Letters from Somnolescent

 

Category: Show-and-Tell

The “other people’s stuff” section! When we didn’t make it, but we find it cool or important to us, it gets talked about here.


April 1, 2024

3-9-7-1-5: Exploring the Expanded Conet Project Boxset

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A badger with the expanded Conet Project boxset sprawled all around him

Spring is here, my friends, and that means you’re all probably starting to leave your houses for sunny pastures. I have a bit of paranoia for you to take out there–obscured messages also sent out into the world, ones no one but the people they were meant for have been able to or will ever be able to crack. Who are those people? What do the numbers mean? Who are the Russian Man, the Spanish Lady, the Lincolnshire Poacher, Bulgarian Betty? What is Ciocirlia, the Buzzer, the Tyrolean Music Station? What the fuck does “snudering” mean?

Let me take you on a journey of circumstantial government intrigue. I’ll let the boxset explain before I do, run-ons preserved:

Almost every other piece of information on who is responsible for Numbers Stations comes from the part-time investigations of dedicated listeners. No government or person will admit to transmitting them, and only recently, due to the release of this CD set has GCHQ in the UK made its first ever public station on Numbers Station, saying that, “GCHQ are aware of the existence of Numbers Stations but cannot comment on operational matters”. Do “operational matters” include the ‘The Lincolnshire Poacher’ which is believed to be of British origin? With direction finding equipment it is possible to track down the location of transmitting antennas, and in the case of Numbers Stations which uses extremely powerful transmitters ‘Dfing’ [sic] the more powerful stations has proved an easy task for investigators but what exactly does it mean when you find an antenna farm on US government property blasting numbers in Spanish? Where and who are the recipients?

Tags: music, technology,

November 1, 2023

First Draft: Pixies’ Come On Pilgrim

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Pixies' Come on Pilgrim

Rarely do albums come out right on the first shot. Labels reject them, bands disown them, and they get added onto after release. Here on First Draft, we take a look at albums that got cut down or remade and see what difference the changes made.

This review looks back on the Pixies’ debut EP Come On Pilgrim, the infamous purple tape it came from, and the re-records of the leftover material scattered throughout the rest of their initial run, and whether or not the EP would’ve been better served as a full album.


October 1, 2023

First Draft: Failure’s Magnified

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Failure's Magnified

Rarely do albums come out right on the first shot. Labels reject them, bands disown them, and they get added onto after release. Here on First Draft, we take a look at albums that got cut down or remade and see what difference the changes made.

This second edition examines the home demos that almost comprised Failure’s second album, 1994’s Magnified.


September 18, 2023

First Draft: Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

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All eight CDs of the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot boxset

Rarely do albums come out right on the first shot. Labels reject them, bands disown them, and they get added onto after release. Here on First Draft, we take a look at albums that got cut down or remade and see what difference the changes made.

This especially long-winded First Draft concerns the infinite permutations of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco’s 2002 art rock opus which streamed online officially for the first time 22 years ago today.


July 1, 2023

First Draft: …The Dandy Warhols Come Down

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The Black Album and ...The Dandy Warhols Come Down

Rarely do albums come out right on the first shot. Labels reject them, bands disown them, and they get added onto after release. Here on First Draft, we take a look at albums that got cut down or remade and see what difference the changes made.

This first review concerns the first attempt at the second Dandy Warhols album, 1997’s …The Dandy Warhols Come Down, as given to us by the band seven years later.


October 18, 2022

Plushie Archaeology: Finding a New Old Friend

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Snowman...keeping warm(?)

I’m pretty sure everyone in the group likes plushies. Stuffed animals, whatever you call ’em. There’s a plushie channel in the server, and it’s constantly busy with us linking to plushies we find online, posting pictures of our own, and just generally being obsessed like we’re so good at.

This post is gonna be for a plushie closer to my heart. This is the story of how a snowman boy I’ve had from the day I was born was loved to death, rediscovered online, and rebought without a clue as to a brand or even an origin. I normally have a policy of not posting to the blog twice in a row, but this one’s more important than that. I might get a little personal.

Tags: plushies,

September 7, 2022

Cammy Revisits the PhotoCam

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A recreation of my old artsy photo of the PhotoCam...using a PhotoCam as the camera

Longtime blog readers will remember a post I did in July 2019 called “Cammy vs. the PhotoCam”. It was a cute little lark into trying to score some retro tech on eBay and failing miserably. I didn’t have a job or a lot of money to spend on impractical hobby stuff back then, and the entire thing left a sour enough taste in my mouth that I didn’t bother looking for a working unit.

We’re in September 2022 now, I have a job now, and I figured it was time to go hunting again. I got a lot more than I bargained for. On offer today: storytelling! Burning hot batteries! A showdown between three similarly-spec’ed cameras! But first, we start with…


August 15, 2022

Revisiting the Official MP3.com Guide to MP3s

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The front and back covers of the MP3.com Official Guide to MP3s

I don’t think it’s a stretch to call myself an MP3.com historian at this point. From my initial essay two-and-a-half years ago, to digging deep into how the service worked, to previewing some of the music that MP3.com were promoting their service with, I’m part of that small group who have been trying to keep the memory of one of the most forward-thinking dot-com startups alive after it was all but forgotten post-closure in 2004.

I was effectively honor-bound to pick up the last copy of The Official MP3.com Guide to MP3s from Amazon after all that work, and I was not disappointed for my $6.29! We’ve got late 90s MP3 hype, forgotten MP3 and MP3.com competitors, and even some screenshots of the backend of MP3.com, far away from where any Web spider could’ve gone. It’s a trip.

Tags: music, technology,

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