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spanish translation (número 10)

Music As Weapon
by Lenny TMusic As Weapon: M.G. Smout

BUG G CAME back into the studio, the sound of a flushing toilet cut out as the heavy soundproofed door closed behind him.
       - Am I a’needing a smoke afta that or what. Damn it brothersucka, it's summin but it needs summin more, a decent hook or...
      - Bug, G-man, I plead for the last time: No can do, I tried all sorts a things but it interferes with certain frequencies and the end effect is a big fat nunlickin nada-nothing.
      - But it take ‘bout four minutes, I can’t see... playing that at the club.... no, there’ll be a nunlickin’ riot.
      - Hey, take a trank, It ain’t the weekend, it’s downtime-nite, we’re only a’goin’ t’get a few thou head. I reckon if they’r’all Eed or Kayed up and you stick it on during a slugtime, then, OK you’ll lose some dancers, but......
      - Four minutes though, are you George Bernard Shaw on this?
      - Sure I’m sure, one fuckin’ year of every possible way of doing things sure, trying it with all known drugs sure. It has to be, for the last lickin’ time, a’ least four minutes. Mira, I got five mins here but if you’re that shit nervous just come back in with the drumstuff after four but gimme the full four, OK?
     - OK. But tonight?, for George Bernard?
     - Big G.B. sure. Mira brothersucka, morrow is Thor’s-day, start o’ End-week, so Bug, if not this night then when? I been testing this little muginnafug for a fuckin’ year and I’m shit itching to try this sista out on a lotta shitsniffin’ people. For fucksake, you know...we must go soon or be goon.
      - Hellshitman, you the ‘Heff’, own the place an’all...it a’going be you they lynch so why’m I a’worrying . Your neck, heff. Anywhose, you gonna bring the synths to the club or what?
      - Nah, too much hassle. I’ll toast a D-CD on BigMac, quicker if we need to run.
      - Ha, that aint that actu-ally funny... well look..I gotta flit ‘n’ split so I’ll catch ya at the club...usual time?
      - Nah....later, oh and can you set the club’s AmbiSound to my studio’s setting before the crowds arrive? I’ll e-mail them over so check around the eight hour..ta.
      - Ta yersel, mad nunlicka... heh, heh.

      Alone in the studio engulfed by the monotonous pitched fan noise from various computers he set to work. There wasn’t that much to do; the soon-to- be-delivered dance track’s soul was in various memory banks and had been for months but only now did he feel confident to take it from the various hard drives, mix and compress it from its 45 source points and put it on to a two-track Sound Around Surround D-CD. He smiled at the Atari St. He understood that they were mindless slaves built in faraway countries and not Disneyesque cuddly toys, but his affinity for his ‘babies’ seemed to build dividends; they really did seem to thrive and survive in his machine friendly environment. He never gave great thought about why he saw some machines as female and others as male. The Atari had become GrandmAtari. "She" was the start, the birth, of his huge empire and so when her hard drives wore out or her memory started to fade he took as much care of her as an aging relative. In computer terms she was ancient, nearly 40 years old, but as full of transplants as she was she still happily creaked along when fired up. As Grandma and head of the family she was used, along with an equally old MCA crack of Cubase, for the final bringing together of major new projects like the one he was about to record now. It was about a hundred times slower than using the Pentium 18s running Gatesoft but seemed far more human.

      Except for the elegant LcIIIs he saw his family of Apple Macintoshes as male, maybe the name had something to do with it. The Macs did his day-to-day work and he used a huge G6, one of the last to be built, as the "mainman". Ghosts of machines were everywhere, old Mac Classics had been turned into aquariums, hard drives into chairs, monitors into cistern tanks and mouses converted to light switches. Apart from his extended family of computers there was also his priceless collection of classic analog and digital synthesizers and samplers. Like some of the computers, the 16 Wasps and 6 Spiders for example,  many of the synths were now reduced to wall decorations. But most lined the studio walls on racks three tiers high and were in pristine condition linked to each other via umbilical cords of midi or CV and gate cables that went into what looked like ‘ye olde’ style telephone plug boards that in turn were overseen by an old Mac G4. A large bench had other synths sitting on top with their guts pulled out in mad electronic vivisection to make them do things the original designers only dreamt of. Wires were everywhere, but the apparent spaghetti mess was highly organised; years of wasted time and nearly being driven insane tracking bad midi or sound leads had taught him order. The Music as Weapon studio was maybe a bit cramped and may have looked like a museum but it was not only the starting point of many important and influential projects, it was also very highly profitable.

      He screwed some foam ear plugs into each ear and clicked BigMac's mouse.

      He had been working on the latest project for over three years and tonight's public 'coming out' was going to be the lighter side of an intriguing experiment. He had visited many countries, seen and recorded many tribes’ dances and songs. He had spent long boring hours away from his 'babies' to study sound, anatomy and neurology in the silence of libraries and in the noise of hospitals. A year ago there were signs of success, followed by failure, but things began to fit and now he had a 95% success rate, although he still really hadn’t pinpointed exactly how it worked. Certain elements still caused a failure - smoking grass or resin was one, but the other drugs seemed to cause no problems, which was good as this little project was about to be field-tested on the druggy club culture.

      When he arrived later that evening the club was a heaving mass of half-naked bodies; maggots in a bucket, he thought, as he entered the dope filled soundproofed DJ booth.
      - Heffay, look, it’s really m.a.d. tonight, sure we can’t do it another time?
      - Cold feet, Bug? When’s the next slugtime?
      - I’m gonna give ‘em another 10 mins of this.

      'This' was fast, very fast 'Bad-Tripno' a distant relation to something he had come up with a few years back when he had found an old cassette tape of Bauhaus, a 1980s Goth band, in a junk shop. The music was pretty ancient but there was something about the vocal that he found genuinely frightening. He managed to track down the original master tapes and discovered that the helium-like sounds the vocalist made were not faked. With modern technology he was able to take the voice and make it sing new, pertinent, lyrics - the real singer had apparently died in Istanbul when it fell to the fundamentalists. With the computer-generated voice and new backing tracks he had come up with a scary-as-shit dance music that just needed one other element: designer bad acid. That was easy enough to make, along with a quick come-down antidote just in case. The end result of music, light show and drug gave the dancer a very unhealthy dose of fear; and fear, be it roller-coaster, ghost train or leaping off bridges, is a thrill and thrills sell. He made three million on the antidote alone.

      He looked down at the sweaty hell that jerked around oblivious to the danger that he, the puppetmaster above, could wreak on their minds and bodies if there wasn’t a downtime every so often. Bug had started to call the cooling off period "slugtime" because of the shiny trails of sweat that led to the toilets.

      The amount of control he had over people, jeez-ona-flaming cross, he thought. Puppetmaster, yeah, after tonight maybe I’ll change from Music as Weapon to Puppetmaster, have all these suckers on the end of their strings.

      Bug G gave him the nod and the D-CD was clicked into play mode. The crowd had sensed there was about to be a slugtime and many were heading for the toilets when the odd disk started up. Faces turned up to the booth with "what the fuck?" expressions. After 4 or 5 hours of pretty solid BauHouse, Deathdisco or Bad-tripno the undanceable, complex rhythm patterns coming out of the speakers were definitely alien. What gives? To a sigh of relief from Bug he switched off the booth's internal speakers.

      He and Bug G knew what would happen below. Other friends who had been guinea pigs in the early days knew what was about to happen when they heard the disc start. Soon all the males and a few of the females would be held by an underlying, barely audible beat. This would cause them to perspire, unseen in the club due to the amount of sweat around, and clench their teeth. Many might actually do a sort of dance, feet together, making little jerking motions with their torsos. Pheromones would be released by both sexes and after four minutes the males would have a very sudden, brief erection and ejaculate; the women, sadly, wouldn’t orgasm - he hadn’t found the right pitch and beats for that, maybe they just took a lot longer.

      A few minutes later he broke into a broad smile as about a thousand very surprised males all came at more or less the same time. He wasn’t too sure if they would lynch him or laugh with him but he had achieved something remarkable in the history of crowd manipulation. The loud ‘shit!’ from Bug G caught his attention; there was panic in the way he said it and not the humor that had been in the 'shit' he had said only seconds before. Below on the dance floor most of the male clubbers were sitting, some were lying down. About six collapsed to their knees and fell on to their faces right below the booth, similar scenes were happening all around the club.

      -Shit- said Bug G for a third time,- did you ever try this out on people who had been dancing for hours?

      He hadn’t, actually...the extra energy needed to orgasm was causing considerable distress... and some of the clubbers, glazed eyes staring straight up and into the strobing laser beams were looking like they were never going to recover. Bug G was now on the phone to security, muttering obscenities between giving orders and receiving updates.
      - O. K. Mo, ta, I’ll tell him. Heff, hey Heff snap out of it.

      .....If some of the dancers died...shit pray not...but if some, even one, died what would happen to him?.... No it wasn't him that he was scared about, he'd done the horror of prison once before and was certainly in no hurry to go back, but he'd accept his punishment. No, it wasn't his fate that filled him with dread it was the fate of GrandmAtari and his inanimate, dependent family inactively waiting for him at the studio. His worst fears were for the fate of machines.

      -Heff, snap outa’fit. Big Mo say we got some cracked skulls, ambulances on the way and..huh...he say he thinks it wasn't their hearts overworking that floored 'em but, get this, they fell a’funkin' sleep! Us men an’an orgasm heh! What?..say again Mo?...He also say there's an awful lot of people down here with embarrassing stains wanting you to pay their laundry bill, some wanna sue your ass and some wanna know if your a’doing it morrow night...huh.. and...can you give em some warning next time so they can assume the position...that was from a girl... er..no it wasn’t
      -Assume the position, huh? I really thought I was gonna be nunlickin’ assuming the position over a cop car a minute ago. Fuck, there’s still bound to be some nasty questions and obviously some fuck will try to sue me to the max. So ya never know, ha, Will the court please rise. Here comes da judge...Com'on Bug, my fellow puppetmaster-in-crime let’s go down an' face the music.
      -Talking of which, what you want doing wit the D-CD?
      -I reckon I'll leave it here for morrow night
      -Mmm... may I be drawing your attention to the fact these guys tonight had on their strides, do you think they gonna mess themselves morrow night? I think not, hell they is going to be naked an' if you think I or Mo are a’going to clean up that mess then think again.
      -Mmm, you're not wrong...hang on..shit, what’s this shit?

      Below, the bemused crowd were once more looking up at the booth but now seemed to be shouting and pointing towards the entrance. As Bug flicked on the internal speaker and heard the crowd chant ‘play it again, play it again,’ he saw the police, in riot gear - riot gear?- enter the main dance area and stride cockily past the ambulance crews patching cut heads. He heard his boss mutter ‘Bastard nunlickers, any chance to bust our arses’ and saw a mischievous gleam in his eye as he inserted the D-CD back into the tray.

© 1998 Lenny T                                                          spanish translation

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After leaving art college, British born Lenny T worked on the periphery of the art world as a performance artist, lectured on early video art, and played keyboards in various bands. He is currently designing lighting and projections for live music in Spain. This is his first fiction publication.

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