Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Thorne Davis, Tora – Fat Freddy’s Drop, Based On A True Story(2005)
In the cool of an Autumn dawn, nestled in the hinterland of Byron Bay, Australia I awoke from a light sleep riddled with excitement for the adventure ahead. The sky was still dark, not yet honouring the promise of new day and I moved from my bed to wake my sleeping friends. We had been planning this for the better part of two months, aligning our voyage with the absence of parents or visitors so we could enjoy this day undisturbed in the sanctuary of nature and security of a home. The house belonged to my friend’s father, but as a close friend, its warmth and familiarity extended far into my life.
After a light breakfast in the ambience of the rising sun, we sat out on the balcony, wrapped in blankets and swallowed our carefully acquired tickets to reality dissolution. The butterflies in my stomach carried me around the house for the next hour as we eagerly awaited any sign that the train was beginning to depart from the station during which time I found myself trying to operate the 5.1 surround sound system centred on the living room couch. It was a good moment to encourage the rising run with some music, and a welcome distraction from my anticipation. At that time in my life I didn’t fully appreciate what the term ‘audiophile’ could mean for someone’s pursuit of sound quality and despite the speakers evidently looking great, the living room couch was a fairly understated furniture piece to be focusing such high fidelity equipment.
In any case, the album of the last few months had been Based On A True Story by Fat Freddy’s Drop and, in tandem with my shifting perspective, I thought it curious to place something familiar under a new light. That understated couch was also about to earn a new appreciation as I started the album, sat back and didn’t move for the next hour and ten minutes.
What began to shortly unfold as the opening track ‘Ernie’ graced my ears was an experience that words still fall short to describe. I have tried to recount the next few hours to my friends and family but of course, an experience lived and an experience told seldom reach the same destination, but I’ll recount it as best I can.
The living room was part of an open plan ground floor with walls of large windows looking out to vibrant green forest now fully illuminated by a red and purple rising sun, parading a brilliance previously unknown to my eyes. It was as though my whole life had been video streaming at 360p and my increasing bandwidth just kicked things into 4k. The air crisp and sweet, mottled with the morning songs of unknown birds all dancing on top of Cays Crays’ driving reggae drums and bass.
Perhaps worth recalling that I was positioned at the focal point of a 5.1 surround sound system at an unknown volume witnessing one of the most glorious mornings of my life unfold. The evolution of the album, the sounds and textures literally enveloping, caressing, bathing me… I was honestly transported. Floating on a blanket of sound, eyes closed and spectator to a theatre of colour conducted by ineffable sonic pleasure. Sounds borderline orgasmic? It was. To this day it remains the single highest calibre sonic experience of my life, even pulling tears from my eyes as I drifted through Del Fuego.
Strangely enough, I don’t recall being joined or disturbed by any of my fellow psychonauts throughout my synesthesia. Either the volume was high enough I missed their calls to action or they saw I was travelling the astral planes and let me be. In any case, the day was long and we enjoyed many laughs and quizzical moments later but the purity of that experience was nourishing beyond words and Based On A True Story is an album I still hold close to this day.