Singer and rapper Ghostemane has published a crypto challenge in a US music magazine. Can a reader solve it?
Two weeks ago, I received a mail from Craig Bauer, the editor-in-chief of Cryptologia (the following picture was taken at last year’s HistoCrypt).
Craig informed me about a cryptologic puzzle that was recently published in the US magazine Revolver (February / March 2019). First I thought, Revolver was a publication about firearms, but in fact it is a music magazine focusing on rock and heavy metal. The puzzle was published at the end of an article on the musician Ghostmane. This article, which is a manifesto about Ghostemane’s new album N/O/I/S/E is available online.
To be honest, I had never heard of Ghostemane before. He appears to be quite successful in the US, but not necessarily in Germany. Here’s a video of his song “Nihil”:
When a famous musician publishes a nicely made crypto challenge in a music magazine, it is certainly worth an article on this blog. However, I couldn’t publish this cryptogram for copyright reasons.
Yesterday, I received an email from Tim Smith, who introduced himself as Ghostemane’s manager. I don’t know if Craig has informed him about my blog or if he knows about it from some other source (perhaps, he is even a frequent reader). Regardless, Tim informed me about the crypto challenge I already knew and gave me the permission to share it on my blog. So, here it is:
The article doesn’t give any information about the cryptogram. Apparently, we deal with a ciphertext written in an alphabet that contains much more than 26 letters. Note that some of the letters are marked with red spots.
A large alphabet can have several reasons. If, for instance, upper-case and lower-case letters are encoded separately, 52 different symbols are necessary. There are even more, if numbers, punctuation marks and spaces are encoded. However, the missing of doubled letters and a few other arguments suggest that such a scheme was not used here.
A large alphabet also appears, if the same plaintext letter can be encrypted to several ciphertext letters (homophones). The most famous homophonic cipher is the one used by the Zodiac killer for his first message.
Did Ghostemane (or whoever created this cryptogram) use a Zodiac-style cipher? Or is this cryptogram based on a completely different system? I hope that my readers will find out more about this crypto challenge.
Further reading: Yet another Zodiac copycat message: The Albany Letter