With the 170+ GB of music that I have in my Itunes program, there are bound to be a few odd albums sprinkled in. Albums that, out of context, seem really strange that anyone would listen to them. I decided to share a few of the oddities with you and hopefully you will list some of your interactions with strange music that you have stumble across over the years.
The Conet Project – Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations
The Conet Project is a 4 cd collection of transmissions picked up on a shortwave radio. Most contain various voices in different languages transmitting a sequence of numbers (which spies used as a way to communicate encrypted messages). These number stations on their own seem like a very dry and bland subject but really are mesmorising when you listen to them in a collection such as this. They have a chilling feeling to them as you hear a distant voice relaying secret information without any context or awareness to what secrets that they are giving up.
My first introduction to this collection was an NPR story that aired in 2004 that discussed the obsession with “Number Stations”. Listening to the number sequences in various languages had me transfixed so I picked up the collection. Much like my experience with the Raymond Scott material, I found that several bands have sampled from the Conet Project including Wilco most famously on their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album.
This isn’t a collection for everyone as the various recordings can become a little redundant and tiresome but as a whole they are a rare and odd glimpse into an era of secrets and spies looking to get the upper hand on their foes.