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New documentary tells story of man broadcasting electronic music into space to contact aliens

The 16-minute short is available on Netflix now

A new Netflix documentary tells story of man broadcasting music into space to contact aliens.

Titled John Was Trying To Contact Aliens, the 16-minute documentary follows John Shepherd, a rural electronics whizz and UFO hunter who spent almost 30 years trying to connect with extraterrestrials through sound.

As well as broadcasting electronic music from german outfits such as Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, Shepherd also sent jazz, krautrock, reggae, African pop, and Indonesian gamelan ensembles, into space.

“There’s always that twilight zone in between reality and music that allows you a certain imaginary landscape—you can go there and figure things out, or just sort of relax and cruise with flow.” Shepherd told Pitchfork in a recent interview. 

"The thing about improvised music is the freedom. It flows. You really hear what musicians are capable of doing because it’s more open," he continued, speaking about his selections. "You’re not locked into a definite set of patterns, melodies, or tones, so you hear things that are totally new. It opens your mind to more complicated concepts, in a way. After listening to [an improvised] piece enough times, you realize there’s really quite a bit of stuff going on. The interplay is truly fascinating."

You can watch the short documentary here, and see the trailer below.

Australian group The Avalanches shared two new tracks earlier this month, including 'Wherever You Go', featuring Jamie XX and an interstellar radio recording entitled the Arecibo message. The Arecibo is an interstellar radio signal carrying information about humanity, sent to a galaxy over 25,000 light years away. The message was sent hoping to find signs of intelligent life in the universe.