July 12, 2007
This American Brain
Am excited to report that it is by far the coolest radio show I’ve ever heard — in the truest sensory meaning of the word. I think it might be the best radio show in the world. Or in history.
Forgive me. Am caught up in the throes of enthusiasm and hyperbole. But seriously: It’s great. Here’s why:
- It’s about science.
- It’s incredibly aggressive with audio montage: dialogue overlaps and spills over, music and sound effects pile up in layers, outtakes and asides shimmer at the edges. The result is astonishing, and dense in the best possible way.
- It has a wonderful vocal style: They’ve completely rejected the voice-of-god format, as well as the voice-of-casual-god format, and even the voice-of-friendly-NPR-god format, and replaced it with a truly conversational, sometimes contentious tone. Very often, hosts will interrupt each other and say something like: “Wait, what? What does that even mean?”
- Lovely, lilting, IDM-y music.
- Only five episodes per season. This is an amount of media that I can actually process!
I’ve only listened to a few episodes but my favorite so far is Sleep. It includes: an explanation for the fact that you always sleep strangely on your first night in a new place, dolphins with parallel brains, the scourge of improperly folded proteins… and Tetris dreams.
So, I officially have a gigantic crush on this show — both because it’s good, interesting journalism, and because it’s such a palpably new way of doing radio.