Soundproof Future Scotland
(Muck House, 2016); pbk. £8.99
The year is 2116, and the place is Independent (believe it or not) Scotland. The Battle of the Sexes in which ‘men killed women killed men, fathers killed mothers killed fathers, daughters killed sons killed daughters …’ (you get the idea) is 20 years in the past, superseded by a period of ‘kissing-and-making-up-and-fucking’ resulting in the massive overpopulation of the (pla)net, thus leaving the story’s two main characters (Johnny Certex and Ratsoup, two out of the many teenragers living in Satellite Town) the pitiful very-soon-to-be-occupied-by-them positions as ‘hovatrasha’ operators, picking up holographic litter around the streets of their hometown.
(Still with me?)
Their last weekend of juvenihilistic freedom is by far the best worst record of (un)lived experience I have ever read. The portrait of future Scotland has never been so (anti)culturally rendered as in Graham Rae’s Soundproof Future Scotland (2016).
“Now it’s time for
nothing to change
All fall downtown…”
Even though the time-span of the story takes only 48 hours to wind up, Graham makes sure (within 320 pages!) that the (ab)used narrator does not skip even the slightest minimalistic move made by the madcaps. Their two-day schedule exposes to the raider reader the distant future’s hi skool lifestyle – full of sex, drugs, booze, digigaming, holoshowz, and, most importantly, protocore muzak.
“So let’s press play again on the holosho and get back to 2116 again… Monday’s coming like a jail on wheels and there’s still a lot more of this story to be told before then…”
During day 1 Johnny and Ratty take us on a walk around Satellite Town. An after-rainstorm-drains-overflow-and-dried-up ‘slimy residue of shit and saniroll’ has left the city with its unique and long-lasting smell (‘Eau de Satellite’, as Johnny market-orientedly bottles it). Neighbourhoods such as ‘Cock Block’, ‘Tartan Block’, ‘Starliner Block’ are only some of the places to become familiarized with. Dangerous places overall, full of foolball-follower fighters and ‘traceball-cap-wearing nedz’.
And then those countless encounters with random lads and lassies (feat. Subsidy Junkie, Cyber Nat, the Carrier, Dance Kraze, and more) which obviously become the protocore prototype of the grotesque and farcical (il)literary comedy genre performed by Graham Rae’s novel geezers.
We cannot but mention their muzakal abilities. “Soundproof” is their ‘five-man(iac) band. To the already said two are added three more youngstars, no less intriguing characters: Mike, DJ DW, and Bud. Whilst prying into one of their rehearsals, the reader is left utterly appalled by hearing the protocore ‘slab’ set-list with slab-titles such as “Fuck the Ozone Layer”, “Boardumb”, and “Smotherfucker (Breathplay Lady Lay Day)”. Even more so is he disturbed when the characters’ safe(less) absorption of gaso and bottles of Tenafly Viper (only some of the lethal substances (ab)used by the muzakians) turns the scene into a ‘strange-sounding obnoxious soundcloud [which] slowly filled the room as each band member went off into their own wee private jamworld.’
“YOU TALENTLESS UGLY CUNTS ARE WITHOUT A DOUBT THE FUCKING WORST FUCKING BAND IN THE HISTORY OF THE FUCKING WORLD”, are the lead-singer Johnny’s concluding lines, shortly after which follow the series of uncontrollable multi-vomiting by Johnny and Ratty, self-inflicted ‘jagged pattern of cuts and holes and scrapes’ by Bud, more booze, sex (his)stories, and ‘pathetic no-shame-no-blame’ drunk blackout amnesias … (unexpected, eh?)
Chapter 22: THE FUCKING DAY OF THE VESSELS GIG YA CUNT!!!!
“The suddenly excited-as-fuck Johnny sat bolt upright on the sofasogood as the slowdawn remembrance of JUST WHAT FUCKING DAY IT WAS suddenly crashed full force into his consciousness.”
Johnny and Ratty are going to VeloCity, Wavesound Island, to a concert of the American protocore band “Empty Vessels” (this part of the novel does not much differ in stylistic (de)arrangement and witty quips). Here, however, the characters are faced with the politically-(dis)oriented Scottish hactivist organization Gael Force. This experience slightly alters the undercurrents of the novel, widening its historico-political scope (in)significantly.
“Brief history lesson: After a nasty, negative, rigged, Wasteminster-propaganda-fueled independence vote failed in 2014, Scotland finally became independent later in …” and so on, and so on.
Johnny’s post-gig conversation with the lead-singer of the “Empty Vessels”, Kogar completes the overall picture of Soundproof Future Scotland in an everevealing American wisdom, which, in 21st century literature, would have been the unravelling moment:
“Why should there be future generations? What is their purpose? … A longing for anything good or better or transcendent is just a religious concept anyway, some sorta halfass bullshit afterlife fantasy.”
“What a portrait of dynamic young Scotland.”
Indeed, what a portrait! Graham Rae’s counter-cultural soundproof voice is loud and clear.