The ’20’ TO 2000′ series released in 1999 by Noton/Raster Records consisted of a dozen of the more interesting ambient discs released all year, one each month leading up to the quasi-millennium. Each EP contained music intended as a soundtrack for the last 20 minutes of the year. In other words, party like it’s 1999:12:31:23:40. The volumes included work by Scanner, Ryoji Ikeda, Thomas Brinkmann, and Coh, among others. OK, enough about the music. What was, perhaps, most striking about the discs was their design: each translucent clam-shell plastic casing enclosed a CD with only half of the amount of aluminum usually evident; instead of a full circular mirror with a thin lip of plastic, you had a normal size CD’s worth of clear plastic with what seemed like a mini-CD implanted into it. (Prop coordinators for techy Hollywood thrillers took note, no doubt.) The discs featured a minimal line of text, and a few tiny, colorful dots, like the last remnants of confetti after the bash. As the collection grew each month, the fetish quality increased as well. How could the producers top themselves? By releasing a minimal modular holding system. How minimal? It consists of 13 little but hefty magnets that fit in the snap-tight center hole of each CD clamshell; when strung one after another, the thing looks like a bionic caterpillar. It’s elegant as all get out, but we’re left wondering: can all this magnetism be good for the CDs?
Originally published in the March 3, 2000, issue of Tower Records’s epulse, number 6.09