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The Black Fuse


Cradling the record sleeve in his left forearm, he prised open its slit with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand and slowly thrust his hand in. Taking care not to touch the exposed faces of the record, his middle fingertip sought the hole at the centre. Simultaneously, his thumb found the edge of the record as it was coaxed out.

There was only one copy of this record in existence. Its anonymous creators made it from a material that would disintegrate immediately after the stylus had bumped down its spiral valley, as a glacier scours a glen. Just one track on one side, to be heard only once. Its grooves, they sparkled and shone in an unusual manner, seeming to shift and shimmer like fluid. This undulant  movement deep within the tightly spiralling grooves was quite hypnotic, mesmerising.

There was no label. An inscription on the run-out groove, handwritten in acutely angled scrawl, read: ‘THE FORCE THAT THROUGH THE BLACK FUSE DRIVES THE RECORD DRIVES MY BLACK AGE’. He understood the reference to Dylan Thomas’ poem ‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower’. In this case, the electrical force that drives the record emanates from a hydro-electric dam far up the glen.

The cardboard cover was black, apart from a small white logo printed at the top left-hand corner of one side, crude yet complex, and entirely illegible. Spidery forms in strange geometries with icicles hanging from them. The same logo appeared on the front of the t-shirt that he wore. He knew that it was essential that the sole listener to this record wears this t-shirt whilst listening to the record. He also knew that the record must be listened to at a specific astronomical moment, during a specific stellar configuration which appeared unpredictably and only every few years, always at different dates of the solar calendar.

Within the sleeve was found a sheet of thin white paper, upon one side of which was typed a manifesto:


‘We are driven by the belief that the creation of any artwork that functions truly as art is only possible through a total rejection of normal standards and conventions, and by discarding any previously rendered or preconceived point of view. This attitude demands a total disinterestedness in human affairs, and also an aesthetic that thrives consistently on the warped and oblique strategies of a truly disillusioned perspective. The artist must be someone who sees through the feeble machinations of conventional human culture, and seeks to reveal its blinkered hypocrisies by tearing it apart at the seams like a ravenous demon.

This artist must be committed to an existence that promotes loneliness and isolation, psychological cul-de-sacs and pointless conjecture, extreme hallucinatory expeditions, fevered dreams, and de-centred religiosity, among other exercises. He seeks the reverse hidden behind the everyday and willingly shuts himself darkly into his self-made traps, vibrant with odours of decay and stillness. Only then, in these exquisite prisons can he construct his fabricated nefarious world from the dessicated fragments of his delirious imagination.’


A second sheet of paper held typed instructions and a precautionary note/disclaimer.

He checked his planisphere against his chronometer. It was time. According to instruction he orientated the space towards black mother mountain, a sacred hill whose Gaelic name indicated a link to the Cailleach Bheur, devouring mother-goddess of winter and chaos.

He wore the t-shirt. The correct environmental atmosphere had been established, necessary precautions taken. The numerous speakers were arranged in correct geometric formation. Everything was in place.  


With the nonchalant deftness, disinterestedness even, that comes from years of habitual practice, he smoothly dropped the record over the spindle of the turntable.

Pressing the start switch on the modified record player, it began to spin in an anti-clockwise direction, maintaining a constant speed.

If someone who knew him, someone who was acquainted with the language of his body, were present, they would see that at this point in the proceedings, his position and aspect betrayed an abstracted tension – stiff, and leaning with anticipation in the delicately loaded space between the lifting of the tone-arm and the moment of the needle’s contact with the record.

His hand trembled as it gripped the arm of the cartridge and moved in a slow arc towards the backwards-spinning turntable.

There was a thick click as the needle found its groove, followed by the rhythmic rumbling sound of the run-in groove before the actual music started. This preliminary sound itself was deafening, and seemed to last much longer than usual, seconds stretched to aeons. He carefully positioned himself.


The music hits. Crashes in with mountains of noise, huge and terrifying. Roaring soundserpents writhe through the rumble, spitting fiery frequencies. Clouds of bellowing bass billow below disharmonic storms. Heaving. Seething hisses slant and swoop. Sinking songs and wrecked words. Vast chords of metaharmonic complexity. Submelodic interweavings of unimaginable ugliness and unease.

Vibrational antistructures generate hideous sonic mutations, sprouting dark fungus-gardens of sound, dripping with entropic tonalities of terror. A curruscating melody appears, then seems to eat itself from the inside, turning itself into an unbearably tragic lament that triggers paroxysms of violent grief.

Wave after wave of bewilderingly engineered sound structures tilt and groan under their own sonic weight. Multidimensional frequencies in a chaotic kaleidoscopic collage of chromatic complexity. Emanating from deep deep down in unfriendly abysses, way down in hell-wells breathing ancestral breaths aeons old, from tongues in deep-mined fires that melt the hills, flickering the mountain roots and trembling the bones of glens.

Twisted trees of sound with distorted branches, leaves ripped free in the winds of noise and sent spiralling through darkening skies of heavy din. Darkening, darkening. The heavy roar weighs in, clamping down with anti-harmonic magnetism. Earth reaches up to the sinking sound, rocks now liquid torrent up to the sonic source, hungry and ancient. Clouds funnel down, and the stars themselves are tugged free from their moorings by the indefatigable centripetal force.

Heavy, heavy, the music becomes denser and heavier and bears down on him, his shoulders sagging with the weight in his skull, leaden seas crashing into his earholes, slowing down and finally engulfing him in vast crystalline silence.


When tomorrow hits, it’s gonna hit you hard. A slow warping multitonal feed current inaugurated by weeping angels. From the void above countless aethyrs, ready and compacted, sorrow-bound and haunted. Down the mountain path, it’s an inexorable descent, down indefatigable cloud-enfolded wynds. Down, down the white ghosted ways, desecrated pinnacles dripping to enrivered corries.

Climbing down from the heights, geometries are broken, ouroberos uncoils and slides away.

From eight miles high, falling from azure ecstasies, spiralling through days of drawn-out bliss, downwards from the Golden Age, from Tír na nÓg, banished from Avalon. The downward drift. Demons are attracted to your bright dance. They sidle with you, slipping silently into the light from shadowed borders.

Hurtling headlong through nights. Dripping down in inky blackness. Through flames from rites of nameless gods, thoroughly drenched in jagged time. There, you, in aeons of death. A light. An intention. Solid, unfurling in various directions. It was a long time coming.


You are at the foot of the mountain. Unholy mountain. Inviolate. Un-nam’d. Unutterable. Against society. Anti-urban. Indescribable. Never climbed. Never seen (in her entirety). Incomprehensible. Never thought of. We cannot feel her boundaries. Shrouded. Veiled. Forevernight at her top. Everdark.

Unmeasured. No words or numbers stick to her. Not of any country. No history. No culture. Uncomfortable. Scorning humanity. Rising, rising. Above and beyond. Before and behind. Great mountain of the anti-human. Mountain of not. Despiser. Obsesser. Beyonder. Majestic Desolate Eye.

Published in The Call (Issue 3, 2019)

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