An interstate in Illinois, late summer. Fields of gold blur past us, corn-turned-Impressionism. There is a crisp quality to the air that feels clean, almost baptismal. In this story I am deaf, but for one song.
We're driving, me and... someone. Who, I don't know. But driving, alongside a railroad track that hasn't seen any moving trains in days. There's a town, run-down garages and thrift stores, farms that hug the countryside in desperation.
"Can you hear it? There's a voice in the track. What's it saying?"
I don't hear a voice. You're scaring me.
"Listen carefully. It's just barely there. Like it's drowning."
Like it's drowning. That's what it sounds like, towards the end of the song. It feels like you're drowning, but like you've accepted your fate so it's just a relief. Eyes emptying of life, staring forward, body moving as in a dream. This is a dream. It's not me, but a pretty brunette and her hair is floating upward, carried by the mirky water of the pond.
I see a pond. Or, maybe a creek. A thick marsh leftover from a strong rain. It reminds me of the spot we used to camp at when I was a teenager.
"Yeah, but can you see the sun?"
God, I was just thinking about the sun piercing into the water; the rays are wavy.
"You can even see the leaves and debris floating past her face."
Stop it. You're scaring me.
I've never heard a song that sounded so distincly autumnal. It's ambient, but charged. Like death. The way something is more alive than it's ever been just before it dies. Now I understand the strange bliss of depression, the way some people can only be happy in agony. I feel high.
"It's called a soundscape I think. Like a painting, only with music."
"Close your eyes. Can you see the colors?"
This is modern day Van Gogh.
The guitar, the violins--they're haunting. When the song ends, it feels uncomfortable not to be listening to it. You want to hit replay again and again. But when you're listening to it, it's not comfortable either. This is what it sounds like to watch something die, to be completely powerless in a climactic situation. This song feels like fate pulling you.
Hunted's home is track one on Mogwai's fourth album, Happy Songs for Happy People. I discovered it accidentally, as with most things. Everyone I've shared it with has felt the same uneasy attraction to the sound. Please seek it out for yourself. It is profound in ways I can't understand, yet I feel compelled to bear its description.