Voices Of The Cosmos
New Music

Polish experimentalists translate sounds of the cosmos to puzzling, dark ambient record VOICES OF THE COSMOS

Created by two sound artists, Rafał Iwański (musician known from HATI, Alameda 5 and Innercity Ensemble, solo performing as X-NAVI:ET) and Wojciech Zięba (solo performing as ELECTRIC URANUS, founder Beast Of Prey label), and astronomer Sebastian Soberski, manager of the Planetarium and Astronomical Observatory in Grudziadz and radio astronomer at the Institute of Astronomy at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Piwnice near Torun, Poland, VOICES OF THE COSMOS combines efficiently the achievements of astronomy with electroacoustic music. The creators use the original extraterrestrial signals and sounds received by radio telescopes (e.g. pulsars, magnetospheres of planets, Sun, aurora borealis, masers) and other radio devices, sometimes they use sonifications and archive recordings from space missions.

Instrumental tracks integrated into the processed rhythms and tones of the “space sounds” are created with electronic instruments, both digital and analogue, as well as various acoustic objects. The project has been presented many times in scientific institutions and at music festivals, in the form of audio-visual concerts, also in the version extended with astronomy lectures and sky observations. It is a unique initiative in Poland, which uses the original space recordings. To give it a nod, we have teamed up with the trio to give you some more details behind their unique craft and 

VOICES OF THE COSMOS – Interstellar Space is released January 8th by Eter Records and Gusstaff Records. The band will release a special new CD of the album with tracks from their vinyl EP “Solar Sequences” later this Spring. “Interstellar Space” is the culmination of a decade of sound experiments and activities combining music with astronomy, which resulted in a number of audiovisual concerts, lectures and workshops as well as CD and vinyl EP releases: “I” (2011), “II” (2013), “III” (2019) and “Solar Sequences” (2020).

The Universe is a labyrinth made of labyrinths. Each leads to another. And wherever we cannot go ourselves, we reach with mathematics. Out of mathematics we build wagons to carry us into the nonhuman realms of the world. / Stanisław Lem, Fiasco

Asked for an additional commentary about thebackground behind their project, the band admitted that the idea for Voices Of The Cosmos was surprisingly simple.

“The data we use comes from various scientific institutions and universities from all over the world, some from our colleague Sebastian Soberski.

Sebastian is the third member of the VOTC, he is a radio astronomer by profession, he works in the Astronomy Centre in Piwnice near Toruń (the largest radio astronomy outpost in Poland) and is the manager of the Planetarium and Astronomical Observatory in Grudziądz.

Several times we recorded sounds from radio telescopes together. When we prepare to record a new VOTC album, we listen to many hours of radio astronomical material to choose what we are interested in from the musical side. Then, as a rule, we process these original audio recordings and add up our electronic and sometimes acoustic instruments.”

Voices Of The Cosmos

“Interstellar Space” track by track commentary:

1. Aurora Bis

Radio telescope sounds of aurora and magnetosphere + analog and digital synthesizers, analog filter machines, sampling pad, fx.
Thanks to Stephen P. McGreevy (The University of Iowa, U.S.) for aurora sounds.

2. Maser Emission

Sonification of maser + spin spark shakers, digital synthesizer, fx.
Thanks to Paweł Wolak (Institute of Astronomy – Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland) for radio telescope maser sonifications.

3. Six Pulsars

Radio telescope sounds of pulsars + analog and digital synthesizers, analog filter machine, sampling pad, fx.
Thanks to Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (Manchester, U.K.) for 47 Tucanae pulsars sounds.

4. Methanol Flash

Sonification of maser + digital synthesizer, drum machine, spring tubes, metal bars, fx.
Thanks to Paweł Wolak (Institute of Astronomy – Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland) for radio telescope maser sonifications.

Despite the pandemic still lurking, perspectives for live shows not being that optimistic, and the band’s recognition that their local music scene in Toruń is almost dead, Rafał from VOICES OF THE COSMOS reveals that throughout the whole pandemic he’s had regular rehearsals with the Bydgoszcz-Toruń quintet Alameda 5.

“For 2022 we are preparing a completely new concert programme.” – he says. “Last year we managed to play 6 concerts, in great places and with audiences, but it was mostly in the summer and in the open air. Check out the latest album from Alameda 5, released in 2019 by Instant Classic.”

“In 2020 with VOTC we played 3 concerts – 2 before pandemic and one during (Ars Cameralis festival in Katowice, online concert). For 2021 we have 4 concerts planned (Audio Art Festival in Cracow, MCSW Elektrownia in Radom, Muzykofilia Festival in Torun, GAK Plama in Gdansk). Normally we would play more concerts, e.g. after the release of VOTC album “III” in January 2019 we played 12 concerts.”

To conclude, we’ve got some recommendations of bands and artists worth looking into:

Nihiloxica – Kaloli (2020)

Antonina Nowacka – Lamunan (2020)

William Basinski – On Time Out of Time (2019)

Alameda 5 – Eurodrome

Polish experimentalists translate sounds of the cosmos to puzzling, dark ambient record VOICES OF THE COSMOS
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