#HeadSpace: culture in lockdown: Part Three

Welcome to the third in our new series, #HeadSpace, sharing ideas for cultural activities during these challenging times; from great reads to gripping TV, binge-worthy boxed-sets to stream and ideas for listening (from music you might know to music you might not and some Slow Radio), aiming to keep you engaged, entertained and maybe even amused whether you’re isolating, in lockdown, or looking for ways to keep occupied.

All good clean fun until someone loses an eye…or worse…

Riveting Reads: for a dark, modern take on the campus novel, or even just a noirish thriller, Black Chalk offers a fascinating tale of what happens when a game gets out of control and the impact on friendship. As the book unfolds, what initially began as a game of ‘dare’ between six university friends spirals gradually out of control as the forfeits become progressively more harsh; told in flashback, the novel builds inexorably towards the conclusion as, fourteen years later, the two remaining players must meet to bring the grim game to a conclusion. Gripping and well-constructed, open the book and join the game for yourself…

Winning Watchables: for some neat bubble-gum crime watching, Criminal Minds on Amazon Prime is highly watchable. Each episode covers the solving of a case by Jason Gideon and his team of FBI agents, who use behavioural profiling techniques to capture criminals. The team’s unusual technique of building a profile based on the criminal’s psychology and predicted behaviour is usually met with bucketloads of contempt by local law enforcement, which is then won over at the denouement when Gideon’s methods prove successful. Not half as macabre as Hannibal, there’s always a sense of satisfaction as each episode nearly wraps up another baffling serial spree; if you can get past the slightly pretentious “[A-Famous-Philosopher] once wrote…” quote with which each episode begins, which becomes a trifle wearisome by the second or third series (!), it’s worth a look.

Our third Lockdown Listening recommendation steps into the strange, hypnotic, cinematic, sometimes otherworldy, sometimes meditative world of the American composer/performer Meredith Monk; one of the major figures on the American compositional landscape since the 1960s, Monk has been fiercely creative as a composer, singer, choreographer, filmmaker, writing music that sometimes defies neat categorisation. Her album Impermanence from 2008 moves from the opening fragility of Last Song through the lisome vocal tapestries of Passage and the quirky, hopping Particular Dance. Start with that track and see what you think – on Spotify here.

Chilling games, satisfying crime-solving, unclassifiable music;  stay tuned for the next in the series; hope you’ve found something new.

Header image: Darwn Vegher via Unsplash

Author: Daniel Harding

Head of Music Performance, University of Kent: pianist, accompanist and conductor: jazz enthusiast.

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