“Chasing Love” - Review
By R. Tyler Mack
New York-based radio producer Miguel Macias devoted three years of his life to making “Chasing Love,” and it shows. His epic aural masterpiece covers all aspects of love – philosophical, historical, emotional, cultural, psychological, social, economic and personal – and does so in a manner both beautiful and provocative.
Ten minutes into his hour-long masterwork, invisible Macias evokes a playful question from one of his many anonymous interviewees: “How far do you think people really get sitting down over coffee and trying to explain to the other person what their idea of love is?" Macias neither personally nor directly attempts to answer the question, but instead responds with a heartfelt and introspective radio piece that is gorgeous in its style and wondrously creative.
This fascinating and objective approach to modern and historical love is mind-blowing and unorthodox in its structure – rhythmic, voice acted prose recitations weave seamlessly with heartfelt firsthand true love stories. Macias’ amorphous, cadenced editing style reflects the nature of his subject – albeit pretty, it can be disorienting and awkward at first, but eventually settles into a rhythm and becomes easier to manage. Uncompressed voices and lush, well-choosen original music bring us closer to the orators; we may not see them or know them, but their words seem to be coming straight from inside the head. What results is an emotional and introspective blend of three-dimensional sound brilliance.
Macias attempts to break conventional journalism/documentary schemas in his long-format radio piece. “Chasing Love” is certainly not what one would usually expect to hear on the local public radio station – but why not? “I resist the idea that only things that fit into the structures that are widely accepted are what can only be called radio,” Macias told Clamor. “We could call Chasing Love a piece of sound art, or music or a strange thingy that plays out of CD. But I decide to call it radio because it could (and fortunately it has) play on the radio.”
In “Chasing Love” all of Macias’ interviewees are stripped of name and credential. He intermixes "expert" and non-expert dissertations and declarations in his exploration of the endless facets of mankind’s deepest emotion. Scholarly voices articulate theoretical love’s implications, historical aspects, philosophy, and effects on the modern world. They are removed from the topic by their perceived objectivity, but nonetheless provide many thought-provoking ideas. Lay voices contrast with harsh reality; they don’t pontificate, but enthusiastically drop first hand knowledge. Their frankness and heartfelt or heartbreaking stories of love and lack of it bring a separate integrity to the piece only found in true-life sincerity.
By not directly distinguishing these different groups, Macias forces us to accept or reject what we hear without discretion or bias, making conscious the personal nature of our views on his topic. After all, who is to determine the validity of one’s views over another’s regarding such an intimate subject? Through all of this, Macias remains absent, working as silent maestro over a grand opera.
“Chasing Love” does not dwell only on endearing stories or fascinating discourse. It is unafraid to venture into darker aspects of the uncertainty and fallibility of love, as well. By the end of the thought-provoking piece, several far-reaching and relevant questions have been addressed in “Chasing Love”: Is love real? How has love changed throughout history? What are the cultural influences of love? Are feelings of love eternal? This deeply comprehensive, not unsentimental, sometimes caustic, and entirely cerebral radio piece forces listeners to take a step back and consider all of these.
"Producing something that I love is a huge reward," says Macias. "Seeing someone else cry, smile, or think while listening or watching something I produced… that is a reward as big as the first one."
You can cry, smile, and think to Miguel Macias' "Chasing Love" online at Transom.org.