Author : Brian Varcas

There was no doubt about it. That was definitely Hendrix!

Brad had every recording the legendary guitarist had ever made, including every bootleg live performance. He could easily tell the difference between the real thing and the myriad of guitarists who tried to play like Hendrix, and this was the real deal. The only trouble was Brad had never heard this song before! Oh yes, and the small matter that the sound appeared to emanate from the vicinity of the Procyon double star system, around 11.402 light years away!

Brad had been volunteering at the SETI Institute for 3 ½ years, laboriously scanning radio frequencies for any signals that might indicate intelligence. Anything with a discernable pattern. He’d found absolutely nothing, until now!

Brad wanted to try to clean up the signal but he’d lost it. He set the computerised frequency scanner to review its history and, after a couple of minutes he got the signal back but the music had changed. Now the liquid lightening of Jimi’s Fender Stratocaster was gone. Instead, he was listening to a singer he instantly recognised, and this time he knew the song!

“My God, it’s Jim Morrison!” Brad announced to himself. He turned up the volume to listen to a fantastic reworking of the Doors classic, “Riders on the Storm”.

When the song had finished the signal was still being received but there was nothing that Brad could understand. Again, he fiddled with the computer programme to try to improve the sound quality but it was just white noise as far as he could tell.

Then the music started again. Brad couldn’t believe his ears! It was John Lennon singing “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, but more trippy and psychedelic than the Sgt. Pepper version. Brad was completely blown away.

And so it went on for the next 20 minutes. Brad heard Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley all performing either new songs or new versions of classics. Between each song was the dissonant white noise.

“Wow! All these great rock stars who had died too young still rocking away somewhere out in space.”

Brad could think only that he’d somehow tuned into Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven! The next song confirmed that view…”Well since my baby left me…I’ve found a new place to dwell…It’s down at the end of Lonely Street…Heartbreak Hotel” It was Elvis himself, no mistake!

The song finished and the White noise started up again. As an experiment, Brad launched the new language decoding software he was testing and, following the instructions, played all the white noise sections which had been recorded. The software analysed the sound and, after a few minutes began to put together some suggested translations based upon repeated sound patterns. None of them made any sense at all and Brad was about to close the programme but stopped when he began reading the final suggestion.

“I don’t believe it!” He said out loud. “If this is Galactic Intelligence and Culture they can keep it!” He printed out the final suggestion and closed the programme. He transferred the music he’d recorded to his iPod and then deleted the original recordings.

As he left the Institute for the final time he shook his head in disbelief as he read the print out:

“Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. Well, you’ve heard all the contestants from Earth now it’s up to you to decide who will be back next week for the next round of “The Galaxy’s Got Talent!”

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