The No 219 Sodcast Project, Radio 4, Tuesday
Clear Spot, Resonance FM, Wednesday
Sodcaster? Or 'sound-design consultant'?
Sunday 19 June 2011
The World Health Organisation estimates that 200,000 people die every year from the stress caused by noise pollution.
It's unclear how much of that is due to sodcasting – playing music on mobile phones on public transport – but I bet the stats include the occasional perpetrator beaten to death by fellow passengers. In the provocative No 219 Sodcast Project Ian McMillan investigated this social evil – and, because he's that kind of guy, was far too open-minded for my liking.
He quizzed a sodcaster who says he does it to drown out the engine and other people, but didn't ask him the obvious question: "So why don't you use headphones, stupid?" The author of a book on music and territory suggested sodcasters think they're just sharing the love – yeah, right – while a "sound-design consultant" delivered an anti-headphones rant staggering in its reach: "Headphones cut us off from everyone: that way lies prejudice and dogma and violence and war and concentration camps." Whaat? "Why don't we just go and talk to them?" McMillan wondered of the sodcasters. Because we'd get a punch on the nose?
I wouldn't mind playing a bit of Resonance FM on the bus one day – oddcasting, I guess you'd call it. I doubt there's a more out-there station on the dial. (In fact you can only pick it up on the radio if you live within three miles of its London Bridge transmitter, but you can listen via its website, or, if that doesn't work – it doesn't for me – on iTunes radio, filed fittingly under "Eclectic".)
On Wednesday, the nightly Clear Spot typified the Resonance ethos: an avant garde bunch called Bermuda Triangle Test Transmission Broadcasts constructed an astonishing, hour-long noise epic using stuff lying round in the studio. Reminiscent of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music – which I realise for some of you may not constitute praise – it was a symphony of static: whooshing, wheezing, crackling and buzzing, muffled voices drowned out by the alarums of battle. It was the soundtrack to the end of the world. Resonance FM may not be for everyone, but its continued existence makes me happy, which I'm sure they'll be pleased about at 104.4.
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