The Jack Walk

I find real catharsis in taking dogs on walks. This is because dogs effectively live to be walked. It’s all they ever want to do. From the moment you take a dog out of the house, it seems to explode with happiness, wagging its tongue, panting uncontrollably and immersing itself in every aspect of the journey.  For this reason the dog walker feels like she is doing a good deed, and can see the results plainly in front of her in the form of an utterly contented beast. It isn’t like walking a human, where you have to maintain some kind of conversation, in fact, you’re perfectly free to stick your music in and forget they’re even there if you would like. Furthermore it provides an excuse to switch off the television, put the laptop away, get out of that door, get in and amongst the fields and the trees and experience Barrow Upon Soar’s rich tapestry of nature.

I got an opportunity to take my mother’s friend’s Jack Russells out yesterday and it turned out to be anything but cathartic. They weren’t her Jacks, they were her friend’s, who was out gallivanting on holiday in some sultry corner of the globe, presumably indulging freely in a bacchanalia of drugs, alcohol and sex. There were two dogs, one of them vivacious and young, the other one slow and whacked out like a family teddy bear out of the attic. I grabbed my stylish digital-camo sunnies, stuck the dogs on the lead and took them over to Millennium Park- a very pleasant recreational area near where I live, complete with a giant sun-dial to make telling time that little bit more convenient.

The walk was going perfectly well and to my satisfaction there were no rival dog walkers around to cause me any trouble. I was told by the owner that I could take the leads off the slow and whacked out Jack if I so wished- there would be no hazards there. I flirted with the idea for a while, at first thinking it too outrageous to go through with, but the dogs were so timid and well behaved and the concept of a lead is so authoritarian to me that I soon succumbed, and released both dogs from their tyrannical leashes.

At first the younger Jack scouted ahead, just within my range of vision. The older creature hung way back, moving at a slow pace. All of a sudden I had to turn my attention towards multiple directions at once as the dogs scattered all over the place. I was doing okay however, I could call the dog at the front and it would turn back and slow up for a few moments. The back dog was of course, no threat whatsoever and would be more likely to collapse at any given moment than cause me any grief.

Or so I thought. In a few moments the elderly Jack overtook me and began to chase its younger more athletic companion. I took a moment to laugh at the way in which it moved, its back legs moving at once, in a hopping motion, its front legs pedalling like a Loony Tunes character fleeing from the baddie. As we–the unseemly and incompetent convoy–kept moving through the field, I noticed a bench to my left and thought, ‘all right, let’s take a breather, maybe the dogs will run about a bit and play. Get it out of their system- so to speak’. The kid Jack wasn’t having it however and was motivated only by distance. The geriatric was still slowly making ground in second place. With a sigh I rose from my seat and began my pursuit.

Then in the blink of an eye I saw something I could scarcely have imagined previously. The decrepit beast burst into a pace akin to light speed and in a flash was out in front. I thought ‘well that’s very impressive Old Jack, but you won’t last long at that rate. Schoolboy error.’ But there was no looking back. He was out of here. Showing no signs of deceleration. Into hyper space.

The bat shit crazy incontinent old fiend soon overtook the kid dog, whom it was also fair to say was well and truly going places himself and in a matter of seconds, they were out of Millennium Park gates. In one moment it hit me that the walk had taken on a wholly different dynamic whereby I was not the walker but the walked.

I felt like a bad supply teacher. Moreover, Old Jack had well and truly conned me, all the while dreaming of escape, lulling me into a false sense of security at the beginning of the walk, playing the codger, then jetting off at the opportune moment. Had it been waiting all of its life for this chance? Was this its best hope for true freedom?

They ran straight out into the right hand side of the road; the oncoming side. A Chelsea tractor was forced to come to an abrupt halt to avoid running over the things. The driver honked his horn and waited for the dog to go round him before again pelting off ahead (at the cost of the biosphere). Fortunately for me, Young Jack was never really taking any of this seriously. This was no life and death situation for him, it was all just a funny joke, he was now content to amble along in second. Following his friend but by no means gunning to fly head first into the jaws of death alongside him. Meanwhile at the back I was tagging along, occasionally switching from brisk walking to bursts of half-hearted jogging, shouting the dog’s name every few seconds. Though it had once listened, it was not listening now. To my left a gardener was pruning his hedge, and looked up to see what was happening. I half expected him to moan at me for having lost control of my pets but he took pity on me and smiled before returning to his secateurs. I paused to think about how I must have looked, jogging, distressed, carrying two dogless leads, my cheeks bulging like hamster cheeks following my recent jaw surgery, and wearing my suave digi-shades, and a T-Shirt that said X-tra large Condoms, great sex, great protection.

I could barely make out the dogs any more, all I could see were furry balls floating over the roundabout. One after the other with a ten second interval. After a few more car horns the balls got to the top of my estate. I took it upon myself to catch up this time and used my massive pistons to propel me like lightning. At this point I was half-expecting to find a writhing dog corpse at every roundabout.

As I ambled on no such corpses were found. To my delight, Young Jack was soon within my grasp. I lassoed the beast and gained control of it once again. Old Jack however was last seen cackling and smiling to himself as he sprinted towards the horizon to his lifelong awaited freedom.

Cubicolor

Cubicolor have rapidly developed into a precious hidden gem that even those who are not sold the meme of electronic music would be all over if only they were aware of their existence. The AnjunaDeep spectaculaire specialise in exquisite male vocals (that sound strangely familiar) and dreamy sounds involving a wide array of instruments [musical ones, would you believe it?]. They released their first album late in 2016 titled Brainsugar. Intriguingly the cover image is a wonderfully colourful particle of MDMA under the microscope. There is something deeply colourful about Cubicolor’s music also.

Now you’d be wrong if you thought that this was a conventional electronic act. There’s nothing thumping and repetitive about this stuff. Only soft, euphoric sounds and fantastically simple lyrics that are sure to stay on your mind.

You can get whatever you want, you can get whatever want.

or

We both know these waves never reach the shore. 

I saw some punk on Youtube try and say it was deep house the other day. Needless to say I tried to set him straight on the matter. (I mean it could be Deep House but isn’t it about time we saw the futility of ascribing genres to something as vast, rich and bounteous as modern electronic music?) 

The best tracks on this album are perhaps Dead End Thrills, Falling, Mirror Play and Machine Keys (pure piano). I first heard a remix of Dead End Thrills in a Tale Of Us set at Afterlife, which shows how widely appreciated they are by artists of a completely different dynamic. Falling is also magnificently remixed by the massive Edu Imbernon. But all are magnificent creations in their own right and are not bettered, only modified for an entirely different effect in remixes.

This is the kind of act who, when they sing the chorus, you get so engrossed in it that you actually levitate a bit. Expect layers upon layers of sweet sounds, and deep, encapsulating plunges into unexpected, moments of inescapable musical genius.

You need Cubicolor in your life.

SevenDoors

Many electronic fans will have first been introduced to Sevendoors by his appearance in the second highest viewed boiler room of all time. Christ, what a mix that is. It should be added to the GCSE curriculum. Here a spectacularly debonair Solomun is in and amongst the crowd, making hand signals that only a don could pull off, glass of wine at the ready, doing what comes naturally to him- mesmerising everybody. After doing this for an hour, he sticks Movement of Whale On and everyone claps, whistles and bounces around in utter jubilation, launching them deep into unknown waters. The track is so rich, and fluctuates all over the place, it’s deeply uplifting and laced with a grandeur semblant of a herd of blue whales, leaping out of the water, and then dancing off together into the vast expanse of the ocean.

SevenDoors certainly has a unique source of inspiration that makes him quite extraordinary. We all know the slow, long and hollow calls of whales that reverberate through the ocean. There is a whole library of these sounds that can be found on Youtube, which demonstrates how useful people find these to be, mostly for the purposes of stress relief, relaxation and meditation. But SevenDoors saw a new potential altogether. His music attempts to take the whale and bring it into melodic techno.

Almost all of his tracks are named after species of this creature. Tracks such as Orca, Mesplodon and Bowhead all shine with SevenDoors’ cetacean style, and abound in his own unique sound. But my favourite by the artist is Albeiro, released on Get Physical, which seems to have gone quite unnoticed. It’s less soothing than the other tracks, and has heavy, dark overtones guaranteed to make you want to get up and have a little dance to yourself wherever you are.

I will always be thankful for SevenDoors for this powerhouse of a mix which made me understand he is not merely a producer. Every single track on it is an absolute anthem from the latter part of 2016 and he blends them together with excellence. It includes Mano Le Tough, Tale of Us, Trikk, Locked Groove, Hunter/Game, Recondite and many other producers who are bang on the money these days.

SevenDoors has mastered the balance soulful and hard techno, and excels at performing both. For example, check out his contribution to the Soulful Techno Podcast, which is a delightful, soothing mix for all the family to enjoy, contrasting to the harder and darker cocktail of dance-floor bombs above.

I was quite surprised to discover that SevenDoors is from the UK, as sadly he rarely performs here and goes largely unappreciated. I hope he comes back to his native land sometime soon. Don’t forget your snorkel.

Fate

To believe in fate or that dull mantra ‘everything happens for a reason’ is to forgo all rational thinking and succumb to popular delusion. You might as well believe in witchcraft for all the sense that’s in it.

You get people who comment on things like crossing on the stairs, smashing a mirror or walking under a ladder. These are meaningless platitudes, mostly benign. But when people subscribe to fate, that’s when I want to intervene. When something bad happens and somebody puts an arm round your shoulder and says ‘it’s okay, everything happens for a reason,’ – the truth is that there is no reason, and you’d be exceptionally foolish to think that if things then suddenly got a lot better for you, it would be some form of justice. If that happened, you got lucky. We are not the solitary authors of our successes and failures. Rather we are slaves to chance.

Now, I’ve always been a determinist. I think that for the entire Universe, there is one specific set of events which will happen and does happen. The concepts of past, present and future are created by humans and have no real scientific place, they are effectively just words, used merely for convenience. There is surely no reason to suggest that all three of them cannot be combined together, and this can be understood as ‘the way it goes’.

So in a way, yes, we are fated to live the life that we will live. Free will does not exist. We cannot have perceivably acted differently in the past, because if we did so, we would not have been us. We would have been something quite different. In a moment of decision making, we are influenced by the thoughts we have at the time (which we are not in control of), which in turn are influenced by the events of our past (which we are not in control of), chemical reactions in the brain (which we are not in control of) and environmental factors, i.e what’s going on around you at the time (which we are not in control of). We are always at the mercy of these factors, and we should not encourage people to believe that some strange supernatural force is constantly watching their back, looking to do you a favour, or if you’re a negative thinker, to bury you in the dust.

 

 

Unemployment

Being unemployed is no walk in the park. I mean, you can go for a walk in the park if you want, you’ve got plenty of time on your hands, but you’re much more likely to lie in bed, alternating between checking emails, falling asleep, and watching the news. I’ve been rolling slowly down the hill for a while now, and I’m starting to get used to it, but the funny thing is, all this time, I’ve desperately wanted to have a job, but I just haven’t managed to land one.

My day consists of getting up at about 9/10, reading, exercising, eating, looking for jobs, watching TV, videos and listening to music, looking for jobs, eating, and reading. Excluding the looking for jobs bit, these are actually my favourite things to do. So I often thoroughly enjoy the day, it’s just a relaxing 24 hours in which I am my own boss, on my own devices, and with a license to devour as much good media and literature as I like. So why is it that I crave so desperately a 40 hour, 5 day a week contract in which I am most likely going to be forced to do something I wouldn’t choose to do in my free time, like baking or assembling cabinets?

Money.

My brain couldn’t be more grateful for what I’m doing right now, I’m sharp as a diamond.

But my wallet has got a hole in it the size of a planetary crater and it’s crying out for help.

I’l be sorted soon and it will be like I was never unemployed in the first place. And when I do get a job, I’m gonna be so rich. I can’t wait.

Music

I’ve recently came to the conclusion that music is my favourite of the art forms and the one that I find most indispensable. If I’m ever in the depths of despair, if something seriously bad was to happen, I wouldn’t be taking refuge in a novel, or even poetry. I’d most likely be listening to music, over and over again.

I’ve never learned an instrument or had any real skill in the crafting of it, but I’ve always been a voracious listener. As a confused peroxidey teenager, I’d listen all the time, downloading individual tracks on Limewire; breaking laptop after laptop, feeding music into my Ipod. Each song like a collector’s item and listening to them over and over again as I cycled round the village on my mountain bike, finding my way in life, on my own little journey, accompanied by its own eclectic little themes- anything from Keane to Klaxons. I’d listen as I walked home from the bus stop, contemplating the latest social scandal I’d got myself into with my mobile phone, the latest insipid girl that I pined for and all other imbroglios. If I was to listen to Jack Peñate now I’d probably feel like I was 15 again. Best not to.

I think people have a serious problem in that they don’t see the value of it. Music is free for everyone, and accessible whenever you want it. Discovering it is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Music punctuates what’s going on in your life at the time and gives it both meaning and significance. Meaning and significance which is perhaps much needed as we are arbitrarily generated and propelled into the agonising vortex of life briefly before it consumes us for all eternity, dispersing our peripatetic atoms across the Universe. It’s no wonder that the non-believers listen to much more and better music than the believers do. You don’t need god to get through it all, when you have music. Just ask Neitzsche, he realised this nearly 130 years ago, and this was before proper techno was being produced.

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” – Friedrich himself.

It adds order to the chaos, it joins up the dots and provides your own unique life with it’s own unique sound track. What’s more, if you search hard enough and you want it, you’ll find music that will help you reach places no body has ever reached before. At whatever unique place you are in life, choosing to listen to (presumably good) musicyou are giving your brain the chance to interpret sensory experiences in a way that nobody else has ever had the fortune of doing before. And these experiences will turn into memories that you can look back on fondly, whenever you want at the touch of a button (just not Mr. Brightside please, okay I understand it was a good track but it’s dead now, get over it).

The act of listening is very easy, and never time consuming. It’s effect on the brain is immediate and it can accompany and enhance almost any situation (other than eating and reading, and arguments with family, I find) and can be enjoyed by thousands of people all at once, in one location. Also there’s so much of it, electronic music is constantly developing due to the infinite library of sounds that can be created and used in tracks. Readers of my Rise of Intellechno will understand that a lot of that blog was a joke. But behind all good jokes, lies an element of truth. I wholeheartedly believe that this new techno is the best shit there is. Probably the best shit there has ever been, it’s music for body and mind, and it’s becoming more and more popular by the week. Whether you choose to take my word for it or not is up to you.

Similarly to if you want to read good books, you’ll be confronted by the paradox of choice if you want to listen to the best music. You might feel paralysed by how much of it there is and choose not to risk failure by trying at all.You’ll listen to some stuff and not hear anything, though it might later turn out to be the work of your favourite artist. Just get over the hurdle. You’d be a wallowing imbecile and a waste of space if you didn’t simply get over it and immerse yourself in at every turn. One of life’s great tragedies is missing the boat. To stay at the port would display appalling sloth and arrogance.  You must aim to always get on the boat because you don’t know where it might take you.

My friends and I don’t get each other Christmas presents. But if one of them bought me a pair of trainers one Christmas or a PlayStation I’d be extremely grateful. But in reality, if throughout the year that person was to share music with me, give me artist names that I can discover and delight in for the years to come, and give me license to develop and refine my taste then that surely is the greater gift and the richer source of pleasure. And one which we can all make the effort to give for free.

If we were able to rationally ascribe a value to music, based on the enjoyment it provides, it would be somewhere between reasonably expensive- highly extortionate . But because it’s free we foolishly set it aside and merely shrug our shoulders if we allow the best of it to slip the net. And what’s absolutely reprehensible is that we shake off recommendations provided by our friends- that’s the equivalent of me buying you a pair of shoes I think you’ll really like based on your preferences and you never even bothering to take them out of the box. We also covet music as well, which is greedy. If for whatever reason you miss or lose a track you should feel like you’ve lost a piece of your life.

And no, that really isn’t hyperbole.

♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬

You will see that the Music category has returned to the LordoftheReeves menu above.