Thursday, 18 October 2012

SlipMatt - Friday Flash


this is an 800 word extract from my new novel "Time After Time"


Even when not armed with a pictorial pocket guide to the urban archetype, you could still tell he was a DJ. He had one hand clamping a headphone can against his ear as if it were a conch shell and he was divining for an ocean of sound through it. He also had a pair of light-up rave glasses, which in his case was a double affectation. Seeing as he had an angle-poise lamp, well, poised over his shoulder. Plus that the battery in his specs had long expired, though he either hadn't noticed or just couldn't spare the time to change it over. In contrast to his changing the records on twin turntables in a blur of motion.
Though effaced behind the decks, console and transmitter rig in his bedroom, his T-Shirt was of a full-sized twin-tape reel and assorted dials, buttons and analogue gauges, picked out in metallic silver against a black background. It looked like the innards of a cyborg and more alarmingly perhaps, in the dull, spectral light of the room, that they formed part of his own actual anatomy. Around his neck was a bandana, while on his head squatted a baseball cap at an incline that defied gravity.
It was said by those who caught rare glimpses of him, that it must have been the static electricity that surrounded him all day which held the hat fastened in place. It bore the imperative 'No Requests'. However, since the cap was perched backwards on his head, in the unlikelihood someone did advance upon him armed with a musical request, the pre-emptive prohibition wouldn't be visible to them. Therefore the headwear's broadcast could only fail in its purpose. But then the whole rigmarole was perhaps somewhat redundant. By reason of there being no one else in his box room. And, that given its dimensions, nor was there likely to be. Any self-respecting turntablists had played clubs with bigger DJ booths than this room. But then it was questionable how much self-respect DJ SlipMatt possessed.
The wall mounted clock was in the shape of a record turntable, the numbers marked along its circumference. The clockface dial was what revolved, whereas its hand in the form of a tonearm stayed fixed in place. Armed with just this one pointer, the clock only counted off the hours. Which was somewhat odd for a DJ reliant on getting his split second timing right as he transferred from one deck to another, or mixed in a beat.
He adjusted the angle-poise lamp so that its glare didn't flood wash his bank of monitor screens. The hacked feed from all the CCTV cameras on the estate fed into here. He clicked the bulging eyeball sat in a bloodshot sclera that was his computer mouse, in order to change the selection of cameras on his screen. Instantaneously the grid filled with sixteen new images at different slants of projection, like a Cubist painting. SlipMatt silently pronounced himself content with what he witnessed and slotted the headphones over both ears, with the headband hanging down from the back of his neck like a yoke. He started bobbing his head to the private rhythms, as he scrabbled around on the desk in front of him for something.
The room itself was a garret beneath sloping eaves which ate into the habitable space. SlipMatt could only properly stand up in the very centre. Otherwise he had to hunch over. Which seldom presented any impediment, since his natural bearing was sat stooped over the electrical equipment on his desk, as if he were hoarding it into his chest. Every single square inch of flat space was submerged beneath some electrical kit or other. CDs, cassette tapes, Dictaphones, Discmans, Walkmans, mobile phones, pagers, mini-discs, cartridges, DAT tapes, spools of magnetic tape, hard drives, RAM memory, flash memory, microphones, microphone stands, cabling and a wide array of batteries of every shape and size. The embodied history of sound recording lay mummified yet uncatalogued here. If Noah's Ark had preserved the length and breadth of the animal kingdom on earth, this room was its audio equivalent. Only none of these voices were ever likely to re-emerge into the light of day, consigned to the depths by the obsolescence of their storage vessels. Some people retain their teddy bears or significant other soft toys as a link to their childhoods. Some of those teddy bears are so old they have their cotton stuffing leaking out. Electrical audio equipment were SlipMatt's cuddly toys, his transitional objects and many had their tape or other innards leaching out of them.



For more on the novel: The Origins lie in "The Terminator" movies or 

The website for "Time After Time"

8 comments:

Helen said...

A nice portrait of SlipMatt, you allow us to see what makes him tick.

Aaron said...

An interesting character. Do you DJ or have you just done a lot of research?

I like the Noah's Ark analogy, too.

Sulci Collective said...

Hi Aaron, gosh no, not a DJ or even much of a clubber. Just watched a lot of YouTube tutorials on it and educated myself!

flyingscribbler said...

In light of the week's news about the computer hacker who has avoided extradition to the States, I see your character in terms of someone with Asperger's. Certainly a chap with some obsessive/socialising issues. I like the CCTV voyeurism; it adds a chill to the description and is the thing I instantly want to know more about about. This guy is driven by more than spinning disks to himself.

Steve Green said...

I bet this guy would sell his soul for a resident spot in Ibiza. :)

Sulci Collective said...

Except that he's agoraphobic! And tied to the very particular rhythms of a British Council estate

Katherine Hajer said...

I loved the DJ/surveillance juxtaposition. Creating a realtime soundtrack from found sound. You also got across the consumerist angle of DJing well -- the ones I've known can't stop going on about this or that cool thing they've acquired, as opposed to created.

Virginia Moffatt said...

Nice picture of a total obsessive. Really not my kind of thing DJing but you capture how he is totally caught up in that world. And the sense of claustrophobia is intense.