Soul Coughing: Unmarked Helicopters

Black Helicopters

From the album Songs in the Key of X (1996)

Recorded during the tumultuous sessions of the band’s second album, Irresistible Bliss, Unmarked Helicopters is prototypical Soul Coughing and an achievement in “slacker jazz.” That intra-band strife of the time seems to help this song, better than any other, capture the zeitgeist of The X-Files, the feeling of alienation and suspicion that the show projected.

The intro borrows from of the show’s disembodied main theme and sets the stage for an agitated and unnerving story. Over the course of three and a half minutes, the song makes oblique references to hovering lights on houses (and those that pursue them), fear of the end times and the role of the person who knows the truth. This thing is an ode to American society’s grand paranoia of truth and government that the show epitomized.

Unmarked Helicopters appeared as the second track on the Songs in the Key of X compilation, the whimsical soundtrack released at the height of the TV show’s popularity. In early 1997, the song was featured prominently in the fourth season episode Max.

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Photo from DefenseLINK