Fort Worth’s T Bone Burnett creates new sonic medium, with help from Bob Dylan

T Bone Burnett, dressed in black and wearing sunglasses, holds up a silver disc

T Bone Burnett, holding an Ionic Original. Photo: Jason Myers

Leave it to Bob Dylan, more than 60 years into his acclaimed career, to once again break new ground.

It was revealed last week that the singer-songwriter has placed himself and his music at the vanguard of new recording technology — and he had some help from a Texas-bred talent.

Fort Worth-raised producer T Bone Burnett pulled the wraps off of “Ionic Originals” by unveiling the existence of recently completed studio sessions featuring, according to a statement, “the universally acclaimed artist [revisiting] a personally chosen set of his iconic songs for the first time in decades.”

Ionic Originals are described in press materials as “newly developed discs that advance the art of recorded sound and mark the first breakthrough in analogue sound reproduction in more than 70 years.”

More specific details about the process — both recording and playback — as well as which songs Dylan selected to re-record were not available.

However, the Grammy-winning Burnett, in a statement, did elaborate somewhat on how consumers are meant to listen: “It is lacquer painted onto an aluminum disc, with a spiral etched into it by music,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Representatives for both men told Variety there was no additional information to share.

Burnett, long a proponent of faithful capture and presentation of musical performance, is not being shy about the new technology: “An Ionic Original is the pinnacle of recorded sound,” he said in a statement. “It is archival quality. It is future proof. It is one of one. Not only is an Ionic Original the equivalent of a painting, it is a painting.”

In addition to overseeing the recording session with Dylan, an artist with whom he has a relationship stretching back to the 1970s, Burnett has formed NeoFidelity, a company which will oversee recording artists “across a wide range of musical genres and provide a platform of distribution for Ionic Originals,” per a statement.

Dylan, who is in the midst of a U.S. tour continuing through June, is also preparing for the grand opening of the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, Okla. on May 10.

The center, which is “dedicated to the study and appreciation of … Bob Dylan and his cultural significance,” according to press materials, will curate exhibits from the prodigious Bob Dylan Archive, which features more than 100,000 items from the musician’s illustrious career.

The festivities will kick off this weekend with a series of concerts at Cain’s Ballroom, featuring Patti Smith on Friday and Elvis Costello & the Imposters on Saturday. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Bob Dylan Center will be held at 8:30 a.m. May 10, and will be live-streamed on YouTube and the center’s website.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor for KXT. Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.