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#3 -The one that listens to itself

I’ll Kiss its feet. Fetichism is not my forte, it’s just a way to talk about obedience. Especially when it hasnt got any feet. It hasn’t got anything, we cant touch it, smell it or see it. It awakens only one of our senses. We can only hear it doing its thing, anywhere, anyhow. In an ordinary restaurant, lift or nightclub in the countryside. You hear it while waiting on hold, at a bus lay-by, in the family car. It entertains, it explores, through television, brings life to programs. It serves as a therapy, it soothes and fills the Zen institue. It cares for our moods, adapting when needed, changes and transforms according to our desires. It is malleable, we do with it what we want. Inevitably, I idolize it. By comparison, as so aptly the Italian Carla whispered in her song, “You are the Laurel of my Hardy / You are the pleasures of my breath. “.

Coming from a country where the little record store is no longer enough, London is my treasure trove. Phonica, Sister Ray, Rough Trade, Fopp. Thousands of sound displays, thousands of subgenres. Streets so rich that frankly, it is hard for an indecisive person to make a choice. I often go in blind. I love watching the pit from afar, it is full of treasures. But when I started looking, I struggled and was out of breath. It’s almost pathological. Even when coming across those happy and bawling in the pub at lunch, I struggled to find my way. The 27 letters of the alphabet, as different as they may be, are mixed before the window displays. They play leap frog, F after G, N before M. My possible dyslexia takes the hit. Everyone does their own thing, a class by first name, the other by last name and some by genre. Instead of being biased and spelling each registered key, the only option is physical attraction. A beautiful cover with beautiful colours, a boxset, a box, a cardboard insert. I think about the relationship between quality and aesthetics. I do not want to stain my CD collection with ugliness everywhere. When I love something, and  towilling pay without listening to it before, I want it to be beautiful. When it’s beautiful, it’s often good. The confidence is there, it is also blind. Really, I do everything blindfolded. I’m not a sadomasochist. I just kissed the feet of London record shops, I want to make love to them.

Behind all these purchases that have put a hole in my account and damaged the lens of my reader, the concerts were harmless. The accreditations that gave me these labels led me to luxuriant original locations. Conformism was denied entry. So I never knew if that was a joke or reality. A church, a disused factory, a chapel, a cellar, a library, a pub or on a roof. Amazement didn’t stop turning my tidy French habits into its own habits, like a huge dome of 3,000 seats or where people crush and trample eachother to reach the barrier in the front. Nicely tidied, the appointments were regulated by a manic watchmaker. No delays, no head starts. When we overflow, we catch up – and can even delete the first part. People remain civilized, moaning under their breath, but very anxious that the spirits meet together, merge in an amalgamation of sounds and lights. A funny observation… they came to enjoy the music. The artist himself was transparent of physical status and of his beautiful dark face. Even if they were not the most popular on Earth, the artists that I saw and loved endlessly sweated like pigs to get out of the race. It was their passion that came out, certainly amplified by the spotlight. A passionate scent. A smell so strong that I sometimes cried. In the audience, the faithful were made of marble, standing like statues on their foundations. There were never any tears or cat fights, no cries of “I love you” or knickers launched. I don’t think that I ever even saw anyone dance.

But strangely, in the other music side, others were not asked of anything. Meditation evenings quickly joined the outpouring of sense and manners, which infused elsewhere in the city. A fright and mild incomprehensible discomfort for a guy who grew up at the foot of a mountain. A memory gnaws at me. It was late and the alcohol began to evaporate from my stomach. Dalston, at around 1am, date unknown. My legs flogged on the pavement. My glazy eyes reflected the crazy signs found in front of the bars, restaurants and grocery stores. A blonde girl was walking beside me, shoulder to shoulder. We were following a brunette girl determined to finish the night in one of those musical holes. A party hosted by a friend of a friend.

I saw myself as one of these ultra-trend types that tries several things at once. Out of the blue, in a hoarse witch cry, the brunette stopped us with her hand guiding us to a door – in a belief that Lewis Caroll haunted the streets. After passing over the threshold, with my chin to the sky, I saw a horrible staircase appear before me, as wide as the door. With an exaggerated elevation, made with a first glance by a subcultured craftsman. My self-confidence that was taken a few hours ago, took a blow to the stomach. I descended with grace and rested on the wall with my hands spread like stars. I looked like a fierce woman smelling of opium. Two or three steps behind, the brunette and the blonde burst out laughing with their mouths open letting their dodgy breath join mine. Two minutes later, we are at the bottom of the hole. 10 or 15 people, a DJ on a platform of plywood, a bar and some toilets. Drowned in a brothel blue colour, the cellar was littered with drunken heads, ghostly rocking in a lethargic mood. While the brunette was affectionate with hugs to some that were lost in the evening, the blonde was watching around her making faces of amazement. Short for words, shocked, she became distorted by the slightest strangeness – and it goes without saying that there was some. After two beers, the Alpine stairs were waiting for me.

At the end of the burrow, at a street corner which the morning light shone upon, we ate fried chicken at a happy Pakistani place. His food was good and plentiful, as were his words. Half an hour later, the oil had replaced the alcohol and the whole street seemed soft. Back in New Cross, at the brunettes house, in a rather suspicious negotiated taxi, the two girls were sleeping at opposite colors while the driver was talking to himself. With my forehead on the glass, I forced myself to answer “Yes” or “No” whilst counting the antennas on the red roofs, beating at high speed on the gold sky.


© Julien Catala

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Valentin Porcher

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