Massive Attack’s Mezzanine is 20 years old this week, and the band are commemorating it in the best way possible… [April 1998]

In the annals of electronic music history, there are few better opening 15 minutes than at the start of Massive Attack’s Mezzanine, released 20 years ago this week.

In starting the album with four epic cuts – Angel, followed by Risingson, followed by Teardrop, followed by Inertia Creeps – the Bristol group cemented their status as masters of the trip hop genre they helped create, and all-round musical geniuses.

Making an appearance in both Rolling Stone Magazine and NME’s lists of the ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’, at #412 and #215 respectively, it hasn’t aged a bit, two decades on.

And underlining the group’s status as musical pioneers, to mark the 20th anniversary of Mezzanine, they boldly went where no band had attempted to go before, and encoded the whole album on DNA, working alongside ETH Zurich.

“While the information stored on a CD or hard disk is a sequence of zeros and ones, biology stores genetic information in a sequence of the four building blocks of DNA: A, C, G and T,” said Robert Grass, professor at ETH Zurich’s Functional Materials Laboratory.

The album will be transmuted onto 920,000 short DNA strands, which taken together contain all of Mezzanine’s information, which will then be poured into 5,000 tiny (nanometre-sized) glass spheres, over the course of a couple of months.

“Compared to traditional data-storage systems, it is quite complex and expensive to store information on DNA,” Grass added. “However, once information is stored on DNA, we can make millions of copies quickly and cost-effectively with minimal effort.”

Takes ‘Home Taping is Killing Music’ to a whole new level. Fair play lads!


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