Welcome to Church

FEBRUARY 10 2024

I am laying here in bed, alone, listening to music with my headphones, the nice ones, the circumaural ones, with padded felt cups that cradle my ears and an open back so the soundwaves can breathe and don't have anywhere to build up. Get out of here distortion! Without you, it's clean, it's pure, it's detailed, it's not fatiguing. Life is smooth without you.

AB has been working like a zealot on his hifi sanctuary, circuits and DACs and signals and shit, jargon to most, but to a zealot it's the math of god, and he's tasked us to fly up and have a listening party with him, and to bring our own tracks to audition.

Skik asked me what i'd bring, and I didn't have an answer, dumbfounded, searching my internal Napster, just whiffs of leads, of the static crunch of Massive Attack, the warm polyphony of Jacob Collier, the airy asiatic Arushi Jain, or the colossal reverb of The Modern Jazz Quartet.

But nothing stuck, I was stumped.

Tonight, in the darkness, amid aimless floating memories, free thinking, music beguiling, I gravitate towards my beloved electronica, the woos and waaaahs and zooms and zahs that pull me in, the 808s and snares and breakbeats that make me tap my feet. I put on Weval's "Everything Went Well", a track I've loved and listened to dozens and dozens of times, Weval told me so in an impersonal personalized Spotify Wrapped video reminding me that they were my #1 act of 2023.

But they really are great, so much so, that I played this exact track at Burning Man, on my camp's beloved ford-van-turned-psychedelic-safari-art-car-with-a-fucking-bitching-sound-system-that-sounds-splendid-in-the-arid-desert-at-5-in-the-morning-while-watching-the-sun-rise. Its name is Rexan, taking its name from the driver who took the founders of the Sundowners on a life-changing safari through South Africa.

Burning Man is a gnarled stump where I go to shed unwanted skin, swaths of psychosomatic cruft thick like plaque, layers that at one time I never knew existed. There, I inevitably go through phases of ups and downs and in-betweens, ultimately resurfacing to reality, in the form of a 7:30am daily morning school routine, ruminating the lessons I've harvested.

And I learned one, the day I summoned up enough courage to finally hit the decks on Rexan; its dj booth an altar for our small church built on house music. That day we were assigned to BURN AREA IMPRECISE TRANSIT (BAIT), a community service where art cars shuttle passengers around the playa like a hop-on hop-off trolley, because having access to one is a luxury, something I get to enjoy, but something most of the 80,000 temporary inhabitants of black rock city don't.

We fire up Rexan and its noisy smelly generators that power the zebra-striped led panels and massive club-level sound system, and I put on the track....... whoa, damn, this sounds amazing, this system thumps, holy shit! i feel it, the vibrations are rearranging my cells, loosening my joints, moving the exhaust-filled dusty air around me. it's LOUD, but it doesn't hurt. it's clean, there's no distortion. Get out of here distortion! i'm dancing.

fuck yes!

I smile, let's go for a ride and check out cool art, let's go drive by The Man™ and the temple, let's wave at the happy pantless people pedaling by on their creaky bedazzled bikes, sipping their mint mojito lemonades.

THIS IS IT, this is fucking life!!!

I'm in heaven, blissed out, I look back as the track continues to play, and I see Maz, my campmate, the solo passenger, her round tinted sun glasses and hat that looks like something my grandfather would wear, looking off into the distance and smiling, bopping her head to the beat.

Not many hopped on that day, my audience was thin, but I didn't care, I had my tunes, but more importantly I had Maz, the solo GA ticket holder of the day, a stark difference to the massive art cars that attract thousands of devotees, a locust swarm of lit-up (figuratively and objectively) TIE fighters swarming around until the mothership lands.

At that moment I took away with me one of my lessons:

We often feel the need to connect with many, but sometimes what we really need is to connect with one.

And I'm laying here now, thinking this music sounded fucking sublime on an amazing system, asking myself why don't more DJs play on HiFi equipment, is it more difficult because the tracks aren't lossless?, or that maybe clubs just aren't great venues for it, that people won't care? or that mistakes in EQing would be revealed too easily by a system that's built to reveal imperfections?

I figured it out, AB, i know what i'm gonna audition on your beautifully crafted system, in your temple of timbre, your synagogue of sound.

if i make it, i'm DJing some house, some electronica, I'm gonna take us on a journey, a 10 song set of highs and lows, quiets and louds, i'm gonna make you move, no, i'm gonna move you, i hope you love it, I really do, I don't care if others don't,

because all I really need is to connect with one.