This is perhaps the strangest thing, vinyl-wise, I’ve ever come across and you might be echoing my sentiments soon enough. Erik Bünger and Jan-Filip Ťupa transcribed a mysterious 78 that only had the words “Dangerous! Do not play!” written on its sleeve. The recording’s from 1948 and was initially discovered at the Society for Psychical Research Archive in London by German Thomas Knoefel. Contained on the record was just a recording of a gruff man ranting and raving in a mysterious tongue – to this day, there is no identifiable language. It’s probably tongues at the end of the day but it could very well be a language – there’s more of those than you can shake a stick at on our rather small planet. Jan-Filip Ťupa can be seen below in the Vimeo player playing along with the man’s voice as closely as possible and to call it surreal would be an understatement. What’s creepier than the man’s voice is the deep breathing and grunts he engages in while pausing. You have to wonder who he was speaking to, if anyone at all? Check it all out below and see what you think of it. Cheers!

The Details

In 2006 the researcher Thomas Knoefel found a mysterious single-pressing of a 78rpm vinyl at the Society for Psychical Research archive in London. The grooves of the record were pressed in the opposite direction of what is usually the case; so that when you dropped a needle on it, it would move from the interior of the disc and outwards towards the edge. No information was given on the sleeve except for the year 1948 and the phrase “Dangerous! Do Not Play!” The recording contained the voice of a man whose vocalisations couldn't be recognised as belonging to any language known to man. He was thus assumed to be in a state of trance and to be speaking in tongues. To this day we know nothing about the mother tongue of the speaker, nor anything about his particular faith.

The Empire Never Ended is a transcription, using musical notation, of this recording. During a performance of the piece the original recording is played back in a speaker system while one or more musicians follow the recording and the notation as closely as possible in unison and octaves. The piece operates at the intersection where complete control and complete lack of control coincide. To perform the piece a musician will have to summon all precision and all concentration. At the same time he/she will have to put these very same abilities in the hands of a power beyond any human control. A power we know nothing about.

The Empire Never Ended was originally written for Ensemble Modern and commissioned by the BHF-Bank-Stiftung for Frankfurter Positionen 2013.

Original recording published by Supposé as part of Okkulte Stimmen - Mediale Musik. Recordings of Unseen Intelligences 1905-2007, edited by Thomas Knoefel (Berlin 2007).

Single sided 10”, cut backwards and pressed to white vinyl with screen-printed B-side. Numbered edition of 300. Comes with a digital bonus track.

Price $21.91

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