As the Earth continues to heat up, the last thing you want to do is fret that your latest vinyl purchase might be making things even worse. Luckily, former R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe has a solution that just might make your summer. On Friday (Sept. 2), Stipe will drop his jittering Brian Eno-produced single, “Future If Future,” billed as the world’s first commercially available Bioplastic 12″.
The flipside of the solo song from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer will feature a gentle ballad from artist/singer Beatie Wolfe, “Oh My Heart,” as part of a wider-ranging Bandcamp project in conjunction with the Eno co-founded environmental charity EarthPercent featuring more than 100 tracks from artists including Hot Chip, Nile Rodgers, Big Thief, Peter Gabriel and many more.
“I’m thrilled to be working with EarthPercent and Evolution Music on this release, imagining positive innovation through action,” said Stipe in a statement about the single, which will be limited to 500 copies pressed on fossil-fuel free vinyl. “Simply showing that this type of solution-based project is possible opens pathways to a brighter future.”
Over a frenetic, EDM-style beat, Stipe sings, “We’ve got the power/ Please don’t stare, we’re doing all we can,” promising that “the future is ours” to win out over “coal-hearted cowards.”
The bioplastic vinyl designed by the British music sustainability organization Evolution Music is posited as “a genuinely revolutionary moment for both the music industry and record collectors, offering a non-fossil fuel future for vinyl recordings that globally amount to around 180 million LPs — or 30,000 tons of PVC — a year. The solution uses circular economy principles to replace the harmful production and use of single use plastics and minimize waste in the music industry.”
Evolution says that by manufacturing bioplastic LPs on record pressing plants’ existing machinery their goal is to show that replacing polyvinyl chloride — a plastic that Greenpeace dubbed the “most environmentally damaging” — in the LP-making process is a viable alternative.
“It’s been fantastic to join forces with EarthPercent on the environmental front and for this very special release with Michael Stipe,” said Wolfe in a statement. “I’m constantly thinking about how we can take the best of the old and best of the new, bridge the tangible and digital, and reclaim as much as we innovate and this new eco vinyl feels like a perfect embodiment of this.”
The multi-disciplinary artist said she wrote “Oh My Heart” as a “cry for the planet and humanity,” noting that it was recently encoded in glass and included in the Global Music Vault in Svalbard, Norway, which will preserve the music of everyone from the Beatles to Australian indigenous music for thousands of years. “Oh my heart/ There’s a sickness in this world that keeps on spreading/ Through the land and sea,” she sings over gently strummed acoustic guitar. “And though I know there is something in this world we must be learning/ It’s almost killing me.”
Check out a picture of Wolfe with a test-pressing of the single and the final art below.