Massive Attack have come up with a creative and yet futuristic way to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of their most commercially successful album – “Mezzaine” which was released on 20th April 1998. The legendary band from Bristol had earlier released a statement saying that the album will be reissued in the form of “920,000 short DNA strands. Now taking things further they are releasing the DNA encoded album through Aerosol Spray Cans.
According to a press release, a limited number of spray cans will contain the DNA encoded audio within matt black paint and each can will contain approximately one million copies of the album. In order to “guarantee information stability”, the DNA sequences were encapsulated in “synthetic glass fossils”, which were added directly to the spray can, wherein each can “contains at least 0.1 micrograms of the synthetic DNA, which is equivalent to 1 million copies of the album.
The technology was developed by scientists at Swiss university ETH Zurich in collaboration with Zurich-based company Turbobeads and US-based CustomArray. Dr Robert Grass of Zurich-based company TurboBeads said,
This digital bitstream of the album (0s and 1s) was first translated to 901’065 DNA sequences (A, C, T and Gs), each 105 characters long”, says Grass. “The 901’065 individual sequences were then chemically synthesised resulting in a synthetic DNA sample, which fully represents the digital bitstream of the album.
The complex process is explained in full detail here.
Graffiti Artist/Singer/Song-writer and founding member of Massive Attack – Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja who is also long rumored to be legendary British Graffiti artist – Bansky, said on this occassion.
It’s a creative way to store your back catalogue, although DNA-encoded spray paint is unlikely to be adopted by street artists seeking anonymity.
Music has been encoded in the form of DNA since some time now, the practice started back in 2015 when visual artist Charlotte Jarvis and British scientist Dr Nick Goldman took a piece of music from the Kreutzer Quartet and stored it as digital information in synthetic DNA molecules. In 2016, Microsoft wrote OK Go’s video for ‘This Too Shall Pass’ to DNA. “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple and “Tutu” by Miles Davis were the first DNA-saved files to be added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Archive.
This will be the first time that an entire album will be encoded in DNA and stored in Aerosol Spray. Given their history it is safe to say that Massive Attack are always inclined towards taking things further and in the past were the first ever band to stream their music for free with the release of “Mezzaine” back in 1998. Rober ‘3D’ Del Naja also developed an app called “Fantom” for their new music release back in January 2016.
The practice of archiving music in the form of DNA is something that will be handy in years to come with the amount of data being saved every second. Although it is difficult to say that if one will be able to hear music in its DNA format but full points for creativity.