“…Quindar put out its debut album, Hip Mobility, and ever since I can finally point people toward an Exhibit A in astral audio. Made up of Wilco keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen and art historian James Merle Thomas, the duo started with a cosmic mission and definitely achieved it within these eight tracks.”
Quindar may not be a familiar word, but as a sound, it’s instantly recognizable. During the Apollo space missions, the quindar tones were the bleeps made by the transmitters connecting the spacecraft to ground control. Quindar is also the name of the collaboration between Wilco keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen and art historian/musician James Merle Thomas. The duo talks about how they took inspiration from sounds in the NASA archive to tell the smaller, human stories of the space program.
Spaceflight Beeps Inspire Cosmic 'Quindar' Music: A Q&A with the Composers
Using technological elements that bring people together over great distances, thus "minimizing" the space and time between them, art historian James Merle Thomas and Wilco keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen have created a musical experience that taps into the history of spaceflight. They dubbed the project "Quindar."
On their debut album Hip Mobility, James Merle Thomas and Mikael Jorgensen—who call their musical project Quindar—weren’t interested in rewriting The Right Stuff or remaking Apollo 13. They wanted to explore the early decades of NASA and the pre-Shuttle space program, but from an oblique angle. “Countdown, blastoff—that stuff has been well covered,” explains Jorgensen, probably best known as a multi-instrumentalist in the critically acclaimed indie band Wilco. “We wanted to find little moments that were more humanizing.”
Quindar performed at The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV for AIGA's annual design conference and we had a chance to talk with Roman Mars after the performance. Here are a couple of excerpts.
“Most captivating of the bunch was Quindar, featuring pianist and synth player Mikael Jorgensen’s Quindar, which uses audio from NASA’s archives to create spacey, avant-garde dance music.”