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It's just a Blur en route to Mars

June 12, 2003|Karla S. Blume

Most bands want to conquer the world with their music, but the British rock outfit Blur has its eye on the universe as well. Back on tour after the release of its latest album, "Think Tank," Blur's music will also be playing to whatever life there might be on Mars.

It all began four years ago when a couple of the bandmates who are fans of space exploration wanted to find a way to connect what they do to a project. After talking to the European Space Agency (the United Kingdom's version of NASA), Blur decided to help sponsor the Beagle 2 lander, a space vehicle on its way to the surface of Mars to collect data that scientists hope will help answer the age-old question, is there or was there life on the red planet. "People have been wondering: Is there life on Mars since the dawn of conscious thought?" bass player Alex James says. The band, in town for KROQ's Weenie Roast Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, created a nine-note musical loop that will act as a call signal for the Beagle 2. This beacon will chime to announce the vehicle's arrival on Christmas Day and to serve as a voice print to distinguish the information it collects from other spacecraft on the surface. According to Patrick So, the astronomical lecturer at the Griffith Observatory, it will take nine minutes for the sound to carry from Mars to Earth.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday June 13, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 63 words Type of Material: Correction
Blur quote -- An article about the British band Blur in Thursday's Calendar Weekend incorrectly punctuated a quote from bass player Alex James, changing its meaning. The quote read: "People have been wondering: Is there life on Mars since the dawn of conscious thought?" The correct quote is: "People have been wondering 'Is there life on Mars?' since the dawn of conscious thought."

Meanwhile, Damon Albarn, the singer for the group, is more of an earthbound kind of guy, having spent time in Africa and Asia. Blur recorded a portion of the new album there, inspired by the fact that in Mali music is more spontaneous, played informally out on the streets. The album's world-music feel blends with its signature sound in a way that makes Blur, well, so darn British. If nothing else, the band will be the first to have a gig on Mars.

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