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Tony Visconti on Bowie; Blocking Out Noise; Talib Kweli Live

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli performs live on Soundcheck in the Greene Space at WNYC. Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli performs live on Soundcheck in the Greene Space at WNYC. (Michael Katzif / WNYC)

In this episode: Veteran producer Tony Visconti recently teamed up with David Bowie to ambush the pop world with the from-out-of-nowhere album “The Next Day.” Visconti talks about the secrecy that surrounded the album. Plus, we get a peek at some of his upcoming projects.

Plus, we bring you highlights from Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli’s performance in The Greene Space – including brand new songs from his upcoming record, Prisoner of Conscious.

And, Sam Beam of Iron and Wine answers our question of the week -- how do you block out noise in your daily life? You can answer it too, by leaving us a voicemail at 866 939 1612 or commenting here

Tony Visconti: David Bowie's Producer And Partner In Secrecy

Tony Visconti, longtime producer for David Bowie, joins us to talk about Bowie's latest album The Next Day -- which came as a complete surprise to most of the world when its first single was unexpectedly released on January 8 of this year. Visconti joins us to share how the team behind The Next Day kept it all under wraps, and he tells us the story of how the album came to be. 

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If you've ever gone to extremes for a little quiet -- say, painting a wall -- Soundcheck wants to hear about it.

Tell Us: How Do You Block Out Noise?

Joyce Cohen recently wrote on BuzzFeed about living with hyperacusis, a condition which makes soft sounds unbearably loud and painful. After Cohen joined us last week to talk about it, we received some great emails and voicemails from you, with a wide range of feedback. The segment got us talking here in the Soundcheck office, too.

Here's why: Joyce described how she blocks out noise while living amid the sonic chaos of New York.

In my situation, because I know I'm going to be subjected to a lot of loud noise, I always protect my ears. I have industrial-strength earmuffs, so I look like the baggage handler [at an airport].

Even if you don’t have hyperacusis like Cohen, even if you don’t live in New York, you might still take measures --- some of them extreme -- to find peace and quiet.

All this week on the show, we're asking our listeners and in-studio guests: How do you block out noise? Where do you find quiet?

Sam Beam, the singer-songwriter who records as the indie-folk act Iron & Wine, told John Schaefer that he finds peace and quiet while driving, despite the hum of the car interior and the tires on the road.

I've had to make a habit of not turning music on in the car. It used to be where I listened to music, because it was really the only place I had where you were stuck. I feel like it's also a matter of perspective, because I have a bunch of kids. What some people think is quiet is probably different than my idea of quiet. I definitely learned to block a lot of noise out through sheer force of will. So the car feels really quiet to me.

Unlike Beam, the saxophonist Colin Stetson lives in a major city, Montreal. A solo artist who also tours with Bon Iver and Arcade Fire, Stetson finds quiet while running, but what he hears depends on the terrain.

I won't put earbuds in if I'm running in the woods -- trailrunning out in Vermont [...] But when I'm running in the city, I tend to drown out the noise with something that's more aggressive and more powerful than the city's noise, so I listen to a lot of metal. 

What about you? How do you block out noise? How do you create a quiet space? Leave a message for us at 866-939-1612. Or, post your story in the comment section below.

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Cold Specks

Gig Alert: Cold Specks

Singer and songwriter Cold Specks plays Pianos Monday Night. Download "Blank Maps."

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