Mar 12 2004 9:36 PM

I'm back home from a long and fantastic trip to the Faroe islands.
One of the results of this trip was the development of the 'Aurotron'.

I have always been fascinated by light. I read as much I can about the mechanisms of light, and I do believe I am able to explain certain phenomenas such as laser to almost anyone. The last couple of years I have experimented a lot with the integration of light in my music. An easy integration would have been to create a light show for my concerts. But as I do not perform, that really wasn't an option. Another relatively easy way was was to record fire and the crackeling of embers. Embers makes a beautiful sound, something inbetween an old record and rain. But using fire in terms of sound really isn't new. Both Einstürzende Neubauten and Rammstein has been there before. So I turned to phenomenas I could not control: the lights of nature. First of all I recorded hours and hours of thunder. Everytime there's a thunderstorm, you'll see a microphone pointing out of my window. I've made some fantastic recordings that way. One summer evening in 2003 as I was recording thunder I made an eerie discovery. There was a tremendous blast of lightning very close to me, and when I played back the minidisc, I realized that the electric blast had made a fingerprint on the recording. I understood that the actual sound was not audible, but the electromagnetic charge actually was audible when played back. It is actually simple logic, as the microphone works by electromagnetism. So I can't hear it unless it is recorded by an electromagnetic device. If this was the case, it had to be possible to record other sourses of light such as lightbulbs, light valves, and more interesting: auroras.

Experimenting with auroras is not the easiest thing in the world. First of all you have to find an aurora. As I live in Copenhagen they are extremely rare. First of all they are rarely seen so far south, second there's too much light distortion in Copenhagen to ever notice anything. When I recorded the electric charge of the lightning, it was less than 300 metres away from me. Auroras happens at altitutes from 80 to 500 kilometres. To use an ordinary microphone would only be a complete waste of time. Then from the back of my mind I remembered my old teacher of physics talking about a special radiofrequency you could tune into on a normal reciever and listen to the electric charges of lightning. Now you might object that lightnings and auroras are not the same, and therefore cannot be treated the same way soundwise. Let's have a look at what auroras are. Our sun is very active, and from time to time, infact very often it emits huge loads of charged plasma into space. This plasma travels with speeds about 350-400 kilometres pr. second. After 24-48 hours it reaches the earth, and is lead by the magnetosphere to the polar regions where it ignites the atmospheare creating the auroras. So, unlike lightnings, it is not electric but magnetic light. Fortunately these two phenomenas are more or less the same matter. In order to record the geomagnetical interfearance two things were of importance. First of all I had to have a reciever, second I had to be just underneath an aurora. The reciever was no big deal at all. VLF recievers can be bought in standard electronics shops. Often as diy kits, which makes it easy to build in an audio out slot. The second was slightly more difficult. Fortunately I had to spend four weeks on the Faroe islands in connection with my education. The first 14 days I spend up there, there were intense auroras almost every night. The second matter solved.

Cosmic noise are categorized into cracks and pops, whistlers and howlers. Auroras produces all of these. I took ten one minutes excerpts of the auroral recordings and played them at the same time. Then I squeezed it through a parametric equalizer to make it resonate at the frequency of A. Then I sampled it and reverbed it. The result is a unique sound inbetween marimbas constantly triggered and church organs. My suite 'Tabula Rasa' opens with the sound of auroras, although quite a few may think it's a wacky synthesizer immitation of a church organ.

Conclusion: Yes, I managed to integrate light in music.

And guess what! The film about Einstürzende Neubauten has finaly been completed!
We are currently looking into ways of distribution...

Stay tuned!