CONET PROJECT: RECORDINGS OF SHORTWAVE NUMBERS STATIONS
By Staff at Aquarius Records.
The Conet Project is an encyclopedic document of the anomalous and uncanny broadcasts from numbers stations. A number station anonymously transmits synthesized voices reading sets of phonetic letters and / or numbers. While there is no organization that has yet claimed responsibility for these transmissions, it is assumed that the CIA, MI6 (British Secret Intelligence Service), MOSSAD (Israeli Intelligence Service), and the renamed KGB are among those who operate the numbers stations. It is also assumed that these transmissions are encoded with a "one time pad" cryptosystem which uses a string of random numbers for both encryption and decryption. Assumption and innuendo surround these transmissions, but the conspiracy theories alone do not do justice to the aural terror that these transmissions invoke. The lo-fi shortwave radio hiss, the calculated recital of German numbers by a Swedish girl, the music box which punctuates the beginnings and ends of these transmission, and the incomprehensibility of "the Buzzer" (a mechanized pulse which buzzes 24 hours a day shifting in frequency at the top of every hour) have all of the makings for a Throbbing Gristle track, yet it is precisely the lack of intent in creating aural terror that gives these recordings substance. The breadth of this anthology provides the alternate listening experience of the texture, as the incessant rhythms of these voices in conjunction with the monochromatic shortwave radio hiss combines for a beautiful yet abject drone that may work within Brian Eno's late 70's definition of ambient (albeit a subliminally suggestive one). Warning! This record is certainly not for everybody.
Finally! The rumors proved true: the Conet Project has now been re-pressed and is back in stock! One of the all-time faves of AQ staffers (who ALL have bought copies, multiple copies in fact) and customers alike. We sold 120 of these when we had them before, and would have sold a lot more had it not gone out of print so quickly! So, if you missed it before, now's your chance. For those who haven't already heard about it from us before (or encountered the stories on NPR), here's a brief description: basically, the Conet Project is a four-cd compilation of recordings of mysterious shortwave radio broadcasts, known as "numbers stations". These numbers stations are generally believed to be encrypted spy transmissions, but no concrete evidence has ever surfaced proving that supposition. However, no credible *alternate* explanation has ever been demonstrated, either. For years (ever since the start of the Cold War), amateur radio enthusiasts have come across these sinister signals, and they continue to this day, broadcast in many languages all over the world (the theory is that some are CIA, some are KGB, some are Mossad, etc). In general, the transmissions consist of a deadpan voice (sometimes an old man, sometimes a young woman, etc.) reading a seemingly random, meaningless series of numbers over and over. Sometimes the broadcasts are preceded by a musical cue (the "Swedish Rhapsody" music box one being a favorite of ours), and sometimes the numbers are not conveyed by voice but by even more cryptic electronics (as with "The Buzzer", and other noisy, abstract stuff found mainly on disc four). Needless to say, hearing these collected on these four cds is an unnerving experience. Not only does knowledge of the supposed purpose of these transmissions imbue them with an disturbing quality, but the repetition of the numbers combined with the background of shortwave radio static makes for a aurally hypnotic experience. If merely regarded as a piece of experimental ambient sound sculpture, the Conet Project would be a brilliant and affecting piece of work, yet with the added context of international intelligence and conspiracy theory, it becomes even more intriguing and creepy. The four cds come with a large book (housed in its own jewel box) that provides a great deal of description of, and speculation about, the many recordings. Very well done. The Conet Project is possibly the most incredible, and weirdest, item of sound art/documentation that we've ever had here at Aquarius. Mesmerizing, fascinating, unique, massive, scary, but sometimes even soothing. 100 percent recommended to the adventurous listener ('cause it's not for everyone!). And once you have it you'll understand why it had to be a full four cds--being overwhelming is part of the obsessive allure of this project.