|Release date:||September 2, 2011|
|Catalog:||JOCO 001 [vinyl]|
Artificial Heart is Jonathan Coulton's eighth studio album, produced by John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants. The CD packaging and related merchandise—including the Diagnostic Metrics series—were designed by graphic designer Sam Potts.
In 2010, Jonathan Coulton announced that his long hiatus from recording new material was ending. After he opened for They Might Be Giants earlier that year, John Flansburgh suggested working together on Coulton's new material. The collaboration helped push Coulton outside his comfort zone, and he frequently commented on being both excited and terrified by the process. As a result, Artificial Heart represents a significant departure from Coulton's earlier albums. Not only is it the first JoCo album to be produced by someone besides Coulton himself, it's the first to be recorded in an "actual studio" (owned by They Might Be Giants' long time producer, Patrick Dillett), and the first to be written and arranged for a full band. In addition to the drummer and bassist who frequently appear in Coulton's live shows, Artificial Heart features over a dozen guest musicians and several tracks with guests performing lead vocals.
Coulton and his collaborators recorded Artificial Heart between September 2010 and June 2011. The album was released in late August 2011, with an official release party on September 2.
Live versions of some tracks debuted as early as July 2010, so there are many concert recordings that predate the official release date. Fans on the JoCo Forums compiled some of the best bootlegs into a project called Artificial Artificial Heart while waiting for the studio version to be released.
Artificial Heart CDs were first made available to the public at PAX Prime 2011, but the official release party was September 2, 2011, at a show in Atlanta. Online pre-orders and digital downloads of the album are available from his website as of August 30, 2011, though it temporarily became unavailable at midnight PST on October 5, 2011.
In addition to the album itself, the pre-order page offers several merchandise packages featuring t-shirts, posters, USB keys and other extras. The ordering experience features graphics and copy text to match the album's theme.
A limited vinyl edition of the album was available for subscribers to the Level 4 Artificial Heart merchandise package. The LP was released under the imprint "JoCoserious Records" (a play on the "JoCo" nickname and the words jocose and serious). Signed copies of the LP were also sold at live shows. Though the artwork uses the same elements as the CD art, its design differs greatly. Consistent with the chromatic themes of the art surrounding Artificial Heart, the album is pressed on gold translucent wax.
The Diagnostic Metrics
The interpretation of the graphics is not given, but it may be possible to infer their meaning from context. For possible interpretations of the meaning of the symbols, see the Interpretation of the Diagnostic Metrics page.
- Sticking It To Myself (2:19)
- Artificial Heart (2:33)
- Nemeses (3:01)
- The World Belongs to You (2:11)
- Today With Your Wife (2:57)
- Sucker Punch (1:42)
- Glasses (2:47)
- Je Suis Rick Springfield (2:28)
- Alone at Home (2:02)
- Fraud (3:00)
- Good Morning Tucson (2:27)
- Now I Am An Arsonist (2:53)
- Down Today (2:22)
- Dissolve (2:58)
- Nobody Loves You Like Me (2:19)
- Still Alive (4:15)
- Want You Gone (2:22)
- The Stache (3:00)
- Jonathan Coulton - Guitar/Vocals/Ukulele/other things
- Chris Anderson - Electric Bass
- Marty Beller - Drums
- Produced by John Flansburgh
- Engineered and mixed by Patrick Dillett
- Assistant engineer Joe Altschuler
- Mastered by UE Nastasi at Sterling Sound
- Tracks 4, 8, 10, 15 and 16 mixed by Ron Allaire
- "Want You Gone" remix by The Elegant Too
- "Sticking It To Myself" - guitars: Dan Miller; saxophones and horn arrangement: Stan Harrison
- "Artificial Heart" - piano: Dan Miller; handclap crew: Marty Beller, Jonathan Coulton, John Flansburgh
- "Nemeses" - lead vocal: John Roderick
- "The World Belongs to You" - mandolin: Jon Graboff; keyboards: Joe McGinty
- "Today With Your Wife" - piano: Jon Spurney; trombones and horn arrangement: Dan Levine
- "Glasses" - guitars: Dan Miller
- "Je Suis Rick Springfield" - sequencing: John Flansburgh; bass: Hal Cragin; marimba: Mauro Refosco; keyboards: Joe McGinty
- "Alone at Home" - guitars: Smokey Hormel
- "Fraud" - Nylon guitar: Jon Graboff
- "Good Morning Tucson" - keyboards: Jon Spurney; guitar solo: Dan Miller
- "Now I Am An Arsonist" - vocal: Suzanne Vega
- "Down Today" - Fender Rhodes bass: Jon Spurney; percussion programming: John Flansburgh
- "Dissolve" - clavinet: Joe McGinty; bass: Hal Cragin; keyboards: Jon Spurney
- "Still Alive" - theremin: Dorit Chrysler; keyboards/celeste: Joe McGinty; lead vocal: Sara Quin; guitar: Dan Miller
- "The Stache" - electric guitar: Smokey Hormel; keyboards: Jon Spurney
- Coulton announces the new record on his blog
- Flansburgh leaks the title of the new album in an interview with Music Remedy
- TMBG announces Flansburgh's involvement and many of the guest performers on the TMBG blog
- Coulton teases a "premium superfan pack" version of the album on his blog