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Scrambles of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record, Remixed By Extraterrestrials

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Album Review

This album is built on a cute idea. Back in 1977, NASA launched the Voyager 1 & 2 spacecrafts, each of which contained (among other things) recorded examples of music from Planet Earth's various cultures: some Bach, some Delta blues, some ABBA, instrumental performances from China and Japan, Georgian choral music, etc. The idea was that the music would be played into space by these two spacecraft and perhaps would be heard and maybe even responded to by alien beings of some kind. The cute concept behind this album is that aliens have heard the music and responded in the form of remixes, broadcast back through space and picked up by SETI-X (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence in Exile, "a dissident offshoot of the better-known Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence"). But if the term "remix" leads you to expect something funky, or coherent, or even consistently interesting, think again: there are some fascinating moments, such as the clever "Psychlo Killer," which combines bits of Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" with elements of L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth story) and the conventionally industrial-sounding "Fifth Dysphony" and "The Rites of Mars." But much of the rest of the program sounds randomly thrown together. The problem isn't that it's abrasive or difficult (though at moments it is both), but rather that it doesn't sound as if very much thought or care was invested in it. The album is OK as a passing curiosity, but it's not something you're likely to listen to more than once.

Customer Reviews

Scrambles of Earth

If it is difficult to listen to this release, it may be because _too much_ thought and care went into it — so much so that one wonders whether hidden within this seemingly straightforward hoax may be actual alien transmissions. A spectrogram of the audio program reveals that track 21 contains material stowed in the very high frequencies, perhaps for other alien listeners. While iTunes’s pilot review suggests that, “you’re not likely to listen to [it] more than once,” this may in fact depend on which part of the universe “you” come from.

hear thyself

So an alien intelligence found the Voyager record and sent it back, reflected off its own form, through whatever strange senses and technologies it might have. We should not be surprised at this attention: they must know us quite well already, as they are bathed in our dissipating radio emissions. Our shadow on the galaxy is cast in sitcom reruns, morning zoo radio DJs, and intimate cell phone calls.

When you listen, think about them thinking about us: we are a planet of music videos, talk radio, telenovelas, police broadcasts, and pet food commercials. It is only fair that we pay attention to this comparably brief message from aliens inundated by earthly culture. What kind of strange reflection can we hear of ourselves in it?

This is a brilliant record...

This is a brilliant record and also a great listen. Months ago I encountered this CD on the shelves of Other Music in Manhattan and immediately bought it. I must admit I have a bit of a predilection for anything even remotely connected to human space flight and Scrambles of Earth is no exception. As a teenager I remember learning of the golden LP records affixed (contrary to the reviewer's assertion, the contents of the LP records were not broadcast into outer space) to the spacecraft hulls of Voyagers I & II. When Scrambles of Earth became available I duly bought it and upon playing it was relieved that it wasn't a route one Sounds of Earth remix record replete with reverb and lounge beats. If that's your jam, then hold out for a Nouvelle Vague remix of Scrambles because the album by SETI-X it is something else entirely. It's alien in fact. I am confident enough to admit that I have yet to fully grasp the liner notes and many of the tracks, but that is not also to say there is nothing intelligent going on with this record. Quite the opposite is true...I think there is a lot going on here that will require a crack team of JPL scientists who are also subscribers to The Wire to fully digest for the rest of us or at the very least me. That I might not get all of it is neither here nor there...the album doesn't require a degree in anthropology to appreciate. That's the noise surrounding Scrambles anyway, on the whole it is a fascinating listen to which I come back every couple months for several days at a time. This is indeed a brilliant record.

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Scrambles of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record, Remixed By Extraterrestrials, SETI-X
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