I went to ATP and all I got was this lousy tinnitus

Photo by Andrew Bowman / The Liminal

All Tomorrow’s Parties’ Nightmare Before Christmas event (3-5 Dec 2010) was a terrific monster of a festival. Staying in Soviet Lynchian chalets and braving the December sleet made it all the more memorable. Growing, The Ex, Scout Niblett and Deerhoof were outstanding. Listening to the white-noise-and-wolf-howls of Keiji Haino (above), Rose and I played a game where we stood near the speakers with our eyes closed, and imagined that we had no bodies, which was surprisingly easy to achieve. Without the aid of any narcotics, I managed to convince myself that I was no more than the moisture on the end of one of my fingers. After the end of the Deerhoof gig (2am on the Sunday night), my ears rang more than usual – and the next morning then I woke up with no improvement.

The feeling was a little like postural hypertension – that is, standing up too quickly, resulting in a rush of blood to the head. I felt constantly as though I was on the brink of passing out, as though the high-pitched whine was a precursor to tunnel vision and then unconsciousness. This ringing noise lasted for exactly two weeks after the festival had ended, accompanied all this time, of course, by a thundering migraine. I’d started to become resigned to the fact that the effect may be permanent, and, while bearable, it would certainly have affected my life – not least because my patience was rather thinner than previously.

After two weeks, though, the whining subsided so that it could only be heard in silent moments, such as just before going to sleep and after waking up. The effect, lying in bed at night, is as though I’m caught in a beam of noise – as if rolling over might allow me to escape. In a way, it’s been quite a boon: for a few weeks I couldn’t sleep in past 8.30am, so have been up and about at far more productive hours than normal.

I’m still wearing my ATP wristband. I’ll cut it off when I can’t hear the music any more.

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