Einstein’s Garden @ Green Man Festival: Talking Canaries and Voices of the Dead
Spacedog are thrilled to be playing live on the Solar Stage in Einstein’s Garden, at the Green Man Festival, 19-21 August 2011. I’m also giving a short talk, incorporating a theremin performance and a rarely-seen live demo of recording on wax, in the Omni Tent on Sunday afternoon. Here are a few more details – you can also read these on the festival website. If you’re coming to Green Man, do say ‘hello’.
Talking Canaries and Voices of the Dead
In December 1877, a journalist writing in Scientific American noted there was a now ‘a startling possibility of recording voices of the dead’. He’d just witnessed Edison recording sound on his new invention: the phonograph. And in 1922, a New York radio station switched on the microphones, exited the studio and broadcast nothing but dead air. To mediums and suggestible listeners tuning in, the crackling radio static was alive with voices from the other side.
Radio and gramophones are transmitters of disembodied voices, a feat that seemed so remarkable to the first users, it inspired some curious claims about the paranormal and unlikely alliances between scientists and diviners of the spirit world. In this talk and live demonstration, I’ll explore some of the stranger obsessions of the early adopters of these sound machines, as I immortalise a voice from the audience by recording it on wax, using an original Edison Standard Phonograph.
This event includes tales of ventriloquism, trained budgies, fake psychics, dead air and a little-known curiosity from the eighteenth century, one which may have been used to record short segments of sound 150 years before the phonograph. I’ll perform some live ‘aether music’ and play genuine voices from the grave: ’message records’ posted by soldiers who were lost in battle in the Second World War.