Loophole Memory Hole

In 2003, Radiohead ran a contest called “the loophole”. They posted audio samples to a website (digitallandfill.co.uk) and invited people to mix them into tracks. They chose 100 winners in five groups of twenty and hosted each group for download for a few weeks. Someone has archived the samples and instructions here.

I downloaded probably 40 or 60 of these, and still have 24 of them. The files I still have are most likely the ones I enjoyed the most. They never got deleted, anyway. So I probably shouldn’t spend so much time wondering what the other 76 sound like.

But I do. Some of the tracks I still have are really excellent. Many of them are surprisingly evocative. Some sound like tracks that were cut from Autechre’s Tri Repetae for being too melodic. Almost none of them is gratuitously long. I never listened to the original samples, so I don’t know how much of their aural goodness is Radiohead and how much is the more-or-less random talent drawn into the contest.

So I’ve looked around a couple of times over the years and can’t find anyone offering the collection of loophole tracks. A few of the tracks are still up for download at the creators’ websites. But if you are looking to download the collected output of the winning loophole participants, good luck to you. I don’t think you’ll find it. This is unfortunate, but it also gives me a little bit of a thrill. If you were paying attention to one largely unpublicized website for a few months in 2003, you had a chance to obtain some good music for free; if you weren’t, then too bad for you. It’s an antidote to the feeling that, on the Internet, everything lives forever.

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