On headphones & ‘Distant Lights’

Distant Lights, Burial

There are certain moonstruck streets along which it seems necessary to plug yourself in, to have music with you. Walking through the murmur of cars and far-off drunken shrieks and past kebab shops brimming with light, it is as though these things require it of you. It is as though they implore it. And so from inside your coat pocket you remove your music player and your headphones – tangled, always – and after a short pause to consider the sounds you are about to shut out, the real world you are about lose, you plug yourself in.

As you walk now down the same street, the whole district has changed. A quiet wind has risen. Distant lights are charged with an unfamiliar energy. You catch your coat on a fence, the trees roadside are moving with a sort of controlled mania, the shadows around you seem longer. In fact everything now seems subtly disposed towards your mood, and you are jittery, caffeinated, you are an artist about to start a painting or a climber on the first hard move of a long climb. The street also seems lengthened, and anything which before appeared mundane, everyday, now seems directed towards some secret purpose. As you walk though the occasional patch of light thrown down by a streetlamp it is as if you are crossing a spot-lit stage, and the people watching you are momentarily stunned to see an actor appear, then as you lurch out of the light there is a low rumble of discontent, building steadily to an insistent buzz, which disperses only when you find yourself at a street crossing and stop to wait for cars to pass in a deadened blitz of light and muffled sound.

There is it seems a theatricality to this street of yours. The music in your head describes it.

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