For reasons I can’t quite put my finger on — a need for sanity and to expand my horizons, perhaps? — I’ve been switching up the stuff I put in my head recently. I’m still reading a metric shit-ton of comics, because that really kind of is my job, but this past couple of weeks, I’ve been making an effort to balance that out with prose about… other stuff, again.The thing I forgot about summer — probably because it didn’t happen last summer, when everything was strange — is that I find time to read prose, in a way that I don’t manage during the winter, or even the in-between seasons. Right now, I’m juggling a handful of books on cultural theory and social changes driven by technology — The Ministry of Nostalgia, The Inevitable and The Industries of the Future, Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-First Century, with Against Everything waiting in the wings — with some purposefully trashy reading (A trilogy of Star Trek novels, which have proven to be a lot of fun) and, of course, my preferred method of information gathering these days, podcasts.
The multi-use nature of podcasts — that I can learn things and be entertained while doing other things, on the move — is endlessly appealing to me, and so I remain fascinated by good use of the medium. Current podcast addictions are Says Who, Pod Save America and Lovett or Leave It for politics, The Daily for news (I listen every morning making breakfast) and Song Exploder for musical anal listening. I’m looking forward to the new season of Invisibilia and dip in and out of countless others, impatiently looking for some aural perfection that I can’t even explain if I wanted.
(No, really, I don’t know what I want from my ideal podcast; I wish I did. I’d just make it.)
Part of this is also a desire for new music, or at least, hearing new things in old music. My last couple of months has been all Humanz and Moondog and Jellyfish, and I’m not sure if there’s a connective tissue in there or not (The current Jellyfish obsession is particularly interesting, because I can hear all the influences I wasn’t aware of before; “He’s My Best Friend” is so clearly a Harry Nilsson song, but I never picked up on that before because I didn’t listen to Harry Nilsson). If there is one, I think it’s the quality of sounds, if that makes sense? What the three share is a value in the literal sound of their music, outside of genre or lyrics (or vocals at all, really): the interesting stuff to hear and unpick and embrace and enjoy. I feel like I need more of that, from new stuff or old: things to make me pause and unpick.
(Part of the impact of the Shock and Awe book has been to make me re-evaluate and draw lines between different music that I like, to try and find the connective tissue and see where the various pieces intersect; I’ve become fascinated recently with the previously unseen throughline between Big Audio Dynamite and Delakota, which means that the Clash and Gorillaz are connected beyond Plastic Beach, and makes me wonder where else that thread of… what, British cut-and-paste music culture has been, and gone? Time to revisit Coldcut, I suspect.)