I hope you know more stuff today than you did yesterday, because today's podcast I love is going to grab your mind and take it on a journey through The Night Air.
This incredible podcast comes to us from Radio National in Australia, and they describe it as "an audio adventure in which ideas, sounds and music are remixed around a new theme each week." They also call it "a listening experience" which would seem super pretentious to me if I didn't already listen to it and agree fully with that description. The best way I can think to describe it is "the lovechild of Joe Frank and This American Life, babysat by William S. Burroughs."
I discovered The Night Air pretty much by accident, just grabbing things that looked interesting from the Podcast directory in iTunes…
Imagine that it's July 2005, and you're sipping on an Anchor Steam next to the pool at the Mirage in Las Vegas. You've just busted out of your first World Series of Poker, but you're staying in town for a few days to play in another event. This is what you see when you look around:
Half of the pool area is populated by beautiful twenty-something girls in tiny bikinis that make me wonder why they bothered to put anything on in the first place. The other half is populated with middle-aged men and their unfortunate wives who may as well be wearing housecoats. Throw in a few frat guys unsuccessfully trying to put the moves on the aforementioned beauties, and it makes for great people watching.
You remember that you have this new Podcast on your iPod, so you lay back on a lounge chair, and listen to Islands. For the next 40 minutes or so, Las Vegas vanishes as you go on a journey: "Whether caught in the crosshairs of an exact latitude and longitude or existing somewhere in a faraway place of the mind, islands seem always on the horizon of fantasy. Tonight we venture to and fro' seeking, as Captain Cook once said 'a convenient situation' where we might trade commodities and replenish our stocks for journeys new. Way off the coast of Prosaic we fetch up on the shores of Speculation Island."
I was utterly and completely captivated. I didn't even realize that my beer had gotten warm, so after quickly correcting that egregious error, I played another episode, Holes: "Is there such a thing as a bottomless hole? Do they go on forever? Do some holes have a will of their own, durable, transient, and just waiting to stave you in? This Night Air is full of holes: architecture, the body and reminiscence. We fathom a suite of works about emotional absence and gutted structures; and finally see what's at the centre of a donut."
Each show combined interviews with music and soundscapes to create something unique and remarkable. I was hooked, and I've made countless commutes endurable by leaving my body on the train and letting my mind go wherever The Night Air takes me.
Unlike all the other podcasts I've featured this week, The Night Air truly must be experienced to be appreciated. I could tell you about it until I used up all my English, and it would still be inadequate. The audio archive doesn't go as deep as it once did, so you can't listen to Islands or Holes right now, but I wil direct you to a recent episode called Once Upon A Time. "Are you ready? Then I'll begin: Once upon a time there were fairytales, stories, fables and myths … distorted and passed down from generation to generation—some you remember and some you think you remember. This show re-tells many of them—as well as the art of telling the stories themselves—which lived on, and on, and on, sometimes happily, sometimes not but, of course, always ever after."
I hope that week's brief guide to some podcasts that I love has been informative and useful to you. I enjoyed writing these entries, so I made a new category here called Things I Love, which I plan to use for sharing…wait for it…things that I love, like board and video games, movies, beers, blogs, and other, um, things that I love in the weeks and months to come. If enough people are into it, I may even do a week of reader requests.
Until next time, here's a podcasts I love roundup:
The Night Air