Swedish band offers a free album for listening in nature only

  • AFP
  • Updated: Apr 20, 2015 18:35 IST

John Moose, a Swedish five-piece indie band, has released a mobile application that allows listeners to enjoy their debut album for free. But there's a catch: the application knows where you are, and it'll let you listen only when you get yourself to a woodland setting.

Hailing from Karlstad, Sweden, the band says its roots are 'in the deep wild woods of Värmland', a province near their town. John Moose is also the name of a character, whose stories they tell through their songs. Most of their lyrics "tell a tale of escapism, where he Moose finds himself stuck in the ambivalence between the civilisation and its counterpart".

With that in mind, the musicians - André Szeles, Emil Florell, Ia Öberg, Petter Falk and Tobias Norén - want those who experience their album to find themselves in a similar space.

The album - which can also be pre-ordered now - is available in its entirety via the app, which can be downloaded for iOS or Android. The album is also available for download via johnmoosemusic.com before its release. Download it where you like, but to begin listening to the music, you'll need to be in a spot your phone recognises as woods.

"Walk to the woods..." the app instructs, followed by the message, "You are there. Now listen."
Tobias Norén, the band's drummer explained just how the app does what it says.

"The wooded areas are detected through Google Maps Static API," he said. Forests, he added, have a specific green that differs from parks, for example, and an algorithm is used to determine "if the user is in the forest enough".

This unusual idea is not without precedent. Location-based listening is the basis of Tunaspot, whose music app for Spotify allows people to tag their playlists to a location. So, for example, upon arriving in Barcelona, Spain, you are suddenly able to access a DJ set from a local club or jazz from a café down the street.

And when Bob Dylan released his 2012 album, Tempest, those who downloaded the geolocation app, Sound Graffiti, could unlock the album's tracks in more than 100 tagged locations worldwide. Among them: Manchester's Free Trade Hall, where he first introduced his electric sound, and his home of Minnesota, where he first became involved in the folk scene.

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