Friday, July 15, 2011

Music: Hearts of Space

Hearts of Space


During freshman year at college, I usually spent Sunday nights doing schoolwork I had put off till the end of the weekend. There wasn't much to my dorm room - a bed, a desk, and an FM radio atop a mini-fridge-turned-nightstand. In those long stretches of quiet, "Hearts of Space" kept me company.

For those who've never heard the show, "HoS" is one of the world's most popular New Age music radio programs, so popular that it was actually parodied in an MST3K skit ("Music from Some Guys in Space"). Each week, producer Stephen Hill serves up an hour's worth of ambient music from a variety of genres: downtempo electronica is the show's staple, of course, but there's also the occasional Celtic, choral, and orchestral-themed shows. I particularly liked the episode "When Rock Meets Space," which featured atmospheric cuts from Coldplay, Portishead, and Sigur Rios.

With the thousands of 24/7 free streaming ambient music stations on the Internet, you might ask why I would bother to tune in to a radio show. Truth be told, HoS features one thing all those anonymous music channels don't have: Stephen Hill's laconic opening and closing narration. At times, it's more soothing than the actual mood music, leading one blogger to admit, "I would pay for an album of Stephen Hill talking for an hour."

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