Friday, May 16, 2008

Music for the Space People
The Knife's Olof Dreijer, More Send Music to the Aliens

No dig on Stravinsky, Chuck Berry, or the Beatles, but can we blame the extraterrestrials if they're getting a little tired of Earth's sparse musical offerings by now? Cue noted Swedish techno artist Håkan Lidbo (pictured), who has a plan to blast some slightly more contemporary sounds into outer space for the betterment of beings from all corners of the universe. Wait, why are you laughing? This is serious, man.

Lidbo is currently working in cahoots with the Swedish Space Corporation on a project to send a variety of new electronic music into space via Sweden's Esrange station-- known for offering some of the world's first commercial space flights in conjunction with Spaceport Sweden and Virgin Galactic.

And just who is contributing to the "Music for Alien Civilisations" project? Naturally, the Knife is involved. Olof Dreijer has recorded a track called "Al Jazeera", which, as Lidbo describes, presents "the very mechanics from the inside of his computer-- the sounds from the circuits and hard drives."

Continues Lidbo, "He wants to send a postcard from Earth with environmental sounds that are unique to our planet. And the way Olof sees the world, it's controlled by computers. Transactions of money and information are flooding the internet, but not many people have access to all this information...most people remain ignorant and poor. So that was his idea behind the track."

Others reaching out to our otherworldly brothers and sisters include Andreas Tillander (aka Mokira), Tobias von Hofsten (aka One), Smyglyssna, Krister Linder, Henrik Rylander, Sol Anderson, and Lidbo himself.

Lidbo has commissioned 12 tracks in all (plus an "Intro"), and he plans to meld them into a signal to be transmitted into the cosmos on June 4. That same day, he'll release a CD collecting these space jams. Check out the tracklist below.

Mr. Lidbo is deadly serious about this endeavor, too. As he writes, "A CD will be released for humans, but the music is made for alien civilisations and it holds messages and structures that are meant to give an idea who we are...some sort of universal message, sometimes with codes of binary figures, sometimes with scales and frequencies to explain how we humans function."

Why electronic music? "First of all, I think the computer is the most magnificent music instrument ever it's a good thing to show the aliens. And for humans, the sound of the synthesizer always has been associated with space; the spooky theremins in the old 40s and 50s sci-fi films and the Moog-through-space-echo psych-out soundtracks in the 70s sci-fi movies.

"If you hear something that sounds like nothing on Earth, it's very natural to associate [it with] space. I even think that electronic music can help us dream and maybe even understand space and the incredible distances a bit better."

And why radio waves? "The Voyager 1 and 2 sent out in 1977 [were] the most serious attempts to send music for alien civilisations, but after 31 years en route they haven't reached further than just beyond Pluto. We will send radio waves, [as] they are fairly easy to aim with good precision, they are easy to decode back to music, and they travel at the speed of light so the composers that send out the musical messages might still be alive when we receive the answer."

Notice he said "when", not "if." And provided all goes according to plan, we should be hearing back from the aliens by 2030. Yay!

Lidbo has also been premiering the selections to be beamed into space by first beaming them into terrestrial households via his show on Swedish National Radio, "STRÖM". The truth is out there over here.

Music for Alien Civilisations:

01 Intro
02 Sol Andersson: "All Is Full of Love"
03 Ghostfriend & Plantagon: "The Message [ft. the Indigenous Peoples of the World Through the Voice of Oren Lyons]
04 Mokira: "Rymdeko"
05 Håkan Lidbo: "Planet Earth"
06 Smyglyssna: "Meanwhile"
07 18000018018018401 and Hab: "Who We Are"
08 Yourhighness: "Calling for Cosmos"
09 Claudia Bonarelli: "Apartamento"
10 Olof Dreijer: "Al Jazeera"
11 Mathtiiaas Rosén: "Sju Flagioletter"
12 Henrik Rylander: "Information and Disinformation for Alien Civilisations"
13 One: "Heal"

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