Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Epochal Moments in My Life # 43

Mental Cube - Q

It’s late 1990. A recent acquaintance invites me and my friends to join a group of his friends in a disused building, tucked away in a corner of his parent’s remote farm in west Dorset. He’s got decks, a small sound system and a single strobe light. The evening starts out as nothing special. The strobe flickers at pace and people dance, drink, chat, share joints - there’s talk of acid going around. I hang out with my mate G and we have a few awkward conversations with people we don’t know, shouted over the noise of the music. Nobody makes much sense, every sentence has to be repeated and the whole night feels disjointed. No one is making a connection.

Then the moment – there’s a pause in the relentless thump; a split second of silence before a burst of frequency pierces the air, echoing off the concrete walls. Handclaps, then a series of bleeps. Emotive synths, then more bleeps, hoots and trills; a boomerang bass pings in and the bass drum kicks. The strobe is slowed right down, offering occasional glimpses of faces in the magnesium flare. G, eyes shut, a blissful smile smeared all over his face, is over by the speakers. The same people I wasn’t relating to earlier surround me, but now we are together, like we’ve always been this way. It’s grins all round and knowing looks. Everyone is moving like the pages of a flick book. It’s all about the bleeps - a stunning sequence of poignant sounds that means as much as any heartfelt chorus from a ‘proper’ song with words. Neck hair rises, a shiver trickles down my spine like a drop of molten iron. It’s over too soon and the whole crowd pleads, “Again, again!” like a bunch of overgrown Teletubbies, and Tom drops the needle once more and we do it all over.

The following morning, as the sun comes up, me and G walk across the fields to hitch a lift home. It’s quiet apart from a few birds tweeting and the distant hum of a tractor. We both have the song playing repeatedly in our heads. G tries singing it and ends up sounding like R2D2, causing us to piss ourselves laughing. We reach the main road between Bridport and Dorchester and it’s not long before a sweet, doddery old couple pick us up. “So, what have you boys been up to?”, is the question from the front. We glance at each other. Where to begin? How can you possibly start to explain how one song has changed everything and that because of it, things won’t ever be the same again?

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