What would a UFO sound like? Who killed JFK? Who is the Mothman and what are his prophecies? What are those strange sounds coming from your basement? Find out the answers to all these exciting questions and more in the first post of the Unexplained Sounds Group’s official Blog.
I was lucky enough to attend the 2018 Beirut based Irtijal experimental electronic music festival’s 18th edition. It is known to pay homage to the purest expression of experimental music. I chose the third night of the event (April 5th) since I would get to catch some of my favorite local talent.
Jawad Nawfal’s Munma project explores oriental harmonies and rhythmical patterns, with a strong reliance on sampled traditional music and vocal sample from politicians’ speeches and radio broadcasts. Rabih Beaini, who runs Morphine Records, is well known for his deep, otherworldly experimental sets and unique dj skills. I met Belgian sound artist Cedrik Fermont who presented a deep vocal performance alongside Munma’s modular electronics. Together, they record and perform as Tasjiil Moujahed. I also met the French experimental rock band Oiseaux Tempetes who played an explosive psychedelic show accompanied by visuals and field recordings.
Samples from Rabih Beaini’s 2013 album “Albidaya” on Annihaya label, Lebanon
Tasjiil Moujahed’s Moussafer album on Syrphe Records
I am looking forward to hearing more from these artists’ work and also to experience the burgeoning Lebanese experimental music scene in the coming years. Irtijal is an unmissable festival and I hope it will be around for a long time. Some more experimental music festivals to watch out for this year include Terraforma 2018 in Milan, Unsound Festival in Krakow, and the Roadburn Festival in Tillburg, Netherlands.
I have been enjoying the new Eighth Tower records release by Belgian Steve Fabry aka Hezaliel. His Paradise Lost album is based on the epic poem by John Milton about the fall of Satan and the banishment of Adam and Eve.
It is very dark and one for the dark ambient lovers.
I was lucky enough to help with vinyl editing and publishing of Sonologyst’s notorious Silencers album.
It explores themes of conspiracy theories such as UFOs. Uexplained Sounds Group founder and sound producer Sonologyst aka Raffaelle Pezzella was nice enough to sit with me for an interview to discuss some of the inspiration behind the album and production techniques used for the album. Enjoy 🙂
A. So Raffa, what conspiracy theories do you discuss in these dossiers? How did they push you to create this album and what was your process?
RP: Many of my works are like documentaries in music, mostly focused on unexplained phenomena science cannot yet explain. In this case, I chose the “Silencers” also known as Men in Black, a mystery that represents one of the most obscure matters related to the extraterrestrial intelligence on Earth. I collected some field recordings that could be related to the subject, including a JFK speech about secret societies in USA. Afterwards, I composed some parts with a dronin instrument and synthesizers that were also used for the final mix.
B. Regarding John Keel the American journalist, can you give us a brief background about him and his research and how he influenced you in the creation of this album?
RP: Silencers are one of the most mysterious subjects related to UFO conspiracy theories and plots. Many versions about their identity have circulated over the last 70 years, that are more or less reliable.
The most influential of them is certainly the John Keel theory. He was a journalist and paranormal investigator and writer. He was born in 1930 in NY State. He is known to have said “I am not an authority on anything”. I like this ironic and low profile approach. As a journalist, Keel investigated difficult and elusive things, many times at great risk. Influenced by writers such as Charles Fort, he began contributing articles to the Flying Saucer Review and took up investigating UFOs and assorted Forteana as a full-time pursuit.
The most interesting aspect of John Keel’s research, that influenced me in the creation of “Silencers”, was his novel approach to these kinds of phenomenon. I mean this revolution about how he considered all these mysteries like UFOs, ghosts, demons and paranormal activities in general. Not like physical entities in the obvious term the most people think about, but like a sort of revelation of an implicate and hidden dimension, completely separated by our plane of reality. It is still an important field of research on the paranormal, that followed by many scientists, physicists, psychologists and others such as those researchers working with the Holographic Theory of the Universe.
C. Which of his books influenced you the most, can you talk about them a little bit?
RP: It certainly was “The Mothman Prophecies” book. An eerie story of John Keel’s investigations in to sightings of a large, winged creature called the Mothman. It combines these accounts with his theories about UFOs and various supernatural phenomena.
D. What does it mean to you to use machines to create music? What types of sound inspire you the most and how do you create them?
RP: I think machines are just the equivalent of a piano or a violin, in our age. It’s natural to work on machines, and when I work with some acoustic instruments, the first thing that comes to my mind is how to process it electronically. The same is for the sounds that inspire me to make music. Usually I’m inspired from strange sounds, no matter if they come from artificial or natural world. The aspect that intrigues me is the timbre of sound, and the stranger it is in its’ frequency spectrum, the more it inspires me to create something with my equipment.
E. What would a UFO sound like if it has a sound?
RP: In most of cases of UFO sighting, there are reports of silent objects moving in the atmosphere. It’s funny that in a world so full of noises and screams, the UFO sound can be silent. It is possible that, if some extraterrestrial life form does exist, it would be wiser than the human race, and thus prefers silence to loud noise. That’s the kind of UFO sound I imagine, a sound very close to silence.
F. Can you tell us a bit about field recording and the process behind it and how field recordings help you create your work?
RP: Field recordings are a fundamental component in my musical process. They are the ingredient that help create visual atmospheres, vivid landscapes, even stories. The most important thing with field recording is that to use them in music, is like taking a piece of reality in to the musical composition, or alternately, to take the music into the reality. That being said, I am not a professional field recordist. I use a simple condenser microphone, or even a smartphone when I am out and about, to catch anything that might be interesting.
G. What is your favorite movie on this subject and why?
RP: My favorite movie about this subject is a 1978 Italian b-movie, “Eyes from the Stars”. The critics considered it rough and incoherent, but I like the claustrophobic atmosphere and feeling of total conspiracy that pervades it.
H. Are you ever going to do a second part to this majestic album?
RP: It’s not in my plans at the moment, but, considering the new disclosure from the US Government of unclassified documents and new revelations, it’s possible I’ll find a new reason to go on.
Stay tuned for more information in the next USG blog post!!!
Written by: Joseph Doumet