The sounds are fluid and surreal. He feels as if he is walking through a movie. It’s like nothing he’s ever heard before. The chord progression is basic, maybe D-C-G, but the rhythm and tempo keep changing, and the tone moves from ominous to happy to bittersweet almost haphazardly. He follows the guitar mostly, and it creeps through blues and dissonant jazz and then to what amounts to speed punk, acid-hop, and finally rock. Each note from the piano sounds like an individual drop of rain, each chord a splash on an otherwise empty flat calm sea in the early morning.
He is walking through a mall at around 2:30 p.m. The lunch crowd is gone. Kids are still in school. The wide halls are nearly empty and echo with this music. He keeps walking, fearing that it will end, wondering if this is an auditory hallucination. The guitar seems to be turned down lower in volume than the other instruments and the drums just whisper out a cadence. The bass, piano, sax, trumpet, and synthesizer carry the weight of the sonic work. But the guitar makes the sound special. Careening through styles and riffs from numerous repertories, the guitar seems to whisper unspoken thoughts.
Cecil fears it will all end if he stops walking. So he keeps moving through the mall, the sensation that he is in a movie welling up inside him, making him feel as if he’s being watched, as if he is a movie himself.
He wanders up through three levels. Each time he rides the escalator, the music drifts off into the open atrium air. He moves back down the three levels circling the atrium, covering the entire floor area of each level before heading down to the next. He has to keep moving.
On the ground floor he finds stairs marked for access to the sub-basement. With nowhere else to go, he hesitates for a moment, waiting for the music to end – which it doesn’t – and then heads down. At the bottom is an unmarked red door. The quality of sound changes here as he opens the door. The music becomes more resonant and pure. Walking down an empty hall, he realizes the sound is getting louder and that it no longer comes from speakers. Turning a corner, he sees an open door marked “Machine Shop.” In the anteroom he finds the band – seven in number. He stands at the doorway and watches. They are young - maybe in their early twenties. The guitarist is African with a goatee and dressed in a long silk dashiki and blue jeans. He wears a wide, silk headband. An unlit cigarette dangles from the side of his mouth as he rests his chin on his chest and plays his instrument, eyes closed.
The other six musicians are white. They watch the guitarist intently. After a few minutes the drummer notices Cecil in the doorway and nods slightly in recognition. The bassist and two horn players notice him as well. Finally, the pianist and the man sitting before a keyboard and a bank of computer screens also notice him. The guitarist keeps on playing with his eyes closed.
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