Artist News Gigs & Festivals

Sonar Festival celebrates 25th anniversary by inviting aliens to 50th

By | Published on Friday 17 November 2017

Sonar Calling

Spain’s Sonar Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary next year. To mark the occasion, it’s sending music from artists including Jean-Michel Jarre, Autechre, Holly Herndon and Nina Kraviz into space. If the project goes to plan, aliens could then deliver a response in time for the festival’s 50th edition.

In partnership with METI International, an organisation that specialises in sending messages out to possible extra-terrestrials, the ‘Sonar Calling GJ273b’ project will take place in two parts, with a total of 33 pieces of music, each ten seconds in length – being transmitted to Luyten’s Star, the closest star to Earth with a known potentially habitable exoplanet.

Luyten’s Star is twelve light years away from us, possibly giving aliens time to receive, digest and return their own message within 25 years.

Eighteen pieces of music were transmitted from a base in Tromsø, Norway last month. These included a piece based on ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’ by Jean-Michael Jarre, a tutorial in making a hit record by The Black Madonna, a take on the dual meaning of ‘mir’ in Russian (peace and world) by Nina Kraviz, and a cry to “please save us” from Laurel Halo.

A further fifteen pieces of music will be broadcast next April, three of which are yet to be chosen from public submissions.

Is this all such a good idea though? Are we opening ourselves up to alien attack by making them aware of our presence? Worry not, says the Sonar Calling website. Humanity’s various transmissions, from radio to airport radars, have been leaking into space for 100 years. Those broadcasts have reached far further than these new ones already. If there is intelligent life out there, they’ve left us alone so far.

Of course, Modeselektor’s recording of a car engine may be what finally tips them over the edge into making us shut the fuck up through some sort of ‘Independence Day’ style invasion. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Find out more about the project, and submit your own music to be considered for space transmission, here. You can watch a short film about the project here too;



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