Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Earthquakes for home use

Back in 1952, somebody at Cook Laboratories decided to release an LP of recordings of earthquakes. Not the sounds of collapsing buildings and screaming people but the sound of tectonic plates sliding along fault lines. Since the earth doesn't move very often, the recordings are sped up to 750 times the normal speed so that a day's worth of earthquakes and aftershocks can fit on one side of an LP.

I like the notes from the back of the record:

It is understood as a condition of sale that Cook Laboratories, Inc. will in no way be responsible for damage this phonograph record may cause to equipment directly or indirectly. For users with wide-range woofers, this disclaimer shall be construed to include neighbors as well as dishware and pottery

Cook Laboratories, Inc will not permit the return of any record for the reason of skipping grooves , or of any record on which there is evidence of needles having skipped grooves whatever the reason given for return

The record will play on most good equipment without becoming damaged in any way, and failure to track is the fault of the playback equipment. Skipping is intentional and indigenous to the nature of this subject matter.

It's true - the needle will not stay in the groove on several bands of this record.

Side two of the record is recordings of electrical discharges in the upper atmosphere.

Why was the record made? Emory Cook - the guy that released the record - specialized in high-end audiophile recordings of just about anything he liked. Cook recorded steam trains, jet planes, steel drum bands and bawdy jazz for his Cook Recordings label in the fifties and early sixties. A lot of the recordings are still available from the Smithsonian. Unfortunately, OUT OF THIS WORLD is not in the catalog. "Sounds of the Ionosphere" is though. You can buy a non-scratchy mp3 here.

UPDATE: It took two days but somebody finally downloaded the these two mp3s. In the 3 years I've been doing this, that's the longest time that something has been posted but not downloaded.


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