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Tag: audio (page 1 of 2)

Mixed feelings

blank cassette

mixed music,
mixed feelings

Music is a gift. That part I’m sure of.

Hearing music, being able to play it, singing it beautifully or singing it as if no-one else exists in the world. Tapping it out, hearing it as you run your fingers along a fence, sensing it in the pulse of another. Feeling it. It all blends to a sweet and personal harmony.

Music is everywhere and it’s a joy.

But there’s a gift that I miss. Or sometimes think that I do. A package of music that’s had its time.

A million years ago, there was the mixtape.

You could make your own; tape recorder shoved up hard against the radio, finger hovering on the worn red record button, waiting for that song. You know the one. It kept you up at night, trying to remember the words. It made your heart ache, when it came on air. Or it made you want to dance. You couldn’t not dance.

An enthusiastic friend might gift a mixtape to you. A box full of the sounds they wanted you to love. Maybe they were trying to cure you of your poppy, synthy, electronic ways. Maybe it was so that you might one day fall for their kind of music, or even fall for them. I always fell in love with the songs, but it never cured me. A good mixtape could blow my mind. It opened musical doors. Hell, a great one could unearth entire musical cities.

There are different ways to do this now. Digital ways. Shared playlists, and radio stations that like to think they know what you want. The word mixtape has taken on its own life and lots of folk use it to mean the mix, not the media. But, for me, this hasn’t replaced what’s gone. It still does and always will mean a cassette with a wound up gift of sound.

I miss it, absolutely. But that’s not to say I miss the technology. I guess that’s it – what I’m not so sure of. Cassette tapes were thick with imperfections. They wore out. Got tangled up. Unravelled and jammed. Yet there’s a little piece of that imperfect mess that I long for. The last few seconds of the captured next song. The slow devolve of the sounds and words of your favourite track; your most adored bit of tape.

It doesn’t make sense that I miss this. At the time, it annoyed me. Drove me mad. Made me swear and throw things. All the same, these imperfections are what made those songs uniquely mine. No-one else heard these songs in the same way that I did. Not the same order, not the same quality, not even the same loss through overuse and over-love.

And that little nest, that non-robotic soup is, I think, what made this music last. I can still see my favourite tape. My favourite song. That friend’s handwriting. The day the tape broke. Too much heart, too much worship.

As the world around me seeks for more and more stylised perfection, I guess that’s what I miss. A little box of chaos, music and imperfect love.

Podlike: Paper radio & a prawn

The big prawn

a bank of lights

shining a light on the Paper Radio podcast

Paper Radio is an Aussie/NZ podcast. Their last podcast was end 2015, but more episodes are on the way. Paper Radio recently snuck back into my consciousness when they were made a Radiotopia Podquest semi-finalist. And for whatever reason, it seems that crayfish are everywhere right now too. So when Paper Radio came back into view, their big prawn story crawled right along with it.

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and yet somehow that big prawn episode has always stayed with me. I thought that maybe the theme of big things would not carry overseas. But I discovered recently that Katia Pase’s tale was rebroadcast as part of an episode of The Truth (and on Radio Tonic).

There’s something timeless here. It’s not only the tale, but the way the tale has been edited and mixed. It sings and it stays with you. It left a haunting little place in my heart.

We could see the creature a mile away. Dad pulled in at the servo and I got out of the car and looked at the Big Prawn from across the road. It wasn’t pink at all. It was a faded white colour and it’s eyes were all googly and weird.

The big prawn is, for me, a story about searching for something you can’t really hope to find. And that’s a message that can be shared anywhere in the world.


Podlike: Neighbors & refugees

The language learner

a bank of lights

shining a light on the Neighbors podcast

It’s been tough choosing the first episode to review in this podlike series. In the end I was swayed by some of what’s been happening recently in Australia.

Most good podcasts invade your thoughts through sheer physical closeness. Their words feel as if they reside beside your brain, if not inside it. Neighbors is one of these. The storytelling is close and personal.

The episode the language learner dropped into my podcast feed around the time there was an incoherent verbal attack on refugees. The attack was ridiculous, contrary to evidence and completely lacking in humanity.

This episode of Neighbors spoke to me. It is a deft and warm example of how storytelling can bring us close to the real humanity of an individual. When Jacob Lewis speaks with Gin Thawng, a 66-year old refugee from Burma, their connection is immediate and clear.

Gin and I did connect. And it’s because we do share the same language: presence.

This story is a timely reminder that literacy and refugees is an important issue. And what matters is how people are treated; with humanity and heart.


Podlike: the teaser

lots of little blue lights

Shining a light on all the  little podcasts

I like a good podcast, me. Even a not-so-good one.

I love to listen to podcasts, talk about podcasts and, whenever I can, talk up a good podcast (or two).

Although I don’t use iTunes, I still sometimes review podcasts there, since I’m told that’s how a show can attract new listeners. But I don’t find shows through iTunes. It can be by word of mouth, but usually it’s through reading. Blogs, news stories, books, newsletters, tweets. You get the idea.

What’s this article? This is a teaser for what’s to come. Every few weeks (maybe more, maybe less) I’m going to spend a couple of hundred words talking up a favourite episode or series/theme of a random podcast show. It might be because it’s topical, it might be because it’s new. Most likely, it’ll be because it’s made my heart soar, made me laugh or made me think.

Listening to podcasts is usually such a solitary, close and personal thing. The people behind the shows put so much of themselves, heart and soul, into what I listen to. So, it’s about time I shared some of the love.

Stay tuned.

The ‘unwritten’ rules (so far)

So, I started this out with a few unwritten rules. Given I like writing, I thought I should write them up.

  1. One podcast review per podcast show / series
    (this is heartbreaking and cruel but stops me from just reviewing all the RadioLab shows ever made)
  2. I don’t have to subscribe to the show
    (there a MILLION shows and I can’t subscribe to all of them, but I can raise the profile of some beautiful things)
  3. Try and be open to suggestions
    (I want to find new shows and help others do the same, if you there’s an ep you want me to review, I’ll listen)
  4. I’ll be positive, but honest
    (I get tired of the amount of negativity around, so I won’t be sitting here just pulling something apart)

In podcast vernacular, this podlike article is a teaser and so you can call it episode 0, if you like. I will. Because I can. Also, If you make podcasts and have a particular episode you’d like to have me shine a light on, get in contact.

Finally, if this all new to you and you’ve never listened to a podcast, now’s a good time to try:

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