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Michelle Erdenesanaa

Michelle is a Boston-based writer. A first-generation Mongolian American and former intern at The Slowdown, she covers art, culture, and design. She wrote for The Politic and Kalliope Magazine as an undergraduate at Yale University.

Michelle Erdenesanaa's Articles

Kate Berry. (Photo: Jessica Antola)

Kate Berry on the Need for Time Away From the Screen

Kate Berry’s glowing personality transmits what she seems to desire most: a breath of fresh air, and time to care for her myriad plants; raise her 9-year-old daughter, Quinn; or host intimate dinner parties for friends on the garden-covered terrace of her family’s Midtown Manhattan apartment. As chief content officer of the home and design bible Domino and of the food, wine, and travel magazine Saveur, Berry has interactions with media that, due to her demanding schedule, tend to be brief and light—and meaningful. She truly lives her work, which leaves plenty of time for creating media, but not so much for taking it in. As she puts it, “You don’t necessarily have to be consuming media to put out media.”

Amy Auscherman

Amy Auscherman on Rare Books, Celebrity Gossip, and Isamu Noguchi

As the director of archives and brand heritage at the Michigan-based furniture powerhouse Herman Miller—now known as MillerKnoll, following the 2021 acquisition of Knoll, yet another American design giant—Amy Auscherman has a reflective and retrospective relationship to not only design and furniture, but also to media. In her research-heavy role, she delves into the rich histories of these storied companies, wading through a wide variety of materials, to unearth little-known facts and essential findings. Spanning both office and home furniture, Herman Miller is best known for its staples such as the Noguchi coffee table, the Eames lounge chair, and the Aeron chair; Knoll, with pieces that similarly cross home/office boundaries, is renowned for its designs by the likes of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Harry Bertoia, and Eero Saarinen, and more recently, Sir David Adjaye and Ini Archibong.

Cover of the For the Birds project by the National Audubon Society

The Avian-Toned Tracks That Helped Spur a Birdsong Initiative

In the fall of 2020, when a conservationist and a film music supervisor both came to the conclusion that “the world needs more birdsong,” the community-driven “For the Birds: The Birdsong Project” took root. The collaborators in question? Executive producer Rebecca Reagan, whose work includes the regenerative soil advocacy initiative Kiss the Ground and the holistic agriculture organization Amazon Healing, and curator and producer Randall Poster, whose film scores include those of Carol, Skyfall, several Wes Anderson movies, and Boardwalk Empire, the latter of which earned him a Grammy Award. For The Birdsong Project, the two longtime friends bridged their wheelhouses and invited musicians and artists across disciplines to create musical or poetic pieces honoring the winged creatures. The endeavor resists ordinary definition, beckoning listeners to take in the simultaneously elemental and majestic nature of birdsong. In this 172 piece (and ever-growing) collection, the voices and artistic impulses of humans merge with those of birds.

Jermaine Stone. (Photo: Headmake Book)

For Jermaine Stone, Wine and Hip-Hop Make a Perfect Pair

Growing up in the Bronx, Jermaine Stone planned to become a rapper. His visions of hip-hop stardom weren’t far-fetched: By his late teens, he had caught the attention of luminaries including LL Cool J and Chris Lighty, appeared on the radio, and even had a stint with the New York rap group Sporty Thievz.

Echinopsis oxygona. (Photo: Rouibi Dhia Eddine Nadjm)

These Fragrant Cacti and Succulents Spice Up Their Surroundings

Houseplants bring their surroundings to life. From helping to define a space to boosting serotonin levels and dissolving volatile airborne chemicals, indoor greenery has been scientifically proven to facilitate a healthier home. Some of the most resilient plants—specifically, certain succulents and cacti—have the added value of scenting their settings. This fragrant quality emerges from the plants’ flowers, which typically bloom in the spring. The buds open rapidly, usually within hours, and can emit sweet, citrusy, or even peppery scents, depending on the variety.

Alexandra Lange. (Photo: Mark Wickens)

Alexandra Lange on Mall Nostalgia, Romance Novels, and Twitch

A recurring theme in design critic Alexandra Lange’s work is unpacking how—and for whom—objects and spaces are designed. She explored the unspoken messages of office buildings for Apple, Facebook, and Google in her 2012 e-book The Dot-Com City, and surveyed how kids’ toys and physical environments impact their development in her 2018 book, The Design of Childhood. The ways in which outdoor public spaces, with their basketball courts, playgrounds, and skate parks, fail teen girls was the subject of a story she wrote for Bloomberg CityLab—one of many publications she has contributed to over the past two-plus decades.

Dr. Gary Deng. (Photo: Stephen Cardone)

Dr. Gary Deng on Aligning Mind and Body Through Food, Traditional Medicine, and Self-Care

For nearly twenty years, integrative medicine specialist Dr. Gary Deng has guided patients through cancer treatment and recovery using a whole-body approach to health. Deng, who serves as the medical director at New York’s distinguished Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, aims to fortify his patients, inside and out. To do so, he has developed a methodology that combines current medical and scientific knowledge with evidence-based procedures from Eastern medicine, focused on issues including nutrition, exercise, and managing one’s circadian rhythms. Deng also counsels people on beneficial ways to incorporate herbs and dietary supplements into their diets, and works closely with a team of therapists who offer his patients acupuncture, yoga, massages, music therapy, exercise plans, and qigong, a centuries-old workout regimen that plays an important role in traditional Chinese medicine. Tailored to each individual, his distinctive approach promotes lasting physical and emotional healing. Outside of work, Deng practices what he prescribes. An experienced home cook who prepares three meals a day for his family, he just released his first cookbook, The Wellness Principles: Cooking for a Healthy Life (Phaidon), which features 100 of his efficient, accessible recipes. “I don’t have a lot of time, so I make it very quick,” Deng says. “Some of the dishes may take longer, but the hands-on time is very short: five minutes here, ten minutes there, and you’re done.” In addition to what to make and eat, the book offers plenty of food-related tips, including how to stock a pantry, how to add flavors to meals, and how to achieve a balanced lifestyle through practices beyond diet, such as stress management, getting enough sleep, and self-care. We recently spoke with Deng about how food can contribute to wellness. He was careful to emphasize that healthy living isn’t only about diet. By focusing on specific parts of the body or individual treatments, he maintains, modern medicine often fails to consider health from a holistic perspective. He aims to do the latter. How do you consider eating in relation to your work with cancer patients? We see a cancer patient as a whole, rather than just a tumor. For that, we need to strengthen their body and their mind. Diet is actually one of the first questions people ask about when they’re diagnosed with cancer. My response is that this includes not only what you eat or don’t eat, but also how you eat. Take your time to eat, and pay attention to what you’re consuming and how that impacts you. There’s a mind-body connection to diet. What you eat matters once it’s inside the body, too. A recent study found that a high-fiber diet helps the immune system fight cancer. It also cultivates a diverse, healthy gut microbiome that aids in digestion. We have hundreds of different species of microbes in our gut that interact with the body in very intimate ways. There are certain foods that we can’t digest without their help. That kind of thinking can be useful to everyone. Are there specific foods you encourage people to make part of their daily intakes? Some people think they need to go super healthy, like eating raw food exclusively, but that’s not very approachable. If a diet is healthy but not realistic, then it’s a moot point. Diversity in diet is more important than any single food, which can’t supply the many nutrients the body requires. A nutritious diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite foods, though. In my cooking, and in my cookbook, I incorporate versions of common dishes that many people think are unhealthy. You can make pizza really healthy, for instance. It depends on what you’re putting on there, and how you cook it.

Eminem in front of his restaurant, Mom’s Spaghetti

Eminem’s Mom’s Spaghetti Restaurant Serves Pasta With the Special Savor of Leftovers

Emblematic of the impressively intricate stylings of the rapper Eminem is his acclaimed 2002 single “Lose Yourself,” a piece he composed for the semi-autobiographical film 8 Mile, which sold more than 10 million copies and earned him an Oscar and two Grammys in the early aughts. Its famed opening lines paint a stomach-churning picture. The song’s protagonist is holed up in a bathroom, perspiring, and trying to clean puke off of his clothes: “Knees weak, arms heavy. There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti.” The lyrics inspired a meme and a series of pop-up restaurants at Eminem’s festival performances, where audience members could order pasta imbued with the humble, distinctive tang of the homemade. More recently, those lyrics gave rise to a restaurant, which the rapper, who grew up just outside Detroit, announced on his YouTube channel in a cryptic video a few days before it opened on the city’s Woodward Avenue last fall. A partnership between Eminem’s team and the local restaurant group Union Joints, Mom’s Spaghetti, located inside the gastropub Union Assembly, lives up to its name. Diners reach the spot by walking down an alley, and order through a pick-up window that swiftly delivers steamy sustenance in brown paper bags. One can choose among Spaghetti, Spaghetti with Balls (meatballs), Spaghetti with Rabbit Balls (vegan meatballs), Spaghetti Bolognese, and spaghetti in a sandwich (either S’ghetti or S’ghetti Bolognese). Like the menu, the Trailer—a merchandise shop located above the dining area—evokes a retro feel via its Eminem-themed pint glasses, T-shirts, and sneakers. The dishes achieve their nostalgic vibe (and simplify the logistics of serving pasta, which takes time to cook, as a take-out meal) through an ingenious preparation method. Pasta is cooked a day in advance and reheated in woks, creating that special savor that an extra day lends to leftovers. Aside from the sandwiches, everything comes in an oyster pail, sprinkled with parmesan. It’s comfort food that’s as classic as Eminem’s unforgettable lyric—yet decidedly less nauseating.

Herbalist Rachelle Robinett

The Healing Power of Plants, According to an Herbalist

The Greek word pharmakon, the paradoxical root of many medicine-related English words, is sometimes roughly translated as “drug,” in the sense of both “remedy” and “poison.” This duality illuminates much of the contemporary pursuit of bodily and mental health, in which treatments such as psychedelic therapy and alternative medicine are increasingly common in lieu of, or to supplement, a purely medication-based approach to healing and well-being. In a way, the word pharmakon opens the door to a question: To what extent do any healing practices, ingredients, and compounds actually affect us?

Still from Hiya Live Sessions video

The Multicity Festival Spotlighting Female Voices from the SWANA Region

Live music performances, with their visceral, multisensorial energy, can be a form of sonic regeneration and discovery. Hiya Live Sessions, a multicity program of concerts and club nights, draws on this reality by focusing on experimental works by female artists, D.J.s, and poets from the SWANA region—a decolonial word for the South West Asian and North African areas that centers on geography rather than terms, such as “Middle Eastern” or “Islamic World,” that carry a history of European colonialism and imperialism. The 2022 series, which kicked off this month in London, is now making its way to other cities, using its inventive use of sound to connect underground movements from diaspora communities with listeners around the world.

Cover of “Curry Everyday: Over 100 Simple Vegetarian Recipes From Jaipur to Japan” by Atul Kochhar

Atul Kochhar Sees Curry as Vessel for Cultural Exchange

​​Atul Kochhar treats curry with care. Instead of confining it to oversimplified variations of green, red, or yellow, the celebrated chef and restaurateur, who was born in Jharkhand, India, considers the dish’s ingredients as a basis for experimentation and cultural exchange. For Kochhar, this approach to curry is part of a decades-long effort to transform how Westerners think about and experience Indian cuisine—particularly those in the United Kingdom, where he moved in 1994 to open his Michelin-starred restaurant Tamarind in London, followed by the Michelin-starred Benares and award-winning restaurants in Ireland, Dubai, and Spain. His signature fusion of classic Indian foods with traditional culinary techniques from around the world is appetizingly apparent in his upcoming cookbook, Curry Everyday: Over 100 Simple Vegetarian Recipes From Jaipur to Japan (Bloomsbury), out this month.

Gordon Hempton. (Photo: Cameron Karsten)

Gordon Hempton’s Incredible Campaign for Quiet

Gordon Hempton thinks about the Earth as a “solar-powered jukebox.” The acoustic ecologist, author, and Emmy award–winning sound recordist has spent more than four decades recording nature’s audible physical qualities—many so fundamental, such as a sunrise or rain falling in a forest, that we often fail to notice them. Hempton’s sonic portraits, made in remote regions around the world, capture sounds as varied as the locations themselves: He has recorded inside Sitka spruce logs in the Pacific Northwest, amid thunder in Southern Africa’s Kalahari Desert, and at dawn breaking across six continents. Hempton sees his work, as he puts it, as “an invitation to feel,” where soundscapes can give rise to illumination, awe, and personal growth.

Qahwah House coffee and pastries

A Café That Makes Traditional Coffees Using Beans from Yemen, the Brew’s Birthplace

For many people who visit Qahwah House, a series of cafés with locations in Brooklyn; Chicago; and Dearborn, Michigan, the drinks they consume are their first experience with Yemeni coffee, which is known for its floral, spicy notes and natural sweetness. The shop, named for the Arabic term for “coffee,” is owned by Ibrahim Alhasbani, who moved to the United States from his native Yemen in 2011, and opened the first Qahwah House in Dearborn, which has a high concentration of Arabs and Arab Americans, six years later.

Cover of “The Cook You Want to Be” by Andy Baraghani

Why Andy Baraghani’s New Cookbook Is Going to Become Our 2022 Go-To

Some culinary figures occupy the seemingly untouchable space of greats who prepare dishes  as ambrosia. Chef Andy Baraghani, though, belongs to a legion of top-notch cooks who feel closer to the earth, readily leveling with audiences to guide them in making tasty, sophisticated staples with approachable instructions. His debut cookbook, out next month, carries that warmth in its title, The Cook You Want to Be: Everyday Recipes to Impress (Lorena Jones Books).

“Between the Mountain and the Sky” by Maggie Doyne

How Maggie Doyne’s Enduring Altruism Continues to Transform the Lives of Orphans in Nepal

At 35, Maggie Doyne is the mother of more than 50 children. One is her biological child, who lives with Doyne, her husband, and the other youngsters at Kopila Valley Children’s Home, a nurturing space for orphans that Doyne built on a plot of land she bought, at age 19, in Surket, Nepal, after visiting the region during a gap year before starting college. Doyne traces her journey from suburban New Jersey to her current residence, as well as her indefatigable efforts to help and inspire some of Nepal’s youngest citizens in the aftermath of a nearly 11-years-long civil war, in her debut book, Between the Mountain and the Sky: A Mother’s Story of Hope and Love (Harper Horizon), out last month. Through telling her extraordinary story, she demonstrates the life-altering power of altruism and hope, as well as the ability for a single person to make a difference in the lives of many.

Quotomania podcast logo

On This Podcast, “Quotomaniac” Paul Holdengräber Reads His Favorite Quotes

“Quotations are signposts, a part of my sentimental education, part of the way I breathe in the world,” says Paul Holdengräber. “I need those words of others in order to think, to be.” As the host of the podcast Quotomania, a project from Onassis Los Angeles (OLA)—at which Holdengräber serves as founding executive director—and the nonprofit radio station Dublab, Holdengräber shares some of his favorite words from leading minds across history. Far from a random mash-up of pithy statements, the show, launched this past fall, is a treasure trove of incisive and moving thoughts, selected by one of the most passionate self-professed quotomaniacs of our time. The featured lines offer listeners insight into how their originators understood the world—and how Holdengräber does, too. “I believe with Michel de Montaigne that ‘I only quote others to better express myself,’” he writes in the podcast’s description.

Ento Collective's protein powder

A Protein Powder Made From Insects, an Underestimated Superfood

How do you like your insects prepared? For many in the Western world, this question is likely met with a knitted brow. Despite the more than two billion people worldwide who eat them regularly, consuming insects, or entomophagy, hasn’t yet entered the culinary mainstream in the United States and in most of Europe. Friends Alejandra Fernandez and Danielle Petricevic, hailing from Mexico and South Korea—both countries where insects feature in the average diet—respectively, quickly noticed the absence of bugs as food upon moving to London, where they both currently reside. This past fall, in an effort to introduce the ingredient to Western fare in an approachable and tasty way, as well as to inform consumers of the food’s social and environmental benefits, they co-founded Ento Collective, a health food company with offerings that center around the widely underestimated superfood and protein source.

A ramen bowl by Taku Satoh. (Photo: Hiroshi Tsujitani. Courtesy Nacasa & Partners Inc.)

In Los Angeles, an Exhibition Zeroes In on the Ramen Bowl

Eating ramen is a multisensory experience: the fragrant steam coming off of the broth, the slurping sound of enjoying the noodles, the cozy heat felt upon touching the bowl. The latter object is the subject of an exhibition called “The Art of the Ramen Bowl” (March 18–July 5) that’s on view at the Los Angeles location of Japan House, an initiative with additional hubs in London and São Paulo that was created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan to foster awareness and appreciation of the country through a diverse range of programming. Graphic designer Taku Satoh and writer and editor Mari Hashimoto, deputy director of Tokyo’s Eisei Bunko Museum, curated the show, which was first mounted at Gallery Design 1953 inside Tokyo’s Matsuya Ginza department store in 2014. (The presentation at Japan House L.A. is its first in the United States.) The show features 30 donburi, the porcelain receptacles in which ramen is traditionally served, and renge, the compact, teardrop-shaped spoons that often accompany them, made by 30 leading artists, architects, and designers. Here, the dishware is positioned as vessels for not only the beloved dish, but for history, culture, and self-expression as well.

Sound healer Samer Ghadry

Songs for Practicing Sound Healing at Home

Amid the mainstreaming of self-care, the definition of “healing” grows increasingly nebulous. “In a lot of cases, the term is on a runaway train that looks good, smells good, and has a great image of a glowing chakra behind it,” says Samer Ghadry, a Brooklyn-based sound healer. In his line of work, he continues, “all we’re really looking for is fortification of the human soul, of our spirits.”

Felix Klieser performing with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. (Photo: Mark Allan)

The Emotional Ecstasy of Playing the French Horn

Something about the French horn compelled Felix Klieser to play it when he was barely 4  years old. The German musician, now 31, has gone on to study at the Hanover University of Music, Drama, and Media; release three studio albums; and perform in premier ensembles around the world, including with British conductor Sir Simon Rattle at the Berlin Philharmonic and with Sting on his world tour. Currently the artist-in-residence at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Klieser is preparing for a busy season that includes the world premiere of “Soundscape – Horn Concerto,” a work created for Klieser by Swedish composer Rolf Martinsson that will be performed at the Kongresshalle in Saarbrücken, Germany, next month.

Mother-in-Law’s kimchi

Mother-in-Law’s Founder Lauryn Chun Thinks of Kimchi as a Verb

Kimchi’s layered aroma first entered Lauryn Chun’s nostrils during her childhood in Korea, where her family regularly ate the traditional concoction of seasoned and fermented vegetables. After immigrating to the United States, they continued to enjoy the food—but, at least for Chun, with a more complicated awareness of it, as the spicy, smelly dish was poles apart from most American fare. Later, after a stint as a tastings editor at Wine & Spirits Magazine and immersing herself in European wines, Chun began to connect the complex scents of wine to those of kimchi, both a result of prolonged fermentation. Kimchi, she felt, deserved a place in the mainstream alongside other fermented foods, such as cheese and beer.

Kopitiam’s durian puff. (Courtesy Kopitiam)

Sweet or Skunky? Malaysian Chef Kyo Pang Considers the Polarizing Scent of Durian

Royalty rarely inspires ambivalence. Therefore, durian—a large, greenish-brown food that’s commonly referred to as the “king of fruit” in parts of its native Southeast Asia—is predictably polarizing. Its thorny reptilian shell holds a potent olfactory sucker punch emitted by the custard-like flesh inside. The sometimes-sweet, sometimes-skunky, wholly un-fruity odor, which varies based on durian’s species and ripeness, routinely elicits extreme reactions: Its aroma has been compared to nasal offenses including raw sewage, rotting flesh, and a mix of turpentine and onions topped with a gym sock.

Air Eau de Parfum by Air Company

A Carbon-Negative Perfume That Evokes the Earth’s Natural Elements

While many businesses, in the midst of the climate crisis, scramble to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, the New York start-up Air Company zeroes in on enhancing its production process, which sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere. Co-founded by entrepreneur Greg Constantine and chemist Stafford Sheehan, in 2017, the brand uses a proprietary procedure to convert carbon dioxide into impurity-free alcohols, which serve as the foundation for carbon-negative liquids including hand sanitizer and vodka (the latter of which Joe Doucet, the company’s partner and designer, spoke with us about in 2019). Recently, the company ventured into the fragrance realm with Air Eau de Parfum, a unisex, limited-edition concotion pulled quite literally out of thin air.

Laurent Pouppeville, director of the Musée International de la Parfumerie. (Courtesy Communauté d’Agglomération du Pays de Grasse)

How Grasse, France, Went From a Smelly City to the Perfume Capital of the World

Around the 1500s, tanners settled in Grasse, a sun-soaked hillside town above the French Riviera, to produce leather. The area soon became known across Europe for products made from the material—but the tanning process caused the air (and the leather products) to stink of dead animals and lye, which was used as a cleaning solution. Grasse’s glove-makers were the first to try to improve the smell of their goods, and did so by combining animal fat and flowers to create a perfumed pomade that they used to scent their gloves. After taxes on leather increased, the tanners pivoted to making fragrances exclusively, and paved the way for Grasse to become the “perfume capital of the world” that it’s known as today. Scents are concocted there for a wide variety of aromatic products, from laundry detergents to shampoo.

“The Great Animal Orchestra” exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum

Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists Translate Nature’s Sonic Landscapes Into an Emotive Spectacle

To the attentive ear, symphonies abound—especially in the wild. Musician and author Bernie Krause has been recording nature’s soundscapes for decades in an ongoing exploration of bioacoustics, the branch of science concerned with the production, transmission, and reception of the sounds made by living organisms. Krause, who discusses his work on Ep. 127 of our At a Distance podcast, has captured more than 5,000 hours of audio created by more than 15,000 terrestrial and marine species in some 2,000 habitats—about half of which, by his estimate, no longer exist due to logging, mining, and other human activities.

Taste Makers book by Mayukh Sen

Meet Seven Immigrant Women Who Shaped the Way America Eats

How can one shape America’s proverbial melting pot? Mayukh Sen, a James Beard Award–winning food journalist and professor at New York University, offers an answer with the stories of seven immigrant women, from World War II to the present day, whose culinary prowess shaped how and what people in the States eat today. Sen illuminates these pivotal chefs and food writers in his debut book, Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America (W.W. Norton), out next week.

Lorne M. Buchman

What Roles Do Our Bodies Play in the Creative Process?

For Lorne M. Buchman, president of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, the creative process rarely consists of an “ah-ha” moment. Rather, it’s a slow, ambiguous, often improvised affair that involves a continual rediscovery of oneself. Innovators including Yves Béhar, Paula Scher, and Frank Gehry, as well as companies such as Apple and Tesla, attest to such experiences in Buchman’s new book, Make to Know: From Spaces of Uncertainty to Creative Discovery (Thames & Hudson), as archetypes that demonstrate the value of embracing the unknown as a way to unleash new ideas.

Filmmaker Grace Boyle tracking sensory data in the Amazon. (Photo: Fábio Nascimento. Courtesy Greenpeace)

This London Studio Draws on Smell-O-Vision as a Tool for Promoting Social and Environmental Advocacy

In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, movie-watching is taken to the next level: Viewers sit in seats outfitted with special knobs that, when grasped, transmit sensations that the film’s characters are experiencing in their own bodies. The invention popped into Grace Boyle’s mind when she began experimenting with virtual reality, and served as the inspiration for her London-based studio The Feelies, founded in 2015, which produces and presents stories in immersive, multisensory environments.

Performers in Kevin Beasley’s 2016 sound project “Your Face Is/Is Not Enough.” (Photo: Mark McNulty)

Kevin Beasley’s First Live Outdoor Performance Examines the Everyday Cacophony of a New York City Intersection

Kevin Beasley’s performances often push sound to the extreme. To witness one is to experience sonic vibrations as a visceral physical sensation. Sometimes, uncomfortably so. In “I Want My Spot Back” (2011–2012), for example, the artist turned up the volume on a cappella tracks pulled from old hip-hop albums and blasted them throughout the Museum of Modern Art’s central atrium, eliciting noise complaints. For “Your Face Is/Is Not Enough” (2016), performers breathed into megaphones, revealing emotional, and even spiritual, aspects of the basic bodily function. Beasley is particularly interested in magnifying low-frequency sounds that permeate our everyday lives. “When you’re not hearing something, it’s because the matter that it’s moving through isn’t carrying it, and it gets dispersed,” he says on Ep. 47 of Time Sensitive podcast. “And that shift—whatever that thing is, that’s either limiting it or amplifying that sound—there’s a major consequence to that.” Every wave involved in a particular sound is imperative to making sense of the source that produced it, he continues, as well as of the space you experience the sound within. “The vibrations become a way of understanding your body and its nuances—its age, its trials and tribulations. It’s like everything that you’re experiencing gets conjured up through [them].”

Long Players book by Tom Gatti

Fifty Writers on the Albums That Changed Their Lives

What is it about that one stirring album that makes a home in us? Tom Gatti, deputy editor of the British political and cultural magazine The New Statesman, investigates the mystery of such beloved recordings in his new book Long Players: Writers on the Albums That Shaped Them (Bloomsbury). In it, he sets the stage by navigating the album’s material evolution, from the golden years of vinyl to the streaming age, then passes the mic to the book’s fifty contributors—novelists, poets, and critics among them—who describe their encounters with their favorite euphonic compilations via short-form personal essays. Readers learn how R.E.M.’s “Automatic for the People” transports Olivia Laing to her first love, why Yes’s “Fragile” prompted George Saunders to forge his own creative path, and how Björk’s “Post” helped a young Marlon James resolve a crisis of sexuality and faith. Each composition blurs the line between memoir and music writing while demonstrating a song’s ability to carry a listener to another place and time.

Japanese experimental musician Asuna performing "100 Keyboards"

A Resonant Sound Performance, Created Using Children’s Toy Instruments

The arrival of autumn prompts many of us to layer up, and Japanese experimental musician Asuna follows suit—though with sound instead of clothing. Next week, he’ll make the U.S. debut of 100 Keyboards (September 30–October 2), an immersive audio presentation generated by overlapping tones, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The Perfume Companion book

A Definitive Guide to Finding Your Signature Scent

As the overpopulated, multibillion-dollar fragrance industry introduces hundreds of scents every year, choosing one that smells and feels right can seem daunting. To assist in the pursuit of perfume, industry veterans Sarah McCartney, founder and perfumer at the London scent brand 4160 Tuesdays, and Samantha Scriven, who runs a blog called iscentyouaday, lend their encyclopedic knowledge of aromatic liquids to their upcoming book, The Perfume Companion: The Definitive Guide to Choosing Your Next Scent (Frances Lincoln), out next week on Kindle and in hardcover on November 9. Fluent in the science behind the olfactory system, the psychospiritual history of scents, and the deceptive power of a flashy bottle, the pair’s guidance comes across like a close friend with a highly discerning nose.