Cycle 25

Ethereal Threads for short wave radios and music robots

By Philippe Druez

The solar magnetic cycle is a nearly periodic eleven-year change in the Sun’s activity measured in terms of variations in the number of observed sunspots on the solar surface. The observation goes back to the early 17th century and is the longest observed time series of any natural phenomena. To celebrate year one of a new cycle, #25 as we count, Logos brings the Philippe Druez’s Ethereal Threads, adapted for HAM radios and muBots. Solar activity can aid or hamper HF propagation beyond line-of-sight range. More activity means more “DX” (amateur) radio communication around the globe and that’s the take-off for Ethereal Threads.

solar magnetic cycle
David Hathaway, NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center

The radio waves wasteland is the raw material used to create real-time uncanny, ephemeral and spatial (3d) music. In our childhood (back in the 60-ties) listening at night to AM stations from all over the globe, one got dipped in atmospheric noises, conversations in strange languages, exotic music and undecipherable morse beep sequences drifting trough thin air. These unfamiliar sounds came rolling trough a cracking speaker like waves washing over a beach, triggering our fantasy, feeding our dreams.

Ethereal Threads at KASK
Ethereal Threads at KASK Conservatory, 16.10.2020

Improvisations with these electromagnetic objets trouvés, creates overlapping and interacting rhythms and melodies by tuning HAM-radios, exploring abandoned radio frequencies, geomagnetic interferences and radio white space (in between radio transmitters). By manipulating purpose built antennas, at times acting as a super theremin, they survey the atmosphere, listening on short, medium and long wave frequencies for garbage sounds originating from skip-propagation, military over-the-horizon radar signals, diplomatic communication, foreign clandestine transmitters, numbers stations, unlicensed and pirate radio, ionosphere heaters, digital signals, morse code, beacons, foreign music stations and satellites.

In addition to the radios, sounds are emulated and manipulated with a suite of modular synths. The atmospheric space is recreated in a three dimensional Ambisonics sound scene. Real time poetic interventions with citations and samples of McLuhan and Benjamin travel around the world relayed trough radio stations and return to the stage, coloured with propagation, refracted echoes, atmospheric and human noises. Link:

Trailer :

Solar cycle: