PONO – Neil Young’s Music Dream

So it turns out I’m sitting here reading Waging Heavy Peace and the man who many Canadians look so fondly up to Neil Young keeps mentioning this phenomenon PureTone. He speaks of deconstructed music, percentages, loss of interest, and righteousness all pertaining to how listening back in a recording session provides the truest sense of music. Cool. Queue PONO


now the realization of PureTone, Neil Young’s baby, his startup, his last chance to offer up something to the world community he tries to be so active in, before dementia kicks in. If you’re unaware of Neil’s current state let me fill you in. He’s recently quit smoking pot and drinking, because his doctors have uncovered a certain spike in detrimental neurological activities. Fuck. With past dementia flags, like his father, and suffering from epilepsy Neil has got to keep tabs on this motherfucker. All shitty news aside. PONO which is still in it’s developmental stages has looked to the general public for funding via KICKSTARTER. Eighteen Thousand Two Hundred and Twenty backers later The PONO player has managed $6,225,354 in backing completely eclipsing it’s goal of $800,000 USD. Now I am not sure how many people will be invited to the VIP dinner and listening party with Neil Young for pledging $5000 but holy fuck what a way to start a business. Here is what is questionable. Why has Neil Young who speaks out on so many issues from the deteriorating environment, oil sands, and loss of quality in music looked to the general public to back his music dream. Back to Waging Heavy Peace. Neil Young employs people to take care of his enormous car collection in an enormous garage ‘FeelGoods’ on his enormous property in California. Next time you want to kickstart a company that is improving on something that already exists (albeit is very important) re-finance one one of your many properties or sell some cars. There is no guarantee that PONO will even be successful, or actually be a sustainable company. The yellow player looks a lot like a Tobelerone bar and doesn’t exactly have the most ergonomic distinction to fulfil it’s future pocket. Tell me which Industrial Designer he hired and I’ll fire him personally. Also here’s an interesting fact about the MP3 and it’s codec. The mp3 relies on a psychoacoustic model of the way sound is processed in the brain. “The mp3 plays it’s listener,” Jonathan Sterne McGill professor for Sound and Media writes for New Media & Society.

“Built into every mp3 is an attempt to mimic and, to some degree preempt, the embodied and unconscious dimensions of human perception in the noisy, mixed-media environments of everyday life … [It] puts the body on a sonic austerity programme. It decides for its listeners what they need to hear and gives them only that.”

This in turn renders the average iPod or PONOPlayer indistinguishable to our common sound sphere. There is also the small perhaps overlooked detail of Apple Lossless a lossless codec which allows the user to listen to a full quality ‘ALAC’ (Apple FLAC much?) granted they have the storage on their device. Now just to clarify. I love Neil Young. I love the guy’s body of work, I appreciate his activism, and have paid preposterous ticket prices to see him and Crazy Horse in concert. If I had the money I’d pay the $5000 to sit with him at a table and pick his brain, but the PONO platform is destined to fail if not just on the bumble of hiring a shitty Industrial Designer.

Elliott MacDonald

Founder and editor in chief of The Strathcona Publication. I grew up in a neighbourhood called Strathcona in Vancouver on the North side of Hastings Ave. It was colourful, and vibrant with all kinds of inspiring experiences. This is my tribute to Strathcona.

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