This is how it begins

I don't have many childhood memories. Almost nothing before ten, and not much before 15. Three of them occur in 1985, when I was 13, and they're musical.

The first was while watching a TV programme about pop music - an article about what was breaking in the american charts. They played a minute or so of a very dense and chaotic animated video - too many things happening to take in at once. And the music was...bizarre. I remember thinking something like "This should not be music. But it is music, and it's fascinating.".

I was captivated by the sonic possibilities that opened up. There was no structure of verses and chorues, nonsensical lyrics, and sounds that belonged in scrapyards, streets and factories.

The voiceover went on to introduce other acts, but I didn't notice them. I knew nothing of samplers and little of synthesisers - it seemed miraculous that music could be made without pianos, or electric guitars, or singers. The band was The Art of Noise, and the track was Close (to the Edit).

The second was when my cousin Mark made a cassette copy for me of The Art of Noise's album. Every weekday I came home from school for lunch with my parents, and went back in the afternoon. This lunchtime some cassettes had arrived in the post, with a letter from Mark.

I put the cassette into a crummy old mono tape player, and felt those same sensations again. A whole album of impossible music. Going back to the little world of Status Quo strumming their guitars and endless blond woman singers singing about love - it was like going back to a pogo stick after flying a fighter plane. Functional but dull and so limited.

All this probably seems quite strange now to anyone reading it. Perhaps I was nieve, but it's a wonderful feeling when the world suddenly seems to get bigger, and there are exotic new terratories to explore.

The third was the same feeling again. The show was Top Of The Pops, and the song was '19' by Paul Hardcastle. Minimal production, all syntheised sounds, and - the audacity! - recorded speech where the singer should be. Plus, there was an actual message in the song.

I discovered a lot of other things when I was 13. I found that I liked boys more than girls. And that for some reason, other people had a problem with that. And, even more baffling, they didn't know why they had a problem.

1985. This was the year that made me. I stumbled upon sexuality, began to ask questions about philosophy, science, and what made people tick, and decided that what I really wanted to do was make music. Music from sound.

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