The closer the semester gets to finals week, the harder it can be to find ways to de-stress. Some people like to exercise. Others paint or listen to loud music. For those of you looking for a way to relax, Night Vale Presents offers “Within the Wires,” a series of 10-episode stories, disguised as relaxation cassettes and composed of “found audio from another universe.”
Creators Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson, who have collaborated on other unusual podcasts like “Welcome to Night Vale” and “Alice Isn’t Dead,” have outdone themselves in this podcast. Formatted like a traditional cassette tape with A and B sides and with Matthewson acting as narrator, the podcast uses a deeply calming meditative voice to address the listener directly throughout each episode – though, notably, the listener is not you.
In the first season of “Within the Wires,” the listener is an unnamed medical inmate participating in a treatment issued by The Institute, where he or she is incarcerated. Initially, the cassettes seem ordinary, but a deeper story comes to light as they progress. The narrator seems to be trying to communicate information to the inmate: “Who is this narrator,” asks the season summary. “Is she relaying something more than just relaxation techniques, and is she to be trusted? Are there subliminal messages hidden within the music?”
The second season is titled “Museum Audio Guides,” and delivers on that premise. The 10 episodes cover a decade of time and multiple exhibits. A new narrator takes the reins and, unlike the first season’s anonymous speaker, is identified as a woman named Roimata Mangakāhia (Rima Te Wiata). Mangakāhia tells the story of the disappearance of her mentor, an artist named Claudia Atieno, and hints at her own involvement with a mysterious event referred to as “The Great Reckoning.”
This podcast is one that I would recommend to listeners who want to relax in their downtime, but aren’t interested in your run-of-the-mill meditation podcasts that are out there. “Within the Wires” is a welcome distraction from the daily grind.
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Within the Wires