Achtung, incomprehensible radio!
Pitchfork has reviewed the Conet Project, a collection of recordings from "numbers stations" - shortwave radio trasmitters used by the world's intelligence services to send coded messages. They gave it an 8.0, which in the old Pitchfork ratings key, means "very good." I disagree.

I first heard of the Conet Project when I read a Wired article on how Wilco had agreed to pay Irdial, the record company that produced the Conet Project, royalties for the sampling of a Mossad numbers station announcer saying, "Yankee... Hotel... Foxtrot...," which appeared on "Poor Places," one of the best tracks on their 2002 album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Excited by the article's claim that the Conet Project could be found online for free from Irdial, I immediately began looking for it.

The entire four disc collection can be downloaded from Irdial here. Since I knew that these were shortwave radio broadcasts, I am not entirely sure what I was expecting (perhaps four discs full of beautiful female voices repeating cryptic English statements?). The tracks cannot truly be called "music," and is not easy to listen to. If you are not interested in Cold War shortwave broadcasts, then the only purpose that this album could conceivably be used for is sampling.

If you enjoy listening to recordings from the first 15 years of the space program-- those stony all-American voices amid all that static, each transmission punctuated with the electronic beep-- then The Conet Project has obvious appeal.

I assume Mark Richardson enjoyed listening to Russian space program broadcasts in his youth, as the broadcasts contain absolutely no context. The voices announcing the cryptic messages and singing that makes up the Conet Project never change their tone. This is understandable, as entertainment was not their goal.

Interestingly enough, Jay-Z's The Black Album also received a 8.0 from Pitchfork. The acapella version of said album has not yet been reviewed by Pitchfork.