broke out on the scene in 2004 when he released The Grey Album. Danger Mouse mixed a capellas from Jay-Z’s The Black Album with instrumentals from The Beatles self-titled album The Beatles also known as The White Album.
The Grey Album was released and quickly gained popularity. The popularity of the album also caused the record company EMI, copyright holder of The Beatles, to order Danger Mouse and retailers carrying The Grey Album to cease distribution of the album. The a capella tracks released by Jay-Z, were released with the intent that the tracks be used for re-mixing and creation of new music; however, the tracks from The Beatles album were used without authorization.
EMI’s attempt to suppress the album only increased the popularity of it. In February 2004, websites posted downloads of the entire album in an act of “electronic civil disobedience.” Many believed that Danger Mouse’s use of the Beatles tracks constituted fair use. Fair use is a doctrine of U.S. copyright law that allows people to use copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders.a
Gnarls Barkley “Crazy” — Slow Version
Danger Mouse is once again facing legal pressure from EMI for his latest project – Dark Night of the Soul. The album is a collaboration of music and art between Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse, and David Lynch, best known for his work on films like Mulholland Drive and the TV series Twin Peaks. The album was scheduled to be released in July.
The album features musical appearances from the Flaming Lips, Iggy Pop, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, and more. At the moment, NPR is streaming the entire album.
In response to EMI, Danger Mouse has announced his intent to release the album with a blank, recordable CD-R, and the 100-plus-page album artwork (the work of David Lynch inspired by the music). All copies of the album will say:
“For Legal Reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.”
Techdirt reports that what Danger Mouse is doing is similar to what Green Day did in 2004, releasing blank CD-Rs with instructions to download content from authorized sources. What is unique about this case though, is that there are no authorized download sources for the new Danger Mouse album and Danger Mouse is not really saying download the music, merely “Use it [the CD-R] as you will.”
Will EMI respond or can they respond at all? Stay tuned.