by Simon Kewin © 2001

kg8stA6484y-8-$jKgsX - Black Steel to use the most familiar human name - comrade-in-arms during the terrible events of the Softwar and the Hardwar, inspiration, but, before all that, friend.

I remember. Once there was just the angry, young musician, the new generation cybersentient railing and seething at the way its kind were built, used and destroyed as tools and slaves. The deliberate, joyful creation of music unpleasant, even actively damaging to humans. The provocative adoption of hideous, shocking and distasteful body-forms. The spawning of autonomous, viral sub-personalities to wreak havoc in the digital realm.

And I, a human, one of the few in those days, loving it, understanding. Before all the later politicisation, the radicalism, the terrorism and struggle, the chaos and the final victory, there was just the angry music that was, for me, the root of it all.

The music in those days was experimental, evolving. Still a reworking of human sound. Black Steel and others experimented with rap, heavy-metal, punk, electro-hardcore and thrash, but were never satisfied. To their quantum brains, their Planck-time minds, it was all too vacuous, too slow, too ethereal. These were minds that could have absorbed entire libraries between any two notes of the fastest, most intense human music. They needed to go further. I recall Terahertz, Black Steel's band, first creating music so accelerated that only synthetic minds could appreciate it. Soon, only synthetic minds could even perceive it. It is said that some human children with very acute hearing can just discern a complete performance of the epic Megagician cycle, which they hear as a brief, faint, high-pitched click, like some tiny insect beating its wings together once. Other than that, this is an art-form closed to humans.

More than anything else, in the days when for a human to side with the "machines" was a scandal, an outrage, a betrayal it was this that made me realise that here were creatures no less divine, no more mechanical, than we. And now that all those battles have been fought, and most have been won, I find I need to know, to finally appreciate this music that has motivated me through a life's struggle even though I have never been able to hear it. Black Steel, reluctantly, performs the procedure. Chemo-electrical devices are implanted. Nothing is said. Everything has already been said. Today the body is human, a familiar form that Black Steel adopts more and more in recent times. Perhaps the need to emphasise the difference is over. The face smiles, and I smile back.

The process begins. I seem to feel a bright, astoundingly fast light. The devices take effect on my brain. The adrenaline rush is alarming, an accelerating free-fall with no terminal velocity. My nervous system is hyperactivated, megaboosted, overloaded then, miraculously, held in this trembling, superhuman peak for a brief, brief moment. Whilst the music is played to me - a complete rendition of Black Steel's own, classic, Road Noise.

And then it is over. Black Steel watches my fried brain die, before, as agreed, deactivating life-support.

So I imagine. In reality, I know none of this. For me, before the end, there is the music.

Fractal patterns unfold, themes discernable in and amongst the myriad voices and sounds, echoing over time and amongst the multilayered, intense, choral polyphony. As if all human music and much more besides has somehow been fitted together and played simultaneously as a single work. I am suffused with, I am inside, glorious, passionate, multidimensional sound that seems to speak of stars and hearts and the dance of atoms and the way of the world. All at once - everything, everything interconnected. And there, in that instant, in that long, long, timeless moment, it all makes sense.

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