Massive Attack reissue ‘Mezzanine’ as a can of black spray paint

The ink of each can contains around one million copies of the album’s DNA

Massive Attack have reissued their 1998 album ‘Mezzanine’ as a can of black spray paint. The reissue marks the album’s 20th anniversary.

In April, the duo announced that they would be marking the milestone by encoding the LP into DNA, and they’ve done just that – a limited number of spray cans will contain the DNA-encoded audio within matt black paint. Each can contains approximately one million copies of the album.

“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,” Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja explained.

As FACT points out, the complex process of encoding DNA has been explained by Dr Robert Grass of the Zurich-based company TurboBeads.

“The 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 DNA sequences were encapsulated in “synthetic glass fossils” in order to “guarantee information stability” before being added directly to the spray can. You can see the spray can below.

The can could also be a nod to the ongoing rumour that Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja is, in fact, Banksy. The rumour went into overdrive last June when Goldie spoke to Scroobius Pip for his Distraction Pieces podcast, referring to Banksy as “Rob” (or “Robert”, as some listeners appeared to hear).

He said: “For something like graffiti, which has inspired the world with font or anything to do with anyone wearing a baseball cap and fucking sneakers, at its centre it is still misunderstood. But give me a bubble letter and put it on a t-shirt and write ‘Banksy’ on it and we’re sorted… We can sell it now.”

Goldie then added: “No disrespect to [Rob/Robert], I think he is a brilliant artist. I think he has flipped the world of art over.”