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The High Low goes out on a high – podcasts of the week

Hannah J Davies, Hannah Verdier and Madeleine Finlay
·3-min read

Picks of the week

The Climate Question
Far from being dry or doom-mongering, the BBC’s new podcast on the climate emergency offers an engaging, accessible look at the current state of play, from around the world. Topics covered so far include whether China and America can work together to tackle their mounting greenhouse emissions, and whether the pandemic has actually seen a rise in deforestation – and how this in turn could lead to the spread of more diseases. The BBC’s Neal Razzell and science broadcaster Graihagh Jackson host, with insights from their colleagues and guests, from Korea to Nigeria.
Hannah J Davies

OTHERtone
Pharrell Williams has no problem bringing in the big names for his new podcast, a spin-off of his Apple Music show. Malcolm Gladwell, Virgil Abloh and Zendaya are lined up to join Williams and co-hosts Scott Vener and Fam-Lay for their fly-on-the-wall conversations. First up is Latin superstar and collaborator Rosalia, and Williams pulls off the impressive feat of coming across as absolutely genuine even when he compares her to the sun. “Your ambition is a plane, you gotta make sure it lands,” he says in one of his many highly creative Pharrell-isms. Hannah Verdier

Singer, rapper, podcaster and general polymath Pharrell Williams hosts a new podcast, OTHERtone.
Singer, rapper, podcaster and general polymath Pharrell Williams hosts a new podcast, OTHERtone. Photograph: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Producer pick: Barbican Soundhouse – Intimacy and distance

Chosen by Madeleine Finlay

The absence of museums, galleries and art centres this year has been a sore loss for those of us who enjoy nothing more than getting lost in a maze of rooms on a rainy weekend afternoon. Despite valiant efforts to do so, it’s impossible to replicate the experience online. Staring at paintings on a computer screen or watching video performances just isn’t the same. Which is why I was so glad to see London’s Barbican Centre come up with something that does work in our socially-distanced world. They’ve recently launched a free online showcase of experimental audio works in collaboration with audio-makers Nina Garthwaite and Eleanor McDowall, called Soundhouse: Intimacy and Distance. It is, finally, art as it was meant to be experienced.

The audio works included in Soundhouse have been curated by three hugely talented audio artists and producers (I’m not just saying that because one of them is our very own Axel Kacoutié, composer and sound designer of the Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast). You can hear his piece in Listening Room 1, while Listening Room 2 has been made by Ariana Martinez, and Listening Room 3 is by Arlie Adlington. They are all, as you would expect, beautifully curated and produced – masterclasses in creating story, emotion, and place with audio. All live up to their title, too – they feel very intimate and personal, and despite being made from disparate audio samples each one is gripping and affecting in its own way. But I’ll leave you as a listener to decide what they’re saying and how they make you feel.

The words ‘experimental’ in conjunction with audio might put a lot of people off, but if you miss art and have time to sit, listen and reflect I couldn’t recommend them more. I’m already looking forward to finding a quiet moment, going back and tuning into each one all over again.

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