Massive Attack have begun the process of encoding their iconic 1998 “Mezzanine” album in DNA. Austrian scientist Dr. Robert Grass has developed a method that allows artists to store digital information in strands of synthetic DNA. To celebrate the record’s 20th anniversary, the British band have tasked him with translating its digital audio into genetic code.
The molecules containing the code will then be poured into 5,000 tiny glass beads, with each containing a fragment of the information from the original audio. The minuscule beads, which are invisible to the naked eye, will be stored in a bottle of water.
A press release issued by the band on Friday, April 20, described frontman Robert Del Naja, who earned recognition as a graffiti artist before founding the group, as “especially interested in the idea that the synthesised DNA can be added to paint or ink and where that might lead in the creation of art and artefacts.”
In an announcement posted on the ETH Zurich university website, Grass explained that “Mezzanine” is the first album to be encoded in this way.
“What is new about the project with Massive Attack is that this technology is now also being used commercially,” said Grass.
When the project is completed in the coming months, the record will be the second largest file ever to be stored in DNA.
“Mezzanine”, which topped the U.K. charts upon its release, contains some of Massive Attack’s most famous tracks, including their brooding trip hop anthems “Teardrop” and “Angel”.
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