Platinum and gold records are a big deal in the music biz, but what about one made entirely of ice? It had been three years since Swedish indie rockers Shout Out Louds released their last album, and they wanted something special to introduce "Blue Ice," the first single off their upcoming Optica, to the world. In collaboration with the creative folks at ad agency TBWA Stockholm, they came up with a way to transform the physicality of vinyl into something more ephemeral. "The concept isn’t that complicated, since the song is about fading love," TBWA art director Alex Fredlund tells Co.Design. "But to actually make a record out of ice was a different story."
"We talked to professors at different universities telling us it would never work out, so we had to develop the technique ourselves," he says. After receiving a negative imprint of the song’s master cut, they started experimenting; the office became a kind of amateur chemistry lab, and the team spent hours testing different types of liquid, various drying techniques, and multiple kinds of molds.
"One of the biggest challenges was that the bubbles made the ice cloudy and messed up the tiny tracks, which made the needle jump." Further trial and error revealed that using distilled water did the trick, giving the final product a nice clarity and even surface. Another insight? Time is not, in fact, on your side when working with a frozen substance; functionality and sound quality diminish immediately once the melting starts. A silicone cast allowed for quick and easy record removal, essential to ensuring it could be used straight out of the freezer.
Ten kits were produced for 10 lucky fans around the world to promote the single’s release. And yes, these 7-inchers are meant to be spun on a standard turntable. Fredlund claims to have played over 50 on their phonograph throughout the process and says it still works like a charm. "Of course, you can’t leave it on the player for much longer than the song 'cause eventually it will melt."
For full, non-frosty sonic quality, check out the real video below: