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Jack Chuter

Co-host of the Episode Party podcast, author of Storm Static Sleep: A Pathway Through Post-rock, editor at ATTN:Magazine.

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piqer: Jack Chuter
Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Imaginary Advice: Experimental Stories About What Haunts Us

Once again, an edition of Imaginary Advice opens with a sense of jovial curiosity. Once again, the podcast can’t help but extrapolate too far, eventually reaching the darker meanings that nestle within innocuous cultural ephemera, or the philosophical feedback loops that linger at the end of every path of poetic inquiry. There is a sinister gravity dragging at the base of Ross Sutherland’s storytelling experiments. Even if he starts with the intention of sharing facts about horses, or indulging in the humorous potential of teaching a neural net how to do stand-up, there is something that spurs him to go deeper, continually asking “why” until there’s nothing left but loneliness, or existential crisis, or ecstasy.

Given the presence of these invisible forces on Imaginary Advice, it's apt that the most recent episode is about ghosts. Sutherland begins at the most literal level, announcing his intention to crown his childhood village of Coggeshall, Essex as the most haunted place in England. He then takes a remarkable detour, via a poignant analysis of British TV show Lovejoy, to the concept of “set-jetting”: tourism centred on places that appeared in films and TV shows. He wonders aloud whether these experiences are a form of ghost-hunting in themselves, as we illuminate these locations with vivid memories from a reality beyond our own.

Yet what if we assigned the same mythic significance to the locations we frequent within our own lives? The episode climaxes with Sutherland narrating a mock ghost tour around Peterborough that visits his own daily haunts, as he tells fictional punters about the "dishevelled" spectre often loitering by the DVD section at the supermarket, or the “grey figure” repeatedly diving back into the house to grab items it had forgotten on its way out. As ever, Imaginary Advice starts by gazing out into the world and ends with Sutherland staring at himself in the mirror.

Imaginary Advice: Experimental Stories About What Haunts Us
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