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Low Culture

Low Culture Podcast Eight: Max Porter On Hamlet Gonashvili
Luke Turner , April 1st, 2021 13:00

Spirituality, masculinity, death rituals, music and the power of language – we go deep with Max Porter and his love of Georgian singer Hamlet Gonashvili in the latest edition of the Quietus Low Culture podcast.

“Music is god to me,” Max Porter tells us in this, the latest episode of the Low Culture podcast. We almost lost Max when he turned around to show us the innermost details of the dolls' house in the room behind him and nearly vanished into the Zoom ether. Thankfully, the acclaimed author of Grief Is The Thing With Feathers, Lanny, and The Death Of Francis Bacon returned from miniaturisation to speak to us about his love of Georgian singer Hamlet Gonashvili (but not before a briefing on his extensive collection of Pez sweet dispensing machines).

One of the joys of our job here at tQ is when something like the wonderful music of Hamlet Gonasvili, that we’ve never consciously listened to before, turns up out of the blue via a recommendation, and blows our minds. Max Porter originally picked an incredible list of records he'd be happy to discuss, but this was the one we had to go for – repeated listens have done wonders for soothing the difficulties of recent weeks. As Max himself says in the podcast, “I like that the fundamental thing there is to talk about is just how beautiful it is, and I thought that might be a nice thing in these times.”

In the podcast, we talk with Max about what music means in his life, how it connects to his writing, and the joy of appreciating it with none of the context that comes with his life in books. He speaks about how he discovered Hamlet Gonasvili via “a spiritual quest, looking for music to be moved by”, and seeking the metaphysical in music that even the non-religious can connect to. There’s also discussion on Georgian drinking songs, positive masculinity in music, and how Hamlet Gonashvili will help soothe your “bamboozlement” at the terrible state of right now. Max even gives us a preview of his own funeral as we discuss Britain’s tawdry attitude towards death – "Plant me some trees and put on Hamlet at full blast when I go, and let everyone wail and bang drums”, he says – there’ll be no cheap white wine and bad sandwiches at his send-off.

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