‘I’m the Higgs Boson and so’s my wife’

It’s been running for a while now and we’re all still here.

The Large hadron Collider has finally been switched on in history’s biggest experiment, an attempt to recreate the conditions of the big bang and unlock the mysteries of the universe.

14 years work and £4.5 Billion invested (500 million from the Uk alone, or about £10 per Uk citizen if you like), the LHC is an extraordinary, gigantic machine, manned by over 6000 scientists from all over the world. It is basically a 27km circular tunnel, frozen to deep space temporatures, 100m underground below the France/Swiss border in which they are attempting to spin two protons (steered by superpowered magnets) round in opposite directions at 99.9% the speed of light and then smash them together to recreate the conditions of the big bang! It’s a little ambitious to say the least.

Over breakfast we watched as news teams tried desperately to make a bunch of camerashy scientists in front of a few monitors look newsworthy, a bemused BBC presenter spoke over the even said “well its not exactly the space shuttle is it?” (rrriight.)

I must admit having read a fair amount on the subject, and for comfort, the myriad spin press releases by CERN to counter the doomsday writers (a lot of which have been dismissed as Cassandras or even strangely disappeared from the web of late.. erm who was it that invented the internet again? hmmm), I was a tiny bit nervous this morning I admit (if only that my last meal would be cornflakes).

As one YouTuber put it 6 mins after Switch On – “Dammit I’ve already slit my wrists!”

Disaster is of course very very unlikely, the LHC is not likely to produce a black hole anywhere near big or powerful enough to swallow up the entire planet, or that wormholes into new dimensions will be opened at these energy levels, killer stranglets will not be released which will turn our universe to mush, etc etc.. though of course these stories, though unfounded, can’t be totally written off as totally impossible – we’re dealing with a whole frontier of the unknown here.

The LHC is perhaps however best explained via the medium of rap –

In fact once today’s press formalities are over and (most of the world) has lost interest, the two more likely dates for a manmade apocalypse would be Oct 21st, ie when the first collisions are made, or in the new year when after the holidays they reboot the LHC at the full power of 14Tev. The end of humanity (the Earth itself is pretty tough) is far more likely to be in the hands of nature (eg a meteor), disease, poverty, overpopulation, genocide or terrorism/war in the hands of religious/political nutters. In short, the LHC is the least of our worries.

It’s not really a worry at all in fact – it’s Hope – and welcome evidence that humankind can come together in the pursuit of knowledge and intelligence in the reptilian face of materialism, greed, power, dogma, superstition and ritual. And the rest.

It is far more possible that the work achieved at CERN over the next few years will advance science and our understanding of the universe considerably, and in a way which could eventually help SAVE us all, give us a good future. The risk (if any) is negligable.

“The world will not come to an end”, says Professor Stephen Hawking (who I’m honoured to hear has my latest Cd “Telescopes”!). When the true genius was asked if he absolutely had to choose between the space program and the LHC, he said – “That is like asking which of my children I would choose to sacrifice. Both the LHC and the Space program are vital if the human race is not to stultify and eventually die out.”

A safety study by CERN itself said the following on safety – “Nature has already conducted the equivalent of about a hundred thousand LHC experimental programmes on Earth – and the planet still exists.”

It’s of course the elusive Higgs Boson (the ‘god particle’) which they are hoping to find (or not – either would be a result), and there is of course dark matter, anti matter and more to uncover.. all sorts of wild possibilties over the next few years – excitingly the possible discovery of proof of extra dimensions!One of the wildest possiblities is that the machine, once fully operational, could be effectively the very first time machine – this would effectively make this ‘Year Zero’ for temporal travel.. ie vistors from the future could only visit back as far as today.

Time travel is of course only a theory, but proven by Einstein’s colleague Kurt Gödel in 1949 (based on Einstein’s theory of relatively), but not yet fundamentally disproven. So if you see a car with flaming tyre tracks, or strange people in tin hats appear from nowhere in the next few months, ask them for some lottery numbers..

As for the practical implications, of course we have CERN to thank for this thing we’re sat looking at now, the Internet, which they invented 20 years ago of course. And of course there’s the PET scan, etc, if you really want to know where your £10 went.

It is however knowledge, exploration and inspiration here that is the most valuable asset to humanity. Exciting times. This is real history.

Find out more about KK’s “Telescopes” project at http://www.KKTELESCOPES.com !

KK Telescopes – music reviews

Some recent reviews of KK’s new album ‘Telescopes’ :

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It’s not often you get to listen to an album you just don’t want to end… well, this is the case with KK’s new album “Telescopes,” which is as cosmic and lyrical album as I’ve heard in a long time.KK has worked with the likes of Eno and Bjork, so he brings us his music from high up. Pianos flicker, synthesizers rustle, percussion tinkles, strings swell, and over all this KK himself speaks and sings, sounding remarkably like Green of Scritti Politti.

Many of these songs drift and sigh like The Beloved in interstellar space. The story is of the vast number of planets, stars and galaxies in our universe, a tale told with a real sense of melody and emotive underlying chords. Wonderful stuff.

Some songs (for example “Pale Blue Dot” and the swoonsome “Dust”) feature female vocals also. Mixed into one too-short album, this work deserves real success. So, I didn’t want this one to end. So I played it once again…

Terrascopic

Terrascopic.co.uk

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Clearly not one to sell himself short, KK proclaims himself a “21st Century Genius” and although the name may not be familiar to many his CV boasts work with such diverse artists as Bjork, Eno and Britney Spears. ‘Telescopes’ is very much his own work though and it’s a journey through space, time and continents, largely based on electronic music.

Dispensing astrological wisdom, KK also knows how to write music that is attractive and listenable. ‘Magic Spell’ and ‘Voyager’ are made up of serene instrumental parts whilst ‘Pale Blue Dot’ takes the dreamlike state one step further with a beautiful sequence of synth melodies. Here, the journey of space exploration makes perfect sense.

Further on in the album, ‘Codebreaker’ mixes Eastern mysticism with beats and KK’s own Green Gartside-like singing. KK comes unstuck the more inflated his ego seems to get; ‘Ancestor Simulation’, for example, begins with the noirish atmosphere of a detective story before collapsing into a bombastic arrangement which wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Riverdance’.

KK has created a concept album which flows nicely; capturing the ideas of an artist who has clearly learned from the vast range of talent he has collaborated with in the past.

Leonards Lair

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The press release says that he’s a technical wizard who has worked with master technical geeks Brian Eno and Bjork. Press releases are sometimes dubious, but after hearing the album, it’s pretty clear that this guy is a technical geek first-class.The mixing, instrumentals and sound effects are some of the most dazzling displays I’ve heard.

This a sci-fi concept album with plenty of geeky lyrics, and it sounds a lot like David Bowie’s 21st century masterpiece Heathen. (Apologies to anyone who wanted to know what the concept is about. I’m not that interested in deciphering it… I haven’t even gotten around to trying to figure out what Thick as a Brick was about.) There are so many colorful ideas and instrumental developments jam-packed in relatively short tracks that it’s insane. Amazingly so, these wild, unpredictable developments are so well-done that most of these tracks hold together very well.

Take “Dust” for instance. It’s just four minutes long, and it’s as though he worked pretty extensively on exploring different atmospheres and textures to fit in there. It’s really fun to listen to. “Magic Spell” is a masterpiece! If you’re a sucker for dream-pop/shoegazing stuff, it’s worth going out of your way to hear it. It’s one of the album’s most wild examples of this scatter-brained instrumental development, plus I adore that intoxicating, sort of atonal groove that pops up every once in awhile. Really nice stuff!

“Andromeda” is a fun, cinematic instrumental that sounds like a Starship Troopers battle piece. “Ancestor Simulation” is also a sort of cinematic song, with an obvious Asian influence. The ties to world music gives it a cool, exotic flavor. We can also pick up on some Indian influences in a pair of back-to-back songs “Infinity” and “Codebreaker.”

KK brought his head out of the fishbowl, briefly, to deliver a relatively normal song called “Paradise Found.”, a very pleasant ballad with a rather gorgeous, earthly atmosphere. The repetitive melody is fine, and has enough staying power to keep it sounding fresh for the whole five minutes. The first 30 seconds of “Pale Blue Dot” is excellent and earns second-place to “Magic Spell.” It’s based on four chords, which really raises a sort of mystical atmosphere… and of course, the highly developed instrumentation standards intensifies that emotion.

It’s really exciting for me to get an early look at this talent with a fresh debut album, and there’s a lot of promise. The geeky lyrics are definitely cool and cheesy (the way they were meant to be), and I was really dazzled by a lot of this.

Track by track highlights:

Dewdrop

This is a one-minute instrumental (although there is some vocalizations … though they were seemingly altered by a computer). A mid-range twinkly piano plays some scales while some synthesizer orchestrations pick up dramatically. It was designed to give us that outer space feel, which I think it did rather well. It makes an impression despite the short running length.

Dust

Listen to that technology! This guy really knows how to work those computers! This is a sort of spaced-out extravaganza with so many instrumental ideas packed into such a small amount of space that it’s almost jarring. I don’t dare count how many different sorts of instruments that can be heard throughout this… it’s like counting dust, I guess. Amazingly, these instrumental sections come in and out almost at random, and it doesn’t sound so incredibly awkward. You’re walking a dangerous line when you want to clutter up your songs with music, because usually it just sounds cluttered. But this is pretty fun to listen to.

Magic Spell

This is definitely worth listening to! It’s a lot like “Dust” except the ideas are even more extravagant, and the technology is about as dazzling as it gets. What’s more, the harmonies pass the test this time with flying colors. When the song first plays, we’re treated to an intoxicating, sort of atonal groove… and what ensues can only be described as “some really weird stuff.” It’s fun to listen to, also. Once again, there’s so many instruments and ideas that it’s impossible to count them…

Andromeda

I guess this would be a space military march, or something. Once again, this really sounds great. It’s not quite as busy as “Dust” or “Magic Spell” (and therefore, I guess, not as dizzying). But it’s still quite impressive in the technological front. We have a typical militaristic drum beat, and slow build-ups of different instruments. Notably, some Medieval-sounding vocals. This is fairly typical for something in any movie soundtrack, except I really like that wildly bending operatic soprano and I suppose that cool, sci-fi bass-line. Paradise Found
Hey, this is almost a normal song. And he’s even pretty good when he decides to go down this route. This is mostly a piano pop tune with a few guitars and light synthesizers added to the mix. The sound effects are brought to a surprising minimum! The melody isn’t so much hooky, but earthly. Nicely done!

Pale Blue Dot

The beginning is really mystical, thanks in part to a simple but effective harmonies, which raises the alien feeling of it. The sound effects, of course, are the whole point of the song. Those radio voices at the beginning were really cool, coupled with the atmospheric instrumentation. Crunch This is another one of those weird spacey songs that consists of cheesy spoken dialogue and funny synthesizers. It’s a little more “out-there” than “Sol 3,” not to mention longer. Bringing in those synthesized choir in the middle was great. This is the sort of thing you’d probably get at a planetarium show. (The final third is a dead-ringer for that.)

Michael Lawrence

Don Ignacio’s Music Reviews

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to buy or find out more about KK’s Telescopes visit www.kktelescopes.com

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