Back in 2015, legendary Bristol trip-hop pioneers Portishead recorded a cover of ABBA song ‘SOS’ for director Ben Wheatley’s film High-Rise. Now, the song is being released on streaming services for the first time.
Well, a streaming service, singular not plural. The cover is being released exclusively on Soundcloud through the service’s new fan-powered royalties model, which aims to provide a greater revenue stream to artists than the lowly fractions that come from the streaming services.
Only Portishead won’t be making any money from their new release. All proceeds from the cover will be donated to mental health-focused charity Mind, with the band and Soundcloud also pledging their on separate donations to the cause.
“When we heard that SoundCloud switched to a fairer user-centric payment system of streaming music, we were happy to make it the only place to stream our unreleased version of ABBA’s ‘SOS’,” said Geoff Barrow. “After recording it years ago for Ben Wheatley’s film HighRise, we are excited to finally share it with the world, and we are even more excited that all streaming profits are going to a great cause.”
“Portishead’s timeless sound has inspired countless artists and given rise to many emerging genres on SoundCloud,” says Michael Pelczynski, Head of Content & Rightsholder Strategy at SoundCloud. “We are honoured Portishead chose SoundCloud, the only platform where the artist to fan connection is directly rewarded, as the first place to exclusively release their cover of this iconic song.”
For anyone not familiar with the cover, or not familiar with Portishead’s stark signature style, this version of ‘SOS’ is sparse, spacey, and more than a bit unnerving. Portishead have made a career of creating unsettling soundscapes, and the cognitive dissonance that comes with hearing an ABBA song filtered through a depressed robotic machine is bizarre, but it does wonders to underscore the desperation in the original song’s lyrics. This is what every sad and slow cover of ‘Mad World’ wish they were.
Check out the cover of ‘SOS’ down below.