The note from British art-rock band Radiohead was pretty straightforward: "We've been hacked," wrote singer Thom Yorke on the band's Bandcamp page.
Acknowledging that a hacker had stolen nearly 16 hours of Thom Yorke's rehearsal recordings and songwriting ideas from its "OK Computer" sessions and demanded a $150,000 ransom, on Tuesday the band dumped the whole lot at the digital music store Bandcamp, with proceeds given to charity. The music will remain available for 18 days.
The action prompted relief from ethically minded fans concerned about enjoying and celebrating the theft of their favorite band's unreleased work.
"The extortionist hacker is vermin," wrote one commenter on Bandcamp. "Don't thank him, folks! He's not a 'fan.' "
Titled "Minidiscs 1/8Hacked3/8," the release consists of what is described as "archived mini discs from 1995-1998(?)." It's presented as 18 installments, one for each disc swiped from Yorke's archives. Aside from a few that are shorter, each track is about an hour long.
In the note, Yorke accepted the work's fate, writing that it "may as well be out there until we all get bored and move on."
Below, some highlights from across the tapes.
First indication that "Minidisc 1/8Hacked3/8" isn't a waste of time: "MD111 1/816:403/8." Fifteen minutes into the first minidisc, after a rehearsal tape of Yorke singing along to the chords to "Exit Music (for a Film)" and a roughed-out version of "Electioneering," the band drifts into the first of a few takes on "True Love Waits," a ballad long beloved by Radiohead fans.
Best sketch of what would become "Paranoid Android": As if giving birth via AM radio, the song that became "Paranoid Android" arrives on "MD115" with cassette-tape hiss and a distant set of guitar chords. The final major piece on this 57-minute track, the untitled snipped arrives at 53:50.
Most boring bit: Ha. Is there a boring bloom in a field of roses? Is there such a thing as the most unimpressive grain of sand? Which star has the dullest twinkle? If pressed, skip "MD117." Now you're down to a more manageable 15 hours.