I’ve been feeling generally cross lately, so I thought I’d talk about something good, and pure, and infused with malevolent, simmering evil.
Therefore, I take you now to the lonely little burg of Night Vale.
Night Vale – “a friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep” – is a small town on the distant edge of reality, nominally located somewhere in the south-western USA. And it is TERRIFYING.
It takes heart. It takes guts. It also takes cash. It just needs your payment immediately. Welcome to Night Vale.
It is the setting for Welcome To Night Vale, a twice-monthly sub-half-hour podcast done in the style of a community radio show.
Narrated by the honeyed tones of Cecil Palmer, host of Night Vale Community Radio, WTNV is a sublime blend of the horrific made banal, the banal made horrific, and an endless stream of surreal, existential aphorisms and hilarious non-sequiturs.
Beyond the mechanics of the setting and plot, or the inspired narration, WTNV’s single best feature is the rhythm and cadence of its language. The scripts transcend prose to become almost poetic – the show enjoys its words in their own right, not as mere tools to tell a story.
Target is a great place to shop, and they would like you to consider the variety of silence in this world. The deathly silence when an argument has reached a height from which neither party can see a safe way down, and the soft wet silence of post-coital breath-catching. Silence in a courtroom moments before a man’s life is changed completely by something so insignificant as his past. And the silence of a hospital room as a man, in front of everyone he loves, lets the heat from his clenched hands dissipate into the background hum of the universe. The quiet of outdoor distances, of wilderness, of the luxury of space, and the quiet of dead air on the radio. The sound of a mistake, of emphasis, of your own thoughts when you expected someone else’s. SHOP. AT. TARGET.
The show is just finishing its second year of life, in which time it has developed an increasingly elaborate mythology, and is in the process of wrapping up a gripping, and rather un-nerving plot arc. Night Vale is wonderful, and baffling, and gloriously frustrating.
And I cannot get enough of it.
I’m aware I have somewhat esoteric tastes when it comes to most of the rest of the people I know, and this is why I don’t often try too hard to push many of the things l like (eg, the adventures of a small, orange ninja) – but WTNV is too good not to attempt to shove down people’s throats.
If you have read this far and not scoffed with disgust, please indulge me a little further and listen to one of the best early episodes: Episode 5 – The Shape In Grove Park (That No-One Acknowledges Or Speaks About). Here it is – all you have to do is press play:
If you enjoyed that, you can listen to the rest of WTNV on Soundcloud – or download MP3s from Libsyn – or subscribe on iTunes – or Feedburner. And there are two live shows for sale on Bandcamp or iTunes.
If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can try to finish all 48 current episodes before the two-year anniversary special kicks off on 15 June, and finishes on 1 July.
Well, there, I’ve said my piece. I’m looking forward to the third year of life in Night Vale – although, of course, as Cecil himself says: past performance is not a predictor of future results.
Goodnight, readers. Goodnight.