Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Top 50 Albums Of 2011, Reinterpreted As Short Stories (Part 4)

Click here for Part 3

Top Albums Of 2011 - 20. Defeater - Empty Days & Sleepless Nights

Defeater - Empty Days & Sleepless Nights

08 March
Melodic Hardcore

After experiencing the unique driving force behind group mentality; the determined irritation of figurative marching drums; and witnessing his best friends’ faces getting blown off ... our protagonist is finally discharged from the relentless shouts of the war, and wearily makes the journey toward the only neighbourhood he knows he can still go to. The world was a different place now—the majority of it in ruins—but he was relieved to walk through the gate of his old family house, still intact, with his aging parents welcoming him with open arms. Lovingly, they sit him down to his first home cooked meal in a long time, and he tells them his shaken stories of previous years. Stories of his free-spirited youth. Stories of Erika and her hardships at the hands of evil. Stories of his life of crime, and his polar opposite life of super-heroism. And then the final stories of Erika’s disappearance, the abandonment of the granddaughter they never knew existed, and how his journey had ended up in the English War against The Devil himself. The war he had just come from, somehow managing to survive despite no recollection of how this had come to be.

While they listened intently, his parents could not hide their eyes from gaping as wide as their mouths, consumed by the tales that they had been completely oblivious to. Their shock was partially due to the violent and unbelievable content their child had been exposed to, but more than that, it was due to the way he spoke of his adventures. His words had become slow, his eyes were paranoid, and his mannerisms were that of a completely different person. It was right then that they knew their little boy had been changed forever. Yet they still had no idea how much worse it was going to get.

That night (and every night afterward) the mellow atmosphere of this family home awakened to the screams of their son. He'd been dreaming once again of the emotional turmoil which had doused his mind with sickness, stripping it of all compassion, and psychologically damaging him permanently in the process. He wets the bed. He feels no love. He cannot control the aggressive flashbacks of Erika and Gillian and warfare which haunt his every thought. And these sleepless nights tear them all apart.

Day after day, it creeps closer to breaking point, until the morning it finally reaches just that. Unable to handle his own memories anymore, our protagonist wakes up early, makes the journey to the closest station, and jumps in front of a train, cutting his tortured and complicated life to a premature end. The family mourn in deep depression, the aftermath now a cold calm. The house’s regular screams of nightmares once again replaced by chilling acoustics, leaving behind nothing but the mild insanity of empty days.

Call him what you will: Jimmy. James. Buck Jacobs. After everything he had been through, our protagonist was finally dead by no hands other than his own, and in some ways our story ends here. But the spaces in this tale are many, and you, the reader, deserve to know exactly how this man came to destroy himself and for what reasons. But before we give you that, let's look at another important bit of this history, where The Prophecy had begun to take effect a long long time ago...

Top Albums Of 2011 - 19. Kanye West & Jay-Z - Watch The Throne

Kanye West & Jay-Z - Watch The Throne

08 Aug
Hip Hop

After much anticipation, the day of celebration had finally arrived. Earlier in the morning, fair maidens had sprinkled feathers on the paved entrance, as King West rode into King Jay’s castle within a carriage decorated by gold and diamonds which flickered in the sun. West was never one to be shy from flashing his wealth to anyone who would notice, and Jay (being the smart guy he was) knew this. To ensure he was not outdone by West's blatant flaunting, he welcomed the arrival with the most ambitious party his land had ever seen. Here they ate the largest of the kingdom’s turkeys and drank the finest quality of wine, while Frank (their prized talent and entertainer) sang beautiful and socially conscious melodies much to the audience's delight. Occasionally Jay’s wife, the Queen, interrupted the performance with a song of her own—to which everyone quietly rolled their eyes but applauded politely in order to keep their heads intact.

After a few too many drinks and much fun and dancing, King West and King Jay retired outside to marvel at the stars; at their successes; and some quality smoking material. A few laughs were exchanged until West turned to Jay and said what he had been wanting to say since he entered the kingdom.

“I know I’m relatively new to the game, Jigger,” he began. “But you have to admit, I am coming up fast. I own five lands already, and have many more wives than you. My assets are growing steadily and are getting even bigger than yours...”
Jay laughed heartily, and condescendingly patted West on his head.
“Just wait Yeezy. It gets tougher as it goes on, my boy,” Jay calmly replied as he bellowed smoke from his lungs. He paused to appreciate the taste, and then added “I own twelve lands now. And I invented the Blueprint that all rulership is based on today.”
“I mean no disrespect, Jehovah, and I’m going to let you finish,” Kanye replied quickly and bitterly. “But I helped you build that Blueprint you speak of.”

And as we already know, this was the case.

The two stared out into the night as the party behind them got louder in their honour. There was a silent animosity coupled with a mutual respect between these kings, to which both found as fascinating as it was difficult to understand.
“I’m just saying,” West eventually added. “Watch the throne, Jay. Watch the throne.”
“No, you watch the throne, Kanye,” Jay responded slowly. “And I’ll still be on it.”

But as we already know, this was not the case.

Top Albums Of 2011 - 18. Bjork - Biophilia

Björk - Biophilia

10 Oct
Art Pop

Amongst the closest of constellations, a race of childlike beings observe our earth. They are fascinated by us, especially the contrast between the organic nature of our planet and yet our literacy of the most advanced technology—most of which these beings had developed specifically themselves. Their extensive studies had proven that the vast differences between us humans were far more contrasting than any other species they had ever recorded before. While some of us chose to relax and keep our lives simple, going with the flow like chimes in the wind; others preferred the fast lane, making massive decisions which threw us into hardcore situations, the loudness of our choices dominating our already intense existence. It all looked like fun to the observers, sure, but we seemed oblivious to the bigger picture—and for any advanced outside creature, witnessing this type of behaviour was a jarring and uncomfortable lifestyle to analyse. But these specific beings were won over by the charm of our planet and inhabitants, finding it near impossible to tear their eyes away from our activity even for a second. To a degree, one might even argue that they had fallen in love with such a unique and complex race.

This was all scientifically put, of course, as when the Tension Coil they had planted in the Earth’s core began to vibrate, the adoration was ordered to stop. It was the Mother Being with the message they had been waiting for. They had collected enough data about the humans using a series of products they had built in conjunction with Apple, which they controlled remotely with their own custom tablet systems. The moment had come. Despite their fondness of the race, the next phase of the invasion had to commence, for The Prophecy had once again started to turn its clocks, and the child had been born. It was time to send in The Beasties.

Top Albums Of 2011 - 17. Braids - Native Speaker

Braids - Native Speaker

18 Jan

On this warm Autumn day, Jimmy lay on the soft grass gazing up at the spacious clear sky in euphoria. Leaves gently fell from nowhere and brushed his face in a manner that almost felt sexual, as if nature itself was trying to seduce him. And it was succeeding. He wasn’t sure if he was on drugs or not, but the words that the magical elephant had told him were enough to literally knock him right off his feet, where he remained for an unknown amount of time. This sort of uncertainty was as trippy and bewitching as it was sweet and arousing, and he smiled at his own thoughts in total comfort, falling in and out of day dreams and meditation, the entire universe breathing and expanding all around him.

It was in these moments that he realised he was the center of life, and his center was powered by love alone. He was brilliant. He was special. He was a small piece of a puzzle which touched everything. He was free and invincible. He was definitely on drugs after all.

Top Albums Of 2011 - 16. Fink - Perfect Darkness

Fink - Perfect Darkness

19 July
Contemporary Folk

An old man looks across a bridge at the birds flying in the wrong direction towards the sunrise, the darkness now moving into a state of unseasonal light and warmth. Below his feet, jellyfish push upwards using hope alone, their centuries of specialized evolution bringing them safely to the surface. Street lamps flicker as a young couple touch hands for the first time. A lady walks into her bedroom and sees a dark impression of Jesus on the wall, as she falls onto her knees in incomprehension and praise. Power-lines hum in their original brilliance and an abstract painter begins a piece using only blues and greys, looking through a talented eye only few can see. Rocks begin to fall into water and their ripples reach the ends of the ocean. A man believes he can see his ex-wife coming out the corner of his eye again, an image of a ghostly bride that haunts him as much as it fills him with the emotional love they once had. He cries in adoration for the third time that day. All of this happens at the exact same moment, the moment The Portal is opened and infection spills onto the earth, changing the skies to red and altering the world some claim they once knew.

Top Albums Of 2011 - 15. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact

Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact

09 May

After spending a lengthy amount of time on the run, code names Li and Br snickered in New York City over an organic cup of coffee. What felt like just a short time ago, their life had been very different, and they discussed these memories with mixed feelings. The original plan of invasion had all started to go wrong when their spaceship got caught in the Earth’s atmosphere, spinning them in orbit for days to the point of nausea. This inevitably resulted in their discovery by the planet’s inhabitants (in this case, the Japanese government) who wasted no time in plucking them out of the night sky and holding them captive in a secret location. Here they experienced complicated incidents they could have never imagined the humans to be capable of, the worst of all including an implantation of synthesised electrons all over their alien bodies. These electrons were as cruel as they were kind, randomly transmitting either mass amounts of endorphins to their brains or immense shocks of jarring pain to their every limb, forcing the pair into a constant state of tension and goosebumps, perpetually anticipating the next wave of suffering or pleasure. The men at the lab felt no pity. Quite the opposite in fact, often finding Li and Br’s discomfort amusing as the two headed alien was unable to predict when the next surprise would come—naturally building up huge resentment toward their captivators.

But to cut a lengthy part of the story short, the Japanese grew weary near the end of their experiments, and as a result, their work grew tired too. And the very moment they stopped looking over their shoulders was the exact same moment the aliens stopped playing possum and pounced. Needless to say, they escaped, but the Japanese weren’t so lucky.

The two managed to get far away from Japan using various modes of transport, and then spent some time hiding out in the more traditional parts of India. Here the people treated them well and in secret, mainly due to Li and Bri’s resemblance the Hindu deity Brahma, their unique appearance worshipped as a god rather than investigated as an extraterrestrial. And here they stayed for many moons, studying the culture and living the high life; feeding on fine food and wine from glass jars, romantically decorated saucers, and other such holy and luxurious items. This part of their story was a highlight which remained fond in their hearts, and restored much of their damaged faith in humanity from the hands of the Japanese government. But even this grew tiresome, and they knew it was only a matter of time before they had to complete the mission they had been sent to do. So after the careful planting of their suggestive seeds into the right minds, they managed to cross Africa to find the pale-skin girl, and then slid into New York with ease. And that’s where they sat now, their appearance completely disguised and unnoticeable to the public eye.

“YEAH, AND THEN WE LOST THE GIRL AT THAT PARTY,” the more cartoonesque head cackled as coffee dribbled down his chin.
“She is in the right hands now,” the more calm head responded, his lips barely moving. “Besides, we cannot meddle with The Prophecy anymore until we make contact with The Mothership. What good is a mission without instruction?”
The cartoonesque head’s permanent smile waned a bit, and then curiously he turned to his counterpart. “SO WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE BR?”

Br shook his head and looked to the sky. He didn’t know. They could just embrace the wonderful human culture like they had always wanted to do whilst marveling over the creatures from space—this fascinating planet with so many differences had so much to love and was beyond inviting.

“Or, we could just eat them all,” Br laughed, and Li joined in, spitting coffee all over the table in fits of hiccups and coughs. Soon they were both laughing so hard that their chair shook and sugar stung their noses, causing them to cry out in pain as well as hysteria. And yet still no one noticed anything peculiar about this two headed alien, drinking organic coffee in New York city.

Top Albums Of 2011 - 14. tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l

tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l

19 April
Art Pop

The wife’s frantic screams could be heard throughout the small African village. Her already difficult pregnancy had resulted in an even more difficult (albeit short) birth, and her voice flooded out from the openings of the Witch Doctor’s tent; layers and layers of weird noises and prayers—which isn’t always the most welcoming sound. A girl had been born, but unlike any child who'd ever been seen by this tribe before; her skin was that of a pale colour and her eyes were glazed as blue as the sky their kind worshipped.

That was many years ago to the date of this story, and her presence was much different now from what it was back then. The pale-skin girl lived healthy and happily among the kids of her age, completely oblivious to any differences she might have had from those around her. Much like her birth, she was full of personality and bubbles—a very powerful presence, forever singing and making jokes, running around and causing mischief. But much unlike her birth, she was relaxed, fearless and iree by nature—not terribly phased by the wild living conditions this tribe's village was a victim to. And in particular, on a day like today, her uniqueness towered above everyone else, as this was the day they celebrated her coming of age.

As it was tradition to honour such occasions, everyone wore their most varied attire and the joyous vibes were plentiful, but none were as joyous or original as the unmatched quirkiness of this teenage girl. Covered almost entirely in bright feathers and coloured mud, she reveled in the extra attention, singing and thumping rhythms on primitive instruments she had taught herself how to play, purely out of blissful instinct. Their pale-skin daughter, outshining them all.

And as the ceremony played on, the Witch Doctor leaned to the Chief and whispered “It looks like The Prophecy has come true after all.”

Top Albums Of 2011 - 13. Matana Roberts - COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres

Matana Roberts - COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres

10 May
Avant-Garde Jazz

“And next up, we have the lovely Gillian!” a screechy voice consumed the room, and Gillian felt a wooden stick prod her back until she stepped bashfully out from behind the curtain.
“Gillian is a 6 year old girl; healthy, strong, obedient and rewarding, with some very special talents!” the voice boomed again. The girl blinked in the spotlight, finding herself facing a dark room full of adults sitting towards her with expressionless stares. “Born from a mix of an African mother and an American superhero father, she has been blessed with a sense of smell unlike anything any one of you have ever seen before!”
“Prove it!” a male's voice echoed from the back of the audience and Gillian shifted on her feet nervously, visibly scared, not quite sure what she was doing here. In particular, the mention of the parents who had traumatically abandoned her in ways she still didn’t fully understand filled her with despair.
“We will certainly prove this!” the voice responded from the ceiling. There was no sign of who spoke these words, but anyone could hear that they were definitely tainted with madness. “Gillian, tell this man what is in his pockets by using your powerful nose alone!”

Gillian froze, until the wooden stick poked from behind the curtain again and stuck her right in the small of her back. She yelped for a moment, but quickly swallowed her instinct to scream out in pain. Instead she did what she was told to do, and concentrated on where the man in the audience was seated. For a second, fear consumed her as if she had forgot how to use her powers at all, but then her automatic skill proceeded to separate the smells in the room and she relaxed a little. That lady on the left side was wearing a cinnamon type of perfume. That young man a few rows from the front had touched a dog recently. Her nose sifted through the waves of scent until it pin-pointed the origin of the man in question, smelling his trousers from a hundred yards away.

She cleared her throat and her voice quivered like a freestyle saxophone as she picked apart the contents of his pockets. “Keys... 3 keys. A leather wallet with, uhm... two notes inside? Two notes and... uhm... fivesixseven... twelve... thirteen copper coins? No, twelve copper coins, sorry. Uhm... a photograph that’s a few years old and a piece of paper with ink on it... the ink is new from today. Uhm... a tissue with bacteria on it? Bad bacteria. You’re not very well, Mister...”
The crowd roared with laughter and the man who Gillian couldn’t even see in the blackness of the room was quick to confirm this all to be true, to which the audience murmured and whispered in impressed excitement. It had gone from quiet to noisy in an instant due to the magic they felt they had just witnessed here, and the whole thing to Gillian was reminiscent of some spiritual gospel service with demonic motives.

“You see, Ladies and Gentleman, a fine specimen of human being!” the loud speaker voice rose again. “A perfect addition to your establishment! So shall we start the bidding at $500? Can I hear $500?”
A man in a tattered suit raised a yellow card. “$500 to the gentleman over there, can I get 550? 550?” A lady in a red dress near the front raised her yellow card. “$550 to the lady in red, can I hear 600?”

The room had sped up and became frantic as if these people were calling to their ancestors from the underground, while Gillian stood there confused and miserable, tears swelling up behind her eyes. The last few days had been a blur, and all she wanted was her daddy back. Instead she had been whisked away from her home by creepy men and kept captive in a small room, treated like an animal, her groans met with physical punishment. This went on until this morning where she was washed and given a blue dress with a matching ribbon for her hair - which was pretty, but she knew it was not hers for keeps. And now suddenly here she stood, the reality of the situation beginning to weigh heavily upon her. At first it didn’t make sense, but she now understood that these grown ups were playing some sort of a game where she was the centerpiece, her soul feeling raped and ripped away for money. And she didn’t like it one bit.

BANG! A noise rang through the room as the voice excitedly announced “SOLD! $13,500 to the man in the black hat!” The loud speaker was addressing a male near to the front, who looked at Gillian very curiously with a sinister smile as the voice continued its poetic blarings. “Chain her down Roy, put the next one on!”

Top Albums Of 2011 - 12. The Weeknd - House Of Balloons

The Weeknd - House Of Balloons

20 March
Contemporary R&B

Jimmy woke up on a thin dirty mattress, bass-lines blaring all around him like a thunderstorm, creating tension within his already killer headache. How long had he been here? He didn’t know, but the dark mood coupled with the bodies of strung-out figures fidgeting around him was enough to get him up onto his feet. A few days ago this party seemed full of joy and love, but had now turned into something sinister; the minimal decor with cracked floors and frosty brick walls haunting Jimmy’s existence. He stumbled around, moving from room to room trying to find a way out, until he heard someone call his name.

He turned to see a naturally sexy yet obviously worn out girl he didn’t recognise, her eyes hidden underneath a damp fringe. She called out to him once again with a voice so stunning yet cold that he felt he had no choice but to oblige. He walked over, sat down on the sticky floor beside her, and she offered him a line of some yellowish powder. He didn’t know what it was, but felt compelled and snorted the foul smell into his brain which choked him immediately, causing his thumping headache to dull a little bit as he coughed up bile. The girl put her arm around him reassuringly and then kissed his ear, undeterred by his fits of sickness.

And by the time he finally got his breath back, the girl was already undoing his jeans and sitting on top of him.
“Wait,” he spluttered. “Do you have a condom?”
She laughed and replied coyly. “Does it even matter?”
He guessed it didn’t. He couldn’t remember why, but he was sure going to die soon anyway.

*Please note: I could hardly decide between this album, Thursday or Echoes of Silence. The Weeknd is just that good.

Top Albums Of 2011 - 11. Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting

Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting

4 April
Blue-Eyed Soul

Intoxicated and lost, James’ foot slid off the wet pavement and he tumbled face first onto the concrete. The world spun above his head and he could hear the dull laughter from some distant passers-by. None of this upset James—he felt indifferent to it—the misfortunate misstep seeming somewhat symbolic, now finding himself in the gutter where his life had been for so long now. The unseasonal rain poured onto the back of his neck and he opted not to move, lying nose-down on the drenched cold surface, shivering yet unable to feel sorry for himself—or even feel anything at all. Quite some time had passed since he'd given Gillian away to those smart men who promised to find only the best home for her, but something about their reassurances was unconvincing, and that was the final straw which ripped all of his self worth from his grasp. Why he had done that to his own daughter, he still didn’t know, but ever since Erika disappeared and he had lost all of his superpowers (getting rid of his moniker once and for all, and changing his original birth name to avoid eager pursuers), raising Gillian by himself was as unhealthy for her as it was irritating and too great of a task for him.

He felt his stomach churn from the mix of junk food and alcohol, and he lifted his head up, ready for his next puke of the day. Instead he caught his reflection in the puddle of water he lay in, his stubble and his dead eyes rippling from the raindrops, and it captivated him. Images and oily colours swirled in front of his face, and almost as if looking at clouds, solid pictures began to take shape within his imagination—some of which were almost frighteningly realistic.

And that’s when the clearest picture of all began to form, becoming more and more apparent. It was the likeness of a couple, the figures in some quiet ballroom scene, slow-dancing circles in an aura of love. It was beautifully mesmerising and beyond vivid, captivating James as he watched them like a movie on the sidewalk.

On and on it went, until the girl (who had an impeccable cleanliness about her, decorated in a frilly white dress and what looked like an expensive yet tasteful pendant around her neck) turned her head and looked straight at James, as if looking right into the camera like they did on TV. And it was there he realised it was Erika. Not a random image in a puddle anymore, but the lady he had loved for so long staring directly at him curiously, almost as if recognising him, and it took his breath away at a gut-wrenching speed and urgency. Her skin was as smooth and pale as he had always remembered it; her stunning allurement as strong as the day they had first met, and this didn’t make James feel very well at all.

After a moment, she turned away and looked back at the partner she was dancing with, speaking inaudibly through the smile James could never forget, and in his head he could picture her sultry voice which always resembled that of a gorgeous falsetto melody. She looked so fresh and in great health, completely content, and no part of her face exposed any thoughts of James, instead spellbound by this new playmate as they embraced and adored one another. Upon viewing this, James could almost feel her next to him, his wet clothing sticking to his skin as if it was her soft body hugging his. And this thought felt far too good, resulting in the realisation of something he never wanted to realise.

Whoever this man was, Erika had very obvious feelings towards him on a deeper level, and their sparkly expressions were so full of sweetness and mutual admiration that James’ heart broke for the millionth time. He tried his best to hide the sharp pang of pain that ran through his organs (somewhat out of fear that perhaps she could indeed see him right now), but the gravity which dropped his guts to the pits of his stomach overwhelmed him with so much emotion that his expression became tight in anguish. Because what hurt the most was this: whoever this man was, he seemed so much better for Erika than James had ever been. His own incident of infidelity had removed Erika from this world and wherever she was now, he could see she was much happier without him - in a state that he could have never fixed himself. And there was a bitter-sweetness in this. His cold misery yet her warm happiness, an internal conflict that things may have turned out for the best after all. And these thoughts formed tears which stung his already bloodshot eyes.

Suddenly, the puke he had anticipated earlier blasted out of his throat and ruined the ballroom-dance setting, replacing the puddle’s motions with assorted colours and half-digested contents. Now just a mess in front of his face remained, reflecting nothing but the sorry state his person was in. Never in his life had he felt so dead inside, and the instant he grasped this realisation, he knew what he had to do. He had to kill himself once and for all.

A hand tapped him on the shoulder and he looked up to see a business man with a concerned look on his face. “Are you alright, buddy?” the man asked cautiously.
“Feeling much better now, thanks” Jimmy responded quickly to remove the already awkward tension swelling up between them, and hastily got onto his feet, wiping his mouth of sick and swallowing deeply. It was true. He did feel much better now. He was going to go home and blast his thoughts out with a shotgun, and that would solve everything in the fastest time possible, relieving himself of the life he no longer valued.

And if one looked closely, you could argue a corner of a smile cracked the side of his face, albeit a small sliver within an abyss of sadness.

Click Here For Part 5

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  1. Before the end of January you say?

  2. Meh, first of February now, sorry <3

  3. Actually, scrap that, 31st of Jan, I made it on time!! :D