150 Espionage MP3s

Been meaning to link to this for a while. Over in the netlabel section of the Internet Archive, at archive.org, is a selection of the some of the most mundane weirdness (or perhaps it’s a matter of weird mundanity) ever recorded. It’s 150 MP3s of random-seeming sequences of numbers (and, occasionally, words), generally read in monotone by anonymous individuals. Trick is, there’s nothing random about it. They are, the story goes, coded messages transmitted via shortwave radio, a cryptic espionage of the air. The set on archive.org contains the entirety of the Irdial record label’s quadruple-CD box set, The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations, including a PDF of the accompanying booklet. The Conet numbers game got some press when the alt-country band Wilco was sued by Irdial for including an unlicensed sample of one track on its Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album (the title, in fact, was lifted from a sequence of words on one of the Conet tracks). That’s all in the past, and the set is downloadable in its entirety for free, in all its lo-fi glory, at archive.org (search for “ird059”). Wilco was definitely onto something; if you’re into listening to several different sound sources at the same time, the Conet tracks make a nice foundation, lending a spooky Cold War cadence to anything ambient. More info at irdial.com/conet.htm.

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