Dysfunction over Fashion


Turn the lights off. That’s important. If you can, make the room pitch black, but you probably can’t. Still, close the curtains.

Now choose some music. An album: a whole album. The choice is yours, but be judicious. A new album by a favourite band is good, or an old friend you’ve neglected, or a dusty corner of your Music folder which a scratch in your mind tells you you’ve underrated.

Do not choose anything irrelevant.

Don’t turn it on yet. You need somewhere to lie: in the centre of your room. A bed is best. Stretch out. Naked is best. Seriously. Be immobile. Find your spot.

Now stand up, and press play.

If your music is on a computer, turn the monitor off. It needs to be dark. Find your spot again, settle. Under the sheets if you like. Back down, eyes turned blindly to the ceiling. If you have made the room pitch black, let your retinas swim. Otherwise, shut them lightly. See nothing. Listen.

Do not raise your knees to tent the sheets. Do not tap your fingers to the beat. Do not fidget, or play with yourself, or explore your teeth with your tongue. Rest your hands on your chest or by your sides. Close your lips so that they grow tacky and seal together, and will have to be split again with an effort. Do not split them: do not sing along, even if you have to. If you have to, make it a distant rumble at the back of the throat.


Listen as though you’ve hearing the music for the first time: listen as though you’re hearing music for the first time.

If there are guitars, don’t think about guitars. Listen to how guitars sound: listen to the blinding onrush of a train pulsing towards you in a tunnel. Listen to yourself dive out of the way as the barbed wire lashes past. Listen to the gleaming stub of the singer’s last cigarette. If the song is a desert, allow the sandstorm. Listen to the aching space between the drums; if it calls a sere and alien planet, then let the drums call. Plaintive irresponsible.

Listen like the words were written just now, sung just for you. Just in this weeping moment hewn, and they are. Listen to the stories, create interpretations. Or just imagine the arguments, the last day in the studio when the whole band was tired and wanted it done, and the last verse was being laid, and someone had to say maybe this line would be better like this if it just. Listen for the cracks in the mortar.

Listen to the entire album. Even three songs in, if you’ve had enough to recharge you forever and you need to clamber straight for the real world to show it, don’t. Even if you have to. If you have to, wait at least one more song: let the reverb in the next intro soak your juices in another sour marinade. Exult, without exalting. Exult!

Let the end of the last song come to rest. Open your eyes, surprised by how much you can see. Turn a light on and blink.

Stand up in a stumble, and throw yourself upright. Hurl your arms triumphantly back, cracking your back like a whip. Grin like a jackal.

Press stop.


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