Caught by the River


22nd March 2020

Now more than ever, abode-bound, it is vital to combat indifference. Here follows a list of what we – and you! – are reading, watching and listening to for morale, sanity and escape…

‘Rejecting the false and dangerous certainties of good and evil, heroes and villains, glory and ignominy, these are worlds in which characters grow, make mistakes and find redemption, where people are scared and doubtful but venture into the unknown anyway, where beauty and love exist in spite of everything. As spectacularly imaginative as Studio Ghibli films can be, they also teach us how important it is to live beyond the comforting lie of illusion.’ For Frieze, and with the words of Henry David Thoreau ringing in his ears, Darran Anderson considers the Studio Ghibli back-catalogue – newly available on Netflix.

Our lord and saviour Robert Macfarlane has started a ‘#CoReadingVirus global Twitter Reading Group’, and his first selection is Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain.

‘A word is a shell with a life inside it, a spirit squirming inscrutably within, supernatural. I fancy that these wee potent spirits are canny, ancient creatures, having occupied many other homes and lives than mine; that they have their own ardent will, because language is born of people, charged with our violent and milder impulses. Within us, spirits are jostling.’ Read Jill Crawford’s essay for Boundless, on the complexity and mercuriality of accent and language.

Boundless are also sharing monthly extracts from Lia Leendertz’s 2020 Almanac – you can find February’s (rhubarb, pancakes) here, and March’s (daffodils, bright sunshine) here.

Kevin Pearce shares another post on Yr Heart Out, this time focusing on Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66.

Born out of Germany’s industrial heartland, Kraftwerk’s epic electronic pop did not just soundtrack a decade: it created a global language, writes Jon Savage in his New Statesman review of a new biography of the band.

Aldous Harding puts on a rather special performance of ‘Treasure’ for KEXP.

Listen to It’s Only Us – 39 minutes of sweet psychedelic soul from Monophonics, as recommended by our good friend Dan McEvoy.

Purveyors of eclectic escapism Flamingods provide 15! whole! hours! of isolation survival soundtrack.

Finders Keepers Records share 29 episodes of their brilliant radio show (Thanks for sending our way, Katherine!)

This Country – Series 3, Episode 5: The Station. The best episode yet of one of the most consistently brilliant British TV shows. As Will Burns said (on Twitter): ‘That last episode of #ThisCountry – fucking hell, so, so, so good… @KerryAndKurtan what will we do without you, out here living just like you.’ Watch here.

Cheryl Tipp on Twitter: ‘If you’re at home and in need of some decent listening, why not dip into these special @britishlibrary @soundarchive mixes on @NTSlive. Wildlife & music at the click of a button’. Here’s the button.

On BBC Sounds, hear David Attenborough read from J. A. Baker’s The Peregrine. What could possibly be nicer than that?

And now for some reader and contributor recommendations…

‘Listening to Nadia Reid’s new album, which is fab. NZ seems to have more than its fair share of highly-talented singer/songwriters at the moment. I’m also trawling my way through the Backlisted podcast series, which discusses old books, some classics, some lesser known. It’s led me to start reading Elizabeth Taylor’s The Soul of Kindess. Taylor has been described as the Jane Austen of the 20th Century, and even though I’m only a few chapters in, it’s clear she has a similar eye for the niceties and nuances of modern society.’ (shared by Gordon Baxter)

Some kind soul has bolted all three Chilly Gonzales Solo Piano albums – each of them a perennial bliss-out favourite – together in a Spotify playlist (via Austen Harris).

It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track, by Ian Penman – recommended by Simon Watkins, who also recommends Soul Jazz Records’ Voguing and The House Ballroom Scene of NYC 76-96 compilation (extremely Sold Out, but mostly assembled in this playlist) and the film Fire in Babylon.

Andy Childs recommends Sunshine Hotel (doc on Amazon Prime about one of the last flophouses in The Bowery); The Outermost House by Henry Beston; The Soundtrack to First Cow by William Tyler, and War of The Worlds (Fox TV).

Dan Richards recommends Tim Dee’s Greenery (extract here) // everything by John Berger // The Rough Guide To Ethiopian Jazz (especially Tesfa Maryam Kidane & Tlahoun Gessesse) // George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass // Nina Simone’s Baltimore // Scott Walker’s Scott 4 // Cate le Bon’s Rock Pool EP.

‘Not new but am reading Beth Chatto’s Garden Notebook at the moment and hell it is beautiful, packed with all wonder of plants and processes. Makes you feel like you’re moving through the year gardening alongside her. Much needed escapism!’ (From Becky Fincham)

Eastern Branch recommends a 12-hour spiritual jazz mix from The Vinyl Factory – ‘Originally posted in ’16, but they reposted as a COVID-19 quarantine aid + it’s really hitting the spot right now’ – as well as You Must Remember This podcast’s Charles Manson’s Hollywood episodes.

Chris Rogue Robot recommends The Five by Hallie Rubenhold; The Boring Talks on BBC Sounds; Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This podcast, and film-wise, anything on Talking Pictures TV.

And from Scott McCready – Jay Electronica / Rustin Man / Cloth / Alabaster DePlume / Eddy Current Suppression Ring / The Orielles LPs; EZH Mag’s Spiritual Jazz and a Door to the Cosmos playlist and Test Pressing’s At The Disco / On The Beach Spotify playlists; NTS’s Archive of Andrew Weatherall’s Music’s Not For Everyone shows; Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, and booze-wise ALDI Toro Loco – £5 pandemic recession emollient.