A Cross Platform Anti Story in Three Movements
Part One: The Story From a Book Just Forgotten
I used to read a lot of Jeff Noon. Used to because he’s stopped writing so much. Which, you know, is a shame because he’s an amazing writer.
Like, there’s this scene in “Needle in the Groove,” that describes a record changing in a nightclub. Noon describes how the beat of the new track eats the beat of the old. That alone would have been enough – but then he nails how the dancers move during the transition, uncertain, awkward, until the new beat is picked up and everything continues.
I was on the London Underground, on my way to meet some mates, when I read that scene.
I had to get off, right away – get off the train and get above ground to call people I knew just so I could read it to them, I was that excited. It was perfect.
Thinking about it, it might be fair to say that “Between the Beaten Tracks” was inspired by that scene. In some way, at least.
So he also wrote this story – “Dubchester Kissing Machine.” It was about a girl who disappears. She was in a nightclub – and then went. There was a picture of her between strobes, staring into the camera.
I thought it was in the widely available “Pixel Juice.” So, I pulled that off my shelf, read it from cover to cover.
It wasn’t in there.
Still, through the Power of Google I found it. Well, the name and a precis.
It was in Cobralingus, the book that brought me back into the Noon fold, and one that is much harder to get. “The Harvest” (wait – let me link that) was written using methods of dub remixing text that were laid out in that book.
That’s what it was about – remixing text the same way you’d remix records.
I have bought 4 copies of Cobralingus in my time. Two for me, two for others. None of them were in my possession. So I have to rely on the web for my information on this one.
It tells me that each subsequent mix of “Dubchester Kissing Machine” took the girl further out of the narrative – out of her life.
But I always remember that image of the girl looking straight into camera before disappearing.
Why did she go? How easy is it to slip through?
Part 2: The Aural Muse. Gateway of the Song
I heard about “In Rainbows” a couple of weeks before it was released. The power of Digg.
So, I clicked links, did the whole “A new album? There’s a new album?” experimental, free association dance-of-excitement thing.
I bought it, of course. I’m a good Netizen. I even went on to buy the Niggy Tardust thing from the Nine Inch Nails site. Back to Radiohead. I got a boxed set – two CDs, vinyl, gift box, photos…
You know, stuff.
And what an album.
Achingly beautiful songs that hide a sniper’s bullet full of pain and misery. Come to think of it, there’s also a lot of wistful romanticism. It’s not all sadness. Just…lots. Anyway, I’ve pretty much been listening to it non-stop since I got it.
With the occasional drop into “Eraser.”
God, I tell you – if I got paid by the diversion, I wouldn’t be selling T-shirts.
So, there’s this song – “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” – a dancey, bouncy kind of track. It has the following lines:
“Before you run away from me
Before you’re lost between the notes.”
And that line – Before you’re lost between the notes – gets sung over, in different places. Along with the lines that make the 15 year old in me smile. “She looks back. You look back. Not just once. Not just twice.”
See – wistful romanticism.
Lost between the notes. What does that mean? How does it happen?
How do you do that? How?
What’s the process, the mantra, the sutra?
Part 3: The Story That Never Was
I’ve written a few music inspired songs – Heroes, obviously, Cactus – which I heard as a Bowie cover of the Pixie’s track. Which I wrote ages ago and was sure was already up here.
There’s a bunch of Radiohead tracks in the archives, and a couple of Thom Yorke’s. I’ve got more planned – a couple of great Kaiser Chiefs and an Interpol one that’s been kicking about for ages.
But you can imagine how “Lost between the notes” rang around my head?
What a story could be built around that! The choices are endless – A painful loss of love; a mystic shift of dimension, teleportation through sound.
And who tells it? An omnipotent observer, the loser, the lost? Do they slip at their own choice or is it forced upon them? Mystery Boxes everywhere!
Many openings were plotted – some describing him, then her, the location, the stereo that’s providing the beats, the nightclub, the dry runs within salt circles and MP3 players.
None of them really worked, though. It was as if the page had a Cheshire Cat grin, mocking my every attempt.
And then, in the shower one morning, I thought of this great story about a girl in a night club disappearing as the beats change, between a strobe flash.
It was perfect!
Here she was, lost between the notes, illuminated in the staccato jag of a light. Her reflection in sharp, flash-frozen relief, on the mirrors hidden in the shadows of the club, giving the illusion of it being bigger than it actually is – observer, loser and lost all in one neat package.
I thought about the structure. If I could keep it around 1000 words, it’d be like a single. A twelve inch, maybe, about 5 minutes in length – and because of my creative commons license people could remix it too!
I set to work. Procrastinated by flicking through the net, read “Metaphorazine” and the rest is history.
Or, more to the point, his story.
I tell you it was the best story I never wrote.
But it, too, slipped between the notes.
All that is left of it is the closure of the Story, Music, Anti-Story triptych. This last movement being made entirely from shadows that bring the subject into relief.
Negative Space immortalized with a “Save As.”