This week, Neil Young officially launched the Neil Young Archives, a comprehensive interactive online repository of all things Neil, from photos and stories to a complete, high-fidelity streaming of his entire decades-long catalogue of recorded music. In a Facebook post last month, Young made reference to a “big day” coming up on December 1st: In addition to referencing the release of The Visitor, his second studio album with Promise of the Real, he also made casual mention of a big surprise announcement: “My archive will open on that same day, a place you can visit and experience every song I have ever released in the highest quality your machine will allow. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. In the beginning, everything is free.”
Young explained the new archive project in a note on the website before its launch: the details of the new Neil Young Archives are displayed, giving some first-hand insight into this new platform. “Welcome to NYA,” it reads, “the home of my music. I must admit that I built this for myself as much as for everyone else…” In the note, Young starts by laying out the Neil Young Archives’ “mission statement,” making clear his intentions for the archives to be a living, breathing, evolving project: “We have attempted to highlight the creative process and the creators…The musical information found here is a work in progress, always growing and adapting as we find it. We have done our best to find all of the background pertinent to the music. If you have any more, please reach out to us with it. We are always looking.”
The archive details Young’s extensive discography with a Timeline feature cataloging every single recorded track or album he’s ever produced. There’s also a Filing Cabinet organizing all the songs in chronological order, complete with Info Cards containing associated credits, memorabilia, films or video, press, and photographs.
Below, you can watch the official Neil Young Archives tutorial video (narrated by Neil himself) to familiarize yourself with all the various functions of this extensive entertainment and educational resource:
In addition to explaining the various new features of this platform, the widely noted audiophile explains the dynamic audio quality characteristics that make this the optimal way to listen to his music. The archive uses Young’s Xstream Music hi-fi streaming infrastructure. “Xstream Music master recordings are always pure uncompressed masters,” Young notes. “They are not part of a format that compromises the quality. All compression formats compromise quality.” As he explains, the streaming “adapts seamlessly” to available output bandwidth (i.e. how nice your speakers are) in order to provide “the best audio quality possible, directly from the original high resolution masters.”
The creation of the Neil Young archives seems to be a logical progression for the outspoken artist. He has long been an evangelist for high-quality sound, creating a hi-fi music player (the not-so-successful PONO) launching his own hi-def streaming service, Xstream Music, after publicly lambasting large-scale streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music for their poor sound quality. Now the world can experience the complete, annotated works of Neil Young, free of charge, and in the highest possible quality–exactly how Neil wants it to be.
You can check out the now-unlocked Neil Young Archives here.
[Cover photo (Neil) by Gabriel Grams/Rex via Rolling Stone]