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Someone Has Remixed NASA Audio and Video into Something You Can Dance To

NASA has a vast collection of sounds and video from Earth and space, which has been begging to repurposed in artistic ways. Quindar is doing just that.

The project, created by Mikael Jorgensen of Wilco and James Merle Thomas, an art historian and curator, seeks to create sound- and videoscapes based on space exploration. The result is part EDM, part Eno-esque chillout, part Kraftwerk. This is from Air&Space Smithsonian.

On their debut album Hip Mobility, James Merle Thomas and Mikael Jorgensen—who call their musical project Quindar—weren’t interested in rewriting The Right Stuff or remaking Apollo 13. They wanted to explore the early decades of NASA and the pre-Shuttle space program, but from an oblique angle. “Countdown, blastoff—that stuff has been well covered,” explains Jorgensen, probably best known as a multi-instrumentalist in the critically acclaimed indie band Wilco. “We wanted to find little moments that were more humanizing.

The result of their search—one result, anyway—is a sequence of eight electronic compositions inspired by archival material from NASA and its contractors that Thomas began unearthing while earning his art history doctorate from Stanford University: sound recordings, bits of film, blueprints, documents. A few compositions, like the album-closing “Honeysuckle This Is Houston,” sample NASA radio transmissions directly. But the artifacts are more often an influence than an ingredient, says Thomas. “The project has a deep grounding in the fine-grained experience of looking at materials, walking around the interior of SkyLab — just soaking up the embodied knowledge of the place.”

The duo chose the name Quindar after the familiar analog-synthesizer generated “handshake” tone that indicated a successful radio transmission during the Mercury and Apollo eras. “It’s got the coolest letter of the alphabet — Q — and it sounds post-war,” Jorgensen says. “Quindar! Like radar, like Telstar. To me it’s obvious that it’s rooted in this postwar moment.”

Read more.

Here’s a sample of Quindar can do. It’s fantastic background music for work.

Now check out this interview with Quindar on NPR.

Thanks to Boing Boing for the discovery!

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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One thought on “Someone Has Remixed NASA Audio and Video into Something You Can Dance To

  • If you like this you should check out Brian Eno’s Apollo or Clock DVA’s Sign. Both are excellent and the NASA samples just that something extra.


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