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Constellations

A community of listeners, investigating the world through sound.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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julie shapiro - is this an exercise?

“Back in the 80's I sneak-watched a TV movie with highly disturbing content (about nuclear war) and it's been passively haunting me ever since. I discovered a lot of my friends had the same experience with this movie, and are also still lightly traumatized, so asked them all about it.”

9mins

20 Oct 2017

Rank #1

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phoebe wang - in search of the miraculous (bas jan ader)

This piece feels like rifling through a scrapbook inside someone's head. Its structure is as flowing and choppy as the ocean that Phoebe so often alludes to. We love Phoebe's play with music, and the raw meticulousness of the tape she's collected. This is a piece that resists traditional personal narrative storytelling arcs; it reveals itself slowly through additional listens.

15mins

20 Apr 2018

Rank #2

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abinadi meza - vein of sky (winter #4)

“Vein of Sky is a collection of pieces made from environmental elements such as air temperature, humidity, light, and the movements of wind. These phenomena were recorded using micro-sensors and translated into sound. The project explores a sonic space or ecology not entirely representational yet not entirely fictional. I think the sonic space of the piece is kind of like a sculptural cast; it is imprinted and formed by real space but it has become something other. Space, air...is so full of material. I wanted to collect some of it.”

14mins

21 Dec 2018

Rank #3

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la cosa preziosa - blinking

“Blinking is about a feeling anyone who's ever lived the experience of emigration will recognize. That of returning to your native country to find that what you see is different, sometimes clearer and sharper than it ever was while you were there. It's also about a sense of loss, rootlessness, and searching.”

4mins

25 Aug 2017

Rank #4

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dylan gauche - dr faustus begs to come

“I really just want to know what love is, and why it treats me so poorly sometimes. Even though this is far less detailed in its autobiographical elements than some other work I've done and put out into the world, it is by far my most vulnerable piece. I translated this short soliloquy from Faust in November of 2017, with the primary goal of perverting academia. But, while putting a lot of conscious effort into the play of translation, I ended up putting a lot of myself into it. A lot has changed since then, but I do struggle with the same old problems, and I wanted this piece to reflect accurately on many different stages of love.”

8mins

27 Jul 2018

Rank #5

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chris connolly - black beach

When we first heard this piece, it was at an earlier stage in its development, at a gathering with a group of Toronto audio aficionados. We both were moved by rawness of the tape. This sort of vulnerable conversation about masculinity was something we'd rarely, if ever, heard before. We love the piece's intimacy, not only in the words spoken but also in its style - the stereo recording, the feeling of being able to drift alongside its narrators as they walk the shoreline. Black Beach is Chris' first foray into audio, and we're so glad to be able to share it here on Constellations.

14mins

13 Jul 2018

Rank #6

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olivia bradley-skill - music to wash dishes By

“I made part of this piece two years ago, kind of as an experiment or a sketch. I recorded myself making sounds in the kitchen, so I made eggs - I turned on the stove, I cracked open the eggs, I fried em up. At the time I was also reading this piece by Zadie Smith, which had an audio component of her reading the piece, and I just needed sound materials and liked her voice and cadences, so I thought it would be interesting to cut her voice up and manipulate it and decontextualize it and see if I could relate it to the kitchen and the idea of cooking as a metaphor for something else, something beyond the piece.”

7mins

10 Aug 2018

Rank #7

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Kaija Siirala ~ Hamina, Finland

“Where is the Cloud located on Earth?” Reflecting on the disembodied lexicon of virtual space, Kaija Siirala’s Hamina, Finland situates listeners at an unexpected nexus between digital and physical gathering places: the Hamina sauna. A relic of a retrofitted paper mill, this sauna is an employee perk at the Hamina Google data center in Southern Finland. Uniquely, seawater is channeled here to cool Google’s vast, active server bodies. Simultaneously, human bodies in the neighbouring sauna heat up after a day of work. The piece considers the often-obscured physical consequences of virtual activity by mapping it onto a visceral sauna experience.A watery world emerges through a whispered choir of google search histories, including Siirala’s own Hamina sauna research. Sauna is a central component of Finnish culture and is a lifelong practice Siirala inherited from her family. Her field recordings from these times together — sounds of breath, camaraderie, eruptions of laughter — underscore the piece.When water is tossed onto the rocks atop the stove, the löyly — steam in Finnish — mounts the heat to an intolerable crescendo forcing participants out of the sauna and into the same cold sea cooling the Google servers. Löyly shares the same etymological root as the Finnish word for “spirit”.A watery world emerges through a whispered choir of google search histories, including Siirala’s own Hamina sauna research. Sauna is a central component of Finnish culture and is a lifelong practice Siirala inherited from her family. Her field recordings from these times together — sounds of breath, camaraderie, eruptions of laughter — underscore the piece.When water is tossed onto the rocks atop the stove, the löyly — steam in Finnish — mounts the heat to an intolerable crescendo forcing participants out of the sauna and into the same cold sea cooling the Google servers. Löyly shares the same etymological root as the Finnish word for “spirit”.

20mins

8 Nov 2019

Rank #8

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hildegard westerkamp - whisper study

“Whisper Study started out as an exercise in exploring basic tape techniques in the studio, using the whispered voice as sound material. It’s based on the sentence "When there is no sound, hearing is most alert", a quote from the Indian mystic Kirphal Singh in Naam or Word. The content of that sentence appealed to me. I thought a lot about it and then decided I was going to whisper that sentence. I ended up with this very quiet recording of my whispered voice. In doing this, I was challenging myself, because whispered sounds in an analog studio create the issue of hiss and added noise.”

18mins

12 Jul 2019

Rank #9

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adriene lilly - migraines & tsunamis

“The comparison between migraine and tsunamis comes from how I think about my own experiences. Migraines are different for everyone, but in my case there are a couple of warning signs that I tend to get in the hours or days before an attack. They are things like horrible dry mouth, I can’t stop yawning and become very depressive. I think about them as the ocean drawback that can happen before a tsunami.”

10mins

8 Sep 2017

Rank #10

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janna graham - to slow down time

“In October, 2014, Atsumi Yoshikubo, a Japanese tourist, was seen walking down the highway outside of Yellowknife with a camera and a shoulder bag. It was the last time she was seen alive. The following summer, a friend of mine, Ryan Silke, discovered her belongings in the bush, not far from town. Rather than delving into how Atsumi died — her death was assumed to be intentional — I began thinking about how we engage in certain processes to slow down time."

14mins

1 Feb 2019

Rank #11

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rachel ní chuinn - heavy summer

“Being a mother is a huge change for me. Fán is 9 months old at the moment and sometimes we put her in her high chair and put her up to the piano, and she really enjoys playing and sometimes singing along. I had a recording of Fán playing the piano and singing. I also rediscovered a field recording of a lawn mower in the Botanical Gardens in Dublin that I took a couple years ago which had this compelling drone-like sound.”

13mins

7 Dec 2018

Rank #12

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amy hanley - H:O:M:E

“I explored holding and responding. I explored the possibilities of sound as a facilitator and communicator of memories, embodied and expressed. I explored themes of death, displacement, collective memory, and personal stories. These themes were informed by memories that were shared to an online portal – those stories of place and belonging were gathered by L&NDLESS and were used to create an immersive performance-based installation.”

19mins

7 Jun 2019

Rank #13

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anna friz - air can break your heart

This piece sits somewhere between music and installation. As a 'narrator', Anna's 'air' is endowed with aliveness, and palpably shifts in mood and voice throughout the piece, at times sounding almost human. Clinging to its gliding tail, listeners catch glimpses of urban spaces. Sometimes evoking chamber music, and other times, wind, static, and other manipulated field recordings, in this piece Anna tenderly blurs the line between music and noise.

13mins

23 Mar 2018

Rank #14

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myra al-rahim - and the sea gave up the dead which were in it

“I started making this piece in the summer of 2017. That year marked 15 years since the US invasion of Iraq. From the piece’s conception, my plan was to create a sonic eulogy commemorating this anniversary; to construct an audioverse where I could reflect on the hubris of the United States and its acolytes. Propelled by ruthless arrogance, bolstered by intelligence that was categorically false, their decision to act preemptively against the non-threat that was Saddam’s Regime, thrust the region into years of destabilization and bloodshed the shock waves of which continue to reverberate to this day.”

13mins

29 Mar 2019

Rank #15

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ayesha barmania - quiet contemplations

“I have been really inspired by Ad Reinhardt's 'Abstract Painting' from 1963 which depicts nine very subtle shades of black. At first glance, the viewer sees a flat black canvas. Over time, the viewer notices the subtle tone differences - one is more red, another blue, one slightly green. The viewer wonders: which is the true black? That concept has resonated with me when I contemplate the subtleties in silence.”

14mins

15 Mar 2019

Rank #16

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paolo pietropaolo - ode to the salish sea

“As the title suggests, my aim was to compose a lyrical tribute to the unique beauty of this coastal region by capturing and recomposing the sounds and languages of the Salish Sea. I also wanted to explore the complexity of the relationship between the indigenous and non-indigenous cultures that call the Salish Sea home.”

13mins

26 Oct 2018

Rank #17

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joaquin cofreces - maquinas humanas

Even if you don't understand Spanish, this piece is an evocative, multi-lingual sci-fi adventure. Masterfully produced, its assemblage of voices, samples, sound design, complex musical beds and sound effects wind it up into a delicious ear candy collage that leaves listeners reeling and dreaming.  We haven't heard any sound-art fiction like this before.

10mins

15 Jun 2018

Rank #18

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miyuki jokiranta - no event

“Time functions asymmetrically in a doctor's waiting room. Our bodies keep their own time, which is rarely calibrated to half hour appointments, and we feel we're often left waiting. The smallest procedure can stretch to fill a day, and a year on waiting list, a lifetime. No Event is a plastic moment in a waiting room.”

7mins

6 Oct 2017

Rank #19

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Jon Tjhia ~ Thing-Like

In Thing-Like, Jon Tjhia has created a suite of 'exercises' – basically analogous to piano études, or studies, for edited sound works. Taking Walter Ong's preoccupations with the 'immersive' and vital nature of oral culture as a point of departure, these pieces tease and critique the heavy burden of speech and its value: as social currency, blunt instrument, monetary resource and point of connection.

15mins

1 Nov 2019

Rank #20