Behind the Song, by Bruce Zalcer
A beat hits persistently to get your attention. It is relentless, like life can be when it isn’t being lived like it ought to be lived. Pounding on the door, waiting to be let in. This moment won’t go away. After all, one’s soul must not be ignored.
This can be a scary moment, but it doesn’t have to be full of dread. Rather, the dark and foreboding beat of your heart in your chest – one nagging thought in your head – can in a moment transform from terror to excitement when the call is answered and the challenge to change met head on.
In between these moments of trepidation and triumph, exists deep suspense. What are you going to do with the question at the end of each pounding beat? Listen? Explain it away? Make excuses? I wanted to capture this moment in the song “Come Back.” The dark excitement creates an environment of anticipation. This is drama. This is a turning point in life.
I usually don’t start songs with vocals in mind, as in electronic music they’re not necessarily needed to create a narrative or a melody. But, I felt the musical composition had space that necessitated vocals – like a thought that won’t go away. It is as if the song is a score for what might be going on inside someone’s head at the moment their turning point comes to them. The beat is the imperative, the notes are the abstract sensations until the words become clear. “Come back” to the conceptual place where you were last you.
It’s as if you are in the back room of your own mind waiting for the sun to shine. It feels as if you have been imprisoned, waiting for some sign or permission to break out. I see this in my minds eye as a kind of VIP “back room” of a club, in a place where the VIP scene has grown stale and what used to be a beautiful underground movement now feels corrupted and empty.
For me, the club scene parallels my personal journey of returning to this purity of true self and my own path. It is like we are waiting for permission to leave the club, and the club has become sort of a prison. It is almost as if the club is a place we’re forced to go to. Even if it is the same place we enjoyed going so many times before, something has changed. We’re not enjoying it in the same way, but we still can’t escape it.
Perhaps it may be a form of addiction? Like an addict who is longing to bargain with themselves to return to a time when substances were enjoyable, but can’t. Some threshold has been crossed, but we still haven’t found an alternative. In the space between – this torturous and terrible dark and echoing chamber that is waiting for the sun to shine – this is the most creative moment there is.
It’s all an illusion. “Coming back” won’t fix anything. But in returning to the last pure moment wherein you were really you, you are where you need to be.
To find the shining sun, we must first find ourselves in that dark space of primordial self-creation. We need to step out of our comfort zone. It is tempting to seek instead the easier answer. Nostalgia. Regret. Ruminating on past decisions that we have no ability to go back and rewrite. We can torture ourselves in this dark space for as long as we have the fortitude to withstand our own violent thoughts. We can choose to step into the light of our own truth at any time we are ready for it.
As a scene, it is also tempting to be nostalgic or critical without a point of action. We think we want to reverse time to a point when Techno wasn’t hard, wasn’t dark, wasn’t laced with substance abuse. Were we just naïve? Or did our flirtations with the creative power of these dark spaces leave us vulnerable to falling down a dark and spinning hallway that we would eventually have to claw our way out of.
More than the techno being dark, or problematic, or having fallen from some sort of musical grace, I think it is us. Our attitude is dark, it’s hard, it’s rigid, and innocence has been lost. The initial romance that was brought about by the need or want to experiment and blaze a territory of something new, has become sclerotic and rigid.
We’ve been stuck in the intensity of music, and then we got stuck in the intensity of the scene. I think that we haven’t yet collectively realized that something important has changed. We have wanted more and more and more, louder, stronger, more intense, more noise – just to feel.