Author’s Note: This track response would be best enjoyed somewhere between the second and third listen.
When I was young, there was an arcade in the local area. As children, we went with my parents. In those days, there was just a pinball machine, a gleaming silver sphere trapped in a rattling plastic body. The whole family used to gather round its angular frame totally entranced. We watched as each of us worked our endurance, racking up red digital points on the board and some laughs to go with them. My father’s low chuckle reverberated between the clacking of the machine. My mother was best, meticulous, careful and so quick to react. She was primed. She was swift. She was infallible. She loved my father so effortlessly, and he in turn filled the promise of a life as her partner. We could hear the passing cars growl slowly down the street outside topped off with the slight breeze of the nearby sea.
When I was a little older, the pinball machine, once a lonesome corner creature, was joined by a selection of others. The pixel arrived. As teenagers, my friends and I were bewitched by the screen. Time was suspended. A whole selection of new sounds filled the void around the metal of the pinball machine. Bleeps. Blops. Bloops. Blips. The screen was so vivid, colours and imagination manifesting in the rhythmic pulsing of pixels. We had all met on the first day of high school and become such fast friends there was barely time to recognise our adolescence.
The first time she touched me, she moved the joystick to stop Pacman from being swallowed into a lilac ghost. We didn’t normally interfere with one another’s games. The silent individualist creed of making our own mistakes and dealing with them alone stood firm. We shouted advice to each other, though we were always pre-empting our peers failure,always pre-empting our own opportunity to play. She cut through it all when she pushed my hand to the left. Ten seconds passed. I stepped back and turned to her. We walked away from the transfixed crowd, toward the beach. My eyes remembered what it was like to look across an expanse, to feel the air as a living thing, stretching out—out.
As an adult, I sat down at the beach quite a lot, reading a book or drawing in my sketch pad. One day a friend walked by and came to sit with me. I noticed something about her on that day, the lighter gold shades of her hair. We walked up to the arcade, and with a wry smile, she asked if I wanted to play a racing game. It had been years since I had last been there and perhaps years since anyone had last played this game. The mood had switched from serious to playful so quickly I barely noticed. We sat in large faux-leather driving seats. We raced. I lost. The graphics were so crisp, the sounds so realistic, the announcer’s voice, like a circus ringmaster. We played a shooting game next. On her reload, her hair swished into my face. I reverberated a low chuckle. She smiled. She won.
The aim of the Erudite Ear is to express afresh the sounds of a piece of music because these songs are never just a songs, they are always stories. The songs chosen for this series are handpicked for their dangerously dedicated replay value.
Hamza Beg is a docile creature, best left in cool environments to ideate, write and occasionally to sleep. He makes poems and little film things. He raps like a hedgehog having an existential crisis. He is a lousy but enthusiastic cook, unperturbed by perpetual mediocrity. The same is true for most areas of his life. He is neither sarcastic or self-deprecating.