Song Exploder, Exploded

Ever notice that the piano part from “Dancing Queen” is tucked into the end of MGMT’s song “No Time To Pretend”? Or that The Album Leaf kept the squeaking of an old piano pedal in the final recording of their song “The Outer Banks?”

These are just a taste of the sonic details most listeners would miss before they’re revealed by Song Exploder, a podcast by Hrishikesh Hirway that has musicians like Bjork, Wilco, Ghostface Killah, and Iggy Pop peel back the layers of their songs and talk about how they’re made.

The process is obviously appealing to aspiring musicians or fans of the artists, but that’s not why we’re devoting this week’s episode of Radio Motherboard to talking with Song Exploder’s Hirway. What’s really interesting is why the show is compelling if you don’t know anything about music or haven’t even heard of the bands.

By stripping away anything but the isolated sounds, it’s bringing awareness to our sense of hearing, which is often overshadowed by the visual world. It basically opens up your ears, and the end result is you hear music in a richer, more enjoyable way, which is pretty awesome if you think about it.