Look Behind the
"The Ghost Orchid" CD
by Mark Poysden
I first heard about EVP several years ago, but I
never paid much
attention to the subject until I listened to "The Ghost Orchid," an
informative CD containing 79 "electronic voice" tracks, as well as a
of highly intelligent essays on the subject.
What is EVP? Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVP, are weird and
mysterious, apparently paranormal sonic events of unknown origin, which
can sometimes be heard (and captured in recordings) on various types of
electronic apparatus, and which are usually discounted by skeptics as
being simple forms of radio interference. Some people believe the
have a satanic or demonic origin, others postulate that they are
attempts at communication, or that they may, in fact, be "projections"
from the researcher.
The voices take on diverse forms; they may appear to be speaking in
(polyglot), singing or making public service announcements. They
standard radio broadcasts, and can apparently call on by name, and
directly to researchers (and most likely attempt to communicate with
too busy to notice they are being addressed by the voice of weirdness).
They may make themselves heard over telephones, during television
and as anomalous interference on tape recordings. Some of them seem to
engaging in dialogue, answering questions, or willingly supply secret,
highly specific personal information, no doubt as an indication of
Often, intercommunication between those waiting and hoping to speak
its way onto the tape, just as background talk might during any normal
recording, the difference here being that the discarnate technicians'
ability to create a window of communication is seemingly random, or
fixed. In other words, that acoustic window only opens for a moment,
whoever happens to be making noise ends up on the recording, whether
are the designated speakers or the bystanders. Of course, as with all
"sciences," both conventional and paranormal, there are those
investigators (or "investigators"), who are so keen on finding evidence
to support the validity of their chosen
field that they will impose meaning on what might otherwise be a mere
cloud, albeit oddly shaped.
Intense research and investigation, which seriously began in the
(when assumptions that they were enemy propaganda were nullified by the
Allied victory), has revealed that EVP is quite possibly an actual,
system of interdimensional communication.
Interestingly enough, the EVP phenomenon was predicted by those reputed
fathers of radio, Marconi and Thomas Edison who believed it was only a
matter of time before such magnificent technology would enable us to
directly with the dead. Indeed, Edison even went so far as to suggest
that the spirit world would perhaps be the first to initiate the
by using radio to make contact with the living. He also worked on
a "psychic telephone" that he hoped would create a means to converse
the discarnate, alas, without success.
The Early Years
It seems the honor of recording the first spirit voice on tape goes to
the Reverend Drayton Thomas who, during his investigations of the
of the famous medium, Gladys Osborne Leonard, captured one of the
disembodied voices she had started producing on tape. He later
one of them as the voice of his own father. This occurred sometime in
the late 1940s.
The psychic Attila von Szalay, who frequently heard disembodied voices
in the air around him, started researching the phenomenon with Raymond
Bayless, a psychologist in the early 1950s. Their initial attempts with
a 78 RPM Pack-Bell record-cutter and player were disappointing.
they continued their efforts using a device that Bayless had devised
constructed. It consisted of a cabinet with an interior microphone
inside a speaking trumpet. The microphone chord led out of the cabinet
and was connected to a tape recorder and a loud speaker. Almost
immediately, they began to hear whispers originating from inside the
cabinet and duly
recorded them. In 1956, they produced an article documenting their
for the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research.
Von Szalay carried on taping for many years using an open microphone
to a reel-to-reel recorder and he achieved excellent results.
At the end of the fifties, Friederich Jurgenson, a retired Swedish
singer, film producer and bird-watcher, was occupied with a project
wild bird songs in the forests near to his home. On playback he
that strange garbled fragments of seemingly human speech had somehow
their way onto the tape, although he was absolutely sure that he had
completely alone when he made the recording. He even recognized one of
the voices as his dead mother calling his name. Later, Jurgenson
that he had been trying to record EVP voices for a while, but without
success and it was no accident whatsoever when he finally succeeded.
Listening closely to the voices, Jürgenson found that they spoke
in different languages, often changing to another idiom in
Also, longer phrases often had an improper structure or grammar and, in
some cases, the syllables were either stretched or compressed in a way
that made it quite hard to comprehend the messages. The strangest
of all was the uncanny way the voices seemed to respond to his
Jürgenson began to hold conversations with the strange voices by
recording questions and later searching the tape for answers. After
years of experimental recording, he announced his strange discovery to
the world at an international press conference in 1963 and his book, Roesterna
Fraen Rymden (Voices From the Universe) was published the following
year in Stockholm. His conclusion was that the tape recorder was acting
as a form of electronic communication link to the realm of the dead.
Following this initial burst of enthusiasm, EVP was forgotten, even by
the parapsychological community who were, in the 1960s, far more
in studying ESP and telekinesis, and who were no doubt quietly
by the military community in their efforts.
Comprehensive cataloguing was started in the sixties by a small team
of researchers assembled by one of Jurgenoson’s
Dr. Konstantin Raudive, a Latvian-born psychologist and philosopher. He
recorded thousands of disembodied voices, many of which communicated in
a polyglot of languages. (Raudive himself spoke nearly a dozen, so
the messages was not usually difficult for him.) A typical polyglot
might begin with a word in Latvian, then two in German, ending with one
in French. Because it seemed so odd that spirits should choose to use
Raudive was often criticized and accused of misinterpreting his voices.
However, his critics were unable to decipher exactly what these voices
on his recordings were actually saying--if they were indeed just
in a single language--and they often neglected the fact that Jurgenson,
too, had recorded similar polyglot messages.
Raudive’s messages also came under fire for their seemingly
content, which sometimes included comments on the color of the sweater
he was wearing, tidying up his house in preparation for anticipated
or even on the virtues of living in Upsala in Sweden. A
to this criticism is that if the voices originate from the dead, it
be remembered that they were once normal (living) people; the only
being that they have experienced the change-of-state known as "death,"
which need not necessarily make them any more wise or erudite! Raudive
was not the only experimenter whose work documents that the dead have a
sense of humor, get bored, like to tease, or even talk about the
EVP researchers apparently record a substantial amount of this sort of
"verbal junk" on their tapes.
Raudive also came under fire for his use of a diode. He discovered that
the voices gained in strength and number when background noises were
The diode, which is a broadband, crystal radio detector with a short
and a second wire directly connected into the microphone input of the
recorder, provided white noise and greatly aided the voices in
Raudive's critics claimed what he was actually recording were snatches
of ordinary radio transmissions. Perhaps the main defense against this
is that Raudive's voices made a point of mentioning his name as often
Some of his recordings were made available on a 7" record together with
a book titled Unhoerbares Wird Hoerbar (The Inaudible Becomes
based on the 72,000 voices he recorded. This audio document included
messages from the likes of Spanish philosopher Ortega Y Gasset and
poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. The book was translated and published in an
expanded edition as Breakthrough, an Amazing Experiment in
Communication with the Dead. by Colin Smythe, Ltd. England in 1971.
Indeed, Dr. Raudive was so absorbed by the phenomena that he started to
communicate with investigators after his own death.
Thomas Edison made an unexpected reappearance in 1967, when he spoke
through Sigrun Seuterman, a West German clairvoyant while he was in a
trance. Edison discussed his attempts to develop equipment for
voices from the beyond in 1928. Edison also made suggestions on how to
modify TV sets and tune them to 740 megahertz to get paranormal
There seventies saw a resurgence of interest in the EVP phenomenon and
a number of books were published world-wide which documented various
discoveries: Talks With the Dead was written in 1971, by
Addams Welch, a Hollywood scriptwriter and playwright, and published in
1975; and Carry On Talking by Peter Bander, a British
was published in the United States as Voices from the Tapes:
from Other Worlds in 1973. Two Americans, Scott Rogo and Raymond
conducted extensive documentary research and published a book, Phone
Calls From the Dead (1976). Wen Die Toten Reden (When The Dead
Speak) was written by Father Leo Schmid, Oeschegen, Switzerland and
posthumously in 1976. He had been assigned a small parish almost ten
earlier to give him time to experiment with recording the mysterious
In 1982, G. W. Meek made a trip around the world to distribute tape
of 16 excerpts of communications between William J. O'Neil and an
scientist who died 14 years earlier. He also distributed a 100-page
report giving wiring diagrams, photos, technical data and guidelines
research by others. The bulk of this material had resulted from the
research he had conducted together with two other Americans, Paul Jones
and Hans Heckman, at a laboratory they had started. Their intention had
been to create a two-way voice communication system far more
that the equipment used up until then in EVP research.
Rapid advances in technology introduced not only new research
but also new media for the voices to use to express themselves.
in several countries reported pictures of the "dead" appearing
on their televisions. There is apparently no control over the
of these images.
Klaus Schreiber, a West German, developed an optical-electronic
system together with Martin Wenzel, and began to receive images of dead
people on television. Many images were accompanied by audio
and could be positively identified. Schreiber even claimed that he had
even received video-audio contact from two deceased wives. His work was
the subject of a documentary TV film and a book by Rainer Hobbe of
Perhaps the best known experimenters receiving visual-audio
are Maggie and Jules Harsch-Fischbach of Luxembourg, who have been busy
researching the EVP phenomenon for many years now. They developed and
successfully operated two electronic systems in 1985, which were
more dependable than their predecessors, producing results that could
be reliably duplicated. One of the techniques they developed allowed
to hear spirit voices speaking audibly over a radio frequency which in
Europe is exclusively used for personal beeper signals. In 1987, they
received their first TV picture sequences of good quality. About a year
Jules and Maggie Harsh-Fischbach established sustained computer
Messages were left on unattended computer screens, and photographs of
dead friends and co-workers were mysteriously uploaded onto their PCs.
The most incredible case of EVP on computer occurred in the tiny
of Doddleston, England, during the years 1984-1986. Ken and Debbie
began receiving messages from a man named Thomas Harden, who claimed he
was writing to them from the year 1545, during the reign of Henry VIII.
The language of his messages was pre-Shakespearean in construction and
was studied by at least one linguistic expert who found the writings
and who thought it inconceivable that they might have been faked, even
by the most skilful Elizabethan linguist. In all, the Websters received
more than 250 such messages, many accompanied by poltergeist phenomena.
with these bizarre communications from Thomas Harden in the 16th
was a confusing set of messages from a group calling themselves 2109.
It was not possible to tell if the members of this group were humans
the future or extraterrestrial. After the mysterious writings at
ceased, the 2109 group began communicating with the Harsch-Fischbachs
in Luxembourg and apparently still does. Webster wrote a book in 1989
titled The Vertical Plane, and included extensive photographic
Finally, experimenters began receiving images on their VCRs. These
show faces, crowds, scenery and animals. The people in the images look
extremely ectoplasmic; similar to the types of images seen in spirit
although recent images appear much more "normal." Perhaps this is
of improving technologies on both sides of life.
A year earlier, Sarah Estep, resident in Severna Park, Maryland, USA
published the results of fifteen years of EVP research in her book
of Eternity’. Sarah also founded the American Association-
Voice Phenomena, which is a loose collective of experimenters and
who are interested in survival research. The organization has well over
two hundred members scattered around the world and it publishes a
Sarah Estep has made it her goal to collect as much information as
from her non-corporeal guest speakers about life in their world. She
also made contact with entities from "Space" worlds invisible to us,
not commonly thought of as spirit. The entities who communicate speak
of flying ships, often repeat all or part of their words, sound robotic
on occasion, and mention names of stellar bodies familiar to us, like
Alpha Centauri or Venus, as well as those we do not know, such as a
called Palymachie. The denizens of the spirit world tell her that they
happy, that their world is our true home, and we should come back and
how lovely it is. There are plants, trees, and animals and they even
they have homes of a sort and even cities. They are able to view future
events, although they do not automatically know what will happen in the
future. They appear to have to do some research of their own before
any future occurrence.
Estep is not alone in receiving "Space" voices. Other researchers do
so as well. They frequently receive calls for help, prayers, and
from souls who are wandering, unaware they are dead, or greatly
at their separation from loved ones. It seems these spirits are drawn
to the researcher, or brought to them by other entities whose job is
the lost. These souls are allowed to speak, perhaps to warn us of the
consequences of being unprepared for death, and then they are
on, and hopefully given the help they need.
The Ghost Orchid
"The Ghost Orchid" CD, recently released on British record label Ash
International [R.I.P.], was compiled, edited and produced by Justin
and Ash International's Mike Harding. They sourced a massive tape
property of an organisation called the Parapsychic Acoustic Research
(PARC), to bring the curious up to speed on this weird and vexing
Sam Ayres and Justin Chatburn established PARC in Autumn1998. As a
effort, PARC consists of many members who willingly contributed to the
project or concept under development. The results were then archived,
and finally published.
I welcome the release of this definitive CD. Ringmaster Leif Elggren
unravels the threads as we proceed through the tracks, which, by the
includes the material from the 7" record released with Raudive's 1971
book Breakthrough. The CD is most certainly a valuable addition
to this field of research, and, dare I say it without appearing to be
flippant, a source of some of the most beautiful textural sounds I have
heard for a long time.
The hero of "The Ghost Orchid" is Raymond Cass, who devoted a great
deal of his time to researching this phenomena. He first became
in EVP when a male voice suddenly called his name over a primitive
which was switched off at the time. An investigation of his genealogy
revealed that he had psychic ancestors, one of whom was persecuted for
her paranormal abilities in 1773, and another who could levitate a
with three men sitting on top it. The publication of Konstantin
book Breakthrough in 1971 was the impetus that propelled Cass
forefront of British EVP research, and he was soon producing recordings
voices of such amazing clarity and amplitude that he attracted
attention. His previous studies in acoustics and his practical
as a hearing-aid technologist were probably invaluable tools in his
Cass was one of the first to record examples of the disputed polyglot
voices, which construct phrases and sentences from several different
examples and interpretations of which occur on this CD. However, in
at the age of 76, his abilities seemed to falter, and it remains to be
seen whether he will return successfully to the field.
Cass seems to favor the ET scenario, suggesting that fragmented
might be being directed at selected individuals over a long period of
time, possibly from extraterrestrial monitoring and relay stations
somewhere in our solar system. The fragmented nature of these messages
keeps the recipients finely tuned and simultaneously ensures that they
conduct their own continuous research in order to corroborate their
and conclusions. He also suggests, however, that "the voices may be a
mutant development of the subconscious mind, or a transient by-product
of the electromagnetic pollution which now rings our planet."
Joe Banks, who is no stranger to peculiar audio phenomena--as he spends
much of his time recording natural radio waves from stars and
one of the several excellent expositions included in the CD booklet. He
makes the very valid point that there is a natural human inclination to
"project" meaning onto otherwise innocent phenomena, in an attempt to
either simplify them even further, or to make them appear (more)
than they may already (appear to) be. The human imagination will try to
impose meaning on configurations of sounds, in this case, and of course
each individual will usually use his or her own language as the basis
for interpretation. If no sense can be made of what we perceive, then
some form of auxiliary hypothesis will be invented and/or introduced to
the conclusion. The wilder the territory that unfolds before us, the
the language that we use to attempt to describe it becomes.
Even conventional science has been reduced to poetic terminology to
the infinitesimal and abstract worlds within worlds that it seems to
unearth. One of the problems pointed out by Joe Banks with regard to
particular aspect of the phenomenon of EVP is that 'we are asked to
that the entities have the intellect to acquire a grasp of many
while having lost the ability to speak grammatically or confine
to proper words'. Additionally, he observes that it is conventional
compiling EVP demonstration tapes to reinforce the process of
by first having the narrator announce the meanings before playing the
The human mind has to fill in the blanks, or else it would go
completely bonkers and the mysterious voices which we might hear
our radios or telephones will start to resound inside our own craniums.
To be frank, there are simply not enough lampposts around for us all to
have one to talk to.
It remains to be said that the phenomenon has been considered serious
enough to have not only been assessed by various paranormal groups, but
also to have come under scrutiny by Defense Ministries on both sides of
the Atlantic and no doubt by their counterparts in the (former) East
Personally, I cannot make up my own mind about the phenomenon of EVP,
but I know that this audio document will be a thing to treasure and
to from time to time, just to tantalize and encourage my human desire
for the all-too sweet, and eternally uncharted terra incognita
which may just possibly be waiting beyond the gate.
Anyone with an interest in the study of survival of the human
beyond physical death stands to learn and grow from investigating
conducting his or her own EVP research. There are many ways to approach
the possible manifestations of post-mortem survival; perhaps the best
attitude to take is to consider it a mix of both science and
Most researchers conduct recording sessions in their homes, on a
basis. Frequency and consistency seem to aid in obtaining results.
What do you need to tape?
1: A tape recorder, obviously. Early recordings were made on reel-
machines, then cassette decks. Anything with a built-in microphone or
speakers has proven unreliable as they increase distortion and often
up too much local motor noise, if recordings are made at high levels.
The introduction of digital technology has greatly improved recording
quality and is a still more preferable medium.
2: A microphone. Condenser mikes aren't up to scratch. You will end up
hearing yourself talking and there will more than likely be a wall of
hiss in the background. Good quality microphones can be bought at most
3: Decent headphones always come in handy. They can help to pinpoint
sounds more specifically if used simultaneously with (loud) speaker
4: Good loudspeakers that can tolerate high volume levels, a stereo
to drive them, and if possible, a graphic equalizer, so that you can
out unnecessary frequencies.
5: A sound source. Try tuning to a frequency between stations on an
radio. You'll probably achieve better results on the AM waveband, as FM
contains so much bleeding between the stations on an already overloaded
dial. Seek out areas where white noise is the dominant sound. This same
procedure can be applied to short-wave radio, where there are less
If utilizing the AM/FM or short wave bands doesn't appeal to you, try
the air bands. These are frequencies air pilots and control towers use
to communicate. The only earthly voices you are going hear will be
clearly evident as air traffic communications, so if someone says,
"This is your
dead uncle," you can be sure it isn't a British Airways pilot. You
also try playing a record or making a tape of running water. Apparently
both of these methods also work well.
7: A commitment to taping.
What should you expect?
Do not expect to hear anything the first time you tape, or perhaps the
ten times after that. It seems to take about two weeks before most
get anything, or before their ear has been trained to distinguish a
voice, which might sound like a whisper, be low and tonal in pitch, be
faster or slower than normal speech, or oddly accented. If you are
you will undoubtedly hear voices uttering strange, seemingly
words and phrases. You may hear calls for help from distressed souls.
You may never receive messages from the people (in spirit) you love
or if you do, you may hear from them only once or infrequently
Hunters Society—Electronic Voice Phenomena
Electronic Voice Phenomena Page
The American Association
EVP Examples & Transcommunication Page
EVP - Fortean Times 104
More information and reviews of "The Ghost Orchid"
CD can be found at the Parapsychic
Acoustic Research Cooperative.
Copyright 1999 Mark Poysden