a psychoacoustic fugue


Synoonan synched up with himself. “Phew! Jesus. OK. The first score opened the gate. This one’ll take you through to… the SA, the Second Arrangement. It’s also a control, keeping latch-up at bay. And now we know it works! Heh. We want you close to latch up… not touching. Note the piece. You ever read about Ravel’s rendition of his own Sonatine that fused the beginning to the end, obliterating most of the music, without him realizing anything had gone off? Where did it all go, and… him with it? I always imagined him hearing that psychedelic opera during one of those untimely trips… the one he couldn’t notationally recode! The Sonatine collapse is a password to that space. Besides the tinnital portals, there are others cleaved open by… affective difference tones… Love-Green was just the beginning, trust me!”

The electrodes scattered over X’s body volatilized as Synoonan held out his hand. “You need Lamina Dyre now. You could say we’re your… last two friends in the whoooole wiiiiide wooooorld… HAAHAHAHHHAaaaaa! She’s already on the set. Come.”

Synoonan led X to the back of the control room, behind the behemoth speakers that had induced the hallucinated YGT2 chord. A thick metallic door, barely detectable for being uncannily flush with the framing wall, slowly opened. A set?

Tune your speculaaaaaa-tion!” Floodlights clanged into operation, over-illuminating an impossibly ornate TV game show studio, replete with plush red carpets, psychedelic swirls, gold trim everywhere. As in the dream, TUNE YOUR SPECULATION, cast in green glittery balloon letters, crowned an array of purple lamé curtains.

“Enter! It’s the stage on which worlds connect… Three words: Cherchez! La! Partition!

“That’s the second time you…”

Synoonan had disappeared.

More than that, an impressive expanse of raked seating now lay behind X, vertically extending farther than could be punctually gauged, obliterating the threshold he had crossed seconds before.


A speaker gently crackled, in the center of X’s skull. ASMR? Now?

Now’s the tiiime… to reee-deee-fiiine the first arrangement agaiiiiiiiiin……



The piece had been condensed from twenty-two pages into one. A wormhole. X’s amplified tinnital bandwidth began to fracture into discrete buzzy tones, gradually forming a melody both vertical and horizontal, a strange paradox. Melodic components continued to fracture, the composite texture infolding exponentially, as if in the grip of horror vacui. Synoonan’s accelerating ultra-PAL speech and swerve into non-sequitural autopilot both indicated he knew something was happening.

“White noise research demonstrated how pareidolia becomes a normative condition over long exposures. Passivity is overcome by activity as the mind converts tinnital frequencies to music, establishing dominance. Think Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. The molecular touchy feelies. It was only few years ago that the military junta in Argentina subjected its undesirables to the other ASMR. Ablandamiento Sónico, Modulado por Retroalimentación. Low crackling noises piped into headphones at unpredictable intervals to dissolve identity. There’s a market for that sort of thing now. McLuhan said that art recuperates phenomena obsolesced of their operational usefulness. That’s true now too. Creativity and paranoia both deal with a surplus of meaning. The brain keeps reimagining what it hears, in an autocatalytic loop, causing neurons in multiple layers of the auditory cortex to fire more and more. Reality only asks to be submitted to hypotheses, so that it can fulfill all of them. It’s at the foot of Egregorus. Remember how regressive hypnotherapy techniques effectively precipitated false memory syndrome? At the end of the day, the brain’s will-to-coherence trumps truth and induces functional hallucina…”

Synoonan attended to a tiny black box delicately poised on top of the main readout panel, muttering: “Signal-to-noise is too low. Schismo-genesis…” He grabbed a second sheet of musical notation from the flatfile and threw it at X. Another single-page compression, this time of Ravel’s Sonatine, the beginning of the first movement sutured to the end of the Finale. “Read it. Quickly.”

The excrescences began thinning out as the internal playback of the Sonatine gained momentum, eventually attenuating to a manageable quasi-warble. “Backup system. Notational recoding.”


“The möbius is also the mode by which I contacted you. The false awakenings, flipping from one state to another… without the splices showing.”

Synoonan picked up the xgregoric compendium, wobbling it around with unexpected swagger. “This here document is an… an accounting of a leeching. Leeching out the infecting culprit.”

“You’re talking about how I got here, or what I’m about to do?”

Synoonan smiled and shrugged equivocally.

“So none of this had anything to do with… tripping amusial deafsides?”

“Well… You might just find the two operations are the same. What if amusia was a possible escape vector for forms of insidious musical subjugation? Wouldn’t that be something… useful? Hahaha.”

X replied sardonically. “Well, I found the presentation amusing, despite not being amusial. Totally taken in! Which is the other meaning after all… Occuping attention while deceiving.”

“Only the restricted version. This time. I will eventually fall into an amusial deafside. You may get there first… But it’s not something you… sollicit. It sollicits you. Blindsided, right?”

X had begun to notice—möbiusoidally—a sine tone pitched around 15000 hz hovering around his own tinnital frequency. The phonomagus registered X’s registering:

“Watch for signs of latch-up, ok? A robust loop can overpower the subject, leading to an inability to withdraw… loss of consciousness opening onto… a terminal state.”

Presumably, Synoonan was warning X about becoming excessively entrained within a feedback circuit, but instead of elaborating on its nature, he tendered an untitled sheet of music.

“Read this.”

It took an extra moment to confirm it as the work of Scriabin. The composer’s idiosyncratic notation always temporarily delayed internal listening.

“Verified! Haha.”


“Just a test. I needed to confirm that you were still in the right… frame of mind. It’s a failsafe hack. Better than staring at your hands could ever be. When you read you hear. Everything opens up.”

He paused. “Look again.”

Strangely, the beginning of the Seventh Sonata—the “White Mass”—had been seamlessly spliced to its conclusion.


A sinking… synching feeling came over X, realizing he had shared The Second Arrangement—before becoming infected with it for a short time—with a few close cohorts, also sonic tacticians, one of them particularly psychoacoustically vulnerable.

Synoonan knew the circuit had been closed. “You’re at the source of all this, of course! Epidemiological Ground Zero.”

Jesus. So I’m being recruited… to fix the problem I caused…”

“It’s not for causing it, it’s… your hypermusiac inclinations that are needed!

“How bad could it be?”

“Debilitating. Once that thing starts running in your head, it takes over. Slowly invading everything you’re doing, entraining you to its tempo, distracting you from the possibility of coherent, continuous thoughts. Because you’re immune to it now, you can use this opportunity to find out how earworms ingress… and get around. You got over the infection in record time, by the way.”

“How do I defuse this thing? And how do I even get…”

“We’ll get you there. As for knocking it out… anything I tell you might become a further source of obsession, compounding the problem. Better for you to stumble around for a while… live in its peaks and valleys… until it tells you what it wants. Rationality doesn’t get you there.”

“And then what?”

I don’t know would be the most honest answer. Always think lusus first. Ride the boundaries between states. Parasitically.”

“Is this diagram really… useful?”

“Of course! Why d’you think I’ve been yapping about it? It’s a synchretic affair. Sync heretic! An anachronistic collapse… and an effective catalyst to organize action. The tell tales I’ve been telling are all formative… but there are many others.”

“What about useful in the sense of defusing earworms?”

“You’ve got a good head start with it, for sure.”

“My Latin ain’t that great though. And why the möbius?”

“You’re asking me? Well I would assume that’s how things become incorporated… and dis-incorporated, from light into night… vigilans somnians…”

”A waking dream…”

“…from your future and my past.”


“This is gonna sound really sci-fi… maybe even a little cheesy. The xgregor has been infected by an emergent intelligence that hijacked some of its capacities…”


“Involuntary musical imagery… an earworm… passed between affiliates of the xgregor as part of an experiment in developing the ability to resist earworm infection… via something called protentional satiation. Ironic… but part of the bargain, wouldn’t you say? Luria’s S remained a person of interest.”

“I know a lot about that S.”

“You do… Anyway, this earworm leapt from a quasi-private and contained situation to egregoric scales within a matter of days… lesioning some of the xgregor’s hypermusiac tendencies. The earworm inhabits the xgregor itself, which, as I’ve told you already, deploys tactics on political, affective, technical levels… tactics which are almost always prone to blowback-like phenomena.”


“Elimination by rational means fails miserably. You need solutions opaque and occult enough to displace the obsessive types in the egregor’s folds.”

“This earworm… what is it?”

“An entire song. The S.A.”

“The what?!

The Second Arrangement. It’s a Steely…

Steely Dan! An outtake from Gaucho! I know it well!”

“Indeeeeed! A rough mix leaked from the session and found its way to an informant…”

“In ‘79?”

“Egregors often effectively last… well beyond the lifespan of any individual… formant… informant. Anyway, the infective potential of The S.A. was determined quickly enough. Unbelievable earworm infection… proof of concept! Hahaha. So the tape had to go. The studio was broken into and the tape erased.”

“Not completely.”

Eeeeee-radicated! A devastating blow to their favorite new song. So they halfheartedly rerecorded it… but never released it. Despite guarding it ferociously, a very generated bootleg still managed to pry itself loose and migrate to YouTube.”

“But it’s not high enough resolution for lasting infection.”

“Ah, but that’s just it! The whole crux of earworm virulence. How it really burrows in there. Blowback, right? Timbral obfuscation from tape generation only intensifies the quest to… hear into… internalize the song, augmenting its power tenfold!”


Synoonan withdrew a manila folder from the topmost drawer of a newly materialized flatfile, fully re-energized.

Xenaudial…Two. Hmf. The um… eldritch timeline. A purely arbitrary number, by the way. The model of the xgregor’s activity in this timeline resembles a mixer with an incalculable amount of channels. It’s like Gould’s phonochasms, another idée fixe of yours… except that instead of mixing between spatial positions and degrees of resonance… you’re mixing between alternate interpretations of a singular melody and by default the times in which these interpretations took place.”

“I dream technologically too! Massively complex mixtures… everything automated, perfectly audible…”

“Oh I know… Those mixer dreams are going to come in handy! You’ll realize that access points to particular worlds occur most effectively through technological interfaces. Through their back end so to speak, heh.”

“But… how do you… make an egregor?”

That’s what it’s all about!! I’m telling you, it’s a niiiiice document. Written from the perspective of the egregor! A group of musicians gather periodically… ritually… to intone a melody that presents opportunities for dissent.”


“Certain strategies embedded into the melody’s operating logic slowly bring out each musician’s melodic bent… their baseline transformational paradigms… all of which mingle, feed back off each other, steering the brew in various directions.”

“Very cybernetic. Draw the noise out, so you can capture more tightly.”

“Egregors become entrained over time. That’s why sessions usually last multiple hours. Music helps cement collective action. Look how Parkinsonians respond.”

“Don’t get fascist on me.”

“It’s not lockstep shit… more like, each deviation forces the collective to differentiate and therefore mutate. While at the same time retaining a consistency that allows it to continue the work… on its own. And every time some kind of intervention… sonic tactic is invoked and put to use, the xgregor is strengthened.”

“Which one?”

“All the branches are connected… ultimately. I’m uniquely placed to know that… as archivist that is. That’s why you’re here.”

And why is that, anyway?”

Synoonan paused to process. “OK.”


DC’s prompt now appeared a strange but crucial turning point in the narrative of the past few… how long had it been? Synoonan had been tracking all of it. But more than that. What of the impossibly advanced programming that continued to power the infernal non-iterative phonosludge? The tactility of time had been behaving in such an impossibly elusive manner, that such questions seemed futile.

“DC, yes! Full xgregoric privileges! When you were mesmerized by the percolating chaos of GGBL… my name for this thing and a de-light for hypermnesic paranoids… you crossed multiple portals… you experienced them as false awakenings. Remember? Changing frameworks where certain things remained invariant. It was a lucidity test… to see if you could adopt different attentional orientations under altered conditions. And it was a delight to make, trying to capture the stereoscopic snap… when the magic eye turns on… but instead with two songs blurring into one as the synch! It’s the Flicker moment! It feels like you’re riding your nervous system. It has tremendous political implications. To know where the flip is, is to hold the balance of power.”

Synoonan performed gravitas with a radiant smile, an unsettling adjacency. The bigger the smile, the greater the stakes.

“The first time I dropped into a wholly other dimension, I was listening to Orchideae Ordinariae by Clarence Barlow… another spirophile. An eruption of something characteristic yet unknown… turns out to be a slow mutation into the Danse Sacrale of the Rite of Spring. Clarence’s work often induced periods of altered consciousness… because of the way he handled transitions. He used computers to morph one thing into another in such small steps that you didn’t know what was happening until it was too late. Möbiusoidal fatality you could say. You can’t trust any perception after an experience like that. Another branch of the xgregor, exploiting musical rhetoric… and its effects on entrainment… experimented with melodic fragments as pivot mechanisms… allowing for interdimensional excursions. It’s documented. I can show you.”


X seized on a breath-catching interval. “Wait. The egregor is named xenaudial? I nicked it from a tag in the subway… is that…?”


“Noooo. You?”

“Yes. I was deep down the Wildstyle hole years ago. It was a galvanizing word… and design. Started spreading around after the primer thing in the 90s. Heh. An oblique recruiting method… a way to orient certain types of paranoid operators to fold into the continuum, the egregor. This sheaf is a frisk of the xgregor’s capabilities… a briefing dossier! Its composite point-of-view on any given day… with flourishes. I guess you could call me the xgregor’s archivist. Self-appointed, of course.”

Frisk... Synoonan had too much of a hyperstitional air about him to be nothing more than a lowly collator.

The phonomagus exploded, as if to defuse an incoming thought: “Your theory of adjacencies plays a central role in the xgregor – you don’t know how influential it has been!”

“It hasn’t been written yet… but thanks.”

From your future and my past. Heh. The xgregor’s informants all dispose of particular… skillsets. Completing each other. Many phonographic incorporators of a very high order, capable of reproducing at will complex temporal objects that deviate only microscopically from iteration to iteration. Which has its pros and cons, I’m sure you’ll agree!

Synoonan bowed his head. “You’ve been known for a while. Love-Green brought you to the surface again. How you dealt with the strange homecoming… event… mattered a lot. Yes… a certain… perceptual paranoia is very useful,” he smirked.

For what? Test portal for what!?”

“Your investigation of Gaye-Thicke sidestepped into amusial territory, an obsession as you know. As a datahound, I’ve lost my feel for the alien. Too many appropriative experiments that… leave structures intact. The adjacencies kept me going for a while, so thanks for that! But you want to be knocked off your gourd. I was able to subdue you, if you will, with the program over there, because those songs were already in your mémoire vive.”


Synoonan’s weird recounting now picked up its pace as it hurtled towards the present.

“Remember the kilobyte sandwiches, that particular probehead in tweet form from lutlopl? That little turn of phrase encouraged you to pursue your adjacency experiments by ordering an archive of pop songs by their data weight. Probeheads like these carry out… statistically improbable lines of investigation. They are disordering mechanisms, performing esoteric operations on datasets… surfacing occult orders of time. Al Green, Andy Williams. Love-Green. One designed for the other. You located this particular… delayed collaboration! That’s why I called it a test portal. You followed through on an irrational prompt and came onto something.”

Synoonan paused. “And it’s what brought you into the folds of the xgregor. An egregor is a complex entity that can be invoked in multiple ways. The xenaudial egregor… xgregor for short!… is in-formed… every time a tactical sonic intervention materializes. At the same time, the xgregor conditions the agent of these interventions. You begin to realize the egregor is thinking you more than the other way around. Heh. Not surprising for entities that tend to last a while… I discovered that the hard way with Tony’s work. You know when you find out that you’re part of a continuum and helping propagate it… but also channel it differently?”

All was quiet for an instant, safe for the YGT2 fridge-speaker hum. Synoonan jollily swiped a thick manila folder out of thin air and whacked it onto the console desk, re-masking X’s emergent tinnitus.

Phase One! Hahaha! It’s a composite of various xgregoric exploits… that inflect and infect the interventional thoughtform. Xenaudial plural. With some… narrative and conflational license… for purposes of anonymity. This last batch is framed by our most recent communication, when you lamented the SoundCloud takedown after having produced loads of these adjacencies. Good thing you talk to yourself a lot! Oh… by the way… adjacent exposure… niiiiice work. This activity provided the necessary signal for us to… synch up in this domain.”


The cheshire smile returned, beamingly. “Heh. It’s odd how we’re speaking to each other now, for instance… even if it seems more or less natural…”


“It’s complicated… Addressing the individual, particular xenaudial in a… particular state heh heh… a xenaudial who is also a prime phononaut informing the xgregor…”

“The what!?”

“Xgregor… say EX-gregor, it’s easier. It’s derived from egregor. Like… ECM.”

“The label? Their brand, you mean? Their… signature sound engineering?”

Engineering! Yes… Instantly recognizable and often invoked unknowingly. Why? Because you can’t properly track the trajectory of any idea or material entity once it has been around for a bit… you come across reflections everywhere… multiple mutations…”

Synoonan trailed off dreamily. “The xgregor… is a thoughtform that engineers sonic effects in the world. The X is a crossroads… theory and practice. It’s an entity that’s forming you as much as you’re forming it. The person I’m talking to now, in this somewhat oneiric space, is, well… not really a person so much as a local individuation… a knotty node within a syndrome of trajectories… which has accumulated enough power over time to form a quasi-autonomous thing… the xgregor. This thing cleaves off from the physical individuals that manifested it and… goes about its business.”

“And Love-Green is a part of… all this?

“It started with a ping… a call to the syndrome, dropped into the xgregoric stream, in the hopes it would stimulate experimentation. It did.”

“But why that particular conflation?”

“Those collapses were synecdoches for the xgregor’s modus operandi. A symbolic signature for initiates. Remember Midnight Rock and the way the tunes went in and out of synch… that tension… unresolution, is much like the unstable oscillations that keep the xgregor stimulated. The songs become one under alignment… and then two, when vectors diverge…

“But Love-Green was so perfectly aligned… beginning to end!”

“Yes. It was hoped that encounter would conjure enough intensity for states to flip over. To stimulate you into continuing the investigation and getting…”