We have already covered lists of historic recordings and incredible recordings, so now we are presenting you with a list of eerie recordings. These all feature themes or sounds that are spooky in one way or another. If you think we have left something off, be sure to tell us in the comments.
Some time ago we featured Klaus Nomi on a bizarre video list. It seems appropriate that he be included on this list for one particular performance. Nomi was known for his bizarrely theatrical live performances, heavy make-up, unusual costumes, and a highly stylized signature hairdo which flaunted a receding hairline. At the age of 39 (in 1983) he became one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS. As he was slowly dying from the disease he ditched his bizarre plastic tuxedo in favor of baroque clothing and focused on performing opera. This video is a live recording of Nomi singing “Cold” by Purcell. You can see the toll the disease had taken in his demeanor. Within a few months of this performance, Nomi was dead.
This is a 1922 recording made by Thomas Edison of Harry E. Humphrey. It was intended to be sold to owners of Edison’s phonograph so that their children could have some Christmas joy. In fact, on the contrary it is rather awful. If I were a kid, this would put me off Christmas forever. That laugh! Ugh!
On previous lists we had a copy of the “first recording” – since then a new earlier recording has come to light. It has only just been able to be played back because no one realized that it was a recording at all. In 1860 Frenchman Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville invented the phonautograph. It could transcribe sound to a visible medium, but had no means to play back the sound after it was recorded. The transcriptions, known as phonautograms, were first successfully played back using computer technology in 2008 and you can hear it above – this is the voice of a woman singing “Au clair de la lune” and it was recorded 149 years ago. The recording was initially believed to be a woman but it is now thought that it should be played at a lower speed – in which case it sounds like a man who is suspected to be the inventor himself. The thing that makes this recording eerie to me is the historicity of it. At the time, James Buchanan was the US President though later in the year Lincoln won the elections for the Republicans), France was governed by Emperor Napoleon III, Italy had become a Kingdom, and Charles Dickens published the first part of Great Expectations. Regardless of whether the recording is of a woman or a man, they saw things in history that we can on imagine now.
Speaking of the planets, do you believe in Aliens? If you do, you will probably find this video fascinating. The audio comes from the cassini recordings of radio and plasma waves when it made its flyby of Saturn (more on that shortly). Watch the whole thing through in order to hear the alien speech.
This is not a scene from 2001 – it is a real recording (well – digital rendition) of the radiowaves emitted by the planet Jupiter. From the video: “The complex interactions of charged electromagnetic particles from the solar wind , planetary magnetosphere etc. create vibration ‘soundscapes’. The winds of Jupiter are a thousand metres per second relative to the rotating interior. Jupiter’s magnetic field is four thousand times stronger than Earth’s, and is tipped by 11° degrees of axis spin. This causes the magnetic field to wobble, which has a profound effect on trapped electronically charged particles. This plasma of charged particles is accelerated beyond the magnetosphere of Jupiter to speeds of tens of thousands of kilometres per second. It is these magnetic particle vibrations which generate some of the sound you hear on this recording.” This is undoubtedly an eerie sound. If you find this interesting, you can also listen to the sounds of Earth, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus, and even a black hole.
Brion Gysin was a great friend of the beat generation author William Burroughs. He was also involved in much experimentation with audio, the written word, and visual poetry. In 1960 he recorded his “Pistol Poem” at the BBC studios in London as the BBC had comissioned him to produce some work for broadcast. The recording engineer almost left the recording session because he said he could feel evil coming from the “poem”. It was certainly unlike anything heard up to that time. The clip here is the entire “poem” and it involves inter-spliced audio samples with gunshots. You have to agree – this is a scary sounding poem.
Aleister Crowley was an English occultist, writer, mountaineer, poet, yogi, and possible spy. He was an influential member of occult organizations, including the Golden Dawn, the A?A?, and Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), and is known today for his magical writings, especially The Book of the Law, the central sacred text of Thelema. He gained notoriety during his lifetime, and was denounced in the popular press of the day as “The wickedest man in the world.” The recording above is an incredibly rare one – the speaker is Crowley and he is reading from some of his magickal [sic] writings.
December 26th Earthquake
When the sea floor off the coast of Sumatra split on the morning of December 26, 2004, it took days to measure the full extent of the rupture. Recently, researchers at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory analyzed recordings of the underwater sound produced by the magnitude 9.3 earthquake. This recording is the sound of the earthquake as it happened. Be sure to turn up the volume.
During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union was hot. People around the world watched and listened. Some, most notably amateur radio operators, listened more closely than others. And of these, a pair of young brothers from Italy, Achille and Giovanni Judica-Cordiglia, reigned supreme. The brothers used home-made equipment to listen in on the Soviet launches. They recorded the heartbeat of the dog Laika who was launched in the one way Sputnik 2 voyage. But then, in 1961, they recorded something eerie. It was the sound of a woman who appeared to be a woman who may have been involved in testing of the ability for humans to cope with space. The audio (in Russian) says: “Isn’t this dangerous? Talk to me! Our transmission begins now. I feel hot. I can see a flame. Am I going to crash? Yes. I feel hot, I will re-enter…” The audio stopped at that point.
This is a phone call to 911 from the 105th floor of the World Trade Center building 2. I will let the audio clip speak for itself. The last few seconds of the call are extremely disturbing.