The Great Sleep is a series of 13 narrative audio mixes that will be aired on Internet Public Radio every first Thursday of the month from December 2019 to December 2020. For each episode, a musician and a visual artist from the Global URL Nation collaborate to develop the story with audiovisual material - a 1h mix and a visual cover, which then serve as a base for written text. Each month, we will post a new chapter meant to be heard, seen and read.

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E08 - Fellowship
with 71W3 & Andres Komatsu

It takes a few seconds for my sight to come back... I feel empty and exhausted. The Reapers are gone, as if they couldn’t take the magnitude of these sounds. I look at the fragment. It’s still here, more beautiful and vivid than ever. I turn my eyes towards Sylenth :

“What now?”, I ask.

They smile at me :

“Now, a drink!”

We get out of the Blender to return to the narrow streets near the main avenue that we walked a few minutes before. Sylenth and the dark-eyed girl walk up ahead. I follow them closely, drained by this intense experience I just had.

I take the fragment out of my pocket, amazed by the potential I just witnessed. I had never felt such a strong energy. It was like being in someone’s flesh, seeing things from their perspective. Sylenth… The fragments… The Blender connected us to each other in a deep and coordinated way. As if we were one. As if we were all.

Weirdly, even if the Reapers are now gone, I still feel tied to Sylenth. I look up at their long, flaking face and feel more linked to them than before, as if the evil bond that we just broke in the Blender had made us united even more. I wonder what will happen of them, what places they will now decide to explore. I also wonder where I could go next, now that I’m freed from this bond.

We progress deeper into the Metropolis. We go down some stairs to discover a sort of dark and decayed underground. We walk alongside an ancient railway that sinks into the darkness. The atmosphere is odd. We cross paths with some creatures and humans, who don’t seem to notice us much. The atmosphere is silent. Noises of electric sparks resonate in the tunnel, not far from us. As we continue to follow the rail, it feels like the Metropolis itself is coming to life. As if an organic entity was inhabiting the concrete walls, its heartbeat propagated as deep irregular vibrations.

We turn around a corner to take another narrow tunnel. Sylenth seems to know where we’re going. We follow an increasingly tenuous path, until arriving in front of an entry airlock embedded in a thick concrete building with metal panels patched all over. Sylenth presses a button and two flaps of doors slide, triggering the noise of decompressing air.

Behind the doors, we discover a bar where large round tables are scattered with suspended lights illuminating each of them. The bright red paint on the walls is severely scorched, worn out by the thin layer of condensation covering them. After my eyes get used to this new environment, I notice the walls seem actually made of organic matter, pulsating in a chaotic manner. As if they were the flesh of the Metropolis itself. The air is heavy, humid, filled with the smell of sweat and spilled drinks. Different people and creatures discuss in an almost orderly hubbub.

At the back of the bar, a very small creature sitting on a high chair sings with a tearful voice. Her fluffy haircut falls on her eyes. She holds in one hand a large glass of some unknown liquid that is higher than her. Her face is full of suffering, and the sound of her laments strikes me.

“Follow me, let's have a drink, we need a good root booster”, Sylenth says while putting their hand on my shoulder.

We move between the tables, sneaking through the few people standing. I observe with a hypnotic curiosity all the living beings agitating around me.  I feel some strange things are happening over here, some odd conversations that it would be better not to know.

We grab a drink and sit at one of the tables. The other creatures sitting there move slightly away. I sit in front of Silent and the dark-eyed girl, trying to relax. The dark-eyed girl turns toward Sylenth :

“You didn’t tell me, how is your search going?”

“Well… I didn’t find much at the Silent Mountains, some ancient junk and vague rumors…but I found this one on the way back”, Sylenth replies, pointing at me. “A blessing from The Warper!”

The dark-eyed girl looks at me :

“How did you get your fragment?”, she asks.

“Someone gave it to me.”

“You see?”, Sylenth asks with enthusiasm. “How likely is that?”

“Where are you going next?”, the dark-eyed girl asks Sylenth.

“I don’t know yet… I have a few people I need to talk to, I heard that some Diggers are still investigating, I need to find them. I might hang around for a while… if you don’t mind?”

The dark-eyed girl can’t help giving away a slight smile on her face. As she looks away, she seems to recognize someone and waves her hand :


Behind me, I can see someone is approaching. I can’t really determine if they are human or spectral, or maybe something in between. This creature wears a gold mask, with deep eyes glowing behind, red like blood. Their body floats on a long tail made of gears, cables, and connections covered by a sort of synthetic transparent skin. They wear a beautiful loose jacket embroidered with a golden pattern and fine pieces of jewelry on their hands. A bright green marble hangs from their left ear. I’m impressed by their presence, but their voice is kind and soothing :

“Juno, how is it going?”

“My friend Sylenth is visiting. Sylenth, you probably heard of Prophet?”

“Yes, it’s been a while…”, Sylenth replies, nodding their head at this strange creature.

“And you are?”, the creature says, leaning towards me.

“Just a friend…”

“Come, grab a seat!”, the dark-eyed girl says.

The creature sits next to me. I can feel their strong, peaceful aura. The dark-eyed girl, who supposedly go by Juno, turns toward them :

“So, what are you doing here?”

“I’m just passing through”, Prophet replies. “I’ve heard of a new wave, full of vibrant young people. I wanted to check by myself.”

“Good luck with that”, Juno says.

“You don’t like it here anymore?”, Sylenth asks her, surprised.

“I’ve done my time. It was nice for a while, but now it’s all riddled with the same type of frequencies. I feel like we’ve been feeding on the same damn thing since people started spreading info about the Metropolis. Cravers keep coming but they don’t have it, you see? It feels stuck in a loop, each clan taking over the previous one, but without any real renewal. They seem to indulge in the same dull patterns over and over.”

I inspect the liquid in my glass while listening to her. I’m a bit repelled by its viscosity. And the smell… it’s like gas poured on asphalt on a hot summer day.

“I’m figuring a way out, maybe to Orpheus-53”, Juno continues. “I’m looking for something fresh and lively, somewhere I can develop outwards. I just feel trapped here, unable to thrive, you know?”

“Yes, I feel you”, Prophet replies. “Let me tell you here is not worse than anywhere else. But it’s a good idea to move from time to time, to find your own place that will make you feel good and confident.”

Everyone around the table has been casually sipping on their drinks. I finally decide to give it a try. Weirdly, it tastes like some sort of herbal mixture. Surprising, but not too bad. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I can surely feel it going down my throat, waking up every part of my organism touched by this substance. It probably shows on my face because Sylenth is laughing at me :

“Some well-needed nutrients!”, they say while holding up their drink. “To the Warper!”

“To the Warper”, I reply while raising my glass.

“I see you met the dancers?”, Prophet asks.

“How do you know?”

“I recognize their marks”, Prophet says while looking at the carvings on my arm. “I haven’t seen them in a long time.”

“Can you read it?”, Sylenth asks.

“Sadly, no. The last time I saw these was when I was still rolling with the Order.”

“The Order?”, I ask intrigued.

“The Order of the Three Keys.”

“You’ve never heard of the Order?” Juno asks, surprised. “Have you been sleeping for the past thousand years?”

“For millennia, the Order ruled the sonic realm of this continent. It was composed of three houses serving the cause of the Polyphonic Holy One.”

“I’ve always wanted to hear it!”, Sylenth says. “They say members of the Order can synchronize their voices with that of others and superimpose them at will.”

Juno takes over : “They were going from places to places, inspiring people, stimulating their ears in unexpected ways. Everywhere people welcomed them as symbols of the New World.”

“I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything else. This feeling of effervescence, of collective fate… this sense of belonging, I couldn’t find that anywhere else afterwards”, Prophet says.

“What happened?”, I ask.

“A hundred years ago, the Order imploded, each house turning against each other. They quickly disappeared in favor of new tribes, confederations and communities who came with their blasphemous words and new beliefs, imposing their hegemony on the people they used to protect.”, Prophet says with a touch of despair. “Luckily there’s a few of the original members left who try to pass on their legacy before it’s too late.”

“And it works”, Juno says. “Prophet has played a major role in the development of the Forbidden Metropolis, before it went down the way it is. Their experience and tenderness have been key to the rise of young clans here.”

“Do you know what they are?”, Sylenth asks Prophet, pointing at my arm.

“These are musical notes, but just a handful of old heads can read them... It is intriguing, because it is very rare to see these on the skin. Such markings have been used in the past, but they became forbidden before I came to light.”

“I discovered that right after meeting those dancers.”

“It seems they wanted to leave something to you. But why?”

As I try to make sense of these words that keep echoing in my head, I notice someone staring at me from across the room. Our gazes meet. They have the face of a hawk, wearing glasses on the tip of its beak. They seem to feel uncomfortable, and approach me.

Their slightly arched posture, as well as their clothes, sort of colorful togas, give them a wise and easygoing look. They walk up to us with a slow step, curiously accompanied by a small animal by their feet. A sort of bipedal otter with an overly cute face upside down. The bird has a soft and hollow shell in their hand that keeps changing shape.

They come straight next to me :

“Please, pardon me for my lack of manners. I shouldn’t be staring at you… but I couldn’t help but notice the delicate frequencies of the fragment you have”,  they say in a fluttering voice.

I grab the fragment in my pocket. It’s still here, recovering peacefully. The other three look at us, intrigued.

“How do you know? Who are you anyway?”, I ask.

“Sorry, yes, my name is Coda, and this is Più”, they say while the otter smiles at me. “Do you mind if I hold it?”

I look at Sylenth. They nod, suggesting I can probably trust this quirky bird. I hand them the fragment with hesitation.

“I didn’t know you had a fragment!”, Prophet exclaims.

“You’re not the only one, old soul”, Juno says with a smile. “They’re pretty rare, but it’s not uncommon.”

“It’s just that you look so… innocent”, Prophet says while looking at me.

“You have one too?”, I ask.

“I made it a part of me”, Prophet replies, pointing at their throat. They slowly uncover their jacket and lean back their head, and I notice a huge scar spreading across the bottom of their throat. “I merged when I joined the Order.”

The bird, Coda, is still inspecting the fragment from all sides while holding the shell against what appears to be their ear. The fragment seems to like them. It lights up a little, emitting a few sounds, some sort of rolling rhythmics. The otter, Più, answers back with the same pattern. Sylenth leans over the table :

“Wait, is that a Mimi?”

“Mimi?”, Juno asks.

“A Mimicryan. They are known for their ability to reproduce sounds from their environment. Any type of sound, whatever the complexity or range. I’ve heard some tales about them, but I never had the chance to see one with my own eyes.”

“Yes, indeed”, Coda says with a bit of pride. “We’re here to expand our sonic palette. I’ve heard many things about the sounds of the Metropolis... I haven’t found anything special so far, but this one is something”, they say while handing back the fragment to me.

“That’s what I’ve been saying”, Juno says. “Are you from the Lodge?”

“Precisely. Octo Ecco from the Dorian Citadel, to be specific”, Coda replies. “I met Più during my training at the Academy, with the Pentatonic Elders. I was fed up with their same old established precepts, unwilling to go beyond the Legacy. Together we became obsessed with sound itself, as an abstract thing. We started to build some sort of atlas, our own personal collection, which got us into the Lodge quickly after.”

Coda seats at the table : “Did the dancers give it to you?”

“We were just talking about them”, Prophet says while showing my arm to Coda, who seems surprised to see the marks.

“Someone else gave it to me”, I reply. “But the dancers showed me its power. Have you met them too?”

“Yes! I mean, in theory… I read a lot about them. Some shelves at the Citadel are filled with books and legends about them.”

“The Heirs of the Hidden Music”, Juno mutters. “I’ve heard some friends’ stories too.”

Coda caught Sylenth’s attention mentioning the dancers : “Have you heard of the Nation?”

“Of course”, Coda replies. “They go hand in hand. Dancers of the Nation, Heirs of the Hidden Music, Souls of the Sacred Sound…  they go by several names. For centuries, tales have been told across the continent about their dance. The ones who had the chance to meet them always tell a different story. With time, people started not to believe them anymore.”

“But I remember dancing with them”, I say, puzzled.

“You did or you did not. It doesn’t really matter. The only certainty is what you felt while you were experiencing their music.”

“Are you after them?”, I ask.

“Kind of... Uncharted sonic territories and unidentified frequencies are our thing, right? I’ve been told the Nation is full of these.”

“Everyone has heard of the Nation, but no one knows if it exists”, Juno says.

“Come on, don’t tell me you’ve abandoned hope”, Sylenth retorts. “It exists, and even if it doesn’t, isn’t it still worth investigating? I’ve followed the dancers’ advice, and look at where the fragment’s voice led me. I’ve seen and heard more than you can imagine, and I’ve only witnessed a portion of it all.”

“And what have you found?”, Juno asks. “You always come back with scraps and gossips.”

“I found you”, Sylenth laughs. “And you! And you! And you!’, they continue by pointing toward each of us with an amused smile. “Seriously, you said you wanted to find a new place, that you needed adventure. Stick with me for a while, maybe you’ll find something worth doing?”

“What is this Nation you keep talking about?”, I ask. Everyone looks at me with astonishment.

“A rookie, what did I tell you?” Prophet laughs.

“From what I’ve heard, it is a safe haven, a place that has existed since before the First Souls. People from the Old World gathered there during the Fall. They learned to embrace the Void, to use it to connect and anchor themselves in the Whole. One of the last living and thriving communities…”

Everyone listens carefully, charmed by the words of Sylenth.

‘It is said the unconscious mass of the Whole creates a new sense of purpose, a path to redemption. That it fills the radical incompleteness of its members. A common ground for shared ambitions… It is said their self-reliance is achieved through their mutual connections. That their resilience is forged in perpetual motion, continuously involving new subjectivities,  merging their strengths into a new form of immanence. Whoever they are, wherever they live, they are one. With the Whole and their surroundings.”

I discern a mix of despair and excitement in their voice while they speak with passion. Coda jumps in :

“They celebrate and cherish the Whole through sounds and motions. A common desire to create and share in harmony. They use the voices of the fragments, their music or their dances to honor their union. I’m sure they can take me to unheard sonic realms.”

“You should come too”, Sylenth says to me. “Where do you think about going next?”

Honestly, I don’t know. For the past weeks I’ve been tied to Sylenth by these ghosts, so I didn’t think about it. But Sylenth has been really nice to me, despite being forced into our companionship. And what they showed me with the fragments inside the Blender… maybe I can learn a few things more... And I wouldn’t mind dancing with the group another time. I’m about to answer when Coda speaks up :

“Are you going to the Blossoms afterwards?”

“Sure, I even share the stage with the Diva”, Juno says with a smile.

“I didn’t know that!”, Prophet says. “Look at you, playing next to the Voice of the Metropolis themself.”

“I haven’t done one of these in ages”, Sylenth says. “Coda… right? You should come with us, I’m sure you’ll find some interesting sounds to add to your collection.” Sylenth looks back at me : “Have you met the Diva before?”, they ask.

“No”, I answer. “But I don’t know… I’m exhausted after what happened in the Blender. I should probably pass.”

“Come on”, Juno says. “You can’t miss this one!”

“They are supposed to take their Second Solstice Form. They’ve been dormant for weeks for this,” Sylenth completes.

“Indeed. Also, we should probably be on our way”, Juno warns. “Let’s grab a last drink and let’s go. Are you coming too?”, she asks Prophet.

“Yes, sure”, they reply. “I’ll meet you there, I need to find my friends back before”, they say while we get up and part ways.

We quickly stop at the counter for another booster. I’m starting to like it, actually. At the back, the tiny singer on the chair is gone. She’s been replaced by three large creatures, some sort of giant frogs, who keep hitting their bodies to produce deep vibrations and sharp rhythmics. The bar is more crowded than before. The pulses in the walls are more energetic as well. It seems like each of their movements compresses the air in the room with strength. But it’s not unpleasant. Some creatures are even starting to wobble in rhythm, as if they were lifted by these vibrations.

We exit the bar through the same sliding doors we took on the way in. The fresh breeze outside feels like a blessing. I didn’t realize how hot it was back in.

“Come on, hurry”, Juno says. “These nice scales might bring us trouble if we don’t move quickly”, she says smiling at Sylenth, who replies by shaking all of them at once, upsetting her a little bit.

I follow Juno closely, back into the tunnel we took earlier. It seems more lively than before. Sylenth, Coda and Più walk behind us, exchanging with enthusiasm what they know about the Nation.

“Do you have a fragment too?”, I ask Juno as we keep moving.

“No, unfortunately. I was only left with these,” she says while showing two slim items tied to her waist. They look like some sort of sticks, or batons, made of multiple parts put together with a sophisticated complexity.

“What do you mean, left?”

“I come from across the seas and valleys. My people had to leave our land because of the Great Drought… It got deserted in a matter of days. Now there’s only a few hybrids there, desperately scavenging the last resources left.”

“Where are they now?”

“Most of them didn’t make it to this land. My guardians didn’t... These are the only thing I was left with,” she says while looking at her sticks. “It’s also the only thing I have from there.”

“I know how it feels”, I say with compassion.

“It was hard at first. Very hard... Past the loneliness, it seemed like I couldn’t fit anywhere, so I stayed on the move. Relentlessly. But I’m glad I found my place in the Metropolis. It’s been like a family. Since I have no ties, I guess the world is mine, right?”, she says with a grin.

“This Prophet, is that a friend of yours? They seem kind.”

“A friend’s friend… you know, the usual.”

I don’t.

“Everybody knows them in the Metropolis”, she continues. “They’ve been really helpful in developing Low-ground, the sound of the Metropolis. But you’re right, they are kind and supportive.” She smiles.

As we keep moving through the tunnels, we start to cross paths with more and more creatures. The deep vibrations we heard on the way forth are more intense, as if the Metropolis had awakened. We can feel their propagation through the tunnels, unable to tell where they are coming from. Coda, Sylenth and Più catch up with us not to get lost, and the four of them keep talking with fervor.

I’m amazed how easy it is for them to bond, to open themselves to others. I’ve seen and heard a lot tonight. It’s reassuring to see that despite their differences, everyone is shattered in their own way. But it doesn’t prevent them from expanding towards the other. As if walking together would make them become whole anew... Whatever the outcomes, it feels good to share a common path.

Hundreds of creatures are now moving in the same direction than us. Large and small groups alike. The vibrations are becoming louder and louder, hitting more and more regularly. Some creatures respond to them with screams and cheers. The air is filled with excitement and frenziness... Our steps seem lighter, as if our legs were walking by themselves... Each and every moving body seems to get nervous, agitated... The sort of tension you feel prior to a great celebration.