Benedict Roff-Marsh

Pandemic Diaries

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I just launched Tarot I: The Fools Journey and all the things I was doing for other people evaporated. The COVID-19 Pandemic was made official and the world stopped.

We were all in Lockdown in our homes due to the fears over COVID-19. If you read this at another time, this was a new variant of the cold/flu virus that leaped out of China. Suddenly everyone was terrified and global culture went into a funny sort of flat-spin as people all tried to run away – whilst maintaining exactly everything we already had. Oddly toilet paper was the first thing that people panic bought. Not food or even vodka but one of the least important things. One day when we went shopping, there were lots of canned goods like beans, but no crackers or similar party food!

To keep busy, I found myself making simple musical sketches based on things that happened during that day. Mostly they came from events on Social Media and present my somewhat jaded view of “modern” humanity.

Tracks

  1. A Future With Connection – I answered a Q on Quora about how to make futuristic sounds and it struck me that each generation’s idea of what the future will sound like is actually an expression of the fears they face today. That made the obvious choice for the day’s diary track to be the thing that I think most people fear today – a genuine expression of themselves and connection with others. To do that I made a moving but ultimately melodyless sound effect for each channel and played them against each other left & right. Like they refuse to be connected in a real conversation. I then made a lead and did the same offset with another sound. I bring them together with the very simple synth sound that is deliberately in the middle with no sonic connection to the leads until the very end.
  2. Echo San – This was the first track made. It wasn’t initially anything other than marking time based on a conversation about the famous Roland Space Echo (out of Japan).
  3. Hearing The Voices We Should – This came from a conversation where a fellow was saying how his being less focused on Facebook – seeing his clients were all “closed-down” – that he was more able to “hear” his own needs and those of his family. I already knew that Social Media, while offering to connect us all really has largely done the opposite more than anything.
  4. Painting On The Walls – didn’t come from an actual event so much a sense that people were going stir-crazy and might son be painting on their own bedroom walls like cavemen.
  5. The Un-Believed Good – Someone of note survived the virus. Instead of it being seen as a good thing, it was just another excuse to be really nasty. This is not healthy.
  6. A Hoped-For Happy Ending – Probably because a TV show the night before was talking about a happy ending (no not that type) and it still seemed that most people were not really looking for a nice outcome here when they could instead post all manner of crazy conspiracy theories. As an antidote, I wanted to write something that ended up sounding impossibly nice.
  7. Who’s Breathing In My Room – Like “Painting” above, this is about that paranoid sense of lack-of-separation that can come with being stuck in the same place, with the same people, for too long. That moment when you realize that you might just love your family to death – literally!
  8. Walk Over To Me – stalled for a few days whilst I build a synth to make the sounds I wanted. No doubt I could have used existing instruments but in a Pandemic Lockdown situation where the world seems to have lost all perspective, you do these things. In my defense, I used the instrument in a few later tracks and got nice results.
  9. The Male Chickens Are In Revolt Milord – This situation felt so silly it had to have a track, with an equally silly name. I answered a Q on Quora about early Industrial acts. Naturally, I mentioned the band The Revolting Cocks, not even thinking about how that could be a trigger word. Next thing I know I am banned from posting on Quora completely. Thankfully sanity prevailed and the ban was lifted.
  10. Looking Through Someone’s Back Door – A parody on the name of the CCR song. Being Locked up made many people feel they had to right to be very judgmental about the personal decisions of others. Things that on a larger scale would be called Nazism. But because they felt they had a “cause” in their back pocket, it made it alright to call on the Judgy Gods. The music was deliberately kinder in tone.

My prediction: this event will be seen in the future as a great embarrassment. Sure, everyone who overreacted will either try to say it was all a fizzer because they managed it so well with their paranoid measures or they will say, oh that, it never really happened like that.

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