Space Music: Carpenter Brut, 67P & 'Alien' Ambient


Happy holidays from Mother. 20th Century Fox

The holidays are ultimately about our annual cosmic journey through the unforgiving cold of winter. Like a generation ship en route to a distant star, it's all about the desperate hope that we'll emerge from the void and find new life on the other side.

So you're gonna need some space music to make it through. Let's see what we have...

Carpenter Brut

First up, French electronic artist Carpenter Brut is required listening if you have the same VHS DNA that I do.

EP III
Carpenter Brut

If you feel a nostalgic pull towards for 80s synthscores and Regan-era dystopian sci-fi, then you're likely familiar with such contemporary artists as Perturbator, Lazerhawk and Power Glove. I'm not big on genre labels, but you'll often see the term "synthwave" thrown around to describe this sound -- and Carpenter Brut is certainly cut from the same cloth.

Brut's music is high-energy and driving. Plug in your brain and you can positively feel the hover car shake as you speed through a grungy, neon metropolis. Glance in the rear-view mirror and there's a car full of killer androids in shutter shades right behind you, laser-sighted Uzi's at the ready. It's that kind of sound, full of cascading synth and the occasional saxophone solo.

I've been previewing Carpenter Brut's upcoming EP III, scheduled to release Jan. 19, and it's well worth seeking out. I'm especially taken with the track "Invasion A.D," which really does feel like the climax to the EP's adrenaline-pumping sci-fi chase narrative.Here's a preview of what you can expect, all set to some scenes from the 1983 Italian post-apocalyptic film "Escape from the Bronx."

Again, that comes out in Janurary. For now, you can immerse your cerebellum in Brut's first two EPs and a selection of mixes and remixes over at the Carpenter Brut Soundcloud page. Here's a taste:

Comet Music

It's been a while since I've covered any sonified data, but I have to cover the so-called "singing" properties of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This is of course the comet visited last month by the ESA's Rosetta mission -- the first mission in history to rendezvous with a comet, escort it on solar orbit and deploy a lander to its surface.

As discovered by Rosetta's Plasma Consortium instrument set, the comet's magnetic field oscillates at 40-50 millihertz. That's too low for human hearing, but the ESA increased the pitch 1,000 times and German composer Manuel Senfft compiled the following track. I think you'll find it wonderfully ambient:

Sleep Soundly Aboard the Nostromo

Finally, speaking of ambient space sounds, PK sent this my way and I simply had to include it.

You might not think of the spaceship Nostromo as place for restful sleep. After all, the "Alien" team designed it as a "haunted house in space," where an extraterrestrial killing machine dispatches its crew one-by-one.

(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

But to return to our holiday theme, the Nostromo is also a a warm, artifical heart in the chilling pit of space. Like any winter festival, it is designed to sustain us through the void.

I think Arkansas-based artist Cheesy Nirvosa would agree that to sleep in a sci-fi starship is to return to the womb. He's assembled a host of soothing, sleep-inducing tracks based on the ambient space ship noise found in such films as "Dune," "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Star Wars," "Star Trek" and "Firefly."

As luck would have it, he even has his own take on the aforementioned Comet 67P sonification.

In other words, his "Ambient Geek Sleep Aid" Bandcamp page is a white noise machine for the sci-fi dreamer. Here's the "Alien" track, based off the ambient sound that director Ridley Scott employed for both the haunted halls of the Nostromo and Rick Deckard's apartment in "Blade Runner." Enjoy:


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.