Pat McCusker, a guitarist (in David Duchovny’s band), producer, and audio engineer (the sharp ear behind our Time Sensitive and The Workspace of Tomorrow podcasts) deeply believes in the act of “active listening.”
“It’s a very simple idea that my friends and I started a few years ago,” McCusker says. “It’s something that’s so rarely practiced in our busy lives these days. ‘Active listening’ means you just sit and listen to music—and that’s it. Do nothing else. So often, we listen to music while doing something, whether it’s cooking, running, driving, or if we’re at a restaurant or a party—it’s always second to whatever we’re doing. But to actually actively tune your ears to the music you’re listening to is important and essential. My friends and I wanted to make it a primary thing. There’s something really magical in that act of just sitting, closing your eyes, and listening.”
Here, McCusker shares an eclectic 10-song playlist that’s intended for engaging your ears:
“Bet She Looks Like You,” Nick Hakim
“Niandou,” Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal
“Canyon in the Rain,” Jonathan Wilson
“Mythological Beauty,” Big Thief
“My Friend the Forest,” Nils Frahm
“Self Control,” Frank Ocean
“Sweet Relief,” Kimbra
“Feel Like Makin’ Love,” D’Angelo
“You Are My Sunshine,” Bill Frisell
“Cranes in the Sky,” Solange
Give it a go. Or, as the countercultural psychologist and writer Timothy Leary advised, “Tune in, turn on, drop out.”
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The greater our technological advances, the smaller our devices—or so it seems, at least, in the case of speakers. In thLumisonic, a wireless ceiling-mounted apparatus that combines superior audio with a dimmable LED light source for a singular atmo
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Spend a few hours with the Sounds of the Forest open-source library of woodland-area recordings, and you’ll be sure to see the forest for the trees. From the Alps to tEp. 114 of our At a Distance podcast), and one of our most spiritually beloved. Be they tropical or temperate, these dense ecosystems function as the world’
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In West Africa, legendary tales have been passed down for centuries by griots, storytellers who are also poets, historians, genealogists, and musicians. A deeply respected speaker, the griot is tasked with memorizing and retelling—sometimes with the addition of new details that relate to the lives of a modern
British musician Jack Stafford likens his Podsongs podcast to the end credits of a movie, when the title song plays and keeps audiences in their seats, embodying the spirplaylist. “When I listen to other podcasts now, and there’s no song at the end, there’s this huge letdown,” Stafford says. “This
Wizened cork oak trees carpet the gently swelling highlands of Portugal’s Alentejo region, where Cédric Etienne, co-founStudio Corkinho, is transforming a cork farm into an alternative healing retreat that will open in 2024 under the Slow hospitality bann
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Morning prayer. Children playing. Cooking dinner. Singing a lullaby. The quotidian sounds that form our everyday experiemahallas—tight-knit, multi-generational living quarters that feature shared amenities including kitchens and gardens—that are beMahalla: Urban Rural Living,” the pavilion of the Republic of Uzbekistan at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, open today through November 21.
Late last year, park benches in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens—each with a clear view looking west—were stamped with smThe End of the Day, a meditative public audio experience created by artist April Soetarman. Her voice gently guides listeners through a 10
Every music fan knows the roster of iconic artists who died young, particularly those who passed around age 27, and gain
The fallout from the climate crisis gives us plenty to fear: habitat destruction, extreme weather, and—in case you slept through the last year—global pandemics. But clinical psychologist Margaret Klein Salamon, foundeEp. 51 of our At a Distance podcast), believes that fear and other intense emotions are some of our best tools for pursuing meaningful climate action. “PasClimate Emotions Conversations, a digital forum for people to express their emotions out loud.
Early American colonists mistook cicadas, compact insects with dark exoskeletons, glistening red eyes, and big wings, fo
Creating immersive environments that tell stories using music is second nature to London-based sound artist Peter Adjaye. He’s used his skills as a DJ-producer, musicologist, and composer to collaborate on a wide range of interdisciplinary Dialogues, which explores the connection between music and architecture.
Numero Group is that rare music label with levels of passion, curiosity, and risk-taking equivalent to the artists it represents. Fr
Last week, the emerging Los Angeles folk duo Junaco released its latest single, “Weight of the World,” which they wrote after listening to Ep. 20 of our Time Sensitive podcast featuring fashion designer Jesse Kamm. (Pakistani singer Shahana Jaffer, who started the band three years ago with drumBlue Room, in June.
In colloquial Levantine Arabic, عفكرة roughly translates to “on second thought” or “come to think of it.” Pronounced afikra, the term is a fitting name for the grassroots movement social entrepreneur Mikey Muhanna founded in 2014, dedicated to cultivating curiosity about Arab history and culture. U
“Studies have shown that listening to the sound of beavers enthusiastically munching on white cabbage can temporarily retweeted last fall. (The account is maintained by the family of the late children’s book author, who wrote the story that inspired the criBabe). The post, accompanied by a video of a rodent enjoying a cabbage buffet, went viral and was clearly untrue—but nodded
The sounds of Legos poured out of a toybox, dropping to the floor, and clicking together are recognized all over the wor“White Noise” playlist. Made using only the sounds of Lego bricks and pieces, “White Noise” is a score of seven tracks made to produce calming
More than two decades in the making, the National Museum of African American Music opened last month in Nashville, Tennessee, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Through its seven galleries and the some 1,50
Dominated by companies such as Sony, Sennheiser, and Bose, which leverage technology to make ever-smaller components, thestimated $28.5 billion by the end of this year. On the flip side, there are proudly D.I.Y. audio designers like Devon Turnbull, who with his brand Ojas creates high-end sound systems from his basement and a studio near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. By hand-building speakers th
It’s been a tough year for musicians and DJs, as the pandemic continues to make traditional revenue streams for performiYoung Turks (which counts FKA twigs, Sampha, and The xx among the musicians on its roster), the absence of in-person performances ia playlist of uplifting songs for us that have “amplified the best parts of my year,” he says, “and distracted me from some of the worst.” There’s so
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Nestled in northwest Montana’s Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park comprises 1,583 square miles of scenic wilderness—
When Teenage Engineering released its OP-1 portable synthesizer, in 2011, the device received glowing reviews from an arOB-4, a Bluetooth speaker system that it’s billing as a “magic radio.” The term isn’t too far off: The mobile, four-speaker
“We love radio, but it’s become so dependent on information and story,” says Chris Hoff, who, with Sam Harnett, producesThe World According to Sound, a podcast comprising minutes-long episodes that tell tales with sounds in lieu of language. “There’s not a lot of spac
In 2014, Nick Quah launched Hot Pod, a newsletter focused on the art of podcasting. Today, the Malaysia native also serves as a podcast critic for New York magazine’s culture and entertainment website, Vulture, and hosts Servant of Pod with Nick Quah, a podcast on the craft and culture of podcasting. We recently phoned Quah at his home in Idaho for an off-the-cuff con Podcasts can adapt to a wide array of topics. Is flexibility their greatest asset?
The middle of a pandemic may seem like an odd time to launch a podcast about road trips—but maybe it’s ideal, as unexpecGreetings from Somewhere, a show about how travel affects us; how we affect the places we visit; and, to date, how the pandemic changed everythi
Malcolm James, a senior lecturer in media and cultural studies at England’s University of Sussex, examines the relationsSonic Intimacy: Reggae Sound Systems, Jungle Pirate Radio, and Grime YouTube Music Videos (Bloomsbury). It’s a thoughtful, scrupulous study, demonstrating how technology, politics, and perception have influenc
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Elliott H. Powell Traces the History of Black Musicians Engaging with South Asian Culture and Sounds
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Don’t be fooled by the no-frills appearance of this device—it’s actually something of a shape-shifter. Created by the ItCity Radio (available in the U.S. through Uncommon Goods) lets users pick from 18 international radio libraries with a few flicks of the finger: Simply download the gadget’s ap
Keith Abrahamsson is the founder of the independent record label Mexican Summer, which operates out of New York and London and counts the likes of Cate Le Bon, Ariel Pink, and Photay among the artistEp. 3 of our Time Sensitive podcast.) Launched in 2008, his venture has grown to include a reissue label, Anthology, and a book publishing arm, Anthology Editions. In an effort to soothe anxious, isolated souls, Abrahamsson put together a playlist of transporting tunes for us. “It’s culled from material both in and outside my orbit—songs I work with directly or have connected to as a co “Love Is A Jungle,” Peter Ivers “For Lise,” Matchess “Rectifiya,” keiyaA “Stay Sane,” Pink Siifu “Charlotte's Thong,” Connan Mockasin “Infinitamente Nu,” Sessa “Min
An international pandemic may seem like an unusual time to kick-start a podcast called The Art of Travel. But for Olivia Lopez, a Filipina fashion blogger whose pre-Covid life entailed constant globetrotting, being stuck at the first episode of the podcast, which she launched over the summer. Through the project, Lopez hopes to provide a “temporary escape for listeners, whiYOLO magazine founder Yolanda Edwards, who talks about an unforgettable trip to Greece; Life House Hotels founder Rami Zeidan, who discusses how to make travel more meaningful; and perfumer Frédéric Malle, who explains how to travel via the senses. The conversations have been a balm for Lopez, who, like all of us, has been missing the excitement of everyday life. “
Music fans missing a regular calendar of gigs will find a lifeline in Iris Flow, headphones made to mimic the sound qualIris, which is backed by Queen drummer Roger Taylor, the device features a patented algorithm that restores complex spatial
In 2015, German-born British composer Max Richter wrote an epic eight-and-a-half-hour-long musical cycle titled “Sleep,” with the intention of it being the soundtrack to one night’s snooze. It consists of 31 tracks that each last about halfRichter said ahead of the piece’s U.S. premiere. “It’s a political work in that sense. It’s a call to arms to stop what we’re doing.” Recently, with the help of the Bean app of the same name. Divided into three sessions—Sleep, Meditate, and Focus—users can set timers for the music to play according to a chose
In the early 1970s, the nonprofit educational program Creative Music Studio (CMS) opened in Woodstock, New York, with an unconventional aim: invite artists—regardless of their musical ability, soTime Sensitive podcast.) Martin recently unveiled Creative Music Workshop, an online platform that builds on CMS’s legacy with free masterclasses and an ever-growing library of archival footageMedeski Martin & Wood (MMW), of which Martin is the drummer, called “Inside the Minds, Outside the Lines.” “Our general philosophy is to continuously reinvent ourselves,” Martin says of MMW, which plans to detail strategies fo
The Black Music History Library is here to bless—and educate—your ears. Launched this past August by New York–based music journalist Jenzia Burgos, thean episode of the Heat Rocks podcast as well as a list of preeminent musicologists, historians, and scholars. To those open to pure exploration and discovery, Burgos offers a roll-the-dice folder that randomizes selections from
Reporting on the climate crisis is a balancing act, where journalists must convey a sense of urgency without provoking dHot Take and How to Save a Planet, forgo the subject’s usual doom-and-gloom approach in favor of storytelling, where emotion and calls to action engage l
An activist, M.C., artist, and the first-ever hip-hop ambassador to the U.S. State Department, Toni Blackman—who runs hip-hop meditation workshops—describes her passion-driven role as being “more of a mindfulness educator, and lea playlist of her favorite tracks that help center her. “I was totally unaware of how much music was inside of my head and heart. Some of these songs I play on repeat every oEp. 55 of At a Distance earlier this year. “In between tears and mourning and political frustrations, I am enjoying my journey!”
The sheer volume of awful things that have happened in recent months makes a person wonder if we’ll ever get it right. FRadical Imagination podcast, now is the perfect moment to discuss deep-seated issues such as reparations, extreme poverty, and police miscoEp. 67 of our At a Distance podcast. So far, she’s interviewed Stockton, California, mayor Michael Tubbs about his guaranteed income initiative, as well as
The pandemic and ongoing global shifts have caused us all to slow down—and not just here at The Slowdown. Our friends atTokyo Slow Mixtapes: guest-curated collections of songs on Spotify to soothe you through these high-stress, anxiety-inducing times. ContribEp. 19 and Ep. 36, respectively, of our At a Distance podcast), along with Le Sirenuse hotel co-owners Antonio and Carla Sersale, with neOur own co-founder Spencer Bailey’s mixtape, for which he turned to the 17th-century Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto for inspiration, includes tracks by the likes
The anticipation of hearing and chasing down an ice cream truck is a nostalgic American pastime, bringing joy to kids onColumbia Records even released a recorded version of the song, written by actor Harry C. Browne, titled, “N*gger Love A Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!,” a disturbing slice of American histoTikTok-er Vanessa Blackwell resurfaced earlier this summer in a viral post. Offering a sorely needed replacement, Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA recently partnered with the ice cream maker Good Humor to crRZA said in a video announcing the project. “I assure you that this one is made with love.” Good Humor released the track for free, urging all ice-cream truck dri
Museums have begun to reopen in New York City—with appropriate precaution—and after months of prolonged closures and dig“Rashid Johnson: Stage,” an installation opening next week at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens, and offering a participatory platform for diEp. 25 of our Time Sensitive podcast. At once referencing hip-hop culture, public oratory, protest, and public intellectual and cultural life, “Stage” will
The summer of Covid may be coming to an end, but our hearts, ears, and minds are hardly retreating indoors. We’re listenFor the Wild, a weekly podcast and “anthology of the Anthropocene” that’s keeping us curious and engaged about our place in nature. Feasting Wild author Gina Rae La Cerva (who also joined us on Ep. 39 of At a Distance) on the “quiet and hidden” stories of foraged foods; The Nap Ministry founder Tricia Hersey on rest as an act of social resistance; and Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, an enrolled member of the CiCenter for Native Peoples and the Environment, on what we can learn about earth healing from indigenous cultures. Many episodes come with a call to action to up your
Working from home, at least for those who are fortunate enough to do so, isn’t all bad. Trading workwear for loungewear,The Kids, a creative agency based in Zurich, are not all right with this. The firm’s interactive online project I Miss the Office serves as a cheeky reminder of pre-Covid-19 life that simulates the mundane soundscape of an everyday workplace—the sma
At first listen, the Get Sleepy podcast’s format is surprisingly basic: Cue the lulling intonations of a British narrator, who slowly reads an intentioSlumber, launched in 2018). Get Sleepy’s ASMR-meets-bedtime stories appeal is apt for these high-anxiety existential times that
Zoom fatigue—which is to say, screen fatigue—is all too real in these extremely online and indoor times, making old-school telephone calls a welcome, intimate reprieve. While we eagerly await museum reopenings, we’re gettin
The Swiss Army knife of gadgets, smartphones make for very good alarm clocks. They’re comforting to sleep with, keeping harder to sleep, impairs vision, suppresses melatonin, and throws the body’s circadian rhythm completely out of whack. (The National Sleep Foundation recommends ending the use of electronic devices at least thirty minutes before bed.)
A love of theater and drama drives the work of architect and designer David Rockwell, who grew up in a theater-going famRockwell Group, has designed numerous hospitality, entertainment, and cultural spaces—from Nobu to NeueHouse to The Shed—plus dozens oKinky Boots and Hairspray. While theaters are officially closed for the rest of the year, here Rockwell brings the spirit of the stage home to us with a playlist of some of his favorite musical numbers. (For more from Rockwell, listen to Spencer interview him on Ep. 1 of The Workspace of Tomorrow podcast.)
This time of year usually signals rest and recharging for many, with relaxation and summer travels in store. All of thatNature Ecology & Evolution, scientists have coined a term for this particular window of time—the “anthropause”—and have set out to quantify its efbiologist Christian Rutz, one of the paper’s lead authors, told Wired. “And we acknowledge that in the article. But it’s one which we, as a scientific community, really can’t afford to missone scientist, volcanologist Jan Lindsay, said. “The ‘2020 seismic noise quiet period’ will likely become something that Earth science students of the future will lea
As civic life came to a grinding halt this spring, with cities in lockdown around the world, the vivacious cacophony of as Siri Hustvedt wrote in a beautiful Financial Times essay in late April. “I have come to think of the sirens as the city’s heartbreaking music, a high-pitched dirge that accompanies the numbe
Michel Rojkind, founder of the namesake firm Rojkind Arquitectos, is known as a leading figure of Mexico City’s contemporary architecture scene—all the more impressive considering that
Festivals are canceled for the year, and online dance parties now a bit played out, several months into the pandemic—resHouse Party, a digital performance and semiweekly publication series from The Poetry Project (not to be confused with the social meCenter for Fiction, book talks with authors, such as one taking place on July 31 titled “The Long View: New Fiction from Edmund White and City Arts & Lectures, home to a trove of previously recorded conversations and upcoming talks that will be webcast and later available to ththis recent webcast between author Rebecca Solnit and actor and screenwriter Brit Marling (pictured above).
The 4th of July has at times been a fraught holiday for Americans, and the cause for celebration feels especially dubiouincluding Native Americans, disproportionately hard). In recent weeks, the nostalgia of fireworks—a visual and auditory spectacle innovated by Chiconspiracy theories on social media. They’ve also sparked debates about race, gentrification, class, and the privilege of calling the police for “quality ofireworks and hand sanitizer could make for a dangerous combination,” making the dazzling explosives, at least for this year, a peculiar, precarious assault on the senses, in more ways th
Live music is the lifeblood for the Woodstock, New York–based musician Amy Helm, who grew up with two musical parents, The Band’s drummer Levon Helm and singer Libby Titus. When the Covid-19 pandemicConnor Kennedy to take their show on the road, and to doorsteps around the Hudson Valley. We caught up with Helm just as New York was Curbside Pickup Band.
The Los Angeles–based industrial designer Jonathan Olivares produces works with a profound understanding and observation of how the human body sits and moves through space. But hiGo Skateboarding Day tomorrow, here he shares a playlist of his favorite skateboarding songs, and the legendary video parts that feature them. “This is a selection of songs that have been paired with some of my f
Layered compositions, calligraphic abstractions, and public spaces often factor into the works of Brooklyn-based Cuban-AmericanJosé Parlá, who has exhibited worldwide and installed large-scale murals in spaces ranging from inside the lobby of One World Trad“José Parlá: It’s Yours,” is currently on view at the Bronx Museum, through Jan. 10, 2021, though the museum is temporarily closed at the moment a playlist of some of his favorite Cuban songs to move to.
In an era where music streaming algorithms and data-driven suggestions can throw you for a loop, somehow leading you to Radiooooo—spelled with, count ’em, five O’s—around the idea of creating a crowdsourced time machine of music. While popular platfRadio Garden, which lets you tune into more than 8,000 radio stations from all over the world, each plotted onto a Google Earth–like
With #StayHome campaigns driving home the importance of social distancing while the race to find a vaccine continues, prThe Body Keeps Score (currently No. 1 on The New York Times paperback nonfiction best-seller list), said on Ep. 2 of our At a Distance podcast, now is as good a time as any to start a meditation practice or new exercise routine to calm your autonomic nervous sysa virtual conference he’s hosting with the Trauma Research Foundation—a healthy reminder that learning about self-care is a lifelong journey.
Helen Molesworth, the longtime art curator behind major shows such as “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 193Recording Artists podcast. Here, we chat with her about the trailblazing female artists featured in the series.
As concerts, festivals, and group gatherings remain on hold worldwide, more or less steadily finding a place online, we a more accessible series of flat-packed speaker-building kits for fellow audiophiles to assemble at home. While Turnbull’s custom analog speakers are known for their utilitarian aes
One upside to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis: a renaissance of podcasts and audio content to take in. These days, we’re tunCurio.io app for a curated selection of the best narrated and audio journalism being produced today. The helpful, easy-to-navigaFinancial Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The Economist—and we’re chuffed to have The Slowdown in such great company, with our very own At a Distance podcast now available on
The prolific Polish-American architect and artist Daniel Libeskind—renowned for his bold-faced projects, such as the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Denver Art Museum—finds great inspiraa playlist of classical pieces that are helping him navigate this tumultuous time.
The days of festivals and shows in concert halls may be put on pause for now, but live music is still very much alive anpatios around the world, and, of course, online. Each Saturday this month, the International Contemporary Ensemble, an artists’ collective withopen to anyone and all with an online RSVP, and asks that participants join in on the “sound-a-long” meditation—no prior singing or music experience necessary—for
Time has seemingly come to a standstill as countries around the world press pause on economic and cultural life in an efAt a Distance calls upon leading minds for a whole-earth, long-view perspective, offering a respite from the fear- and anxiety-induci
Laura Baldassari, an opera singer, actress, artist, and partner in the multidisciplinary studio Atelier Biagetti, shares a playlist of some of her favorite opera songs and the performers who are providing her solace at the moment. “I’ve been thinking of an emotional journey through oper
Artist and musician Billy Martin, drummer of the band Medeski Martin & Wood and a sometime collaborator with The Slowdown (he composed the jingle of oura playlist of songs that are helping him get through the current coronavirus quarantine. While chatting with him about his selection, Martin invoked the words of Samuel Beckett: “You must go on. I can’t go o
Matthew Yokobosky, senior curator of fashion and material culture at the Brooklyn Museum, shares a playlist of disco tracks from “Studio 54: Night Magic,” an exhibition on the history, social politics, and aesthetics of the legendary New York nightclub. The show will be on view through July 5, but due to the coronavirus, the museum is currently closed until further notice.
After nearly 20 years in the fashion business, 15 of those spent running his eponymous label, Phillip Lim is taking an ia statement on why he was pausing from the runway, citing “sustainability in all its forms” as a top concern: “I’d like to take a m
Stefan Sagmeister has designed a lot of album covers in his day—among them, David Byrne’s Feelings (1997) and Talking Heads’s 2003 box set Once in a Lifetime. Here, the notoriously cheeky graphic designer (interviewed by Spencer on Ep. 8 of our Time Sensitive podcast), shares a playlist of some of his favorite Byrne cover songs. Byrne himself wraps his Broadway tour of American Utopia tomorrow, Feb. 16, after a four-month run.
With Valentine’s Day on the way, singer-songwriter Jesse Carmichael, the keyboardist and rhythm guitarist of Maroon 5 (and a sometime collaborator of The Slowdown), shares a playlist featuring a few of his favorite love songs.