'I have sound/vision synesthesia; certain sounds, particularly when I’m concentrating solely on them (i.e, like listening to music in a quiet room), can trigger an autonomic visual reaction were by I can ’see’ the beat of the drum, or a guitar riff there, in front of me as colour'
Once again, I’ve been caught out trying to think of what to say first, with regards to music.
I suppose I should mention that I’m a synesthete, not the more commonly known grapheme (someone who sees letters and numbers as different individual colours, each with their own personalities - which must be insanely beautiful to look at) but sound/vision synesthesia. It’s quite simple really, certain sounds, particularly when I’m concentrating solely on them (i.e, like listening to music in a quiet room), can trigger an autonomic visual reaction were by I can ’see’ the beat of the drum, or a guitar riff there, in front of me as colour.
I’ve never been great at describing to people exactly how it all really looks, because mixed in amongst all that I’m a visual/spacial thinker by nature - I think almost entirely in visuals (I think of a ball, for example, as a three dimensional shape with colour, texture, and even weight rather than just the words ‘a ball’).
It’s mad, I know - calm yourself. The above relates to the following, I swear.
So, considering that - I want to try and describe to you the masterpiece that is TheseRIOTSareJUSTtheBEGINNING by instrumental group And So I Watch You From Afar (which is included - praise must be given - on their upcoming album release in March 2009).
From its quiet opening, each chord clearly defines a darker, almost sinister layer; a foreboding black background penetrated by points of the purest light. It tells a story to me through its pace, showing me a character in amongst the sounds; one straining against some unknown aggressor, a crushing force uniform in nature and mind.
As the pace builds towards the shattering initial blast of chaos, you can’t help but be drawn in; the pause giving you ample time to realise the horror of the situation - that a downpour of malicious intent is heading your way, and make no mistake this force is after you.
If there is a character there, seeking help in this song’s light, that pause defines a moment of hesitancy. A realisation that whilst the terror he/she (it feels like a she - don’t ask why) is coming from is horrifying (a loss of individuality to a uniform evil), what the song is offering against it in opposition is equally without remorse. It feels like the bland black and white world she lives in is being ripped apart by a colourful shock-wave, slamming into her and the conformity behind. It’s overwhelming…the rush of hearing those screaming guitars, each drumbeat hammering down like some insane footnote reminding you constantly that ‘this is it’ - that you’ve summoned up the devil and now you realise your error, and want to cast him back, but can’t.
…and then it happens, the chaos stops; only to be replaced by a singular message, a white blast of light pulsing from one of the guitars that simply annihilates all that opposes it. You want to scream, to leave, but you can’t. You’re standing in the maelstrom and it is flowing against you, and if you move it will take you too.
At this point I should mention that hearing this song live, the feeling is much more personal, as it should be. On stage this song careens at you, numbing your sense of environment. It’s you and the music, nothing else. It strips away other stimuli, and it’s the same for the character within it. She’s standing there, in the wake of uniformity’s destruction via music.
Then, just over two minutes in, there’s a fight on. The monochromatic blanket festering in the background, unwilling to give up its prey, decides to throw everything at this intense, vivid new enemy. ’Riots‘ sounds like war. Like guitar is meeting face and guitar is winning. A ballet of streaming colour fighting against a continuous flow of uniformed troops, of one mind and one purpose.
The drums choreograph the action, a beautiful symphony of attack, each blow that connects sending out another splash of red, yellow and green amongst the black. It’s unforgiving, until eventually, an earth shattering riff tears the ground apart - a point where you can truly say this is not a band to fuck with - before building back into a final assault, one which against, there is no defense.
How can I give you a better mental picture? One you might have seen before…
Jonny Adger from ASIWYFA at Rage Against The Joyriders
That does scant justice to the true depth the music has - picture a mixture of something like The Matrix (1999), 300 (2006) and video to "The Pretender" by the Foo Fighters.
Foo Fighters - "The Pretender"
The rain, textures, the force of the visuals. The colour rich in detail against a singularly toned opponent, and even the ideas behind those three examples. I don’t find it surprising that I’ve referenced three visual pieces which are battles for ideas, battles against a definite evil. That’s what "Riots" is to me, a battle, and listening to it puts me on the battlefield. Every time I finish listening, I can’t help but feel I’ve just taken part in a massive demonstration of individuality. That behind ASIWYFA is a solid will to break the mould. It’s a rush, and one I would suggest trying for yourself with an open mind.
…and if you understand, or can see a little of what I see in ‘Riots‘ - share it.
- Matthew Patton, Pavelware