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Originally published at Eggwhite's Eggbox. You can comment here or there.

If you pay attention here, or don’t run away fast enough when we talk in real life, you might have realised that I have an interest in SF.  You might also realise that as part of that, I have a bit of a niche interest – Original SF in Musical Form. That is, Speculative Fiction which first arrived in the world in the form of music .

Not SF that’s been set to music, or TV shows with musical episodes (although I quite like good examples of all of those, too).  SF that started as music.

I’ve written a little about it in the past, but here’s a chance to get in on the ground floor for something a little bit more.  You just need to be prepared to back a kickstarter that’s not exactly in need of more backers… having already reached 300% of it’s target.

I’m talking about Music to Die Alone In Space To .

From the blurb on kickstarter:

Music To Die Alone In Space To  is a full-length LP electronic album by Spruke with a brand-new distribution paradigm that is unprecedented in digital music: every copy of the album is unique to that owner, re-recorded in full with new parts, new sounds, and a voiceover performance done by the user’s choice of performer of any gender, language, and cultural identity.

There’s a bit more detail to it than that, and some of the versions are a bit more unique than others (I’ve paid for a completely unique version, with my choices of voice actors and whatnot.  Otherwise, they’re generated by different bits of randomness, different parameters and settings in the sound.  Each backer version above the very basic level has different randomly generated stuff.

It’s not just the voice cast that’s different – the music behind it, whilst similar, has differences.

As for story, I’ll explain by once again pasting in a chunk of the kickstarter page:

It’s narrated by an astronaut who has been set adrift in space, cut from the cord tethering them to their spaceship by a rogue particle of space dust. Drifting away helplessly and endlessly according to the laws of inertia, they have an hour of air left to ponder the significance of what’s happening to them and all the heavens they can see in every direction.

So, if you like clever techy stuff, bleepy music and science fiction story themes… and you have the funds to back it, this looks worth the shot.

Back it here .

 

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Originally published at Eggwhite's Eggbox. You can comment here or there.

A while back I got a bee in my bonnet whilst I was listening to music on the train home from work.  It boiled down thusly:

I am a fan of SF (meaning science fiction, speculative fiction or whatever else you may think along those lines).  I am a fan of music – including (but not at all limited to) progressive rock.

There is a fair chunk of well known crossover between SF and prog rock, and to music in general.  So I started to think a bit more… and an couple of ideas popped into my head.

Idea #1:  Host an SF music listening party.  This is a bit further off, and involves a bit more planning and whatnot, but is still something I’d like to do.

Idea #2: Create a collection of original SF in musical form. This now exists, albeit in a limited form.

Following up on Idea #2

I started out by unpacking a few terms and setting some rules, and by pinging my assorted online contacts and mining their brains for examples.  It’s their brains as much as my own which have populated the playlist so far.

Rules & Definitions

Definition: “Original SF” – Speculative Fiction which is not an adaptation of pre-existing speculative fiction from another medium.

Definition: “in musical form” – A distinct chunk of music that can be identified in some way.  A single track, a suite of pieces, an album, an EP, a performance, etc…  but in this case, standing as music alone .  Soundtracks, cast recordings and things which require you do anything other than listen to get the SFness don’t count.  There are occasions where a theme song can fit (there’s at least one in the playlist, after a fashion), but they need to stand in their own right, without the show.

Rule: No soundtracks  – Stuff that exists solely as an attachment to other media doesn’t count

Rule: Scope Limit 1 – Exclude sword & sandal / sword & sorcery fantasy.  Not because it’s necessarily bad, but because there was a glut of it in the 1980s (even more than there was SF stuff in the 70s and 80s) and it’d swamp the playlist.  Creating a playlist of original fantasy in music would be a different exercise.

Rule: Scope Limit  2 – Exclude horror (unless explicitly SF horror). See above.

 

The Playlist

So you can listen along…

I’ve put this together on Spotify so you can do more than just read about the music.  The playlist is collaborative, so stuff can be added, but please don’t spam it with crap – If that happens I’ll just delete it and create a new one that’s locked down.

Spotify Playlist – HTTP Link: Original SF music
Spotify Playlist – Spotify Link: Original SF music

The Music

Rush – 2112 suite

Type: Multi-part album track
SFness: Following a galactic war, all planets are ruled by the Red Star of the Solar Federation, lead by the priests of the temples of Syrinx. They control all media & every facet of life. Protagonist discovers an ancient guitar & starts to be creative. Oppressive civilization is oppressive.

Rush – Cygnus X-1 (books 1 & 2)

Type:  Multi-part album tracks from two albums (“A Farewell to Kings” & “Hemispheres”)
SFness: Space explorer is sucked into a black hole and emerges in Olympus, where Apollo and Dionysus are dividing the human mind, leading to conflict.  The explorer gradually takes on a role as a god of balance, bringing heart and mind together.

Rush – Red Barchetta

Type: Track
SFness:  This is “inspired by” the SF story “A Nice Morning Drive” by Richard Foster (acknowledged by both band and author, and the author is aware & fine with it), but I’ve read that it’s quite distinct from it, so I’m going to include it anyway.  If somebody who’s read the story disagrees… comments are welcome.

Sontaag – Sontaag

Type: Concept Album
SFness:  From the artist’s album notes:  “The Ancients, through a long process of trial and error, had discovered the secret of synthesizing essential energy from harmonic sound, giving them the power to reanimate extinct planets by utilising giant orbiting sonic generators. But life came at a price. The newly supplanted inhabitants of MP-5 were compelled to provide the musical fuel for The Great Harmodulator simply to stay alive.”

Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero

Type: Concept Album
SFness:  Dystopian, near future SF set in an increasingly aggressive post 9-11 united states as events unfold towards (and beyond) nuclear war with Iran.

Janelle Monáe – Metropolis suite(s)

Type: Multiple albums / EPs / tracks (Metropolis: Chase Suite EP, Archandroid & Electric Lady albums)
SFness: Cindi Mayweather, a messianic android, is sent back in time to free the citizens of Metropolis from The Great Divide, a secret society that uses time-travel to suppress freedom and love.

Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime

Type: Concept Album
SFness: Near future / current day dystopian SF. An amnesiac drug addict starts to recover memories of his time as a drug fuelled, mind controlled assassin.

Keldian – Heaven’s Gate / Journey of Souls / Outbound

Type: Multiple Albums
SFness: They’re specifically an SF themed power metal band

EDIT – October 2015 – quite a bit of Keldian (whilst still great)

  • Heaven’s Gate – Album of SF songs
  • Journey of Souls – Album – ideas around souls travelling through time & space (as opposed to bodies). Mostly original SF, except:
    • Hyperion (based on Dan Simmons’ Hyperion)
    • The Last Frontier (based on Battlestar Galactica)
  • Outbound – Mostly original SF songs, except:
    • “A Place Above the Air” (based on Dan Simmons’ Endymion)
    • The Silfen Paths (based on Peter F. Hamilton’s Commonwealth books)

EDIT – October 2015 – quite a bit of Keldian (whilst still great) is turning out to be based on other works, so I might have to move some more out of this list.

The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

Type: Album / Tracks on album
SFness: …less than is immediately apparent, but still fitting

  • Not actually about battling robots.
  • The “pink robots” of the title (and title track) are apparently a metaphor for cancer, and the story of the title track is an analogy to the fight against illness, presented in an SFnal way.  Still SF, because it doesn’t have to be about robots to be SF.
  • “Do You Realize” – about precariousness of existence.
  • Not a single SF piece, but most of the songs have themes that can be considered SFnal – particularly “soft SF” (SF based on the “soft sciences”).

Queen – 39

Type: Album track
SFness:   Space explorers depart for a year long voyage, but relativity means that upon their return 100 years have passed.

Devin Townsend – Ziltoid the Omniscient

Type: Concept album
SFness:  Ziltoid (an alien warlord) travels to earth in search of something described as “the ultimate cup of coffee”.  He finds it foul, and brings his battlefleet to wage war on earth in disgust.

The RAH Band – Clouds Across The Moon

Type: Single
SFness:  A woman tries to contact her husband who’s fighting on mars.  A connection is made, and so she has a few minutes to leave a message telling him that she misses him before the connection is lost.

Kate Bush – Experiment IV

Type: Single / Album Track
SFness: Military scientists looking to create a sonic weapon… and (unfortunately for them) succeeding beyond expectations.

Zager & Evans – In The Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)

Type: Single / album track
SFness: Dystopian SF depicting humanity’s decline as a result of the growth of dehumanizing technology.  A modified cover version was used as the theme to the somewhat awful (yet bizarrely, regrettably watchable) “Cleopatra 2525” TV show.

Norman Greenbaum – The Eggplant That Ate Chicago

Type: Single
SFness:  The invasion of Chicago by carnivorous, plant-like alien.

The person who suggested this to me was joking, but they shouldn’t have been – it fits.  SF can be silly, too.

Threshold – Clone

Type: Concept(ish) Album
SFness: Genetic manipulation of humans leads to the development of telepathy. Enhanced humans leave the earth to colonize other planets, eventually returning to Earth centuries later.

Electric Light Orchestra – Time

Type: Concept album
SFness: A man from the 1980s finds himself in the year 2095, tries to come to terms with being unable to return and adjust to his new surroundings.

Tandy & Morgon – Earthrise

Type: Concept Album
SFness: Space explorer longs to return to his one love on Earth, only to eventually find that true love has always been with him… inside. (from description on wikipedia)

David Bowie – Space Oddity

Type: Single
SFness: Features a space launch where things don’t go entirely to plan…  You mostly know the song, I’m sure.

David Bowie – Starman

Type: Single
SFness: It’s either about an alien or a deity.  Who knows?

Landscape – Einstein a Go-Go

Type: Single
SFness: Oddly cheery dystopian vision of a nuclear apocalypse.

Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship – Blows Against the Empire

Type: Concept Album
Notes: Particularly Sunrise / Have you seen the stars tonight (which are on spotify, whilst the main album isn’t)
SFness:  The story tells of a counter-culture revolution against the oppressions of “Uncle Samuel”.  This leads to a plan to steal a starship from orbit and journey into space in search of a new home. Loosely based on / inspired by Heinlein’s “Methuselah’s Children”, but apparently different enough to be considered original SF in its own right.

Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time

Type: Album
SFness: Lots of “space and time” themed songs – characters taken out of their time / place in SFnal ways.  Not a single SF piece, but most of the songs have SFnal themes.

Styx – Kilroy was here

Type: Concept Album
SFness: Rock music is outlawed by a fascist government and the “Majority for Musical Morality”. Kilroy (a former rock star who has been imprisoned) escapes using a disguise (“Mr. Roboto”) and becomes aware that a young musician, Jonathan Chance, is on a mission to bring rock music back.

Jon Anderson – Olias of Sunhillow

Type: Concept album
SFness: An alien race journeys to a new world following a volcanic catastrophe

What next?

This is not an exhaustive list.  The playlist will grow and change.  In writing it up, the playlist grew one album (a mistyped search found a result I’d never heard of, but which fitted better!) and was reduced by four or five songs as I researched them and found they didn’t fit the “Original” part of “Original SF”.

If you have suggestions, either go to the spotify playlist and add them (preferably pinging me a message somewhere explaining the SFness) or leave a comment somewhere I’ll see it and hope I can track it down to add it myself.  Either way, I’m interested in hearing more.

Contributors

Responses to my pleas for music references came from the following folks (even if their responses didn’t make the cut for some reason):

  • Ann (who was trying to be facetious but accidentally made the list anyway!)
  • Beth
  • Caz
  • Chris T.
  • @dakkar
  • Dave W.
  • Dean M.
  • Francis M.
  • Gav
  • Gurdy S.
  • Neil J.
  • Simon R.
  • Victoria S.
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Originally published at Eggwhite's Eggbox. You can comment here or there.

It’s occurred to me that a) I’ve not posted here for a while, and b) I’ve never quite managed to write the post I keep meaning to about how I find music to listen to these days.

So here it is, knocked together in a few minutes over a lunchbreak.  So don’t expect a novel or, if I’m honest, any kind of continuity.

I listen to a lot of music.  I’ve written about that before .  The constant challenge is marrying up discovering new music with being able to seamlessly listen to music without having to nursemaid it the whole time.

Spotify

Lately, I’ve been using spotify’s “discover” section a fair bit… mostly because it’s easy to get to and my workplace doesn’t block it.  Thankfully.  However, it’s got a weird knack of being both transient and persistent .  Recommendations I’m interested in just vanish without a trace, whilst ones I’m not interested in just keep cropping up

It also doesn’t help that much with letting me look back over my listening for a period of time and determine what I might want to pay more attention to in future.

Playlisting

So I got into a habit – monthly playlists.  If I find something that grabs my attention (or just doesn’t make me switch off) then I bung it into a “new finds” playlist for that month.  I’ve been doing this since about last November.

This means that I can look back over them and think “Wow, I listened to a lot of style-X last month and was starting to get quite miserable and mopey.  Time for a change!”.  It also means that I can say “I was really in a good mood a couple of months ago – I’d like to get that back” or “I’m getting a bit shouty.  I was mellower in December – let’s rewind!” and then just pull up a playlist from an appropriate month and see what’s in it.

It’s been working pretty well for me so far.  Even better, I can share the playlists.  Which I do.  So, without further ado, here are the past seven months of my work-based listening material…

Seven Months of Soundtrack

  • New Finds – 11/2013  (Post-rock / Ambient / Downtempo)
  • New Finds – 12/2013  (Progressive rock / Symponic metal / Prog-metal / Post-rock / Darkwave / Electronica with a side of chiptunes)
  • New Finds – 01/2014 – Part 1  (non-anglo-american metal / weird electronica / post-rock / game soundtracks & electronica)
  • New Finds – 01/2014 – Part 2  (post-rock / electronica / shoegaze / dream pop / Experimental Rock / Guitar Virtuoso)
  • New Finds – 02/2014  (bleepy ambient / downtempo / soundscapes / guitar virtuoso / electronica / 80s retro electronica / post-rock / Piano / Progressive Rock)
  • New Finds – 03/2014  (Guitar & Bass Virtuoso / Ambient / Post-Rock / Hard Rock / Instrumental & Soundtrack / Blues Rock / 80s Retro Electronica / Heavy Rock / Electronica / Southern Rock / Modern Psychedelic Rock / Progressive rock)
  • New Finds – 04/2014  (Post Rock / Hard Rock / Psychedelic Rock / Progressive rock / Guitar Virtuoso /  Heavy Rock / Progressive Metal / Alt. Prog / Doom Metal)
  • New Finds – 05/2014  (Post Rock / Ambient / Drone / Progressive Rock / Progressive Metal / SynthPop)
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I'm on a roll today, and sleep isn't happening, so I'm going to press on into the Es. First up, we have:

The Echelon Effect - Mosaic
First things first, this is a small independent artist who's work is incredible, so he's getting a post all of his own and isn't being shoved behind a cut tag. This one gets shoved into your friends feed in full. So there.

What's more, you can listen along over here, or view the website over here.

In short, it's one of the most relaxing and pleasant works of ambient music I've heard in a long time. In terms of music that lets your mind wander and find its own imagery, I'd put it right up there with Global Communication's 76:14... and that's some pretty damned high praise.

If you want to let yourself go and get lost in some music, put this one on. Or pretty much any other Echelon Effect stuff. It's incredible, it's relaxing and it's inspiring.

As well as the music, it also contains one of the finest song titles I've ever encountered:
Defying Gravity To Reach You.

I don't know why that one hits me as much as it does. Possibly it's because, when it boils down to it, I'm a bit soppy about such things, and that's a very science fictional way to express something very romantic. It's also an amazing piece of music, which helps.

Verdict: Keep and spread around
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Dark Star - Twenty Twenty Sound )
Verdict: letting it go...

Deexpus - The King of Number 33 )
Verdict: Very much keeping this one thankyou!

Dragons - Here Are The Roses )
Verdict: It's got "Here are the Roses" on it. I'm keeping it.

Dream Theater - When Dream And Day Unite )
Verdict: Surprisingly, keep.

Dream Theater - Images & Words )
Verdict: I'd say "keep" but I've already lost it!

Dream Theater - A Change of Seasons )
Verdict: Keep
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I'm ditching the roman numerals and switching to far more sensible options now!

Curve - Gift )
Verdict: Keep

Curve - Open Day at the Hate Fest )
Verdict: Keeping for a couple of the songs.

Curve - The New Adventures of Curve )
Verdict: Keep, just

Curve - The Way of Curve )
Verdict: Keep

This concludes the "Curve" portion of this grand listen through. I'll keep going, but in a new post, I think.
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Curve - Come Clean )
Verdict: KEEP

Only a brief post this time around... didn't have time to listen to more, due to today being a hugely busy day!
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So, let's get going with this again... I'll pick up where I left off

Crosby/Nash - Crosby/Nash )
Verdict: To Go

Curve - Doppelganger )
Verdict: Keep.

Curve - Radio Sessions )
Verdict: Keep.

Curve - Cuckoo )
Verdict: It's got "Unreadable Communication" on it. IT'S MINE.

I think that's enough for now.
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So, I'm working at home today. I don't feel like working with tapes as that's too much of a "hands on" exercise, so I thought I'd do some background CD listening again

Crazy Gods of Endless Noise - Inflatable Geek )
Verdict: KEEP

Crazy Gods of Endless Noise - Heavy Planet )
Verdict: KEEP
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I'll restart this again soon, but I've not been spending much time at the PC lately. I've also just started working on ripping my old tape collection to mp3, which is slow going. To do one rip takes as long as listening to the tape twice. Once to rip it, once to slice it into tracks. For albums where track divisons are clear I could probably speed the second pass up quite a bit by skipping ahead, but that's not always possible. Audacity even has tools to identify tracks and slice them automatically... but I've not messed with those just yet.

Then again, it is making some of the more \m/ METAL \m/ end of my music collection is going to become available for listening again. Which will be quite cool.

So, here's a few brief notes from in the midst of the tape ripping process for your general entertainment:

The Almighty - Soul Destruction
I'd forgotten how much I like this album. I should acquire it on CD at some point... or at least buy better quality (ie: not tape ripped) mp3s. I'd generally say it's more hard rock than metal, although it's a tough distinction to call. It's a good, old fashioned guitar-based rocker of a kind that we just don't see enough of these days. I have more albums from this lot on tape somewhere... I wonder where they are?

Curve - Horror Head EP
It's Curve, who are one of my favourite bands of all time, so of course I'm going to like this. "Falling Free" is a bit of a departure from the rest of the EP due to the thumping beat that sits behind it all, but it all still works.

Next...
I'm leaving my tape ripping device (basically a walkman with a usb connection and a built in soundcard) going whilst I wander off for lunch. I'm ripping "Copper Blue" and "Beaster" by Sugar (they're back to back on the same cassette). I'll follow them up with "File Under Easy Listening".
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Cranes - Loved )
Verdict: Keep

Cranes - Population 4 )
Verdict: Keep.

Cranes - Future Songs )
Verdict: Keep.

Cranes - Particles & Waves )
Verdict: Keep. Really, Really Keep.

There's another, more recent Cranes album out there. It's called "Cranes", but I think I might only own it on mp3, not as a Physical CD. I can't remember it well enough to tell how it stands up to the rest. If I do have a physical CD, it's hiding from me. Which means I've cleared the great wall of Cranes... which, I'll warn you now, is barely a warm-up for some of the epic artist collections coming up.

Next up, something slightly different, courtesy of "Crazy Gods of Endless Noise".
the_eggwhite: (Default)
Cranes - Wings of Joy )
Verdict: Keep - bleak soundtracks have their place

I think I've now passed the lowest point in the trough of bleakness... If there's a more bleak album left in my collection, I can't think of it right now.

Cranes - Forever )
Verdict: Keep
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Collide - Chasing the Ghost )
Verdict: Keep

I'm bracing myself a bit for the next one. Making sure that I'm well away from sharp objects or dangerous pills or anything like that. I'm only on the first floor, so autodefenestration isn't too much of a risk either.

Cranes - Self Non Self )
Verdict: Keep
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A bit more back-filling, starting back in the Bs. As usual, I'm trying to comment live as I go... and I may well be doing other things at the same time. This means I might not notice titles of songs or whatnot... so I'll just give an overall vibe and call out song titles as I go.

Black Mountain - Black Mountain )
Verdict: Keep

Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart )
Verdict: Very Definitely Keep

Celldweller - Celldweller )
Verdict: Keep

Choke The Word - Enjoy The Parade )
Verdict: Keep

Coheed & Cambria - In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 )
Verdict: Keep, I think. Probably. Although I may change my mind.

Right... now I'm back up to date and on track. More should follow at some point.
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So, I'm leaping back through the alphabet again. This time heading back to the As and the Bs. Yes, some of my gap filling CD orders have arrived. Obviously, having bought them, the verdict is going to be "keep" for all of them. They're on here mostly for completeness sake, and so I can convince folks to listen to them themselves.

So here goes:

All About Eve - Ultraviolet )
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The Church - El Momento Descuidado )
Verdict: To go - just not as keen on them as an accoustic band.

I think I might leave it there for now and find something else to do for a bit. This spot on the sofa is starting to gain a human shaped indentation, and that's probably not a good sign!
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Well, I've now relocated downstairs, and am doing the listen-through in the front room and typing on my netbook. I'm also sorting through my fairly massive accumulated post pile as I go, so I may be distracted at times.

My friend Flick is also around here, using our dining table as a comfortable working space. If she has any interesting reactions to the CDs, they may get posted here too... but I'm not going to tell her that just yet.

So, here we go, starting with some good old 90s Shoegaze.

Chapterhouse - The Best of Chapterhouse )
Verdict: Keep


The Church - Gold Afternoon Fix )
Verdict: Keep - I'd prefer to own it more legitimately if at all possible, but last time I looked it was like hen's teeth! (update: ordered)
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Now we're into the Cs, which start with one of the "are you sure this is from *your* CD collection?" CDs.

The Cardigans - Gran Turismo )
Verdict - To go - I just don't have space.

Brief aside: Cockbags! I just found two more CDs lying around. Thankfully they're from later in the alphabet, but it means this task is getting even more daunting.

...and now, I post this as I'm relocating to a laptop in the front room. This entry will continue in another post.

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