Imagine a world devoid of music. An acoustic desert, reverberating only to the ceaseless chatter of a mass of mindless humanity, going about their petty lives unpunctuated by a note, or a tune, or a song. The rattle of mass transit networks shuttling endlessly back and forth is relieved not even by a jingle at the start of a Tannoy announcement; instead a klaxon blares to alert passengers to remain vigilant against terrorists and that their service, we regret to announce, has been delayed.
At the end of the week, the people as one head out to the bars, clubs, pubs and watering holes to slake their thirst and satisfy their appetites. In the bars they listen to white noise, played ear-meltingly loud – washing their brains clean of the thoughts and bothers of the day and drowning out the tedium of the conversations going on around them. If you lean close enough you can hear what a friend – or potential mate – has to say, but with the white noise blocking out any conversation that you don’t actively choose to engage in, you are free to drift into a solitary drunken stupor, carried off on waves of rushing silent noise to the distant shore of your inescapable mortality.
Now imagine, into this hollow, creaking, clattering world, a cloud appears in an otherwise flat, unblemished sky. It seems to pulsate, as though struggling to contain the force of its storm, as it drifts across the firmament. The sky – particulate in the ionosphere reflecting the angry glow of the fires and lights of the city – appears orange. The cloud, lower in the sky, catches the last glancing rays of the setting sun and shines brilliant white.
The storm breaks. A single raindrop falls glinting toward the earth. A perfect crystal sphere formed by chance from the chaos of vapour above, existing only for a handful of precious seconds before shattering on the pavement below, never to be seen again. Did it ever even exist? Who could attest, with absolute certainty, to have witnessed that raindrop’s momentary perfection? But this raindrop leaves more than a dark ring of concrete to commemorate its passing, for it strikes the earth with the tone of crystal bell (top C, concert pitch). Softly, delicately, surgically piercing the white, grey and brown noise around, its ringing hangs in the air and echoes in the ears for seconds after the tone itself has faded to nothing and you wonder whether you ever heard it at all or perhaps you need to talk to Dr. Flensburg about your tinnitus again.
But then a second ringing drop falls, and another, and you hear harmony for the first time in your life and your heart bursts with overwhelming joy. The drops become a rain and then a downpour, until all the music of world of the world is crashing around you in an orgiastic cacophony of Bach, Debussy, Duke Ellington, Joy Division and every other song or tune ever played, hummed, or imagined. You lie on the ground, paralytic in musical ecstasy, soaked to the skin in the cold night air but aware only that the world has changed forever.
Thousands die. Their hearts simply breaking under the weight of all the pent up emotion released in the storm. The elderly and infirm prove to be particularly vulnerable but their loved ones are reassured at least that they died in a moment of blazing blissful passion.
Thousands more take their own lives in the following weeks and months as they struggle to come to terms with the fundamental shift that has moved the world around them – unable to express the new, heady, overpowering feelings awakened in them, they retreat into dark solitude and slowly lose their minds, or they simply throw themselves from buildings to bring an end to their turmoil.
But for the survivors – what a reward! A world washed clean and reborn, reinvigorated with music and life and love. Before long you can hardly remember the before time, but no one will ever forget that day. That storm. That cloud.
Well, that is more-or-less what just happened when we updated our SoundCloud