Welcome to VOYAGER, a music and film documentary imagining of the 40-year search of space by NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft by Warren Greveson…

Music and movie celebration of longest-running space trip released September 2018

A young intern working at NASA in 1964 chanced upon the discovery that, in the very near future, a “grand tour” of our solar system could be undertaken. The larger planets in the system would be aligned so that, if a space ship could be sent to Jupiter, its gravitational pull would cast it out towards Saturn – rather like an enormous slingshot. Thirteen years later this vision became a reality with the launches of the Voyager space crafts. Over forty years later, they are still travelling.

 British composer and performer, Warren Greveson has scored a soundtrack to one of the most engaging and longest-running true stories of space exploration.

‘VOYAGER’ traces the launch and 40 year journeying of the Voyager I and 2 spacecraft in a two-disc package comprising an audio CD and DVD of the music synchronized to a specially commissioned 70 minute-long film, ‘HELLO FROM PLANET EARTH’. The album will be released on September 5th 2018, the 41st anniversary of the launch of Voyager 1.

In a time when the life cycle of space vehicles is relatively short, this extraordinary duo is quite something else.

Space travel has intrigued and fired the imagination ever since the notion of any such enterprise was born in antiquity.

Artists as well as scientists have long tapped into the creative possibilities of space exploration. Composers, from Holst to David Bowie, have crafted world-renowned musical interpretations of the planets, our reach out to them, and beyond.

But for British electronic composer and performer Warren Greveson, the game was all about the technology – and specifically, the Voyagers.

Exploration in real terms peaked during the mid to late 20th century when the US space agency NASA, amongst others, ran in the ‘race for space’, progressing from satellites that skirted Earth’s atmosphere to manned flights to the moon.

While the launches of manned spacecraft inevitably held greatest sway in media and public interest terms, two – largely forgotten – ‘little guys’ have nudged their way into our hearts and minds most recently.

The reason: they’ve been exploring space longer than any other craft.

Launched back in 1977, Voyager I and II are exploring, as NASA put it, ‘where nothing from Earth has flown before’.

In August 2012, Voyager 1 entered interstellar space.

Filled with the detritus of long-dead stars, NASA scientists hope to learn more about the region when Voyager 2, currently in the heliosheath (the outermost layer of the heliosphere) also reaches interstellar space.

Says 61-year old Greveson: “Like most boys growing up in the early sixties, I was fascinated by space exploration.

“I watched all of the films made by the Americans and Russians showing firstly satellites, then animals, and finally astronauts being catapulted into the cosmos.

“And, I wanted to be an astronaut. That wasn’t to be, of course, but like so many others I’ve been held in sway ever since by space and its mysteries.”

In relation to space as a musical theme, the launch and subsequent decades-long trajectories of the Voyagers drew the greatest inspiration.

“I love the thought of these plucky little seventies spacecraft picking their way through our solar system, taking their pictures, like nosy tourists. So I applied myself to each stage of their journeys and began writing.”

‘VOYAGER’ comprises two parts: “Journey To Jupiter” and “Saturn And Beyond”, respectively broken down into nine tracks each.

From launch to concluding track “Legacy” they form a cosmic ‘fly-by’, taking in Jupiter and its major moons: Europa, Ganymede, Io and Callisto, and then on to Saturn, its major moon Titan, Uranus and Neptune.

Each Voyager craft contains a gold plated copper disc containing images, sounds and music from the Earth, and some of the sounds from the disc appear on the first track of this album, “Celestial Voices”.

Says Greveson: “That derives from a track of greetings in fifty-five different languages from the people of planet Earth while the final sounds on the album are from Voyager itself, the sounds of the solar wind.”

With the music written, Greveson turned to designer/film-maker Tim Gill to create an appropriate filmic context that would be entertaining as well as educational.

Says Warren: “Tim had designed a vast number of audio and film releases including one last year for my band Dolennu.

“I had seen some of his film shorts work, too, so I had no doubt that he would do a great job of translating my music into images.”

While he suggests that “Hello From Planet Earth” was straightforwardly derived from sourcing and licensing images and clips pertaining to each track name and assembling these into a narrative context, Gill acknowledges how his composer’s folding of 70’s music stylings and tropes into the soundtrack informed his design and direction.

“From the start, I wanted to create a film that would be fun without undermining the factual elements of the Voyager Project story,” he says.

“While his compositions were of the now, I could hear in this music Warren throwing us back to the Voyagers’ launch decade from time to time. I decided to emulate the concept visually,” Tim continues.

“So there are elements of 70’s sci-fi TV and science education film shorts seeded into the final cut. The outcome is faintly retro in feel and I think it adds to the fun.”

Warren Greveson has the last word on the project:

“We don’t really know what these intrepid spaceships have encountered in any depth,” he declares.

“They’ve reported back using legacy technology that’s relatively unsophisticated today, and that’s limited their experiences into basic references. But they have done it, nonetheless, and will continue to, until their energy source runs out sometime around 2025.

“Unless they collide with something, the Voyagers will travel around the Milky Way, orbiting it every 225 million years.

“That’s an extraordinary thought – we’re very pleased with our imagining of it in this music and movie.”

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About the Voyager programme

Space exploration in real terms peaked during the mid to late 20th century when the US agency NASA, amongst others, ran in the ‘race for space’ with a programme that within a couple of decades had progressed from sending up satellites to skirt the Earth’s atmosphere to manned flights to the Moon.

While the launches of manned spacecraft inevitably held greatest sway in media and public interest terms, two – largely forgotten – ‘little guys’ have nudged their way into our hearts and minds most recently.

The reason: they’ve been exploring space longer than any other craft.

Launched back in 1977, Voyager I and II are exploring, as NASA put it, ‘where nothing from Earth has flown before’.

In August 2012, Voyager 1 entered interstellar space.

Filled with the detritus of long-dead stars, NASA scientists hope to learn more about the region when Voyager 2, currently in the heliosheath (the outermost layer of the heliosphere) also reaches interstellar space.

Each Voyager craft contains a gold plated copper disc containing images, sounds and music from the Earth, and some of the sounds from the disc appear on the first track of this album, “Celestial Voices”.

Says Warren Greveson: “That derives from a track of greetings in fifty-five different languages from the people of planet Earth while the final sounds on the album are from Voyager itself, the sounds of the solar wind.”

Visit NASA’s web site for more about the Voyager programme : https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/

About the music

Space travel has intrigued and fired the imagination ever since the notion of any such enterprise was born in antiquity.

Artists as well as scientists have long tapped into the creative possibilities of space exploration. Composers, from Holst to David Bowie, have crafted world-renowned musical interpretations of the planets, our reach out to them, and beyond

But for British electronic composer and performer Warren Greveson, the game was all about the technology – and specifically, the Voyagers 1 and 2.

Says 61-year old Greveson: “Like most boys growing up in the early sixties, I was fascinated by space exploration.

“I watched all of the films made by the Americans and Russians showing firstly satellites, then animals, and finally astronauts being catapulted into the cosmos.

“And, I wanted to be an astronaut. That wasn’t to be, of course, but like so many others I’ve been held in sway ever since by space and its mysteries.”

In relation to space as a musical theme, the launch and subsequent decades-long trajectories of the Voyagers drew the greatest inspiration.

“I love the thought of these plucky little seventies spacecraft picking their way through our solar system, taking their pictures, like nosy tourists. So I applied myself to each stage of their journeys and began writing.”

The VOYAGER album is a re-imagining of the album’s original 2006 compositions, taking in some of the ideas worked into ‘Voyager for Orchestra and Four iPads’ (performed live in the UK and USA) as well as pieces newly-composed for the 2018 release.

It constitutes two 35-minute long pieces: “Journey To Jupiter” and “Saturn And Beyond” and looks at the incredible Voyager space mission from the crafts’ perspective.

Starting with recordings of the 55 greetings in different languages as on the gold disc attached to the craft, the album tells the story of its construction, launch and journey through our Solar System. The music has been synchronized to moving images in the accompanying bonus DVD, HELLO FROM PLANET EARTH.

The journey takes in Jupiter, with its major moons Europa, Ganymede, Io and Callisto; travelling on to Saturn, where the course of one of the craft was altered to take a closer look at the moon, Titan.

The two ice giants, Uranus and Neptune were also visited, before the Voyager craft went through the Termination Shock to enter interstellar space.

The album ends with the legacy: the impact that the Voyager project has had on all of us.

About the movie

With the music written, Warren Greveson turned to designer/film-maker Tim Gill to create an appropriate filmic context that would be entertaining as well as educational. 

 Says Warren: “Tim had designed a vast number of audio and film releases including one last year for my band Dolennu.

“I had seen some of his film shorts work, too, so I had no doubt that he would do a great job of translating my music into images.”

Synchronising the music from VOYAGER, the 70-minute film HELLO FROM PANET EARTH, charts the progress of the Voyager craft, beginning with some of the photographs of Planet Earth that are on board the craft.

Says Warren: “Tim’s narrative follows the music sympathetically and the poignant conclusion shows just how fragile Planet Earth really is. This is a journey that in actual fact may not end. Providing the craft don’t collide with anything on their travels, they will orbit around our Galaxy every 225 million years.

While he suggests that “HELLO FROM PLANET EARTH” was straightforwardly derived from sourcing and licensing images and clips pertaining to each track name and assembling these into a narrative context, Gill acknowledges how his composer’s folding of 70’s music stylings and tropes into the soundtrack informed his design and direction.

“From the start, I wanted to create a film that would be fun without undermining the factual elements of the Voyager Project story,” he says.

“While his compositions were of the now, I could hear in this music Warren throwing us back to the Voyagers’ launch decade from time to time. I decided to emulate the concept visually,” Tim continues.

“So there are elements of 70’s sci-fi TV and science education film shorts seeded into the final cut. The outcome is faintly retro in feel and I think it adds to the fun.”

About Warren

Warren Greveson is an electronic composer, musician and producer based in Beaumaris, Wales. 

He has written and produced music for TV programme makers BBC, ITV, Discovery and the Children’s Channel.

As a founder member of the eclectic electronic jazz quartet Zyklus, he has appeared at iconic venues including London’s Royal Festival Hall, Purcell Room and Barbican Centre.

Zyklus, which also comprised Neil Ardley, John L Walters and Ian Carr, deployed the Zyklus MPS – a hardware sequencer also used around the same time by White Noise and Vangelis – as the basis for compositions, along with Ian Carr’s trumpet and Greveson’s guitar.

The quartet gave several live performances and later also worked as a trio. Its album release, VIRTUAL REALITIES fuses jazz with repetitive and minimalist music, a style at which the Zyklus sequencer excelled.

In 2012, Greveson performed an early realisation of the VOYAGER compositions at the 2012 Beaumaris Arts Festival with – for the first time – an orchestra playing alongside performers using iPads. The work has also been performed several times in the USA.

Greveson told the BBC: “The idea of fusing technology with classical instruments is not new, but as far as I know no-one else has produced a work such as this,” he said.

In 2013, Warren Greveson released SONGS FROM THE GRAND MASSIF with Colosseum drummer Jon Hiseman and violinist Billy Thompson.

Warren is also a founding member of ‘looping’ experimental jazz/rock band DOLENNU which released its self-titled debut in 2017 with the resurrected Zyklus sequencer.

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VOYAGER/HELLO FROM PLANET EARTH

by

Warren Greveson

(MSMCDDVD201)

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