The Voyager Golden Record: now available on earth
No longer just for aliens: for the first time since it was fired into space in 1977, humans can now enjoy the message sent out to extraterrestrial life – in the condor of their own homes…
1977 was a good year for music. Punk happened. David Bowie kick-started his ‘Berlin’ period with two otherworldly and highly influential albums – Low and Heroes. And mankind sent arguably the rarest album ever into space aboard the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes.
Attached to each was a golden vinyl disc – officially titled the Voyager Interstellar Record – which contained the sounds of the earth for any sentient being who happened to find it (together with visual instructions on how to play vinyl, just in case they’d moved on to digital streaming and/or psychokinesis by then). Starting with an address from Kurt Waldheim, the then Secretary-General of the UN, the disc went on to relay greetings in 55 languages, together with a collection of ambient recordings of wildlife, nature and examples of both popular and folk music, varying from Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground’ to Georgian folk singing and Beethoven’s Symphony No.5 in C Minor. Sadly there was no punk or Bowie, although rock’n’roll was represented by Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’.
With Voyager 1 now estimated to be 21 billion kilometres from earth by now, the recordings can finally be experienced in vinyl format on earth for the very first time, thanks to the most successful Kickstarter campaign of all time. The Voyager Golden Record boxset on Ozma records is a complete and faithful reproduction of the original, as created by the Voyager Interstellar Record Committee (chaired by Carl Sagan) 40 years ago.
Available either as a 3 vinyl LP box set or a 2CD edition with hardcover book, the release is both a brilliantly-curated sampler of the sounds of our planet – whale songs, Benin drumming, flowing water, babies crying et al – but also a fascinating artefact in its own right: a symbol of hope and faith in the power of communication and a celebration of what man’s creativity can achieve.