Last call for the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition!


Are you jonesing for a dose of optimism and possibility? In the mood to contemplate the cosmos? Want to experience a musical message for extraterrestrials the way it was meant to be played? The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition, a project I launched with Timothy Daly and Lawrence Azerrad, is a lavish vinyl box set containing the contents of the phonograph record launched into space in 1977 and now 13 billion miles from Earth.

Our Kickstarter ends at 8pm PDT tonight (Thursday). Once we fulfill the rewards from this campaign, we'll never produce this deluxe 40th Anniversary Edition again.

We are so thankful enthusiasm and excitement about our project and the incredible Voyager interstellar mission. The curiosity and support is infectious. We're deeply grateful that a project that has been on our minds for so long has resonated with so many people around the world. Ad astra!

For more on the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition, please visit our Kickstarter page here.

And here's an excerpt from an interview with me about the project, from The Vinyl Factory:

Ultimately it was a utopian vision for Earth as much as an actual attempt to communicate with extra terrestrials… Wasn’t it?

Yeah I think the idea is that if there is a civilisation that is intelligent enough to actually intercept it, they’ll be able to follow the instructions on how to play it. And I think that’s true. In some ways though, it doesn’t even really matter if it’s ever played or not by an extra-terrestrial civilisation.

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Mario theme performed with trumpet and handgun


Charlie Cook performs cover versions of songs with a gunslinging twist. Read the rest

Vintage snapshots of people with their record albums


Esteemed vernacular photography collector Robert Jackson shares his favorite snapshots of people with their record albums. According to Mashable, "These faded prints and Polaroids recall a time when a new record was a physical work of art to be admired and cherished." I got news for you: That time is still now.

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This version of Queen's We Will Rock You is best


Here's a version of We Will Rock You that actually rocks instead of sounding like a stadium full of drunk teenagers. It's from a 1970s BBC session, according to the liner notes. Right on! Read the rest

Sylvan Esso: folktronica you can dance to

At last weekend's rainy and wonderful Treasure Island Music Festival on the San Francisco Bay, there were myriad sublime moments on and off the stages. My highlight was the evening set by Sylvan Esso, the indie pop/electronica/folk duo of Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn. While Sylvan Esso's self-titled 2014 release is still attracting new fans (like me), they're prepping a new album for next year. The above track, "Radio," released in August, is a fantastic glimpse of what's to come.

Once again, Treasure Island served as a visceral stream of music discovery for me. It was the festival's final year on the island and I look forward to wherever our friends who curate and produce the festival, Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment, drop their anchor next year.

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Swim Through the Darkness: the strange story of a mysterious 60s psych songwriter


Swim Through the Darkness: My Search for Craig Smith and the Mystery of Maitreya Kali is the much-anticipated story of one of the more esoteric, fascinating casualties of the flower power generation. As told by Ugly Things magazine creator Mike Stax, the book tracks the odyssey of Craig Smith, a musician who evolved from clean-cut singer songwriter, landing gigs on the Andy Williams show and a Monkees-esque television pilot, to a post-institutionalized street messiah, Maitreya Kali. Smith wrote songs for The Monkees (and was nearly cast in the band) and Glen Campbell, headed the much fabled psych pop band The Penny Arkade, and released two of the most acid-drenched folk records of the early 70s before fading into obscurity. After his initial songwriting success, he used the money he earned to travel the world, only to return as a permanently damaged shell of his former self, complete with a spider tattoo on his forehead.

Until now, Smith’s life has mostly been told by the music he left behind. And even so, his Penny Arkade recordings were only made readily available within the last twenty years, while his psych folk records, self-released under the moniker Maitreya Kali, have only been experienced by extremely lucky record collectors or in varying quality online. Apache and Inca, those latter releases, include an early demo of the Monkees' "Salesman" (from Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd.) as well as alternative versions of songs recorded by The Penny Arkade. But what the records are really known for is their otherworldly vibe that could only be made by someone whose mind was no longer on Earth. Read the rest

Data and Picard: Star Trek megamix medley


Not only is the song catchy, but this delightful homage by Pogo has fantastic production values, to boot! Warning: you may be singing this the rest of the day. Read the rest

Negativland's next album comes with a baggie of Don Joyce's cremains


Good Hello, Consumers of Media About Media:

Courtesy of our friends at Boing Boing, this is Negativland speaking to you. Thank you for reading about all of our deaths over the past year and a half!

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 went to Bob Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". From the New York Times:

Sara Danius, a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the 18-member Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, called Mr. Dylan “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition” and compared him to Homer and Sappho, whose work was delivered orally. Asked if the decision to award the prize to a musician signaled a broadening in the definition of literature, Ms. Danius jokingly responded, “The times they are a changing, perhaps,” referencing one of Mr. Dylan’s songs.

"Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature" (NYT)

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Jazz saxophonist Bhumibol Adulyadej dies at 88


Legendary jazz saxophonist Bhumibol Adulyadej is dead at 88 following a series of illnesses.

Strongly influenced by Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet and Benny Carter, Bhumibol specialized in dixieland and New Orleans jazz, and played the clarinet and trumpet as well as the sax. He famously performed with Benny Goodman, Stan Getz, Lionel Hampton, and Benny Carter, but was most renowned for his own compositions, which range from classical Waltzes to traditional Thai music. "But mostly jazz swing," adds Wikipedia.

Adulyadej was also King of Thailand for 70 years and the world's longest-reigning monarch.

A stabilizing force in the nation's politics, he passes his crown to son Maha Vajiralongkorn, "regarded as erratic and virtually incapable of ruling" and who frequently avails himself of the nation's laws against insulting royalty.

In a televised address to the nation, Prayut Chan-ocha said Thailand would hold a one-year mourning period and that all entertainment functions must be "toned down" for a month. "He is now in heaven and may be looking over Thai citizens from there," he said of King Bhumibol.

The palace had warned on Sunday that the king's health was "not stable". King Bhumibol was widely respected across Thailand, and thought of by many as semi-divine.

Bhumibol became a rare sight in public before his death. The nation's strict lese-majeste laws, the BBC writes, mean there will be no public discussion of the succession.

Elizabeth II, queen of the United Kingdom and various other commonwealth nations for 64 years, is now the world's longest-reigning monarch. Read the rest

Bob Dylan is the first songwriter to win the Nobel Prize for literature


The fantastically brief press release from the Nobel Prize hivemind says, simply, "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". Read the rest

The Caretaker's beautiful music about dementia


When I first heard the lovely music Leyland James Kirby creates as The Caretaker, it instantly reminded me of The Shining's ballroom ghost scenes. Turns out, that's where Kirby found his original inspiration. His compositions draw from his huge collection of vintage 78s with added static, glitches, loops, and ambience for a deeply ghosty and, well, haunted vibe. All of his releases embody the mysteries of memory in sound. After a four year break, The Caretaker has released the first in a series of six new albums that will be released over three years, "slowly cataloguing the stages of early onset dementia." Listen to "Everywhere at the end of time" below:

Everywhere at the end of time by The Caretaker

Each stage will reveal new points of progression, loss and disintegration. Progressively falling further and further towards the abyss of complete memory loss and nothingness.

Viewing dementia as a series of stages can be a useful way to understand the illness, but it is important to realise that this only provides a rough guide to the progress of the condition.

Drawing on a recorded history of 20 years of recollected memories this is one final journey and study into recreating the progression of dementia through sound.

"Everywhere at the end of time" by The Caretaker (Bandcamp)

"Out Of Time: Leyland James Kirby And The Death Of A Caretaker" (The Quietus) Read the rest

To do in Mill Valley: a concert to help pay for John Perry Barlow's medical bills


John Perry Barlow -- author of the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace, Grateful Dead lyricist, Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder, character in my novels, and all-round amazing, pioneering guy -- has been hospitalized on and off for a year and a half, is in constant pain, and has limited mobility. Read the rest

Watch Death Cab For Cutie's new anti-Trump video

Today our friends Death Cab For Cutie released a new anti-Trump song, titled "Million Dollar Loan," and video directed by Simian Design. The song is the first in DCfC manager Jordan Kurland and author Dave Eggers's 30 Days, 30 Songs series featuring a single song from a different artist each day until the election. Later this week, look for tunes by Aimee Mann, Thao Nguyen, Bhi Bhiman, and REM.

Here's what DCfC singer Ben Gibbard says about "Million Dollar Loan:"

Lyrically, ‘Million Dollar Loan’ deals with a particularly tone deaf moment in Donald Trump's ascent to the Republican nomination. While campaigning in New Hampshire last year, he attempted to cast himself as a self-made man by claiming he built his fortune with just a ‘small loan of a million dollars’ from his father. Not only has this statement been proven to be wildly untrue, he was so flippant about it. It truly disgusted me. Donald Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that he is unworthy of the honor and responsibility of being President of the United States of America, and in no way, shape or form represents what this country truly stands for. He is beneath us.

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Nirvana cover of "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

On March 19, 1988, Nirvana played Tacoma, Washington's Community World Theater and performed this fantastic, gritty cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising." The song first appeared on CCR's masterpiece, Green River, in 1969. That version is below. According to CCR's John Fogerty, the song is about "the apocalypse that was going to be visited upon us."

"It wasn't until the band was learning the song that I realized the dichotomy," Fogerty told Rolling Stone in 1993. "Here you got this song with all these hurricanes and blowing and raging ruin and all that, but it's [snaps fingers] "I see a bad moon rising." It's a happy-sounding tune, right? It didn't bother me at the time."

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10 most sampled music tracks of all time


Number 1, of course, is the source of the Amen Break. But a surprise or two lurks in the top 10, as calculated by Who Sampled, a truly amazing website that tells you the when and where and what of samples for singles over the last few decades. Read the rest

Relaxing Hope Sandoval and Kurt Vile collaboration


Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions collaborated with Kurt Vile on this lovely track "Let Me Get There." Hope's languid voice is just a gorgeous as when she started 30 years ago. Read the rest

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