Favourite album? No. I can't join in. I won't.
I'll have none of that, see? Yep, I'm none-stering. I'm empty, I'm done. I'm peeled, hollow, completely nu(u)m(b).
The Noughties are/were well-named. The Nothing Years; The Chameleon Decade. Post-Nowt.
"Declare Decade Zero!" "In the year zero-zero-zero-zero..." Oh-oh-oh-ought. 0000.
I entered 2000 as I left 1999 (and the year before that): in poor physical and mental shape - housebound n confined to bed - convinced my life was pretty much over. Dead, done, gone.
Music was a luxury I could no long afford. The sound hurt my ears. I'd stare at the walls, taunted by my own record collection. But sometimes - somehow - I'd push myself into listening to things again - a few minutes here, a few minutes there - tho the sounds were often more than I could bear. To never go to a gig again, to never dance...
UK Garage passed me by. The idea of 'glamour', of slickness and sheen seemed an afront to my illness. "Feminine Pressure"? Ha! Fuck you. The whole world was having fun and I was jealous. How petty I must seem.
From my sickbed I created my own obsessions, tried to semi-track the few things that I could bear to hear. I bought late 90's/early 00's Hip-Hop records, played them at almost subliminal levels. Mumbled raps over needlefluff beats. Occasionally, when the thyroid-fuelled mania and the rage bubbled over to volcanic proportions I'd listen to the arse end of Drum n Bass - a dying-genre soundtrack, a failing, flailing musicform whose days were numbered, like mine. The harsher the better. I'd get off on it for a few minutes; its intensity matched mine and kept me semi-sane. A punishment of luxury.
I had no social life. A handful of friends stuck by me while everyone else melted into the shadows. (Tho the truth was I was like a wounded animal and I didn't want anyone around me.) But in the midst of it all, there were gestures of kindness - tiny things that meant a lot; kind words of encouragement. I remember exactly who did what and said what when - you don't ever forget things like that. I've never told them how much those moments meant to me. One day when they need me the most I'll be there by their sides. And only I will ever know why.
My wife was fucking amazing. She rode it out when other women would've bailed.
I couldn't read. Words wore me out. Couldn't follow films any more (cognitive disfunction). Even TV exhausted me.
There was a really bad period around 2001 when my health deteriorated even further and I sank to the point of, well...
At one point I was up for four days hallucinating. I left my body: near-death experience, the whole works. I met 'God' or, rather, I flew through the suburbs of something vast and terrible. The White Metal Shadow of 'God'. An inverted sky. I saw...stuff.
But my wife held my hand and brought me back.
After that, I would stay up all night, sitting up in bed in the dark, disturbed, unable to sleep - guts and lymph system melting down; liver throbbing and raw - listening for hours to a French radio station on an old radio (English voices scared me); I wanted to hear someone talk, but hear them saying things that I couldn't understand. "Stop making sense". Again, I gained something approaching comfort from that quiet, almost subliminal bubbling of sound. Sometimes an accordian would play cliched 60's eurocheese - barely audible - in amongst the static and dial-sliding stationblur.
Music was a luxury I could not afford.
As my strength came back I began walking to burn off the excess adrenaline - to be so frail and weak, yet be so awfully, constantly fucking wired is a terrible, terrible thing, almost impossible to comprehend. I would walk in the evenings; at first a hundred yards, then slowly a bit further, then a bit more...this twilight world seemed so strange to me with my head awash w/ toxins. TVs and Hi-Fi's leaking thru windows in the cold autumn nights; muffled sounds, still not quite music. Trees creaking, the wind whirring in my ear. Audiollucinations. The world looked and sounded sinister to me, like a DJ Vadim instrumental album played at half-speed.
The sounds I heard in my head. I...
My body was toxic, raw...I'd walk and stop/walk, stop and watch; look at lights coming from the nearby windows and wonder. Shadows behind curtains: replays of Blue Velvet and Zodiac. There was an embankment 300 yards from our house; I'd sit on it at night, stare at a strange-shaped bush lit by orange street-lights, watch cars go by. Listen to the distant hiss and boom of their speakers.
I'd sweat out toxins in the bath - an hour at a time. I'd walk, walk, walk. Sleep, vomit, take my meds, cry.
One night my wife came home and caught me listening to an old Pavement album so quitely you could barely hear it. She smiled.
Another year, and another after that. 14 mercury amalgams removed carefully, cautiously - one at a time, full protocols; each time I'd get sick exactly 21 days later (it was the antibody titre levels, see; I was ubersensitive to metals, despite all the protective measures we took during an extraction) - it was 6 weeks between each extraction; I'd count the days, the hours. It took a year for the anorexia to recede. At one point I was eating half a chicken a day, nuts, avacados, fats, just to maintain my weight.
I walked, walked, walked, sweated, took my meds, then switched to a bike. Rode, walked, rode, walked. I flushed my liver, sweated, flushed my liver again, repeat until you're sicksicksicksick of feeling sick. Like a never-ending session of chemotherapy.
I started listening to The Fall again. Crappy bootleg CDs. Endless live versions.
I liked it when I couldn't decypher the lyrics. Sonic mush.
I loved "Are You Are Missing Winner?" Loved it without realising it. I embraced music that was disfunctional and wrong; proto-Wonky.
Some friends took me to see Ennio Morricone with the Rome Symphony Orchestra, tho they virtually had to pour me - at gun-point - into the car and out again. My body hurt for days afterwards.
I bought some Mego LPs and CDs; I liked the granularity of them - the spizzz and spackle. Then more laptop stuff, tho it felt like the end of something - something I'd missed - not the beginning. I was kinda micro-obsessed w/ Famer's Manual for a while: it seemed like some ultimate end-point; a partial eradication of everything that had come before.
After that I got into beats again: Matmos, Kid606, Madlib, the funkier, non-moribund end of dying D n B, blahblahblah. It took another 2 years of detoxing to get myself (mostly) functional again.
And music helped carry me on my way.
I still remember the first time I was strong enough to get on a train and go record-shopping for a couple hours. I can't descibe to you how that felt. I don't have the words and if I did then it's just too fucking personal and powerful to tell you what that meant to me.
After that, my decade splintered into moments.
Not songs or albums, but moments. Of being places - seeing and hearing - being part of the forward flow of time once more.
I started making 'music' again on my computer: loops, fragments, almost-songs. A soul coming back together again. Reforming.
Too many moments. Too, too many. Many too personal to share.
The birth of my children.
Spaz-dancing with Circle Brophy and Rehane to Bernard Parmegiani and Coil. Seeing The Fall again. And again. And again.
I loooooved Sunburned Hand. Sunburned n Jackie-O live were a fucking revelation. And Wooden Wand and The Vanishing Voice blew me away. A deluge of records, CD-rs, tapes. The These Records shop. Hearing Black Dice's early stuff. Wolf Eyes. Grime. Dubstep. El-B. Shows in Bristol n London. Seeing Boredoms for the first time in a decade. Shit and Shine / AMT.
Garm. Brothers of The Occult Sisterhood. Golden Oaks.
The world opened up and said hello. "Negative Attitooood!"
I made new friends. I did stuff.
I'm only telling you this so you understand why I can't play this game, why there can never be a Record of The Decade for me. Or a Record of The Year. Or...
I'm sorry: I. Just. Can't. Do. It.
So many records, so many moments.
There's never enough time. Enough moments.
I'm so grateful to be alive.