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Bob Dylan re-records songs for T Bone Burnett’s new hi-def physical audio format

By | Published on Thursday 28 April 2022

T Bone Burnett / Ionic Originals

Bob Dylan has teamed up with T Bone Burnett to re-record a collection of his songs in high quality audio to launch the latter’s new analogue audio format, Ionic Originals.

Yes, you read that right, after decades of innovation in digital music, is it not time for a new analogue format? Surely if the vinyl revival tells us anything, it’s that music fans want the opportunity to sell all their vinyl and replace it with something else that looks quite similar to vinyl. But definitely sounds better, according to Burnett.

“It is archival quality”, he says of the new format. “It is future proof. It is one of one. Not only is an Ionic Original the equivalent of a painting, it is a painting. It is lacquer painted onto an aluminium disc, with a spiral etched into it by music. This painting, however, has the additional quality of containing that music, which can be heard by putting a stylus into the spiral and spinning it”.

Confused? Well, get ready to have none of your questions answered. It’s “one of one”. Does that mean there will only be one copy of each release? It “can be heard by putting a stylus into the spiral and spinning it”. Does that mean it will pay on a standard vinyl turntable?

The answer is probably no to both, but there is nothing definitive yet. All we’re told is that these are “newly developed discs that advance the art of recorded sound and mark the first breakthrough in analogue sound reproduction in more than 70 years”.

As for why the world might want or need this now, Burnett says: “When describing the quality that raises analogue sound above digital sound, the word ‘warmth’ is often used. Analogue sound has more depth, more harmonic complexity, more resonance, better imaging. Analogue has more feel, more character, more touch. Digital sound is frozen. Analogue sound is alive”.

So, right, we know roughly what it is, but not exactly what it is. Similar to these new recordings with Bob Dylan. We know that Dylan has “revisited a personally chosen set of his iconic songs for the first time in decades”. How many? Don’t know. When will they be released? Don’t know. Is it an EP, album or series of albums? You sure do ask a lot of questions, don’t you?

Here’s what we can be sure of though: T Bone Burnett’s done a thing. Bob Dylan’s done a thing with him for the thing. And there will be a thing or things to enjoy at some point in the very near, relatively near, or distant future.