Tag: Paranormal (Page 1 of 2)

And the winner is!

Trophy pic

December 2nd marked the 1st anniversary of me launching this blog. In a rather preemptive strike on the traditional end of year lists that will invariably clog up all your timelines in a few weeks, I thought I’d get in with my rather unofficial awards celebrating the best (in my opinion) podcasts you can get. So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce the first annual podcastgeek awards ceremony!

Some shows I will have reviewed, and I’ll be adding links to the reviews where available. Others will be reviewed as soon as I get round to it. Each category will have a shortlist of five entries in no special order apart from how they spring to mind. At the end of each shortlist we will have the winners. I hope you have the patience to read all the way through. It shouldn’t take too long!

Now, there may well be some glaring omissions, especially if you’ve been following this blog for a while, but seeing as this will be an annual event, there is always next year, and I promise no series will win more than once.

The drinks are flowing here at the podcastgeek enormodome and the guests are waiting with bated breath to see who takes the gongs home. So without further ado, I’ll roll out the red carpet as the spotlights rake the night sky, put on my best bib and tucker and heap praise on a multitude of shows. DRUMROLL PLEASE!

Best fiction podcast

This was a tough one, because the entire shortlist is excellent, ultimately though, the result will come as no surprise to anyone who’s read my reviews.

The winner is THE MAGNUS ARCHIVES!

Magnus Archives Logo

Best true crime podcast

  • Hunting Warhead
  • The Lazarus Heist
  • Death In Ice Valley
  • Deep Cover
  • The World’s Greatest Con

Another tough one. Another 5 incredible shows, but there’s only one winner tonight. This podcast won just for the fact that there is some resolution to the crimes, and the fact that there are no real trigger warnings.

The winner is THE WORLD’S GREATEST CON!

World's Greatest Con logo

Best gaming/geek culture podcast

I had originally intended to spend a month or so only reviewing this rather niche area of the podcastverse, but I didn’t want to lose either of my regular subscribers, so I decided against it. Anyway, these are five very worthy podcasts, but for the sheer range of subject matter there can be only one (as the highlander would say).

The winner is HYPNOGORIA.

Hypnogoria Logo

Best science podcast

Originally I avoided science podcasts, thinking they would be stuffy and boring (despite having an interest in science). How wrong I was. The podcasts here are all very accessible and very entertaining.

The winner is BIG PICTURE SCIENCE.

Big Picture Science logo

Best comedy podcast

Over the years, I have listened to plenty of “comedy” podcasts that are as funny as standing on a plug. The shortlist here though are all very, very funny indeed. That said, in much the same way the The Magnus Archives was a rather predictable win, so is this. This one is a very sweary win “fae Dougie, Lee and John the dug”.

The winner is A SCOTTISH PODCAST.

A Scottish Podcast logo

Best paranormal/folklore podcast

I could have happily had four of Danny Robins’ podcasts and one other to make up the numbers, but that wouldn’t be fair, especially with so many interesting paranormal and folklore podcasts out there. The winner of this category really takes top spot, like hypnogoria, for the sheer breadth of subject matter. This really is a great series.

The winner is BONE AND SICKLE.

Bone And Sickle logo

Best factual podcast

Possibly the hardest category to judge, due to the catch-all nature of the title. Again, the shortlist entries are all worthy of your time, and I recommend you check them all out. The contrarian in me has decided though that it has to be heroic.

The winner is HOW TO BURN A MILLION QUID.

How To Burn A MIllion Quid logo

Phew, that’s a lot of podcasts isn’t it? And I’ve obviously done a load of listening. That is only a small selection of the podcasts that I’ve pumped into my brain over the last few years. If the best idea is to “write about what you know”, you can see why I started writing about podcasts can’t you?

“Ha! Mr podcastgeek” I hear you scoff. “Why don’t you get a life?”

In response I will click my fingers and out of the shadows a group of no-necked toughs in suits will have these hecklers ejected from the venue.

We have had some great shows mentioned this year, and despite missing out on a win, I really need to give an honourable mention to The Good Friends Of Jackson Elias. When I posted my review of that podcast, it had so many shares and comments, it is BY FAR the most popular post I’ve written. So thank you to all the Call Of Cthulhu and Chaosium fans who took the time to help grow my blog. It is greatly appreciated.

This ol’ Blumhouse

Production company – Grim & Mild/ Blumhouse

Rating –

This was probably my first introduction to Aaron Mahnke podcasts when the first series came out two years ago. Almost immediately though, I also found Haunted Road, and realised that there were some pretty big shows in the Grim & Mild camp. Series two was last year, and season 3 is scheduled for this year. It’ll be interesting to see where they go. The title of this series is also apt for this time of year, so it gets slotted in nicely here.

So what’s it about?

13 Days Of Halloween is a horror anthology podcast, with each season being completely different to the last so I think to make life easier, I’ll break this up into two parts.

Season 1 is an Amicus style portmanteau story that sees a voiceless stranger (possibly meant to be you, the listener?) “You” arrive at the sprawling and spooky Hawthorne Manor. You are met at the gate by The Caretaker, played by the outstanding Keegan-Michael Key. A talented actor, you may recognise him from the sketch show Key and Peele, or from his film roles. The caretaker guides you round the house where you meet the residents. Each episode takes place in a different room. Are the people you meet there real, or ghosts, or figments of your imagination?

The story unfolds like a puzzle as the motivation of the caretaker becomes apparent. But what will be the outcome? The many threads of the present weave with the many elements of backstory to create a very expansive universe and a gripping story indeed.

Season 2 takes a different path. This is more like a regular horror series. The main character now has a voice, and the setting has changed (and expanded) to encompass a whole town. In this case, the wonderfully named Direbrook, a sleepy fishing village in New England.

This has more of a folk horror/Lovecraftian feel, the quaintness of the setting offset somewhat by the strange greetings used by the locals and the veiled warnings to the main character. I said this was more folk horror, and like Midommar or The Wicker man, you have a feeling early on that there will be a sinister climax to it all.

A nameless woman regains consciousness on a beach, and is found by an older woman and local, known as “Mother”. As the series progresses, this duo explore the town and amongst the standalone stories (as in series 1) are clues that reveal the identity and reason for the unnamed woman to be here. The Lovecraftian elements develop quite early on, with similarities to stories like The Shadow Over Insmouth, and even films like In The Mouth Of Madness.

Is it any good?

Season 1 was very good in its own way. As I said earlier, it is reminiscent of the 70s movies by Amicus, in particular it reminds me of the film Asylum. Keegan Michael-Key is his usual eccentric self, and seems to be channeling Tim Curry from Clue. This in itself is no bad thing, although it does grate a bit during the higher camp moments.

Season 2 is certainly bigger, although maybe not better. As I said, the protagonist now has a voice. This is something that seems a tad redundant, because she hardly ever says a word. As in season 1, the protagonist is guided through the story, this time by the mysterious “Mother”.

I’m currently listening to this season again, because despite finishing it relatively recently, I can’t actually remember anything about it past episode 2. I think that says a lot about this show, which is a shame.

Final thoughts

This is something of a mixed bag. Having the production clout of Blumhouse and Grim & Mild sets this head and shoulders above lower budget productions, but ultimately this is a show that leaves me wanting. On paper this should be my ultimate podcast, one that would have my “brain” rating increase to 6 or 7, but it misses the mark somehow.

Now that season 3 is almost halfway through, I’ll give it a go. Hopefully third time’s a charm.

You can get 13 days of Halloween here:

https://www.grimandmild.com/13days

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Sleep Tight

Haunted review

Production company – Chalk and Blade/Panoply

Rating –

Just a quick note before I begin. This review has lain half written for a long time, hence the opening paragraph below. This week though, Danny has announced the release of the sequel to The Battersea Poltergeist. This will be starting the day after this post is published, so I figure it’s a rather apt time to get this thing finished. I guess I’m no longer a completionist, at least until the end of the month anyway!

Consider me a completionist. I’ve now completed the Danny Robins trilogy of podcasts. I’d actually looked for this one back when I first heard The Battersea Poltergeist and couldn’t find it. Probably because I thought it was also released by the BBC. Thanks to a Facebook post, I found it and eagerly downloaded the whole series, ready to binge.

So what’s it about?

In a similar vein to the previously reviewed Uncanny, each episode features a different true story of ghosts and hauntings. People contact the show and get to tell their own creepy stories of the paranormal.

As with Uncanny, these aren’t run of the mill cliché type ghost stories. The stories told here are next level in the creepiness department. And the tension really ratchets up as the series progresses. The final story of the series is truly terrifying, and one that wouldn’t really be matched until halfway through Uncanny.

This series also features legendary Parapsychologist Ciarán O’Keeffe, a somewhat stabilising influence, as he has been since trying to lend legitimacy to the TV series Most Haunted. His critical mind usually finds some possible mundane explanation, and my personal thoughts on this aren’t really relevant. I’m not a Parapsychologist, so what do I know! His take on things though is always interesting, particularly his comments on false memories. I also just realised I’d always spelled his name wrong! I’ve now corrected this here, and in the Uncanny review. Sorry Ciarán!

Is it any good?

Absolutely. Danny Robins knows how to make a good podcast. His genuine amazement at the stories is infectious and really adds to the atmosphere. He also walks the fine line between believer and skeptic with great skill.

The main difference between this show and Uncanny is the lack of audience interaction, whereas Uncanny had lots of listeners contacting the show with extra information about the cases. This is probably because it was a totally new show and (please forgive me if I’m wrong), but Danny Robins was a rather unknown quantity when this podcast was released. It also means he has to trawl through library records to research the cases rather than crowd source it.

Final thoughts

Listening to this series after hearing Danny’s more recent work is like discovering the early albums of a favourite band. You can hear all of the familiar elements you know and love, but the production is not quite as polished and there is more of an “attitude” that changes as the band gets more established. But enough of the tenuous music analogies. This is another great podcast from Danny Robins, and as I’ve said before, I can’t wait to hear what’s coming up next. His involvement in a series is enough for me to immediately subscribe.

In the interest of getting my damn facts straight, I decided to listen to this series again. So I did. The whole thing in a day. It’s still as creepy as it was the first time I listened. If that’s not recommendation enough, then I don’t know what is.

You can listen to Haunted here:

https://www.dannyrobins.com/haunted

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Buddha, Coulda, Shoulda

The Subjective Truth review

Production company – Good Pointe

Rating –

The Subjective Truth logo

I found this through the other Good Pointe show Two Flat Earthers Kidnap A Freemason. Honestly, I was expecting something similar. This was no light-hearted satire though, but a decidedly darker (though no less entertaining) drama. So join me as we head off in search of Buddha Kline.

So what’s it about?

Amateur treasure hunter team Buddha Kline and his wife Amy are on the trail of the legendary Fenn Treasure. They get split up and Amy makes it back, but Buddha has vanished.

The series follows podcaster and journalist Graham Anderson as she tracks the ever cooling case. She meets Buddha’s family and friends, and a whole cast of strange characters along the way.

Pretty soon the strange phenomena that seem to follow the legendary treasure and the town of Taos, New Mexico start to appear and things get very weird indeed.

Is it any good?

It’s great. Earlier on in the series, I was giving some serious thought to scoring it lower. I think it dropped to about a three brain rating at one point and it was in danger of making it on to my end of year “also ran” list. Ultimately, it ended up captivating me though. The acting isn’t great across the board, but really, that didn’t matter. It’s very easy to get fully absorbed into the story and any niggles are soon forgotten.

As I said in the intro, seeing as this is a Good Pointe podcast, I was expecting something else (this was rather presumptuous of me, I’ve only listened to one other of their shows). This series is more like the alternate reality mindf*ck of the excellent PRA shows Rabbits or Tanis. The world building is amazing, and the adverts are so well observed that they could easily exist.

As the series progresses, little nuggets of existing urban legends, folklore and creepypasta are thrown in. These are sometimes so subtle in the main story arc that it’s almost “blink and you’ll miss it”. I loved the inclusion of the Three Kings ritual and the Polybius arcade machine in particular, even though the latter was a touch reminiscent of the Rabbits podcast.

There are also later “bonus episodes” that fill out the mythos and give occasional comic relief (whether intentionally or not). Sorry, but the mattress phone call was funny no matter what you say!

This is also one podcast that could have carried the odd trigger warning here and there (I can’t believe I just wrote that), trigger warnings tend to bring me out in hives. The episode that dealt with the “reboots” in depth was heartbreaking. Coming from someone with skin thicker than a rhino with psoriasis, that’s really saying something.

There’s also some pathos here as the series reaches its climax. Graham’s past catches up with her somewhat and what she experiences is also rather harrowing, it’s also a great portrayal of how people in the public eye get treated (or so we’re told). It’s the sections like these that set it apart from the aforementioned PRA podcasts and set this one on a true path of its own.

Final thoughts

The problem with my listening habits is that because I’m working my day job and listening at the same time, I can miss certain details. That’s entirely my fault. This series is one that I’ll be returning to immediately for another run through. I think there’s a very important point I may have missed at the end that was a big twist. It won’t affect the score any. It can’t go higher than a five brain rating!

Are there better podcasts out there? Yes. But don’t let that put you off. This is an outstanding series I’ve come to love, and I’m almost ashamed of myself for almost writing it off after the first two episodes. Do yourself a favour and subscribe immediately. You won’t be disappointed.

You can get The Subjective Truth here:

https://thesubjectivetruth.libsyn.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Terror never sounded so good

Uncanny Japan review

Rating –

Uncanny Japan logo

I love folklore, and (as I have said before) living in Wales there is plenty on offer. Because of this, I am often drawn to the more mysterious style podcasts. Whether actual folklore or fiction inspired by folklore, I just can’t get enough. Maybe it’s because of my love of J-Horror or Anime, but Japanese folklore has captivated me for years. When I stumbled across Uncanny Japan I immediately subscribed and pressed play with baited breath.

So what’s it about?

Each episode, the host, Thersa Matsuura explores a different aspect of Japanese Folklore. Don’t expect to yawn through well trodden tales of the Kappa, Urei and Yokai so beloved of western audiences. This series also covers the lesser known traditions, festivals, and mythical beings said to lurk in the shady corners of the country. These episodes are what you could call “bitesize”. Most podcasts on folklore tend to run at one hour plus, so these 20 minute gems are very short in comparison. I think there have been a few even shorter!

The episode starts out with a brief introduction with the beautiful binaural recordings, and then Thersa starts telling the stories. Not all of these are discovered from ancient sources, although many are. There are some modern day cases that crop up too, and in the later episodes there are similar tales from all over the world. While this does technically leave the Japanese side of the stories, I don’t mind. All stories have a shared source, and drawing these parallels are great fun.

Is it any good?

Definitely. Thersa expertly covers so much ground in each relatively short episode, yet it never feels rushed. The fact that a 20 minute episode can feel much longer could be used as an insult for a review of a lesser show, but here it is absolutely a compliment. This is partly due to her amazing calm voice and the use of atmospheric recordings of her surroundings. The incessant piping of frogs or chirping of cicadas could be somewhat Lovecraftian in the bleak heaths of New England. Here though, it really brings her stories to life.

These sound effects coupled with Thersa’s soporific voice would lend itself to be the perfect sleep aid, although I can’t guarantee a peaceful night’s sleep from some of the content here! There are some very creepy tales indeed, and the thought of having some of these dark denizens of the Japanese countryside invade my dreams isn’t something I’d relish.

Final thoughts

This is one of those shows that you don’t have to be interested in the subject to enjoy. Thersa is a joy to listen to and her knowledge of her subject matter is immense. She has also published books of fiction based on Japanese folklore as well (we are occasionally treated to some excerpts of these on the show).

Where other folklore shows have fallen by the wayside, either through the podcast coming to an end, or me getting bored, this one has got real staying power and is always great to listen to. Do yourselves a favour and give this series a go. You can thank me later.

This is also one of two podcasts on Japanese folklore that I had subscribed to, and the only one I am still subscribed to. Truth be told, I only ever listened to two episodes of the other one and gave up on it. Thersa has set the benchmark for Japanese culture!

You can listen to Uncanny Japan here:

uncannyjapan.com

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Usborne Legacy

As Yet Unexplained review

Rating –

As Yet Unexplained logo

I first heard of this podcast from Richard Daniels (of The Occultaria Of Albion fame). Unfortunately it wasn’t originally available on every podcatcher and in the interest of fairness, I avoid reviewing such shows. The reason for this is that not everyone has Amazon, or iTunes or Spotify, so I don’t want to review shows that not everyone can enjoy. However it seems that it’s being shared on all apps now, so with great eagerness I subbed and settled down to binge on the whole thing as quickly as possible.

So what’s it about?

This is probably best described as an audio version of the now beloved Usborne books on the unexplained. These were very popular when I was a child and are now experiencing something of a renewed popularity (by people my age, as it goes).

Each episode looks at a different subject. They range from ghosts to UFOs, and from folklore to strange military cover ups from the East and West. There are some very creepy stories here indeed and they are all very well narrated.

Whether intentionally or not, Westley Smith’s narration lends itself to the vintage patina of the show. I can almost imagine him like James Burke on some windswept moor accompanied by a hungry cameraman as he investigates ancient burial chambers, or strange lights in the sky. Also, his voice reminds me of a mix of the character James Hunter from Haunted: An Audio Drama and Jonathan Sims from The Magnus Archives.

Is it any good?

I love this show. The whole thing has a very retro feel. From the logo to the soundtrack, this is a very good pastiche of classic mystery books and shows from my childhood. To be honest, there won’t be any new information here for anyone with an interest in such things, but that really doesn’t matter. Westley Smith does such a good job telling the stories that you almost forget that you know the stories and get sucked into the tales being told. Surely that is a mark of a great orator.

Despite the lack of new information, there are some genuinely creepy moments in the series. The haunting of 50 Berkeley Square will never not be scary, but there are other tales to chill your blood too. The ghosts of Charterhouse, the San Pedro Haunting, and the stories of Russian Cosmonauts drifting off into space are terrifying. The latter especially so, because despite the transmissions being classified, there were people around the world who happened to stumble across them. 

While a show like The Occultaria Of Albion wears its hauntological badge with pride, that show represents a fictional 1970s UK. This is more like the actual late 70s TV shows and books. In the episode on ancient UFO sightings, he’s describing woodcuts that I had studied as a child in my parents’ books on such things. That only reinforces the nostalgia factor, for me at least.

Final thoughts

I really can’t recommend this show highly enough. It’s easy to digest and very well produced. As I mentioned earlier, there aren’t any groundbreaking revelations here, but that’s ok. You can enjoy the show for what it is, and what it is is excellent. Almost immediately, this rose to the top of my favourite podcasts on such subjects.

***NOTE***

I apologise for the constant comparisons to Richard Daniels’ show, but they come as something of a package deal. Indeed, after every episode, that dastardly Richard Daniels manages to inject a subliminal advert for TOoA just to further his own nefarious agenda!

You can get As Yet Unexplained here:

https://asyetunexplained.wixsite.com/home

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Bloody Hell Harold

The Battersea Poltergeist review

Production company – BBC

Rating –

Battersea Poltergeist logo

I know I’ve already reviewed Uncanny, but this was my introduction to the brilliant Danny Robins. It cropped up in the recommendations in BBC sounds and it sounded interesting, so I gave it a go. As soon as the first episode started, I knew this was something special and I knew I was going to love it.

So what’s it about?

Everyone has heard of the film Poltergeist. Fewer people have heard of the real life case of The Enfield Poltergeist. Even fewer have heard of The Battersea Poltergeist. This is unfortunate, the Battersea case was somewhat overshadowed by the more infamous events at Enfield. While Enfield was certainly interesting, Battersea was equally terrifying and equally unexplainable. It was also nearly 20 years before Enfield.

This is probably the reason why it’s almost forgotten. By the 1970s, Britain was paranormal crazy. There were books, TV shows and films all cashing in, but in the post war society of the 50s there was a more pragmatic or sceptical approach to such claims.

In 1956, 15 year old Shirley Hitchings and her family started experiencing strange phenomena that would last an incredible 12 years. I say incredible, because the events at Enfield only lasted a few months. The case starts innocuously enough, as poltergeist cases usually do. Shirley found a silver key on her pillow, one that didn’t fit any locks in the house. Soon the whole family is being constantly terrorised, and the playful nature of the early events is gone.

The spirit (known as Donald) was responsible for moving furniture, throwing things and even starting a fire in the house. As the series progresses, it’s also heavily hinted that it was responsible for the death of Shirley’s Grandmother.

The podcast is a dramatisation of the events in question, interspersed with narration by Danny Robins. It follows the borderline obsessive investigation of the case by Harold Chibbett, played by the incredible Toby Jones. Dafne Keen, who has a long list of credits for someone so young, plays Shirley.

Is it any good?

Anything with Toby Jones is going to be excellent. I don’t think he’s done anything that was sub par. Also, anything by Danny Robins seems to be well worth your time too. As you’ll no doubt remember from my earlier review, I’m something of a fanboy.

Danny Robins actually has boxes of Chibbetts’ original case files and notes, and this is the basis of the series. During the course of the series Danny is holed up in his shed, surrounded by all the papers, and just like Chibbett decades before, the obsession is somewhat contagious. At one point Danny himself complains that his family are missing him due to the time he spends poring over the evidence.

The production values are high enough that you really get an immersive experience, and all the actors are doing an amazing job. The cast features lots of familiar voices, not just Jones’ and there is as much tension here as any good TV show or film. Actually there is more tension here, mainly because there aren’t any good TV shows or films being made. It seems that if you want a genuinely creepy experience nowadays, then you need to look towards podcasts and radio shows.

As well as the horror of the events, there is a real pathos here as well. There are a lot of people living in the house, and all the family members are put under an immense amount of stress. This is also very well portrayed by the cast, as is their suspicion of Harold when he first starts investigating. Poor Harold has to not only figure out exactly how to try and find out about the spirit, but he also has to try and gain the trust of some of the family.

Final thoughts

As with all BBC productions, it’s a joy to listen to. As is the case by now, Danny Robins’ excitement is contagious, as is his disbelief at the phenomena that occur.

If you’re interested in ghost stories, then you’ll love it. There is nothing not to like here. This is a great investigation into a little known (or rather, little known when this was originally released) case of poltergeist activity.

You can get The Battersea Poltergeist here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0940193

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Old red eyes is back

Haunted: The Audio Drama review

Production Company – Impala Films

Rating –

Haunted: The Aduio Drama logo

This was one of those podcasts thrown up by the all powerful algorithms that seemingly make most of our decisions for us these days. As I’ve said before, sometimes they give you gold, other times, not so much. So is this gold or something more unsavoury? Well, I’m not going to tell you in the opening paragraph am I? You’ll have to read on find out.

So what’s it about?

Abigail Corbyn, a young paranormal podcaster with an excess of eagerness, searches out the reclusive James Hunter, an alcoholic former parapsychologist who is doing his best (and generally succeeding) to avoid the rest of humanity. Reluctantly he agrees to help Abigail try to solve a mysterious series of murders in the small town where she lives.

Soon they piece together a very strange tale indeed. One that involves seemingly normal people going on the aforementioned murderous rampages, ancient symbols and mind control. Season two kicks off with a spooky appearance of a ghost child which may or may not tie in to the events in season 1. This sounds like quite the plot stew, and in some ways it is. There are certainly many threads to weave here and for the most part they work. There are some times though, where things that at first mention seem like they will be important, end up being glossed over. The series isn’t over yet, so there may well be some overarching scheme here that I can’t possibly know about. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Is it any good?

Well, yes and no. It really reminds me of 1970s British radio dramas. It seems very low budget and the voice acting isn’t great. Sometimes it’s not even good, but that adds to the nostalgic charm. If you took out the references to the internet and mobile phones, then it could easily pass for a very old show indeed. This is something of a double edged sword really, and I’m not sure if this style is intentional or not. It may be because of budget constraints (as it was in the 70s) or a definite and deliberate homage.

I also can’t overlook the similarity of James Hunter and that other legendary curmudgeon of the paranormal, Jonathan Sims, head archivist at The Magnus Archives. It may just be an accent thing, but I can’t get it out of my head. There is also a rather obvious (to me at least) similarity between this series and Doctor Who. An older, cynical male knowitall is accompanied by a younger, naive female on a very dangerous mission against an unknown enemy. I would go so far as to compare Abigail to Sophie Aldred’s character “Ace” from the Sylvester McCoy era of Doctor Who. You, however may disagree.

Final thoughts

Whether you’ll like this or not depends on a few things. If you enjoy the cosy, nostalgic charm of 1970s radio dramas and Nigel Kneale TV shows then you’ll like this a lot. If you grew up with modern, slick storytelling high production values then it will annoy you no end. I sit entirely in the former camp, and even then there are little parts that I find irritating. I am prepared to gloss over these niggles though and I’m slogging on regardless.

This is a shame, because the story itself is very good. The dialogue leans towards the cliché, especially in the more emotionally charged moments. And some of the supporting voice cast is rather poor. They also do that thing of having an adult woman do a child’s voice. Again, maybe this is down to budget constraints, but everytime I hear this it reminds me more of kids TV shows like Horrid Henry rather than The Simpsons. While an adult may well have the vocal range to do it, the actual mannerisms are all wrong. I realise that I have spent nearly a whole paragraph criticising a tiny part of one episode, but I think it’s justified.

As I go back through this post editing and adding, A thought has just struck me. I said that it is like a 1970s British radio drama, but it isnt. This series is like an early 1980s BBC kids tv show. Again you have the same nostalgia factor, as people old enough to remember one, will remember the other. It isn’t “horrific” enough to be the former, but it is exciting enough to be the latter. This won’t change my rating, but I include here for added clarity.

I gave this a three brain rating purely for the nostalgia factor. It was dangerously close to scoring lower. I’m sure there will be some who think I’m an idiot for scoring this so low, and some who think I’m an idiot for scoring it so high. It is what it is, give it a go. It’s not like you pay for it or anything.

You can get Haunted: An Audio Drama here:

https://www.cyberpunkstudios.co.uk/haunted

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Taking the normal out of paranormal

Occultaria Of Albion review

Rating –

The Occultaria Of Albion logo

I heard about this very recently on one of the many facebook pages I frequent. I duly subscribed, as I always do when a new podcast crosses my path. I’d planned to put it off for a while, I’ve got a few new series on the go and I’m trying to review those first. I’m also trying to avoid those pesky “queue jumpers” that inevitably appear from time to time. Every time I opened my list of podcasts though, I’d see this one calling out. This morning I finally gave in and took the plunge into the strange world of the Occultaria Of Albion.

So what’s it about?

The Occultaria Of Albion is a strange beast. At first glance (and indeed at the first episode), it appears to be one of the many folklore podcasts that are springing up like fairy rings. But scratch below the surface and you find something very interesting indeed.

The host and head archivist Richard Daniels investigates a different subject every episode, from ghosts to cryptids and UFO sightings. The episodes are split between retellings of traditional stories and interviews with eyewitnesses.

The first episode is a very low-fi release, recorded on what sounds like a mobile phone or cheap microphone. This isn’t a bad thing in this case however as I imagine him sitting in a shed that smells of creosote talking into a strange recording device. It reminds me a lot of the old Oliver Postgate animations, which were also created in a shed that no doubt smelled of creosote.

Is it any good?

After the first episode or two I wasn’t sure if I’d go the distance with this. This seems like a very low budget affair and as such the voice acting isn’t always up to scratch. There are a few occasions where you can almost see the person reading off a bit of paper. I can forgive that though because the mythology and the whole aesthetic is so good.

I’m glad I did stick with it though, because every episode gets better in terms of content.

There are a lot of genuinely funny moments and Richard Daniels is a very talented writer and host. His wit shines through any production shortcomings. Don’t think that this is just a purely comedic exercise though. There is a lot of folkloric and horror knowledge here that gets parodied very well. This is very much like Les Dawson playing the piano. You have to be very talented and knowledgeable to make something seem so “amateur”. (Please don’t take that the wrong way!)

This is also another one of those podcasts that has me wondering if it is entirely fictional or if some of the stuff presented is actually worth googling (at the risk of being caught out). As I have said previously, I don’t mind that at all. And I have to resist the urge to look up any film or book that gets mentioned.

Final thoughts

From the analogue bleeps of the little interludes, to the very 70s hauntological look of the OoA releases on their website (they look like releases by Ghost Box or The Belbury Poly) there is a lot to love here, especially if you’re into that sort of thing. There’s a lot to love even if you’re not. Another hauntological note here is the similarity of the yoga teacher character to the legend of the Radiophonic workshop Delia Derbyshire. I’m not sure if this was an intentional impression or not, but it made me smile.

This is well worth your time to listen to. Each episode is different enough to seem fresh. I assume this is because the release schedule is somewhat “sedate”. Although as I write this, I’m awaiting the imminent release of the new episode at the end of the week. I should also point out that I’ve listened to the whole back catalogue of episodes in a day, well about 4 hours truth be told.

As I said previously, Richard Daniels is a very talented writer and I can’t help but wonder if this series would be improved if it was just him retelling these stories. The excerpt from a talk that he gave on the Halloween episode was amazing, and I could really listen to that stuff all day. I’m prepared to overlook the poor voice talent, but I’m not sure if you would be.

You may wonder when then, after my seemingly relentless nitpicking of the acting, why I gave this a five brain rating. I think in this case it is deserved because it is so bloody good. That’s the only thing that there isn’t to like, and even then the actual script is very good. So there. It’s my blog and I’m in charge!

You can get The Occultaria Of Albion here:

https://redcircle.com/shows/occultariaofalbion

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

***NOTE***

This is possibly the only podcast I’ve found that doesn’t really have it’s own webpage. The official TOoA site just recommends you search for the podcast, and the link I provided above seems to have links for all possible podcatchers.

Be open to all to all possibilities

Dark Air with Terry Carnation review

Production company – Imperial Mammoth, Audioboom and Kelly&Kelly

Rating –

Dark Air logo

As you will have no doubt read in last week’s review. I’m a huge fan of Rainn Wilson’s curmudgeonly radio host Terry Carnation. When I discovered that he had his own show, I immediately subscribed. I wasn’t disappointed, and I don’t think you will be either (unless you don’t like the guy, but then I can’t help that).

So what’s it about?

Terry Carnation is a haunted man. An “expert” on the paranormal and the occult, he had his own late night radio talkshow that offered him some success. After the death of his wife, he had a breakdown and lost the only other thing he loved. The radio show. Now however, he’s back. He has a new intern, the puppy dog like uberfan Jeet, and he’s ready to answer any mysteries the callers can throw at him.

During his first show, he receives a strange call from someone who he believes is his dead wife. This sets him off on a mission to solve the mystery. Is she dead and calling from beyond the grave, or is she alive and being held hostage somewhere? He travels all over the country (within reason) desperately looking for clues.

Is it any good?

Absolutely. As I said in the Radio Rental review, Terry Carnation is a genius character. This show really expands on it though. In Radio Rental, he was just introducing each “tape” and passing judgement on some of the stories, my comparison to Crypt Keeper in Tales From The Crypt was justified I think. Here, he is a fully fleshed-out eccentric. The characters are brilliantly realised too, from the strange callers and the even stranger employees at the radio station. His nemesis (and ex-intern) Wes Popovitz now has his own radio show too. Wes is best described as Alex Jones turned up to 11 (if your brain could even fathom that). It’s a spot-on parody of right wing conspiracy shows so beloved of a certain section of society.

You will happily follow Terry as he upsets everyone he meets, tests the patience of his long suffering therapist, makes illegal adverts in exchange for out of date food, and generally acts like a tornado of profanity and bad habits. Despite this, there is (occasionally) a genuine pathos to him. He is a man adrift. He’s lost the only person he ever loved, and he’s lashing out at the world trying to stay relevant (and sane), despite the efforts of the world to knock him down continually.

Final thoughts

This is a show that I can’t recommend highly enough. It is laugh out loud funny (if you have a reasonably dark sense of humour) and it’s very well produced. As I said, the voice acting is top notch, as is the sound design.

As I had mentioned in my review of A Voice From Darkness, this is the opposite (and yet equally perfect) mix of darkness and humour. That is 90% humour, 10% darkness. It’s really a mirror image of that show, and also of Radio Rental. Very few podcasts have that ability to warrant more than one playthrough. This is one of those.

Just do yourself a favour and subscribe to this right now.

When I was looking for the logo image and some production company info, I visitied his website. I only mention it because it is such a perfect design for a man like Terry Carnation that it really deserves a mention (and a visit too). You can find it here.

You can get Dark Air With Terry Carnation here:

https://audioboom.com/channels/5046661

Or wherever you get your podcasts

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