Nearly three minutes of uninterrupted squealing. It’s challenging. It’s painful. And it’s total genius.
HARK!, a documentary by Chris Brooks, Paolo Pietropaolo, and Alan Hall, “investigates the acoustic world of Early Modern England.” Even though the historical record may give us some clues as to what the Elizabethan era might have looked like, we have almost no inkling what it sounded like.
Almost. This stunning work takes us back 400 years into a long-extinct sonic world–a world absent of the noise of cell phones, car traffic, household appliances, and recorded music. A world where the “sonic event” of the day might be the livestock getting fed.
So when you start hearing pigs around the 22-minute mark–and you keep hearing pigs through 25-minute mark–don’t fast-forward. Let the pigs take you through a time warp. And then be glad that you don’t have to clean up after them.
This week, PRX saw the debut of Stylus, which producers Conor Gillies and Zack Ezor describe as a “host-less documentary show navigating ideas, artifacts, histories, cultures, and places along the mysterious terrain of sound and music.”
Episode one is meditation on the idea of silence. It drifts seamlessly from John Cage to Beethoven to Zen Buddhism to The Shining, creating a dreamy landscape of voices and ideas and music.
Stylus began as an academic project while Conor was studying history and journalism at Boston University. At the time, Conor was also interning at WBUR’s Here and Now, which is where he met Zack, the station’s Member Services Coordinator. The two collaborated on the show’s pilot episode with help from WBUR’s Innovation Lab.
Like many young producers, Conor points to This American Life and Radiolab as the shows that got him interested in radio. But it was the work of Canadian producer Paolo Pietropaolo who helped Conor realize the kind of sound that he wanted for Stylus. “I really love the idea of an hour long show, with no host, to curate voices together with interesting music,” Conor told me over the phone.
Alas, this is but a teaser of what Stylus will become. The show will go on hiatus for a year while Conor and Zack create a six-episode season. Conor says he’s excited. “This will be a first step into a longer journey of sound and music and listening cultures.”
Earlier this week all of we had the wonderful experience of reading this email:
“Here I am, trying, during my workday, to NOT think about remix radio, but I’m hooked. Somewhere I read an article referring to the programming as “driveway moments” and I thought that meant, perhaps, that everyone was sitting in their cars in their driveways, as I do, with the radio on after work because they couldn’t interrupt their PRX listening and go home. The stories and voices you bring to your listeners are inspiring, enlightening, touching, and so full of truth, or I guess I mean honesty. I am a bundle of resonance. I plan to retire next June and now I think I know what I want to do when I grow up. Love you guys. Thanks for opening a new channel between my brain and my heart.”
We were like whoa. Opening a new channel between the brain and the heart? That is the nicest things anyone has ever said to us! But it’s hardly us programmers who deserve these kudos. It’s the incredible talent we showcase on Remix. Whether it’s one of New Hampshire Public Radio’s expert hosts interviewing an NPR music critic unknown details of John Lennon’s life, or producer Jason Samilski creating a new kind of poetic landscape with his own voice, thoughts, and original banjo and accordian music — good radio does, somehow, put our brains in touch with our hearts.
Hear two new pieces, remixed in just last week:
And WALE, a radio poem supported by original music, produced by new PRX producer, Jason Samilski. Jason is a Toronto-based writer and sound producer who works in radio plays, music, and short stories. Listen:
One Hello World is the kind of audio project for which Remix was built. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love playing great public radio stories (old and new) and giving them the attention they deserve, but there’s something special about finding something completely new, that was never meant for public radio, and putting it on the air.
If you’re a regular listener to Remix, you’ve heard One Hello World, but in case you don’t know, the project invites regular people from all over the country to call 316-247-0421 and share their intimate thoughts and experiences. One Hello World then composes a soundtrack to the voicemail and posts it on a tumblr for the world to hear. It’s a true open line of communication that is supportive in an extremely creative and inventive way. The musical score works to amplify the caller’s personal perspective and present it in a forum that is free from judgment. I find the whole project quite remarkable.
Recently, the One Hello World maestro has revealed himself and he’s releasing the best of OHW as an album. He’s funding it through Kickstarter. Here’s his pitch:
Plus, One Hello World just sent me the entire catalog of songs! Stay tuned for new tracks on Remix.
Please welcome How To Do Everything to the mix! It’s half advice show, half survival guide. If you need to know how to find a date, or how to find water in the desert, this is the show for you. No question is too big or too small.
Here’s how it works: you send HTDE your questions—from “how do I break up with my hairstylist of 20 years” to “how do I not sound stupid when ordering wine” to “how do I escape a charging rhino”—and Mike and Ian answer them. Usually, given how little they actually know how to do, they find experts who can help you out.
How To Do Everything is hosted by Mike Danforth and Ian Chillag and produced by Blythe Haaga. You may know Ian and Mike as two of the names Peter Sagal says really fast at the end of NPR’s Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me.
We’ve added 15 episodes of HTDE to the mix and will add a new one into heavy rotation every week.
We’re excited to offer new album reviews selected from the world’s only rock n’ roll talk show, Sound Opinions. Produced at WBEZ Chicago, Sound Opinions is hosted by Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, two of the finest and best-recognized pop music writers in the nation. Jim and Greg save you the time of that pesky listening process, by boiling down their reviews to three easy to use phrases: Buy It!, Burn It! or Trash It!
Buy it! …This record is worth your hard earned money.
Burn it! …There are a few good tracks here, but not worth the full price….try a downloading service, or (cough), another method.
Trash it! …Pretty self-explanatory!
Sound Opinions is produced by WBEZ Chicago and distributed nationally by PRX. In addition to the album reviews we’re running on Remix, the entire one-hour weekly program is chock full of pop culture and music industry news, artist and band interviews, and because on Sound Opinions, “everyone’s a critic,” listeners are invited to join in the debate. It’s your one-stop-shop for smart and engaging music criticism and conversation. Learn more.
PopTech is a network of world changing innovators and every year a bunch of them cloister together in Camden, Maine and give talks, exchange ideas, and solve the world’s problems. Then they’ll most likely get back home and crash into the wall of anti-innovation that surrounds us all, but for these few days in Camden (and in your home- they live stream all the talks!) it will feel like anything is possible. That feeling is infectious, intoxicating, and quite fun to listen to.
We play a few of the great PopTech audio programs from conferences past on the stream, but this year REMIX is actually going to be there. Our own world changing innovator Benjamen Walker (he of Too Much Information) is going to the talks, roaming the halls, and bringing back stories and snippets from the 2010 conference. Keep checking back here and tune in for updates.
In the meantime, here’s a talk that I really dig by public radio’s Kurt Andersen (Hands off, book people. He’s ours!):
The World Premiere of Snap Judgment‘s animated short by Joe Golling, “Getting Sleepy” based on Glynn Washington’s first piece in Snap’s Tales from the Library episode, an episode that just so happens to be produced by your REMIX host, Roman Mars.