Coming March 2014, Neil Young’s PONO and new album, A Letter Home

It’s been an interesting week about Neil Young, Jack White’s Third Man Records and Neil’s next two projects, The PONO music player and A Letter Home, 

Project One: PONO

Neil Young announced an update about PONO during his acceptance speech in Los Angeles at the Village recording studio for the President’s Merit award at the Grammy Event of the Producers and Engineers Wing of the Recording Academy.

Michael Kovac/WireImage

Digital. Digital is not bad. But Xerox is not good. I always like to say Picasso was really happy to see original Picassos everywhere, but when he went into some places and saw Xeroxes of Picassos, it didn’t make him as happy, because he thought people thought that we was making those things. The thing we do is, we make great stuff in the studio and then we kiss its ass goodbye, because nobody’s ever going to hear it. That’s unfortunate, and it didn’t use to be that way. That’s something that happened to us – that’s an injury we sustained, and it deeply hurt us. So the time has come for us to recover and to bring music back to the people in a way that they can recognize it in their souls – through the window of their souls, their ears. So they can feel and vibrate and so that they can get goosebumps. We cherish those fucking goosebumps. We really need those.

Being impressed by something, and how cool it is, and how sharp it is, and how snappy it is, is one thing, and that translates into almost any media. But when you’re singing something very soulful from your heart, and the echo is perfect and everything’s great and you’re using maybe an acoustic chamber and everything sounds great. And then you listen to it and you love it, but you hear it somewhere else and it’s gone – that’s terrible. We don’t like that. Not many of us like that, we’re not happy about it. So we’re trying to change that, and we’re trying to make it better. We’re trying to make music sound technically better, and that’s what I want to do. So we have a player that plays whatever the musicians made digitally, and that’s going to come out. We’re announcing that at SXSW, we’re introducing it, it’s called PONO, and that’s my commercial, thank you very much.

Read Neil Young’s entire speech here:

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/read-neil-youngs-full-epic-speech-from-grammy-honors-ceremony-20140122#ixzz2rBLch2Rh

Project Two: A Letter Home

After his speech Rolling Stone Magazine spoke with Neil Young and asked him a few questions. Here are two of those questions that are specific to his next recording project.

Your next record’s coming out in March?
Yeah, it’s one of the lowest-tech experiences I’ve ever had.

How come?
You’ll hear it. It’s called A Letter Home.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/neil-youngs-low-tech-new-album-a-letter-home-due-in-march-20140122#ixzz2rBcLDbpX 

Could it be that Neil Young recorded the entire project inside Jack White’s Third Man Recording Booth? If you recall, Young recorded a cover of Bert Jansch’s “Needle of Death” inside the booth during Record Store Day 2013.

Third Man Records unearths NEIL YOUNG’s A LETTER HOME

An unheard collection of rediscovered songs from the past recorded on ancient electro-mechanical technology captures and unleashes the essence of something that could have been gone forever. — Homer Grosvenor

I also refer you to Michael Goldberg’s blog post from 1/16/14, “Exclusive: Neil Young and Jack White Collaborate for New Covers Album” for the best specifics about A Letter Home.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Neil Young’s PONO Product Announces in Early 2014! Count Me In

Posted on Facebook by Neil Young, 9/3/13…

To everyone who loves music –

I’m very happy to bring you some good news. All of us at Team PONO have been focused on getting everything right for our early 2014 launch of Pono.

The simplest way to describe what we’ve accomplished is that we’ve liberated the music of the artist from the digital file and restored it to its original artistic quality – as it was in the studio. So it has primal power.

Hearing PONO for the first time is like that first blast of daylight when you leave a movie theater on a sun-filled day. It takes you a second to adjust. Then you enter a bright reality, of wonderfully rendered detail.

This music moves you. So you can feel. That’s why so many musicians are behind PonoMusic – this is important work that honors their art. This is the way they wanted you to hear their music.

PONO starts at the source: artist-approved studio masters we’ve been given special access to. Then we work with our brilliant partners at Meridian to unlock the richness of the artist’s music to you. There is nothing like hearing this music – and we are working hard to make that experience available to all music lovers, soon.

Our mission is also to make PONO just as accessible as any music you buy and listen to today. So we’ll be launching both the PONO portable player – an updated version of the one I showed on David Letterman’s program – and an online library, with all your favorite music available in PonoMusic quality. Everything you need to feel music anew.

Stay tuned for more updates. And be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information. We hope you’ll try PONO when it comes your way, and that it brings you the soul of music.

Yours, for PonoMusic
Neil Young

Beta Test Feedback

If you are like me you are eager to learn firsthand how well the PONO experience feels and sounds. I found this write-up on the Neil Young Times Web page and thought I would include it for your edification.

A few players are now in use experimentally. The following is a musician’s account of hearing PONO:

As a choral singer with the San Diego Master Chorale, I have had the opportunity to perform with the San Diego Symphony several times each year – an ultimate surround sound experience. As I sing my part or listen during orchestral interludes I am able to hear the purity of tone of each individual instrument, as well as the overtones of the orchestra that give such richness to the sound. In addition, we often perform in acoustically alive venues such as Saint Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, where the precision of such works as the Bach B Minor Mass and his Christmas Oratorio are enriched with the reverberation of the acoustics of the cathedral.

I have never experienced this quality of sound in a home setting – not even close. However, last night, using the PONO player and Audeze headphones (These are top of the line audiophile planar magnetic technology headphones, the LCD-3  phones are $1,945 list price, yikes!), I listened to Roberta Flack singing “Killing Me Softly” and was amazed by the purity and fullness of the sound. Her voice was rich and sonorous and at the same time the instrumental background allowed the overtones to come through, along with just enough reverberation.

Jane Baker , San Diego Master Chorale

Don’t Want Amazon MP3

In the much ado about nothing digital music category Amazon announced its MP3 App for iPhone. The Music of Our Heart says, “Don’t Bother” with this waste of technology.

There is no Amazon MP3 iPhone App. When the magician says, “Nothing up my sleeve, presto”.  No Amazon Mp3 App Rabbit in the magician’s hand. Just this Amazon image on their Web site (Funny it has two different colored ears like a rabbit…)

Amazon MP3 store for iPhone and iPod touch

It’s like that Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon segment when Bullwinkle says, ” No Doubt About It, I Gotta Get Another Hat”.

But if the magician’s pretty assistant takes away the Apple magician hat and hands the magician the Android magician hat.

“Voila we have an Android Amazon Mp3 Play and Purchase App” Can you say Apple proprietary, I knew that you could 😉

Trust me, the Apple App Store Search will point you to the Amazon Cloud Player App (Huh?when you choose “amazon mp3” or “amazon mp3 player”, slap your face like Curly Joe in the Three Stooges because that App isn’t the Amazon MP3 Store App.

The sleight of hand or better yet, the Amazon HTML5 Apple iPhone workaround (and that’s ALL it is…) is as follows:

You can explore and buy new music from your Apple iPhone Safari App by visiting amazon.com/mp3 on your iPhone or iPod touch device. Then you mark the Amazon MP3 Web page as a Safari favorite so you can recall this task.

It’s a huge “Non-Whoop” to be able to buy inferior MP3s directly from my iPhone.  I was never clamoring for this from Amazon, were you?

Stifling a second yawn here, I am just not interested in an HTML5 Amazon MP3 purchase option?

Thank you Amazon for one more major reason to wait for Neil Young’s PONO High Resolution Audio solution.

Don’t want my MP3, Sing it loud with Neil Young and I.

Amazon, everyone knows MP3 is nowhere

Pono Lets You “Feel the Soul of the Music

The InterWeb buzz for Neil Young’s PONO increased markedly this past week. The Music of Our Heart sifts through the various tea leaves to gather a  PONO brew for you as we enter the Christmas and New Year 2012 Holiday weeks. The number #1 PONO FAQ was, When Can I Have It?. Quite the act of faith considering PONO is unheard by the masses and very little is known, technically about this much-anticipated high-resolution audio solution. Neil Young tweeted earlier this month that Pono will roll out the service’s cloud-based music-library component and portable digital-to-analog players by summer. Patrick Flanary free-lance writer for Rolling Stone continues to keep us well-informed about PONO. Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/neil-youngs-pono-plans-take-shape-with-new-trademarks-20121219#ixzz2FmqsCD4v Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

“It’s actually a little early for us to give any information,” Elliot Roberts (Neil Young’s Business Manager), the head of Lookout Management in Santa Monica, said in a brief telephone interview. “When we can comment, we’ll be an open spigot.”

Neil Young’s Ivanhoe, Inc. published “the” InterWeb home page for PONO where you can stay informed via e-mail, Twitter and Facebook 😉 MyPono From the About page…

Hi Friend, There’s an awfully good chance you heard about a revolution we’re working on. Something that will significantly improve the way you get to hear and feel your favorite music. Shocking you say? That perhaps the promise of “Perfect Sound Forever” propagated by the inventors of the Compact Disc was a bust? And that“CD Quality” promoted by the likes of iTunes and the creators of the MP3 was only an inkling of the flawed format they were hoping to emulate? We’re here to say it’s incredibly true! Miraculously, there’s a wealth of music & soul (or if you must, “data”) trapped on millions of recordings made over the last half century, that we’re hoping to unleash for the very first time. Can you imagine? Your own personal time machine, to take you back to the place and time of the original musical event, and let you feel music in ways you’ve only felt seeing it live? We here at Pono are listening to it now and assure you, IT’S AMAZING!!!! We ask dear music lover that you root for Pono bringing this very real technology to the world. We’re still toiling away on making this happen (yes, there are record labels, artists, publishers and more to finalize with), but we wanted to share our excitement with you. In the meantime, please follow us on Facebook or Twitter for updates. Rescuing an art form, The Pono Team

Twitter:  @RealPono Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NeilYoungPono

Intelligent Digital Music Curation + Discovery = Daisy (Trent Reznor and Beats By Dr. Dre)

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Joni Mitchell, Both Sides, Now © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

The music of our heart steadfastly believes in the next “desired” future state of cloud based digital music. There are some exciting technologies “under construction” above and around us, floating our way.

I reported on Neil Young‘s PONO solution awhile back on this music blog. I see a similar order of magnitude. if not something larger or uniquely designed emerging from Beats Electronics. Inc.

One such solution receiving a huge degree of “buzz” factor is the intelligent music curation and discovery music cloud service, code-named “Daisy” from the collaborative brain trust of Trent Reznor,  Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine and others at  Beats Electronics, Inc.

I have sorted through the multitude of music articles about “Daisy” published in the past 48 hours to discern what’s this all about?

“Daisy”, according to Mr. Reznor, Chief Creative Officer for Beats Electronics Inc. will create a recommendation platform where “the machine and the human would collide more intimately”.

The music service “uses mathematics to offer suggestions to the listener… [but also] would present choices based partly on suggestions made by connoisseurs,” describing it as “like having your own guy when you go into the record store, who knows what you like but can also point you down some paths you wouldn’t necessarily have encountered.”

How’s this different from everything else out there? “Here’s sixteen million licensed pieces of music (Mog states) but you’re not stumbling into anything. What’s missing is a service that adds a layer of intelligent curation,” explained Reznor. “Think of how many emotional ties you have with songs from your past.”

I love that phrase “intelligent curation” now I want to know how that technology will be software engineered and implemented. An example of intelligent curation is The Browser, which is creating a 21st century library of Writing Worth Reading.

Trent Reznor posted on Facebook on October 16: Some of you may have read that I have begun working with Beats By Dre. For the past year I have indeed been involved with Dre, Jimmy Iovine, Luke Wood, and the rest of the team on a number of very interesting projects that will start to emerge next year. I have wanted to experiment and focus my energy and creativity in some different directions, and Beats has afforded me that very opportunity. The process has challenged and fascinated and as much as I’d like to tell you about the things we’ve dreamed up… I just can’t.
Not yet…
(I can tell you it’s probably not what you’re expecting!)

Origin: The company has “very big plans,” for Mog, the streaming service it purchased earlier this year, hinting that it relates to how people consume and discover music. Most streaming services need consumers to program their music experience themselves and consumers can’t be expected to do that, which would seem to suggest a greater emphasis on music discovery and recommendations, possibly including a radio function.

David Byrne and Trent Reznor

Speaking of intelligent conversations centering upon the state of digital music, David Byrne and Trent Reznor recently got together in Los Angeles as part of David Byrne’s book tour for How Music Works.

Both artists shared the stance that the current landscape is not about label deals vs DIY marketing but about choosing the right path and the right deals for the artist in question. Here is a YouTube of that conversation.

Conversely after founding his own record label in 2008 and releasing music independently, Trent Reznor has reverted back to the majors for help in releasing his latest project through Columbia Records, How To Destroy Angels, “Ice Age” pointing out that “complete independent releasing has its great points, but also comes with shortcomings.”

I’m Driftin’ Back – Neil Young

Neil Young & Crazy Horse‘s new recording Psychedelic Pill starts with a 27 minute, epic track called, “Driftin’ Back”.

It is trippy and reflective. It is something each of us does, drifting back to thoughts and places we were before.

My favorite lyrics are at the 12:11 mark

I used to dig Picasso

I used to dig Picasso

Hey now now, Hey now now 

I used to dig Picasso

Then the big tech giants came along

and turned him into wallpaper

Hey Now Now, Hey Now Now

I used to dig Picasso

This stanza underscores the main theme of Driftin’ Back. Technology has altered the landscape of art, homogenized it, compressed it for redistribution to the masses.

Listen again at 19:06,

Don’t want my MP3

Don’t want my MP3

I’m Driftin’ Back

I’m Driftin’ Back

I’m Driftin’ Back

I’m Driftin’ Back

I’m Driftin’ Back

When you hear my song now

You only get 5%

You used to get it all

You used to get it all

Blocking out my anger

Blocking out my thoughts

Blocking out my anger now

Blocking out my thoughts

I’m Driftin’ Back……

Copyright 2012 Neil Young and Warner Music

Isn’t that the point here. The music industry settled for publishing and distributing inferior sound through the InterWeb. (Which I feel they truly want to correct this issue) Its time we got ALL our music back.

I applaud Neil Young for both challenging this understanding and championing Pono for 100% high-resolution audio.

This is why Pono is righteous!

Neil Young Says Pono is Hawaiian for “Righteous”

I have loved Neil Young‘s book, Waging Heavy Peace where he writes extensively about what was then called “Puretone” his solution to save audio,  “Puretone”, has now become Pono, pronounced “Pohknow”, which is Hawaiian for “Righteous”. Neil Young has a home in Hawaii where much of Waging Heavy Peace was authored. Last night on David Letterman he showed a prototype of the Pono cloud music device. Imagine holding and hearing studio quality sound finally. I must have one!!!

When I finish Neil Young’s audio book I will offer a more extensive write-up on Neil Young’s “Righteous” solution. I was psyched to learn that Neil Young was working with the Sony Bob Dylan master tapes of Highway 61 Revisited and Freewheelin (with Bob Dylan’s full blessing) to make them Pono based. This is how Pono will succeed as the music artists want 100% high-resolution audio representation of their music heard not the 5% sound we get scrunched and distributed to us by MP3.

The most comprehensive article I have read yet about Pono from an industry analysis point of view was published yesterday by Rolling Stone Magazine. I urge you to read and process Patrick Flanary’s column entitled “Neil Young Expands Pono Digital-to-Analog Music Service”. Mr. Flanary wrote a thorough study of how much Neil Young and his Pono team are positively influencing RHCP‘s Flea/Anthony Kiedis, producer Rick Rubin, along with the Big Three record labels, Warner Music, Sony and Universal Music Group.

Neil Young is getting a lot of traction with Pono, deservedly so. I don’t agree with the perception that it is an Apple iTunes “Killer” as naive members of the press are reporting. That’s being written to get you to read content. After all Neil Young met and corresponded with Steve Jobs to discuss Pono and the audio music dilemma. I see a future partnership in the offering with Pono and Apple very much along the lines of cooperation Pono is achieving with the major labels. Can you say industry standard, I knew that you could 😉

It is pure speculation on my part coupled with intelligent guessing that Pono and Apple come together at some future music technology juncture. If I look at the throw down Apple needs to leap-frog or better HTC, HP and Beats by Dr. Dre, Pono could be that secret sauce for Apple. I found the one technology advancement that was missing from the iPhone 5, iTunes announcement was an improved music audio experience to match or better HTC/HP/Beats. Pono needs a device manufacturer, Apple distributes via iTunes the music of the industry. As Pono becomes the definitive, next level standard for music data files Apple must follow suit with a Pono story as will HTC for that matter. We could see iPono in the next generation iPhone/iPod, say it ain’t so Ed, hehehe (sorry Neil and Apple) couldn’t resist…

Now that’s what I call waging heavy peace alright ; Neil this note and more’s for you!