Archive for July, 2017

Public Service Broadcasting 'GO!' Official Video from Yes Please Productions on Vimeo.

Public Service Broadcasting performed another superlative rendition of their space race anthem ‘Go!’ (above) at this year’s Latitude Festival. While the band’s latest album delves the underworld of the UK coal industry at its height and collapse, the track ‘Progress’ still produced all the technological thrills of their previous Race for Space. Although they’ve moved elsewhere topically, it seems the elision of rocket science and music remains prolific.

The ever reliable San Francisco online radio station, Soma FM, has been doing something similar for years with Mission Control – a mesmerising combination of NASA archived communications and ambient music. However, the space agency releasing its sounds library into the public domain in 2014 generated some great new collaborations. Quindar is a project helmed by Mikael Jorgensen of the band Wilco and art historian James Merle Thomas. Together they’ve commissioned a series of tracks that employ NASA sounds as part of their electronic-heavy Hip Mobility EP. Similar output has also emerged from the Italian creative collective, Fabrica Music Area, with their EP 80AU, available on Bad Panda Records.

All part of the on-going union of music and space travel that stretches back to the 1961 playing of music to Yuri Gagarin while he waited on the launch pad – according to this BBC timeline. A historic high water mark had to be the sending of two golden record discs into space strapped aboard the Voyager One and Two spacecrafts – something that, in turn, inspired Jack White of the White Stripes to sponsor the first ever play of a record in space.

To finish, on the day after Frank Turner gave a sterling performance at the Cambridge Folk Festival, a song he didn’t play as part of his set, but fits perfectly with this post’s theme. Silent Key is a homage to the astronaut/teacher Christa McCauliffe and her tragic death aboard the Challenger shuttle in 1986. Turner’s haunting lyrics proving that music and space travel will continue to orbit each other for a long time to come.

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The idea of parallel universes has been around in science fiction for a long time, but the adaptation of that into the ever useful concept of the ‘multiverse’ can probably be traced back to DC comics introduction of ‘Earth 2′ in the 1960s.

Around the same time Michael Moorcock was scattering seeds of crossover characters and locations throughout all of his Eternal Champion series. A useful literary tool, it also allowed the author to satirise current pop icons and political figures with impunity – something picked up later by Pat Mills with his Nemesis the Warlock series and Alan Moore and his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

UK writer and actor Ben Moor is among the more recent proponents of the idea with his radio series ‘Undone’ – series three currently being aired on BBC Radio 4 Extra. As with Moorcock, and the creative talent that came out of the 2000AD comics, there’s a thick vein of tongue-in-cheek humour running through the multiple versions of London that a reluctant Edna Turner is charged with protecting. Plus, if you like Douglas Adams, you find a similar level of hilarity and pathos underpinning the inter-dimensional action.

Stephen Baxter also draws upon a similar notion of multiple universes, calling his particular amalgamation the Manifold. If you have the time and inclination, Moon Six is a great short piece of fiction by him, and a great launch point for the concept.

Talk of Baxter and his inclination towards the more scientific end of the Sci-Fi spectrum, leads nicely to the fact that the quantum theory of the multiverse has been around since the 1950s.

Perhaps then there’s consolation to be had that there’s a universe running almost parallel to ours where Brexit and Trump didn’t happen, and perhaps we were lucky enough to have a sneak peek at what might have been.

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