Twenty years of annoyance with a ‘family mystery’’ came to an end a couple of weeks ago – and I finally laid it to rest this week.
When I was very young – probably about 7 or 8, my mum was very into electronic music – think Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield and the like. That wasn’t ALL she was into of course, I was also brought up at that time on a pretty varied vinyl diet of Boney M (love), Beatles (hate), Rolling Stones (ambivalent), Simon & Garfunkel (love), The Carpenters (secretly love), Abba (indifferent) and The Soundtrack To Hair (hate!).
Anyway, there was one particular album that I remembered my mum playing quite frequently, that to my juvenile ear had a track that sounded just like aliens singing. I used to love it at the time, and used to sing along in my bestest alien voice.
When I ‘left home’ at 17, CDs were just coming out and I gradually built up my collection, but there were a few CDs that I admit I bought simply because I used to put them on and think of my mum and childhood – I got War of the Worlds which was always a favourite, but I also got Oxygene and Tubular Bells simply for the memories.
So, at about 18/19, I asked my mum “What was that album you used to have with the aliens singing on it?” and she looked at me like I’d just murdered a family pet “Aliens? Aliens singing? Why on earth would I have an album of aliens singing?!”. So, I tried to sing it…difficult to sing an electronic song that you last heard half your lifetime ago that doesn’t actually have any lyrics.
This obviously meant absolutely nothing to my mum, and she dismissed it with a well-rehearsed glare.
Over the years, I have heard this particular track in my head many many times, but never heard it anywhere else. And even with the fantastic invention of the internet, how do you find a track that has no words?
There have been occasions when I have thought I am on the verge of remembering it, or finding it, and none more so than a couple of weeks ago when I was watching Dog Soldiers with The Man.
As we were watching, a piece of classical music started (just a piano) that was vaguely familiar. I realised I’d heard it a few times – but then suddenly realised that in my head, I was hearing it electronically. I sat up suddenly and reached for my laptop.
This wasn’t the aliens singing track of my memories, but…it was the track before it on the album!!!
I crossed my fingers and typed “Dog Soldiers Soundtrack” into Google. Result! I found a listing that included Debussy’s Clair de Lune. Hmm, that sounded familiar.
I typed “Clair de Lune” into YouTube and found the exact piece of music that had been in the film.
So, from there I typed in “Electronic Debussy Lune” into Google and started sifting through the results.
I got a link to my favourite Last.FM of all things! Isao Tomita meant nothing to me, but when I clicked on the sample, that was it! That was the album!!
It was only a couple more clicks that helped me get to this video. Listen to the whole thing for a taste of my childhood, but especially listen from 1:20 to hear what I believed were the singing aliens.
Obviously, the first thing I did was go onto Play.com and find the exact album that my mum had owned (I checked the track listing) and a couple of days later it was in my grubby little hands!
So, I took it away with me, and when my parents turned up for a couple of days, I sat them down and went through with my mum again “What was the album you used to play that had the singing aliens on it?”. And then I tried the electronic music angle. “Jean Michel Jarre?” she said, “Vangelis? Mike Oldfield?”
So I put it on – and she happily joined in with all the various sounds, and remembered it all, but couldn’t for the life of her remember the name of the album, or who it was by.
Snowflakes are Dancing by Isao Tomita, you have caused me endless frustration, but you have been so worth it – even just to see the enormous smile on my mum’s face when we sat and listened to it together again yesterday – the first time in 30 years. (and not only are there aliens singing on it, but the picture of him on the cover looks like Mr Spock!)
Mystery solved. Case closed.