The Smashing Pumpkins have sidestepped their longtime label, Virgin Records, and released a new album for free via the Internet.
The 25-song compilation of material left over from the band's final studio sessions is dubbed "Machina II/The Friends And Enemies Of Modern Music" and (as the name implies) is supposed to be the band's follow-up to "Machina/The Machines Of God," issued earlier this year.
A press spokesperson for the Pumpkins confirmed to MTV News that the online tracks were indeed from the band and that the "Machina II" music files did represent the Smashing Pumpkins' final album.
According to a note posted on the message board of the Smashing Pumpkins' official Web site, only 25 copies of the album were pressed in vinyl, consisting of three 10" EPs and one double 12" LP.
The five-record set was then sent out to the group's online friends, who were subsequently encouraged to upload MP3 files of the new tracks to Napster, as well as circulate burned CD-R versions of the songs among themselves.
The vinyl pressings also included a message -- believed to have been written by Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan -- that notes that the "Machina II" was being released in such an unorthodox manner as a "final f*** you to a record label that didn't give [the Pumpkins] the support they deserved."
"Just to clear up any possible confusion," the note reads, "this is the final album from the band. There are 25 copies. There will not be a CD pressing."
The "Machina II" music files began being circulated over the Web last Friday and continued throughout the weekend. By Monday, almost all the songs were available to be downloaded through Napster.
The track listing for "Machina II/The Friends And Enemies Of Modern Music":