The mystery of Dr. Strand's past becomes murkier as Alex joins him in a Black Tapes case centered on a musician's suicide and the possible discovery of a sound that is rumored to have been created by Lucifer himself.
Alex receives a message from Strand apologizing for their previous phone conversation wherein he suggested she was losing journalistic objectivity, and he offers Alex a look at the next Black Tape in his collection. When Alex asks why he’s now more amenable to the idea of going through the mysterious tapes, Strand uses YouTube videos of paranormal investigators Emily Dumont and Dirk Abruzzi as examples of people that “set us back. Socially...and culturally.” Strand suggests that with a respectable platform such as Pacific Northwest Stories, he and Alex can “renew skepticism."
Strand shares a message left by Keith Dabic, the guitarist and songwriter for Hastur Rising, a hard rock band whose lead singer had committed suicide two weeks prior by hammering a knife into his chest with a polo mallet. Alex plays a clip featuring an interview with the deceased, Jeff Wendt, who remarks that even speaking Hastur’s name is taboo.
Alex and Strand then explore the myth surrounding The Unsound, an audio phenomenon mentioned by Wendt before he died. Strand explains that The Unsound is thought to be attributed to an archdemon (possibly Lucifer) as a summons for Satan’s minions to reappear in the world without God knowing, as it’s a sound that God can’t hear. Even more mysterious are the claims that anyone who hears The Unsound dies within a year.
Strand’s own research into The Unsound (as well as that of his assistant at the time, Travis Collinwood), led him to the reports from a scientific outpost in Antarctica in 1962, where researchers were investigating the weakening of the ozone layer over the area. Their instruments picked up the strange audio wave pattern, and all were dead within a year of the recording. Strand points out that one of them died from a Staph infection and the rest died in a climbing accident, and this could very well have been how the legend started. Alex then plays The Unsound for listeners after a warning that they continue listening at their own risk.
Alex enlists the help of Dr. Michael Pullman, a structural acoustician and teacher in the physics department at the University of Washington, to decipher the origin and structure of The Unsound. Pullman believes the sound is organic but with very precise and repetitive sound patterns. Alex then plays an interview she conducted with Francis Dreiser, a demonologist at the Pacific Christian Academy in Southeast Washington State, where he suggests that demons banished to hell require some kind of portal to reach our realm, and they also require a medium or someone who invites demons to take over their bodies for access to this plane. Still, Dreiser doesn’t believe in the veracity of the claim that The Unsound is anything more than an urban legend.
Alex next interviews Keith Dabic, who tells Alex that while he instigated Hastur Rising’s dalliance with the occult in order to make them stand out as a band, Jeff took it very seriously and started exploring The Unsound after Keith played it for him at the suggestion of a fan; Jeff then became increasingly obsessed until his suicide.
During a phone conversation, Alex reveals to Strand that she knows he was once married, and he confesses that his wife disappeared during a road trip to Big Sur in 1997 when he stopped to get gas. Alex mentions to the audience that she also discovered he was the prime suspect in her disappearance, that her parents believe he was responsible, and the psychic who was hired to look into her disappearance was assaulted (though she doesn’t say by whom). Alex promises to come back to this topic at a later time.
Alex next interviews Jeff Wendt’s mother and Strand accompanies her; they’re shown to the garage where Jeff recorded and where his computer was still running. Familiar with the recording software, Alex isolates some of the tracks and discovers the presence of The Unsound, and also notices that it’s being seeded to other listeners, with over six million downloads. Strand maintains that everything is easily explained, as Jeff needed psychiatric help and his mother was clearly religious, so she would have easily bought into the explanation that evil forces were at work during her son’s suicide.
Alex concludes the podcast by noting that Strand’s former assistant who tracked down The Unsound, Travis Collinwood, died in a traffic accident four months after leaving the Strand Institute.
Recurring Characters Edit
- Jeff Wendt
- Travis Collinwood
- Francis Dreiser
- Jeff Wendt's mother
- Emily Durmont
- Dirk Abruzzi
- Hastur Rising is a reference to Hastur, an entity of the Cthulhu mythos which first appeared in Ambrose Bierce's short story Haïta the Shepherd, but was made popular by H.P. Lovecraft.
- Interestingly, the Ellsworth Station in the Antartic closed down in 1962 due to safety concerns since it was built on ice.
- Alex, Nic and Dr. Strand originally listen to the Unsound on April 23, 2015 at 3:15 PM.