Disquiet Junto Project 0259: Lost Signals

Disquiet Junto Project 0259: Signals Lost
Summon up a horror story in sound.

Step 1: There is a cool recent short fiction collection of horror stories, all with sound as their subject. The book is titled Lost Signals, and it contains 24 pieces of fiction, one of them, “The Night Wire” by H.F. Arnold, dating as far back as 1926.

Step 2: We’re going to take a short segment of one of the stories and try to represent it in sound. The story is “Transmission” by T.E. Grau. It’s about a mysterious radio station. You can either use the following segment, or read the book and find a different section of roughly similar length:

“Max was pondering the important issue of how petrogylphs differed from hieroglyphs when the radio halted its roll at the very far end of the electronic dial. After a brief silence, the weak signal transmitted indistinct sounds, like whispers, intermingled with an odd chanting that faded in and out like a spectral dirge. Intrigued by this strange combination, and hoping for a broadcast of a lonely Indian powwow, Max turned up the volume, but the higher it went, the softer the voice and chant became, going silent. There was no apparent signal, but the radio scan was still stopped, locked in on something”

Step 3: Render the text in Step 2 (or that you choose yourself from the book Lost Signals). However, do not read the text. Just let the text inform the sounds.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Per the instructions below, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0259″ (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In this discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track.

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project was posted in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, December 15, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, December 19, 2016.

Length: The length is up to you, but three to four minutes sounds about right.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0259” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 259th weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Signals Lost: Summon up a horror story in sound” — at:


The text that inspired this is from the book Lost Signals, from by Perpetual Publishing out of San Antonio, Texas. More details on the book at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:


Subscribe to project announcements here:


Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.



I copied the text from the short story and used the P22 Music Text Composition Generator (based on some of John Cage’s ideas), to generate a MIDI sequence that I imported into Logic.

The MIDI sequence was manipulated in terms of speed and then used to drive a ghostly piano, two radio FX pads, a low drone and two voice pads. I used three aux sends from these tracks: a long reverb, an echo and Michael Norris’s spectral drone maker. The output from these sends was then bussed to a further two FX: a subtle LFO and a granulizer. Volumes and send amounts were varied throughout the track.

The photo was taken by myself a couple of weeks ago on a trip to London’s Tate Modern. It’s part of Cildo Meireles’ piece, ‘Babel’, a tower of around 800 radios, all tuned to different channels at their lowest audible volume. As an experience, the tower is stunning and beautiful in terms of both its visual and its auditory impact - highly recommended!


This is bringing back memories of Radio 4’s excellent binaural adaptation of The Stone Tape a couple of years back.



Notation to follow


i recently rediscovered the crystal softsynth. i mutated and bred some patches then randomized until i got something that approximated the description in the T.E Grau story. fiddled with the modular sends a little. recorded live while messing about and increasing the noise while reducing the tonal sounds. in post i just faded in from start to end.


Good morning/day/evening,

I kept it simple(again), but it was a lot of fun making this…
Samples from Loopmasters and some Thom Yorke-singing(Nah, unrecognizable) mixed with Audacity


Have a nice day/evening,




Well, if it‘s a horror soundtrack, then it’s maybe too subtle and noisy.

Here‘s the story: Whenever I go on a vacation, I take a shortwave radio with me and make some recordings. All the sounds you hear were made over 4 years in various countries.
I arranged some bits and pieces so that they correlated with this Junto‘ assignment.

The middle part is my favorite. The female voice somehow reminded me of GLaDOS; and like in the text provided, her voice came and went until it faded in noise.

Added some minor treatments (short reverb, EQ, fuzz).

The cake is a lie.



The rhythm is a Basic techno beat played 3x, once at regular speed, then at 2x speed, then 3x speed. 4x speed was a little bit much, don’t you think?

The drone in the background is some marimba melody I found on youtube, pitched down and reversed. Under that is the same one stretched for the entire length of the song, then the pitch was raised so you could hear it rumbling below everything.

Tons of low pass filtering, echo, and cutting out bars here and there. iZotope’s vinyl plug-in was also used .

This piece was made in Audacity.


Recorded real radio. Tuning dial. David bowie was singing.


If you like Crystal’s patch breeding, alphakal’s Automat (http://www.alphakanal.de/automat.html) comes up with some very wild stuff via its automated patch generator. One of my favorites for evolving, bizarre tones.

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I loved the story. I spent some time crushing up a loop from a thrift store tape, then added a bunch of FM noise over top of it. You can still catch bits and pieces of the loop underneath the noise. “odd chanting that faded in and out like a spectral dirge.”



Disquiet Junto 0259: Lost Signals.

“…the radio halted its roll at the very far end of the electronic dial. After a brief silence, the weak signal transmitted indistinct sounds, like whispers, intermingled with an odd chanting that faded in and out like a spectral dirge”

Love this week’s challenge.
When I was a kid in down in Buenos Aires, I remember being in my bedroom in the middle of the night with an old radio my parents gave to me. It had FM, AM and…SW. Man, that was magic, those sounds so fragile, coming from so far away, a weak, ghostly signal, faint and vacillating, once you got the dial on that sweet spot where that voice was finally clear and louder than the static (was it Chinese? Some African dialect?) suddenly it faded out as taken by some stratospheric wind.
Boy, did I love that…

Here you’ll hear:
FM radio (recorded in Paris) FM and AM radio (recorded in Greece) AM radio (rec. In Marrakesh) and worldwide Shortwave radio recorded at home by night like in those happy days.
All that radio feast spiced with a couple of synthesiser tracks (Microkorg and AAS Ultra Analog Session 2 1),plus orchestral samples including a vinyl rip from Sibelius Symphony N°2 (2nd movement).
Also a public domain recording Churchill’s first radio address as Prime Minister, 1940, treated a little bit…

DD, December 16th 2016.

More on this 259th weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Signals Lost: Summon up a horror story in sound” — at:
The text that inspired this is from the book Lost Signals, from by Perpetual Publishing out of San Antonio, Texas. More details on the book at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:
Subscribe to project announcements here:
Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:
Disquiet Junto Project 0259: Lost Signals


Can’t go wrong with David Bowie :wink:

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Thanks joe, that sounds right up my street! :+1:

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Suss Müsik is intrigued by the idea of sound being both there and not there. Every horror movie has at least one scene where someone asks, “Did you hear that?” The other person replies, “Hear what?” Panic ensues.

We’re reminded of the post-apocalyptic scenario described by science fiction author John Wyndham, who wrote The Day of the Triffids about a species of plant that blinds people when they look at it. The intent is clear: we can’t trust our senses because they are so easily disrupted.

Suss Müsik is further intrigued by non-verbal communication. When T.E Grau describes an “odd chanting like a spectral dirge,” it’s easy to envision that the ghostly transmitted message being heard is a warning of some kind.

Grau’s mention of a “lonely Indian powow” recalls the Northern Paiute religious leader and prophet Wovoka, founder of the Ghost Dance movement in 1890. The Ghost Dance was used by Native American tribes to call upon ancient spirits following the Wounded Knee Massacre, in the hope that the ritual would help them reclaim the earth they had lost.

For this short piece, Suss Müsik sought to summon the lost voices hidden between static noise and the instrumentation of chance. One of the guitars was strummed with a jar of rocks on the strings; another was played by dropping pebbles and metallic objects on its fretboard. Cables were scraped with a file. The odd percussion is a handsaw tapped with a mallet; other saws were “played” conventionally by actually cutting things.

Somewhere along the way, an odd timbre emerged that resembled a human voice or hiccup. It sounded weird but we liked it. The result is something like a brief personal encounter, two bodies moving at different speeds in different directions, intersecting at an unrepeatable point in time.

This is a reconfigured excerpt of a longer composition entitled Wovoka, which means “wood cutter” in the Northern Paiute language. Anisotropy is when a physical property has different values depending on how it’s measured. The image is a cut glass lens refracting a single point of light.


The playlist is now live:




Hunting for ghosts on shortwave radio.
All sounds sourced from http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/ on 12/16/16

Doing research/assembling source materials for this week’s Junto project was extra enjoyable as it meant a return to an old pastime from childhood: listening to and capturing shortwave radio late into the night.

A big part of shortwave’s appeal is how the sounds and voices coming in and out of focus always read to me as haunted- creepy and mesmerising in equal measure; The Conet Project made perfect sense when I first heard of it.

I used to be fascinated by these sounds when I was a kid, rolling the dial millimeter by millimeter on a Citizen dual tape boombox with two SW bands. I used to make pause tapes of stuff I would find: Voice of America, world music, cold war propaganda, and that creepy time clock. Sometimes I’d play two tapes at the same time and record them onto a different tape machine.
These pre-to-mid-adolescent tape collages are probably in a box somewhere in Manitoba, so this week’s project felt like an homage to those times, and an opportunity to dive back into a process that reaches back a few decades, directly connected to my current practice of making, tweaking, finding and documenting odd sounds.


I followed the lonely Indian pow wow to “Aho”, which means “thank you”, but also a lot of other things, like “Idiot” in japanese or “Breath” in Hawaiian, and ended up at WTF, which is also very common.




The source material for this piece is the output of a shortwave radio. I tuned the radio to a band that was clearly transmitting voices. By the time I got my modular powered up, the radio began emitting a beating sound. I routed the radio output into the modular, processing it through a granular processor that was modulated by a wavetable oscillator.


I tried to recreate what Max would have done on the day the text takes place: turning the radio on, back and forth with the dial to try to find something interesting, then stumbling upon the mysterious radio station, stopping on it for a while, not really understanding… then feeling mesmerised by it, hypnotised by danger… then fear takes control and shuts down the radio, for safety.

To build the song, I recorded some Sydney radio stations, then cut and paste snippets mixing them with pre-recorded AM radio sounds from soundbible.com. The drones are made with a korg kaosilattor and guitar with freeze pedal and delay. The voice is mine (blush), whispering in Catalan (I actually come from Barcelona), with moderate reverb added, repeating made-up verses that tell Max he doesn’t belong there, that he shouldn’t be listening this, that the station is not for the living…