It's been almost a week since I posted this CDr to the WFMU blog, and since then I have been ransacked by e-mails and comments crying "hoax" or "bubble boy," from everyone from random passers-by to the higher-ups at WFMU. Rather than address all the theories being espoused by readers from around the globe, I simply want to aver that this is indeed a true story, and is in no way meant to be a self-promotion tactic. Any alterations to the WFMU blog entry post-publication -- or my own personal blog -- were done in an attempt to quell the uprising of cynics. Had I known that my actions would only add fuel to the fire, I would have simply let things stand as they were. Clearly I've learned a valuable lesson in controversy control.
Usually when I find CD-rs out in the world, they've been tossed out of car windows or left on the counters of stupid hipster coffeeshops. The last place I ever expected to find an unlabeled CD-r filled with music would be in the middle of the fucking desert. But nearly two years ago I was hiking in Joshua Tree and I came across a completely surreal sight: an old-school 5 1/4" computer floppy disk. It appeared to have been tossed casually near the side of the trail I was on, housed in a simple plastic baggie. I reached into the bag and pulled out the floppy disc. I noticed that the magnetic tape inside the plastic case had been replaced by a recordable compact disc. The disc had a creepy message scrawled on it which read, "A silvery female voice breaking through onto the airband sang in German, 'We are from another world, but you have cut us out". I don't believe in ghosts or extraterrestrials or anything, but standing in the middle of nowhere reading that line was enough to send me into a miniature freak out. What's more, a folded-up piece of paper was also buried inside the plastic cover. A treasure map. Browned edges and everything. It featured a pirate ship (?), a series of footsteps through mountains and palm trees (?), one red X, and ten blue X's. One of of the X's appeard to be floating in the middle of a body of water.
I listened to the recording on my drive back to LA that night. It was indescribably weird. The dedication to the floppy disk case, chicken scratch message, and treasure map implied that someone with way too much time on his or her hands crafted it. The insanity of the recording -- with one or two kind of pretty moments -- mirrored the obsessively constructed feel of the package. I didn't know if I was listening to the work of a mad genius or a deranged psychopath. The sounds are a combination of heavily processed human voices and schizophrenic space music. The 11 tracks are very short, with only four "tunes" lasting longer than three minutes. Most are in the thirty-second to two-minute range in length. I wouldn't call it "rock," but it's guitar-centric. I also wouldn't say that it is very good, but it made for an interesting listen.
When I got home I popped the CD into my computer. I thought that maybe in this age of iTunes and CDDB maybe my computer would recognize the content of the disk. All that came up in iTunes was a series of songs names. In place of artist and title was "???". The song titles made no sense to me at all. The final track is a 14-minute long jam in E called "Matthew 24:14". Google tells me that that bible verse says: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come"
I have played this CD for record scum collector friends and pop culture junkies in the hopes that someone might recognize something about it, from a riff to a clip from some television show or movie. The only constant is that no one knows what to make of it. I've spent a lot of time needlessly wondering what the fuck this is. What the fuck was that treasure map for? Has anyone else ever found something like this? SERIOUSLY, WHAT THE FUCK?!
The most frustrating part of this whole thing is that the only identifying mark was a tiny, hand-scrawled e-mail address at the bottom of the back cover for the floppy disk: firstname.lastname@example.org. I could have gotten all CSI on this shit and tried to figure out how to find who registers a Gmail address or taken fingerprints from the package. I didn't. In the end I figured contact information wouldn't have been included if it wasn't meant to be found. I tried to send an e-mail saying that I enjoyed the album -- just to maybe receive some kind of response -- but I never got one. That's annoying. The only rationale I can think of is that a bizarre work of art conceived and executed such as this wouldn't have the same impact if the creator(s) wanted to be discovered. Or maybe someone responsible lost his or her mind (or maybe the Gmail password) in the time it took me to find it. The only thing I can say is: What. The. Fuck. ???
01. Breath (MP3)
02. Wound Midnight (MP3)
03. Long Stem Road (MP3)
04. Noah's Dork (MP3)
05. Used (MP3)
06. Iranbow (MP3)
07. Monied vs. Landed (MP3)
08. The Seventh (Clubbed) Seal (MP3)
09. Gloomsday (MP3)
10. Shooting Scars (MP3)
11. Matthew 24:14 (MP3)