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Scientist of the Invisible

Too much ammunition lately, not enough self-control.


Strings wound not with nickel, but with iron. Picks flecked from the bones of our enemies: actual bones, actual enemies. Double-cutaway guitars hewn from the trunks of giant sequoias felled under the waxing gibbous moon, bodies thicker than whole human heads, headstocks modelled after an image of a brainwave measured 60 seconds before total cardiac failure, inlay from the oxidized blood of the martyrs in intricate patterns and unspeakable words. We must have more.

Solid state amps generating enough power to light the Kremlin for a whole month. Not today's Kremlin. The Kremlin of legend, with the spies who would eat their own hearts before selling one secret to the most hardened inquisitor. Piercing highs that kill birds in a three-block radius around the venue. Rumbling lows that cause the listener's teeth to spontaneously crumble in his mouth. Volume. Volume in such terrifying quantities that children later told what it was like begin to cry, fearing that one day they will be forced to confront such volume, and go deaf. Volume that renders knobs and pots obsolete. Volume past all measure. We must have more.

Venues into which the sunlight has not been suffered to shine, no not once, ever, not even during construction. Venues with drawings of windows painted onto their high walls, in order to mock the general concept of windows. Venues whose floors are hard, cold concrete, against which elbows once struck split open, and bleed copiously. Venues that smell like old dangerous machines: circular saws, pneumatic drills, mysterious oil-driven contraptions whose functions are obscure. Venues in which nothing ever happens until we get there, at which point too much happens, immediately, and all at once. We must have more.

Bands whose members have never even heard of a synthesizer, because they do not leave the garage; bands whose members have only denim in their closets, hanging in suspiciously orderly fashion, shining from behind closed doors like the lost treasure of the Incas; bands who live on bags of Fritos into which they have dumped whole cans of Stagg's chilli, thereafter nuking the whole damned bag as-is; and eating, thereafter, communally, seeing as how everybody has chipped in; bands who would die for it and sort of expect to; bands who secretly hate all the other bands in their hometown scenes, because rivals mean competition; bands who despise all the sources of their inspiration, because inspiration has left them without any choice but to continue the work, Sisyphean, hopeless, endless, ultimately soundless to all but the deaf people flailing on a concrete floor under the gleam of blinding pickguards that reflect the single blue spotlight pilfered from the local high school. We must have more. We need much more. We are going to get it.

(John Darnielle, 2008)