The story begins as all do: with a setting and a group of individuals, a band of brothers; groups of individuals, bands of brothers.
A whisper of Sinners and Saints floated on the breeze and settled gently among cherry blossoms. A two and a half sitting wisps of humanity played privately to a modest collection of people, most of them waiting patiently to do the same. A soft overhead light layers the two and a half in a soft, yellow glow. The singer understands his own vocal range and accommodates by not raising pitch but volume. He is seasoned and knows the limitations of his corporeal form. The half a man has no autonomy. He watches the two full humans intently following their every move. As they switch, he follows.
A song that is immediately familiar from the radio, popularized by another such group is evoked by this humble setting. The primary instrumentalist is acutely aware of the other one and a half people playing with him while the singer becomes lost in himself. The world dissolves away and he is singing to the crowd in his mind. Stains of color drip like water in his imagination. The unreal is more real than the reality in front of him; or, at least, more exciting. This ghostly crowd is here for him.
The singer’s desire is manifested into reality as the other one and a half people fade into the non-existent crowd. Now the singer is alone with his thoughts and a poor spot light. He is free from the constraints of reality and is back home, practicing in his room, playing to the throng upstairs. The melody blends southern folk and modern pop punk, a unique and effective mix. But the singer is naturally a singer, though an accomplished guitarist. He is not, however, both simultaneously. He jumps between the two hats, occasionally stumbling with the leap.
The other man and a half returns and another rendition from the radio is heard. It is attempted as true to form as they can produce, then they disperse.
Waiting for The News of the next group, but I Can Wait. There are four complete men this time, though one is still syncing with the others. The primitive, he who beats with sticks on stone is standing in for another. The bassist plays fat and heavy. He sits on the beat and takes a huge shit; it is glorious. A murder of crows rises and falls, flying overhead, screaming and calling as the guitars. The human voice is played in stereo, each with its own task, its own purpose.
As I go “Beyond the Void” the world settles into a smooth, slow paced stroll permeated by occasional dips into the heavy toll of the dark tea time of the soul; those moments when you have a staring contest with the abyss. Futile, always, but inescapable as well. And yet, in spite of the persistence of nothingness, as though in line with Camus, we struggle against the unceasing rushing of the coming night. Meaning is made, and this is a great excursion into its construction. The world is more in sync now, but there is another kind of spectral disruption. The heavy overtones pluck and spit their weight, perhaps disjointed from the greater cohesiveness. A quiet dynamo charges and coils with power underneath layers of introspective metal armor. And the atmosphere disappears while we hold our breath.
The generator flies off its bolts and lifts the world up by its heels. The shift is so seamless that I must have been levitating the whole time. There never was a moment when gravity restricted my directional movement. Even the bolts of electricity rise and fall effortlessly. They layer and cascade themselves in shelves of waterfalls permeated with a sweet scream. But a density descends and keeps me from flying off the earth. It’s a relaxed ballast that counteracts the soaring whinny of horseflies. A human edge from the background fades into the forefront.
The fade shifts to a softness that is gentle and caresses the soul. The circular rings dancing around the set spins out like psychedelic colors, fluctuating in mood and melody. The pop of down and silence when up returns, now expressed through the primitive, who engages comfortable but trips over his own jazz. The transitions of pace and tempo strain against the fabric and fray the seams slightly. The human element is in full force now. He seeks to identify with the world of spectators and eyes, minds thinking their own thoughts. Those minds, those eyes are his tools, and those ears as well. The psychedelia loses all hue and substance and floats like a ghostly fog, invisible and impermeable.
The ride is almost over I’m assured. Like all good rides, I’m disappointed but wiped from emotional engagement. Again, like all good rides, the best is saved for last. Humanity no longer expresses itself. Moreover, it now tells you what it thinks. It requires no accommodation, though it’s appreciated, and will shout into the darkness if need be. Memories of the 1990’s drift to me; I am unsure of the intentionality. Nothing is new under the sun, but everything is new to the young, after all. The empathetic plane tilts and, on a slanted edge, my conceptions slide to the edge. Hanging on, unable to understand, a counter balance levels all things and layers a thick viscous molasses over everything. I can’t move. I want to swim to avoid drowning, but I must remit myself to the sluggish currents that threaten to pull me under; and it freezes in time, slowly dissipates like a mist in the sun.
Motion is still impossible. We are told to wait, to reflect, to extol enjoyment. Then I am thrown back into high school. A razor sharp blade swings. Damocles never had it so good. The portrait is done with lifelike realism. Not identical, but, then again, nothing ever is if you look close enough. The sliver slicing through the mind is punctuated and punctured by sharp raps that disengage from the river of nostalgia, but I can’t complain. It’s the best I’ve heard since the first time. Like woken from a dream of history and memory that applies singularly, privately. And the artists sign their work with a flourish and the world dissipates for a second time.
The end is nigh. I’m waiting for the Knockout punch from some Kids. And a punch I get. This isn’t like the heaviness from before. This is a controlled demolition, an explosion of motion and sound. The sound is an actor and we are the stage. The primitive element gallops as a horse, a wild mustang, supercharged and racing. Everything is bigger, more extravagant, but it pops as well as punches. A one-two combination meant to rattle restless senses awake from weary domestication. The finish is abrupt,
So is the beginning. The environment swirls in vertical fury. A tornado of flesh twists and writhes sporadically. The whisper returns, now part of the scene not the set, churning the flow and stomping out the ego. Drastic shifts of pace overtake the energetic storm until the bottom falls out and metal grinds against gears. The world and the world’s world are intertwined. One needs the other, they can’t separate. The symbiosis is too woven to be extricated. And world knows I’m there. It knows why I’m there and responds to that presence, subtly.
Back to the world mirroring itself; a fun, jaunting gallop races to erase that moment of self-reflective lucidity. The sweeping changes in tempo are erratic and dance like hail on a sheet metal roof. The screaming melody feeds back into itself in oroboural fashion and becomes something else altogether. The metal pronounces itself strongly and is obviously well learned and three decades old. It has rings and aged in a cask. There are no seams. It is a single piece punctuated more acutely by the sudden swings to something completely different.
A dense bubble of pop fills with hot air. It expands and expands but ultimately, like all bubbles, erupts. From the falling debris sludging down the mountainside, the stallion returns riding the bubble, winded but charging. Presque Vu of sound but it’s not. It’s original. The moment fits like a glove, a piece of some unseen puzzle. Then the whole construction collapses thrashing and grinding, leaving the observers unable to keep up with their observation.
The finale is announced, which feels out of place. Everything about the presentation was mercurial with sharp departures and 90 degree forks that rocked the mind, challenging you to keep up. The bubble of pop returns but it is lighter, though still unable to float due to a heavy weight. From within the ever expanding bubble, a machine gun of concussion pulsates in waves of concentric inflation. A second layer of cover fire pounded from the primitive layers the bubble in rippling oscillation that blurs the vision and rattles the mind. The world explodes again, energy loosed in all directions without direction, but the theme of something different, something new slows it to a discordant grind. The discord settles on its edge, each component of the world charging the next and then a seamless transition into a “Jumper” on speed. This take is a great stamp, molding the older world into a new amalgamation.
Then everything ends. It’s over. Go home (or go party).