’Sounds’ of the sun inspire an extraordinary new album

Artwork: Diana ScarboroughArtwork: Diana Scarborough

A new album transporting listeners on a journey to the sun and inspired by ’sounds’ captured in space and on the ground shows the magic created when science and the arts collide.  

Sunconscious  sees composer Professor Kim Cunio from The Australian National University (ANU), UK multimedia artist Diana Scarborough and scientist Dr Nigel Meredith from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) reunite for their third album as part of the Sounds of Space project.  

Their cross-disciplinary collaboration is inspired by the ’sounds’ of space from Earth and the sun, and even from beyond our galaxy. 

"This album conveys the sheer scale of our sun and how completely it permeates our lives," Professor Cunio said. 

To create this album, the trio used electromagnetic wave data captured by NASA spacecraft and the VLF receiver at the BAS Halley VI Research Station in Antarctica that had been turned into sound.   

"The data is usually used to investigate space weather storms, solar wind turbulence and the interior of the sun, all of which are usually inaudible to the human ear," Dr Meredith said.   

But after this data was converted into sound waves audible to humans, the result was, "a truly beautiful, eerie, and at times weird cacophony," Professor Cunio said.    

"In this album we seek our inspiration from the sun. It includes some unusual and fascinating ’sounds’ of the sun as recorded on the Parker Solar Probe, Cassini and SOHO spacecraft," Dr Meredith said.

"We also experience the ’sounds’ of space as recorded at Halley VI Research Station on the day of the first sunrise following the southern hemisphere winter and last sunset following the southern hemisphere summer."

The artists also looked to the past and the role of the sun throughout history, including a reimagining of the ancient Egyptian sun god.

These eclectic space and ground-based ’sounds’ are accompanied by the hurdy-gurdy, a 1,000-year-old string instrument; the theremin, an electronic instrument; the electronic keyboard; and harmonic chanting into a well by Professor Cunio.

Artwork produced by Ms Scarborough inspired by the music and science also add a rich visual element to the album.

"In this album, I had complete freedom to augment the rich sounds of the sun curated by Nigel Meredith and the extraordinary music by Kim Cunio in an intuitive way," Ms Scarborough said.

"Inspired by the sublime nature of the sun, I used abstract painting techniques and the simplest elements of colour and flow combined with digital design, to evoke the essence of our album."

Sunconscious is available for free at the Sounds of Space Project on Bandcamp.