Massive Attack is re-released their Mezzanine album in WHAT format? You’re kidding, right?

Whenever I want to test out a set of speakers, I bring along a copy of Massive Attack’s meticulously produced 1998 album, Mezzanine. If the speakers can faithfully produce the sonics of this compact disc, they’re worth considering.

Yesterday (April 20) marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Mezzanine. Rather than go down the usual paths of 180-gram vinyl, box sets and expanded editions, 3D and Daddy G went to a lab in Switzerland and had the whole album converted into DNA. As far as I remember, this is not an option in the drop-down menu in iTunes.

Using technology developed by STEM University ETH in Zurich, Mezzanine is going to be converted into 920,000 short DNA strands. These will then be stored in 5,000 glass spheres that are so small they’re measured in nanometres.

Why DNA? Because threads of deoxyribonucleic acid nucleotides carry more information than anything else in the known universe. After all, DNA contains all the genetic information needed for every single living organism: growth, reproduction, development, functioning–the works. According to this article, a single gram of DNA can store up to 215 petabytes (215,000 gigabytes). That’s the equivalent to nearly 1700 128 GB smartphones. In a single gram. That should be enough for some High-Def Audio.

Cool. But what do you use to play it back? Or is this just a storage thing?

This is not the first time music has been encoded to DNA. Last year, we heard about this song from Miles Davis being converted.



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37434 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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