new order session dream

4 June 2006, 11:21 am

I was in a huge, labyrinthine, multi-story red brick building that had aspects of both high school and college building (but that didn’t remotely resemble any actual structure with which I’m familiar, educational or otherwise). In classroom B-109 (on the fourth floor) I was assisting at a recording session with New Order. (My subconscious was shaky on the band’s line up. Gillian Gilbert was there by name, Bernard Sumner was present and recognizable but not named; I seemed to think one of the other guys was producer Stephen Hague.)

We watched some video footage from an earlier session where I’d also been present, a song that sounded vaguely “Walked in Line”-ish. (I heard that played on WMBR last week.) The synth toms on the track where terribly overdriven and clipped; it sounded really bad but also kind of cool. I spoke with the instructor about my (real-life) watershed moment when I played “Temptation” on my radio show with Mitch Easter in the booth, and Mitch discussed the quality of the drum sound and initiated a sea-change in how I hear music.

Then Bernard started to demo a new tune in which he strummed an acoustic throughout the first verse (Gillian beside him crooned unexpectedly lovely harmonies) and stomped on a distortion pedal at the beginning of the chorus. The song ground to a halt as Gillian complained that the arrangement didn’t work with her harmonies; she wanted the song to start with the distortion, and go acoustic for the chorus. There was some discussion of distortion and gain-boosting philosophy as applied both to recording and live performance. I observed that the distorted chorus was more “rock” but also more standard and predictable and got on a weird soapbox about how pedals shouldn’t be used to boost signals.

I mentioned to the instructor (who seems in restrospect to have been modeled on Deadwood’s Silas Adams character) that I was amazed I’d managed to completely forget I had worked on a New Order session once before. I wanted to run up to my room to get my camera, so I could take a few snap shots to remember this one with.

Instead, I found myself down on the second floor with the band. Bernard suddenly asked me if I had a key to the cafeteria door, which was locked. “That’s funny,” I said, “it’s usually always open.” I tried another door, which opened to reveal steel shutters all across the serving area, and four white-smocked cafeteria workers at two tables eating bowls of dark, unappetizing chili. They pointed to a clock: 2:30 — no food for New Order.

I found my way back upstairs (via positively Escherian stairways) to B-109, in amongst the bio- and chem-labs. This time I saw its helpful label, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Room.” But then I realized I hadn’t managed to retrieve my camera.

A recurring feature of my dreams is that when I leave a place I can’t manage to return later, which perhaps explained the anxiety I felt about leaving again. It was miraculous that I’d been able to get back to B-109 once, let alone twice. I stepped through the doorway, certain I was about to get lost.

But I hit on a novel strategy — instead of going forward into probable chaos, I would hit “Ctrl-Z” on myself (setting thumb against ring finger apparently invoked this function) and be drawn backward through my previous steps until I reached my dorm room and I could pick up my camera. This seemed to work fine, although another instructor did wonder aloud why I was walking backward past her office.

I woke up before I found out how many levels of “Undo” I had.

5 comments on “new order session dream”

  1. 2fs

    What I love about this is the way the reasonable (the discussion about song structure and effects) coexists with the bizarre (the “Ctrl-Z” thing) and inexplicable (”no lunch for New Order”).

  2. Flasshe

    A recurring feature of my dreams is that when I leave a place I can’t manage to return later

    That happens to me a lot in dreams also. I wonder if it’s a near-universal thing or just some aspect of our shared anxieties.

  3. Paula

    This time I saw its helpful label, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Room.”

    Such rooms should always be clearly marked, even in dreams.

  4. summervillain

    A recurring feature of my dreams is that when I leave a place I can’t manage to return later

    That happens to me a lot in dreams also. I wonder if it’s a near-universal thing or just some aspect of our shared anxieties.

    I think it’s pretty common. I subscribe more-or-less to the notion that non-lucid dreams as we remember them are primarily the result of the brain trying to impose structure on mostly-random images/sensations. (Perhaps as a side effect of moving things into longterm memory, as some cognitive science types have proposed.) If you buy that, it makes intuitive sense to me that it would be difficult to return to a previous locale, since the odds of random nerve events reproducing the stimuli that was interpreted as the location are slim.

    Then again, it did just seem to happen in a dream which I wouldn’t characterize as lucid. So maybe that line of reasoning is totally offbase.

  5. Terri

    I am seemingly always having dreams that take place in sprawling, labyrinthine buildings that are supposed to be my high school or college. Most of the time I don’t manage to get to class, if that’s where I’m trying to go. Hallways, stairways, etc. that go on forever, lead to nowhere, or just kind of end are common. Sometimes I’m in a house or an airport, but I’m often trying to get somewhere, trying not to miss something, trying to make up for some screw up that I’m about to commit.

    I love that you tried to take a picture in this dream. It’s like trying to remember a dream–to record it–within the dream itself.


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