WELCOME ABOARD to the very first edition of ‘Podd Deep’!
This is my podcast blog. I listen to many, MANY hours of podcasts each week and have a wonderful old time doing so, but to be honest it feels like an entirely one-sided pursuit. While I do obtain all kinds of nuggets and gems from my listening regime, and get to say “One thing I heard on this podcast recently…” a lot (too often?) in any given conversation, it’s something that I realise I’m doing very much in my own world and I’ve HAD ENOUGH! I want to share discoveries, recommendations, old choice picks, all that good stuff with YOU!
Also - please, do keep in touch with your own recommendations, nuggets, quotes, anything - seriously, I want your input on this sucka too. I’d love it to be a little hub of some sort, you know? A mini meeting place. We’ll see… Anyway - I appreciate your time and I hope that you get something out of this, and maybe add a few picks to your own listening list. That’d be wonderful.
PODD DEEP • Volume 001 • Dissect
TO SUM IT UP IN A SENTENCE
The 33 1/3 of podcasts.
WHERE TO FIND IT
WHAT IS IT?
Dissect is a music analysis podcast. Each season, a new record is selected for analysis. Each episode within the season is devoted to a track from that album and broken down in great detail. Bonus, non-track specific episodes are released on occasion. In some ways it’s like the incredible ‘Song Exploder’ podcast (which we’ll get to!), but entirely from the host’s perspective.
WHO MAKES IT?
It’s a one-man show, this one, that one man being Cole Cuchna. Cole is a friendly fellow with a pleasant monotone, who started it by crowbarring this labour-intensive podcast into any free hours of his life, but has since managed to turn this labour of love into a full time job. As you hear on portions of the podcast, the way he did it is very impressive and mixed in with the creative nature of the album breakdowns, it serves as a very inspiring example of what can be done.
WHEN DOES IT COME OUT?
Weekly, with a break of a few months in between seasons. This is understandable when you consider the level of detail per episode!
WHAT DO I LIKE ABOUT IT?
I caught onto this sometime around, say, April 2018. When I heard that someone was investigating an album track by track on a podcast, I was fascinated, but when I found out that he’d started with Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, and followed that up with Kanye West’s ‘My Beautiful Dark, Twisted Fantasy’, my interested was piqued and I made the subscription based on that. When the feed came through, it was everything I wanted - literally every track on each album represented as an individual episode of around 30 minutes average, with bonus episodes in there too. I’ll be honest - it really made me kick myself, it’s one of those ideas that’s so good it makes me wish I’d made it! But that’s not uncommon - and I love that, I think it’s great. I have so much respect for the concept, and it really resonates with my analytical mind.
At the time I picked up on it, I already felt so insanely late to the party but with that brings a perfect binge-ready agenda in which to incorporate it. He’d already done the two albums listed above, and was in the process of tackling Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’ (by way of Frank’s earlier ‘Nostalgia Ultra’ and ‘Channel Orange’ releases), and these were all albums that had become fond classics to me over recent years.
There was a time period from around 2012 to 2015 where I was doing a ton of music with B. Dolan, working on the ‘House Of Bees’ mixtapes and his ‘Kill The Wolf’ album. I was fortunate enough to join him on a few tours, and I can tell you that the Kanye and Kendrick albums were VERY regular listening staples. Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange joined the driving soundtrack later, but altogether these three have a very special place in my heart. Weirdly, I hadn’t previously made the effort to listen to them. I felt like they were albums I SHOULD have listened to, and strangely, the amount of coverage of them I was absorbing on social media made me feel like I had listened to them in great depth, but no. For whatever reason I’d dipped a toe in but not much more. Listening to them with other people in a car, especially in the company an extremely dope rapper, made me hear them differently and see the genius inside them. The punchlines, the beat choices, the tracklist sequencing - it all made a new kind of sense, and that exposure to those albums is something I’m so grateful for. I mean I was always kinda fond of Kanye but I remember everyone in the car on some journeys picking up on different things and some of the lines just cracking everyone up. It was the perfect way to hear these works.
Over the past few days I’ve been straight up bingeing on the Kanye season. I’ve listened to every episode of Cole’s breakdown of ‘My Beautiful Dark, Twisted Fantasy’ and feel like I want to go back in again. It highlighted some things I’d noticed myself but hadn’t mentally articulated, but also drew my attention and focus to elements that make me now truly appreciate the high level mastery behind the album’s production. The note intervals between the end of one song and the beginning of the next, the subliminal (or explicit) connections between a sample source and Kanye’s lyrics, philosophy, even Greek mythology for christ’s sake… I can safely say that I’ve gained a LOT through listening to it - when you hear someone verifying the level of production and how much skill is behind something, it can confirm a lot for you I think - I mean there are some things that you may not agree with or even some things that even Cole, reflectively, calls a stretch - but I think a lot of it can rub off on you and it’s hard not to take on board a lot of the production gems you’ll get from each episode.
Essentially, it’s incredibly refreshing to engage in something which does basically the reverse of skipping through or playlisting. It spends time, contemplates, and makes you appreciate what’s happening so much more. I’m tearing my way through the Frank Ocean episodes now and holy shit, Channel Orange is gonna become my favourite album again. It gets deep.
WHAT’S THE FORMAT?
It’s pretty consistent throughout - theme music up top, a generic introduction and then the table is set for what we’re about to hear. The podcast itself is peppered with audio clips and relevant interview snippets. Season 3 has introduced some intermission ads which are very organic to the podcast, as it’s Cole reading them and they’re not just cold reads, so it doesn’t feel like something you immediately reach to skip ahead. On average each episode is between 25-40 minutes, depending on the track. For instance, the Kanye season regularly went a little longer as there was so much to pack in and contextualise. In that season it was also important to keep reminding the listeners to leave their biases at the door, because you’ll miss a lot if you start off with a dislike of Kanye. Actually the importance of this bias-shedding becomes clear when you hear the conclusion episode, featuring loads of audio clips from listeners saying how they either love him or started off not being into him, but had their opinion changed. So context is really important, and Cole keeps a good eye on that throughout.
LEVEL OF ENGAGEMENT
You’d be well served to concentrate on this one. It’s a goody for a train ride, or a solo wander, something like that. It would also be very cool to hear this with like-minded folks, as there are SO many opportunities for conversation and debate. From the artists themselves to the more detailed minutiae, there’s a lot of scope for some interesting side chat. I mean most podcasts are best listened to with some degree of focus, but with this one - as it’s not a one-on-one chat or a lighter comedy podcast, it’s worth putting in time as it’s not improvised, so everything is there for a reason.
HOW MANY EPISODES AT THE TIME OF POSTING THIS?
Looking at my podcast RSS reader, I can see 63 episodes. This includes episodes dealing with intros, artist backgrounds and listener testimonial montages. Spotify has bonus episodes too!
BINGE OR ONE AT A TIME?
You could binge this very easily. I did, and I loved the trance it put me in. Straight away I was in the world of the album, and it made start thinking about so many other albums and what I might have missed with even my all time favourite, most listened to pieces of work. You have three seasons to binge on, and I reckon if you even have a passing interest in Kendrick, Kanye or Frank, you’ll be lining up episodes after your first listen.
I hope you found something here you’ll be into - I’ll be adding much more as we go on, so cheers for peeping the debut!
More on those soon…!