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A village hall will chew your sound

and swallow it;

roll it round like thunder.

Every hall remains

itself – each room somewhere apart;

acoustics like an abbatoir –

but foldback helps:

speakers that, pointing back at you,

give every note the logic

of a pen on paper.

All we had were instruments;

notes that, you realise later,

had the breadth, the dull

intransigence, of mud.

Blood on the pickups,

and your voice its own worst enemy;

each song weighed down

by an acoustic like dull water,

roiled and thickened and abraded,

yes, but don’t forget

how you relentlessly expressed

yourself. That thirteen minute

ballad, crafted – grown

in your room.

All the extremes you went to…

What’s the opposite of honing?

Dulling. Dulling – hacking

at the guitar; rubbing your voice

against the limits of your voice –

its own form of expression.

Music wielded like a fist,

insisting on the thing the audience

was trying to resist: yourself,

writ large, and larger still,

until the band, all of its gleam

and tilt, had the loud lack

of clarity of a megaphone.


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