The Sound of Smoke and Mirrors, Side 2

Original Format: cassette

You know, I only just now realized that “S&M” could also be “smoke and mirrors.” (Not just “Spaniards and Mexicans.”)

Anyway… as I listen to this now, there’s a lot of good stuff in there, but also all kinds of perplexing left turns. It must have made some kind of sense at the time.

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The Sound of Smoke and Mirrors, Side 1

Original Format: cassette

Full title: The Sound of Smoke and Mirrors: Radio Venus Vol. 3

Liner Notes:


The scientists at Operation MOFO began to panic as the mysterious transmissions continued. All their strivings to reach the truth were futile; as the evidence mounted, their confusion only multiplied. Attempts to track the signals back to their point of origin pointed to an increasing number of random locations throughout the galaxy. Like figures in a hall of mirrors, they seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. This engendered a profound identity crisis in the MOFO team: if all their knowledge could not help them solve this, their most important question, then what good was it? Truth was shrouded in mist; science was useless; the universe was thoughtless and disordered.

So after much reflection, they elected, in the end, to give up science. Operation MOFO was disbanded, its equipment sold or destroyed — except for the satellite dish and the tape recorders. Ex-MOFO volunteers continued to use these to monitor and record the transmissions. But now they no longer questioned, only enjoyed; no longer seeking truth, but only beauty.

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Elements of Control, Side 1

Year: 1991
Original Format:

Full title: Elements of Control: Radio Venus Vol. 2

Liner Notes:


May, 1991: As it continued to monitor the mysterious transmissions from Venus, Operation MOFO discovered that the transmissions did not in fact originate on Venus, but were merely being relayed from there. The signals were arriving at Venus from the direction of an undisclosed location in deep space. Which led them to ask: Is that location truly the origin, or just another relay station? How many levels would have to be traced to reach the source? Who is in control, and are these entities independent, or are they in turn controlled? Would all of MOFO’s work in the end reveal a consciousness, an intent behind the broadcasts, or would the point of origin evaporate as the investigation continued, like a long-dead star whose light is only now arriving in our solar system, but no longer exists in its own space?

And perhaps the most troubling question was the one that went unvoiced but lurked queasily under every step of the investigation: Could there in fact be said to be an agent, a will, behind the transmissions, or had they simply arisen, unbidden, from the random processes of the universe? What if they looked behind the curtain and nobody was there? What the hell would they do with themselves then?

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Signals from the Lost Continent, Side 1

Year: 1990
Original Format: cassette

In its original format this mix had a subtitle and explanatory liner notes, reproduced below. (This was 30 years ago and I was smoking a lot of weed, so I trust you will be generous in your judgement.)


The Oakland Mind Control Laboratories routinely monitor radio transmissions from deep space as part of the ongoing search for extraterrestrial intelligence designated Operation MOFO. Since 1967, these transmissions have uniformly consisted of nothing but random white noise and gibberish.

On May 23, 1990, at precisely 5:23 AM Greenwich mean time, the Laboratories received and recorded a transmission — or, more properly, two transmissions of 45 minutes each, separated by a short pause — of clearly intelligible words and music. These transmissions were later determined to have travelled from roughly the direction of the planet Venus. They are here made audible to the public for the first time.

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