Jun 2006

The food of love

Ah music. Music music music.

About fifteen or sixteen years ago I was in my first band. We were good. No, really, we were. We weren’t “commercial” in any way but the sound we produced had the ability to transport some of our tiny audience to that sacred place where time stands still. It was in the days before CDRs and mp3s… the days of cassette. And it’s years since the last of those demo tapes disintegrated. Now there’s no record at all of the music we made.

I don’t see that as a great tragedy though. We were never that serious about “recording” and those tapes that did exist failed to capture our sound; our philosophy was about connecting directly with small groups of people, about removing as much of the mediation as possible between the act of playing and the act of listening.

Each performace would begin with Pete – the bassist – creating a deep throbbing drone… the bass was routed through numerous filters and distortion devices until it became an unearthly low growl. Then I’d begin to talk… barely audible over the sound of the bass… I’d describe a vision I had one evening after I spectacularly misjudged the amount of Psilocybe Semilanceata that it’s sensible to consume in one sitting. Or indeed, in 8 or 10 sittings.

After three minutes, the rest of the band would kick in… drums, guitar and keyboard… all improvising around the rhythms of my voice and the bass. Sometime before the 10 minute mark, what we called “the click” would occur. Everything came together. By this point my speech had become a kind of chant; each time different; I’d hit upon a series of short phrases in my little mushroom riff and work them into the music. By the end of 22 minutes the room would be too small for the music it contained… as though the hypnotic throbbing sound had expanded the very space around us. Then, at 23 minutes, Alison (our groupie) would unplug all the plug boards. Amps, instruments, microphones, all would suddenly get shut off and the 20 or 30 strong audience would freak out.

We’d take a five minute break for “refreshment” of various kinds, then play a couple of cover versions, a couple of fairly straight songs of our own, and then repeat the 23 minute jam. All in all we’d play for a little over an hour.

Last night I dreamt I was back there. Every detail, every burst of feedback, everything was exactly as it had been. Except our guitarist was Prince.

Fuck it was good.

Posted in: Opinion