The Golden Record - Sounds of Earth
- Neil Cooper
- 7 August 2008
This article is from 2008.
If the truth really is out there, the prospect of aliens landing on a planet populated by posh comedians would be enough to send them zapping back beyond Uranus in double-quick hyper-drive. The comedy aspect is one of the more worrying premises of this show, which attempts to update the sights and sounds of a compilation album shot off into space with 1977’s Voyager mission, overseen by polo-neck wearing pop scientist Carl Sagan, whose ‘billions and billions’ catchphrase was regularly lampooned on TV.
The main room hosts 116 album-cover style interpretations of the original record’s track listing, from ‘Conception’ and ‘Human Sex Organs’ to the magnificently named ‘Demonstration of licking, eating and drinking.’ Elsewhere, tongues are fixed firmly in space helmets, in a film depicting a parallel universe in which Sagan marries doomed chanteuse Karen Carpenter, whose interpretation of ‘Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft’ by Canadian prog trio Klaatu was a smash hit the same year as Voyager took flight. Elsewhere, assorted stand-ups give on-camera addresses as a precursor to a series of live comic hustings, to find out who will represent the human race.
Beyond the pictures, which are charmingly akin to the recent visual depictions of The Harry Smith Anthology, the first film resembles something Chris Morris might have constructed over a few minutes a few years back, while the comedy shorts occupy one more mirth-free Fringe zone. As one-line jokes go, The Golden Record is a hyper-satirical blast, but hardly representative of the finest minds of Sagan and Carpenter’s, or indeed Stewart Lee’s, generation.
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