Band on the Wall staffers select their ‘golden voyager’ records

A vinyl box set celebrating NASA’s pioneering voyager golden record is due for release today. It celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the 1977 voyager launch, which sent two probes – each mounted with a one-of-a-kind gold disc entitled The Sounds of Earth – on a course for the depths of interstellar space. It was NASA’s hope that – should a probe ever made contact with intelligent life forms – its 90-minute disc, containing audio and graphic playback instructions, would introduce extraterrestrials to the sounds that fill the world we inhabit.

Ozma records – the label responsible for this first commercial release – raised in excess of $1.3million to fund the many facets of their homage. They describe the voyager project as ‘The story of earth: expressed in sounds, images and science’ and we recommend that you watch their documentary short, in order to appreciate the magnitude of the initial committee’s task.

The Sounds of Earth disc begins with an address from the Secretary general of the United Nations and contains greetings in multiple languages. A sound montage, containing everything from a horse-drawn cart to bubbling mud pots and a chimpanzee call, follows thereafter. The first piece of music on the record is the first movement of J.S. Bach’s Brandenberg Concerto No 2 in F, followed subsequently by recordings of gamelan gong orchestra, Senegalese percussion ensemble and even Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Goode. Though it must have been a painstaking task to condense hundreds of years of musical creation into a sub-90-minute compilation – the record succeeds in portraying the breadth of music humans have created since the Early Modern period.

Inspired by news of the commercial release, we decided to compile a playlist of selections by the Band on the Wall staff. Each was asked to choose a piece of music they thought fitting for a revised voyager disc, and while there was no strict criteria, the exercise allowed for music produced in the forty years since the launch to be accounted for. Listen to their selections below.

John (Production)

Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space

Simon (Marketing and Communications)

John Coltrane – A Love Supreme

‘The definitive spiritual cosmic jazz odyssey.’

Gavin (CEO)

Marvin Gaye – Save the Children

Josh (editorial)

Terry Riley – In C (The Shanghai Film Orchestra)

‘This piece was conceived and a version recorded before the 1977 Voyager launch, but was probably too long and too peculiar to be eligible for the Golden record. I love the concept: the way its score can fit on to a single sheet of A4 and allows the musicians to make their own performance decisions, so no two recitals are the same. There have been plenty of versions recorded over the past fifty years, but the recording made by the Shanghai Film Orchestra in 1989 is my current favourite. It features an array of Chinese instrumentation and was mixed by Terry Riley, Brian Eno and Jon Hassell – making it that bit more special!’

Liam (Marketing and Communications)

Tool – Rosetta Stoned

‘An opus of experimental metal spanning 11 minutes and 11 seconds, travelling through six different time signatures, with polyrhythms, sonically-challenging riffs and vocalist Maynard James Keenan suitably lyrically confronting an alien encounter. There’s a reason these guys take 12 years between albums.’

Rory (Systems admin)

Arturo Sandoval – Rhythm of Our World

‘As I thought it would be fitting to the subject matter!’

Michael (Finance)

Gary Portnoy – Where everybody knows your name

‘If this doesn’t get included, the aliens will come down and destroy the earth. FACT!’

Santana (Programming)

Ahmad Jamal – Poinciana Live at the Pershing Lounge

Josh (Bar staff)

Donna Summer – I Feel Love

Sophie (Bar staff)

Moloko – Sing it Back

Laura (Venue Manager)

Sun Ra – Space is the Place

Emma (Ticketing)

White Lies – Death

Laura (Operations)

Souls of Mischief – 93 ’til Infinity

Debbie (Finance)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here