Recently, I had the honour of recommending some of my favourite audio producers’ works on The Circular, a weekly newsletter of curated non-fiction works edited by Tiffany Tsao. Occasionally, she invited guest editors, and I got to curate a list of audio works in The Circular Edition 42.

Unfortunately, The Circular is no more, the last edition was in late October 2022, and I hope Sydney Review of Books which published this newsletter, finds more funding to continue this wonderful initiative to keep notable, Australian non-fiction works in circulation.

In the meantime, I thought I’d do my bit to keep great audio works re-circulating in the ether by extending the list of sound rich works I compiled in Edition 42. So here’s Part II…

The Secret Life of an Australian Mother by eurydice aroney, Tom MOrton, Stuart Brown

When I first heard this short, whimsical story, I thought it sounded like a theme song to family life. The whingey kid’s voices, the harrassed mum’s yelling, the whirring hustle and bustle attempting to synch with the clanging of cutlery is the sonic space every mother inhabits. Producer and academic Eurydice Aroney has written that this story, ‘uses audio samples of household noises and family feuds as the source for narrative based, short operatic “arias”. The work aimed to break generic conventions and experiment with documentary recording and editing conventions whilst revealing the conflicting emotions that women experience when caring for small children.’ Totally get that! Sweet ending.

Featured at Third Coast International Audio Festival, 2006 (This story was part of a series apparently, but I can only find one story online, pity…)

A Lullaby for the new lands by Colin Black

Producer Colin Black says that this story came about when he travelled to Ireland ‘in search of some kind of link with my ancestors’. Colin’s brillant layering of location recordings, singing, laughter, music, fragmented voices, and discordant noises create a hazy, in-betweeneness that could be the sound of being half-awake (hence lullaby), or the liminality of the diasporic condition. Many of us who’ve come to ‘new lands’ like Australia can relate to that. Or maybe we’re all a little bit Irish? I’d like to think so.

Ode to my last ten years of dating by michelle macklem

At the other end of sound rich audio is the minimalism of this poignant story about intimacy, vulnerability, and the sharp pain of loss. Simple declarative sentences – ‘they don’t like each other at first.., ‘he has feelings for her…’, ‘they eat out, dance, ride bikes, stay in, grow together…’ – chronicle a complicated story that all of us who’ve loved have experienced. Into this less-than-10-minute audio piece, the amazing Michelle has condensed ‘every relationship’.

rats by gary bryson

Writer and producer Gary Bryson’s tightly crafted script, his Glaswegian accent, a rodent metaphor, and inspired sound design by Steven Tilley makes this short story an unexpectedly joyful listen.

The Listening Place – alma park voices by Ros bandt and julie shiels

If a park bench could speak, perhaps it would sound like this. I love this oral history document that honours the relationship between sounds and location. So many intriguing stories in many languages are hidden inside our park benches…imagine!

more stories to come….

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