Tag Archives: Boards of Canada Shortwave Numbers

Boards Of Canada puzzle: shortwave numbers?

SWLing Post readers: I received the following email request today. Sounds fun and intriguing.  Perhaps you can help solve this mystery…


Boards of Canada (Source: Last.fm)

Hello, readers of The SWLing Post, and please forgive the intrusion. I admittedly know very little about shortwave radio, but there has been a bit of a puzzle going on for fans of the band “Boards of Canada” recently, and there is the distinct possibility that its solution could involve shortwave radio. A message I posted over on Reddit was forwarded to Thomas, who very graciously offered to post the plea here.

Some background — Boards of Canada is an instrumental electronic music duo from Scotland who are, to put it mildly, somewhat private and aloof, in all the right ways. Their references tend to be very math-heavy and their music has some innovative and fascinating-sounding tape loops, synths, etc. This puzzle has been going on for the better part of a week, and we fans been very impressed with the complexity of it, though we are not even certain of the meaning of it — though we hope and suspect it is a lead-up to a new release by the band.

Someone (presumably the band) has been currently leaving these (for lack of a better word) “clues” in several key places in the media. First, a single album was sold to one person on National Record Store Day in the US — an album containing a “numbers station” style reading of a series of 6 numbers. Then a cryptic YouTube video with another series of 6 numbers also being read like a voice on a numbers station. 6 additional numbers were played (unannounced and without explanation) over a commercial radio station in England. Then on April 25, the band stealthily released 6 more numbers by encoding a link hidden in a gif — a link to two soundfiles that had to be played simultaneously in order to cancel out the phase and reveal — you guessed it — another numbers station-style broadcast.

We have reason to believe that there are 1 or 2 more series of numbers out there — and given the nature of the broadcasts, plus the picture of a radio tower on the band’s Facebook page and the different media by which the band has released some clues, there is at least some reason to believe that perhaps there is another series of numbers being broadcast somehow over shortwave radio.

Here is where I’m hoping the expertise of your readership might come in — as I say, I apologetically have no idea how the world of shortwave radio works. But I’m wondering: in your journeys across the frequencies recently, have any of you stumbled across anything that sounds like this:

http://youtu.be/Qe4UCjjyr8U — specifically something with that same chime pattern at the beginning and then the 6 numbers? (This is obviously not a “real” numbers station broadcast, but something made to sound like it). I would not put it past Boards of Canada to transmit a signal somehow and expect their listeners to find it.

And/or does this series of numbers mean anything to you in the shortwave world:


The Xs are gaps where we’re waiting to fill in the numbers, but we have yet to discover them — though one of the series might likely be 699742.

If you’re curious, here is a summary of most of the events that have happened so far: http://2020k.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/boards-of-canada-distribute-new-vinyl-releases-out-for-national-records-day/

Thanks so much, and apologies if this is a waste of your time — this may end up having nothing to do with shortwave transmissions — I just figured it might be worth a shot, and also an opportunity to learn more about this particular passion.

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