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Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Music is ugly. Put a mask on it!

Posted on April 14, 2011 at 11:07 PM

If you’ve been stealing darkness for all of these years, just closing your eyes and basking and focusing in that cool, refreshing blackness, there’s a new company that wants to put a stop – and a price – to that. First, you’ve been doing it all wrong. Second, you just show me where it says that “darkness” is one of your inalienable rights, and I’ll show you a company that says, “We’re from the Netherlands! We don’t recognize you or your lambskin Constitution with its fancy calligraphy and quill feather pens!”


Thanks to a heads-up from Nick Brown at Caster Communications, I have discovered a product destined to change lives and shape nations. This is a product that is backed by the nebulous and nefarious sounding phrase “scientific research” and narrated by an Anglophile proving that it is both believable and effective beyond any reasonable measure.

Let’s face it, for some people, sitting all alone in a room, listening to music by themselves while drinking glass after glass after scotch is just TOO social. At any moment some family member might come waltzing into the room, see your eyes open and then try and sit and listen next to you or – oh, shudder to think! – engage you in some activity that required interaction. Like talking! Unthinkable!

The product sure to resolve this sensitive issue is Musicmask. Now, less you think this is a regular mask I want to both assure you that you are wrong and then vehemently tell you to shut the hell up! What makes the Musicmask special is that it “has been specially designed for listening to music at home through standard speakers.

“But, John. How does that differ from a regular mask?”

To that question, I answer, “What is wrong with you? Were you not reading? I said 'specifically designed for listening to music!' 'At home!' 'Through standard speakers!' Does any part of that sound like ‘regular mask’ to you, Einstein?”  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

The genius behind the Musicmask lies in the understanding that audiophiles suffer a rare but easily treated disease. Audiophilia nervosa insecuritus is the constant torment and suffering that there is something better out there that is just around the corner. That the more bizarre, off-putting and difficult to explain to others, the greater the sonic gains. That by raising cables on specially harvested, non-renewable rare wooden blocks you can ensmoothen the transfer of electrical molecules, thus making them happier. And if there is one thing that every audiophile knows it's that a happy molecule produces better, warmer, more gooey-butter-filled sound. Or that components will only perform their best following cryogenic freezing, and that the ultimate listening environment would, in fact, be inside a giant cylinder of liquid nitrogen. Or that if the ions in the air particles around your listening chair should become unstable, you might as well jam that Q-tip into your ears up to the hilt, because you’re listening experience is just ruined. Ruined! So, Musicmask understands this need to chase the audio dragon of better sound. And they have found the easiest way to make your current system sound better: Keep you from looking at it.


With your vision completely blocked “scientific research shows that removing visual stimuli increases the perception of music.” I sense another retarded question coming on, so I’ll allow it. “John, I’ve been listening in the dark for years. I just close my eyes! Are you saying I’ve been doing it wrong?”


In short, yes. But more to the point, you’re an idiot. By the fact that you are listening to music by just closing your eyes, I first have to question whether you even own an audio system. I think you are confusing “sleeping” and “night terrors” with listening to music.  Also, how can I fully trust how tightly your eyes are closed? What if even a single scintilla of audio destroying light should leak through? What if during a particularly moving passage you decide to just up and open your eyes? Perhaps a tear will leak out and let in even one scant lumen. Congratulations! YOU’VE JUST DESTROYED THE ENTIRE LISTENING EXPERIENCE FOR YOU AND YOUR WHOLE FAMILY!

So not only does the Musicmask completely shroud your eyes, blocking out light better than a hooded prisoner exchange, it goes one step further. The critical step the Musicmask offers for getting the maximum performance that has to offer is keeping your eyes open while listening. Yes! Put a mask on your face THEN open your eyes! It’s so devilishly simple, yet even-more devilishly scientific! “Musicmask users have also indicated that they enjoy being able to ‘see’ the stereo sound in the dark.” Musicmask wearers develop a Spidey-sense and it is constantly tingling. Tingling in a good and special way that makes them hope the tingling sensation will build, and build and build and then EXPLODE in a maximum audiophile tingle!

See, your eyes are basically shrewd, ruthless overlords; essentially two spiteful orbs that try and run the whole show. They say, “Hey, brain! Listen up, stupid! We’re up front and center. Just try walking around without us!” But the ears are cunning and stealthy. They just bide their time knowing that soon dark will come and then where will high-and-mighty eyes be? Useless, that’s where! “Senses always ‘fight’ for the brain’s attention. By removing vision, the ears are given more processing power, as it were, to digest sound. As a result you hear more details, you experience a greater sense of space and a greater sense of 3D.” Yes! 3D! In your ears! Take that, eyes! You and your constant bragging of “Hey ears, seen any good 3D lately! Bwa-ha-ha-ha!!!” In response, the Musicmask finally allows ears their long-waited opportunity to definitively declare, “Hey eyes! Kiss our ASS!”


Further proof can be found at the collegiate or bar level where discussions of “one bag” or “single bagging” or even the rarer “double bagger” are used to describe and enhance or allow some male-female encounters. To be able to fully enjoy the company of a perhaps less than fully desirable partner, a bag can be used to help eliminate the visual stimuli, thus allowing the male to focus on the other, non-facial-area qualities, of the woman. The Musicmask employs a very similar approach, but without the embarrassment of putting a bag over your or your audio system’s head. Also, the foam layer is cushy and padded and, unlike a paper bag which can smell like onions, leaves your nose free to fully embrace the audio experience. Plus it keeps the mask itself clear of your eyes, so they are forced to remain open, staring aimlessly into the complete blackness, punishing them for their years of abuse and misleading ways. The highest quality Velcro is employed in the strap to ensure a custom fit with each wearing.

“But, John. I don’t think I suffer from Audiophilia nervosa insecuritus. Do you still think I need this?”

The short answer, “Absolutely.” The longer answer, “Yes. Absolutely.” The Musicmask should be considered crucial whenever a sensory deprivation need arises. While music listening is of course the intended focus, it can also be wonderful for discouraging any airline conversations, practicing ninja skills, light interrogations, bondage experimentation and so much more!

According to Peter Chattelin, owner of Chattelin Audio Systems, the daring pioneer that agreed to host a Musicmask party, that looked like it might have been teetering on the brink of becoming an Eyes Wide Shut mask party, commented, “It is probably only once every 20 years that a product appears on the market that is entirely different to existing products and that truly adds another dimension and raises the listening experience to a higher level. That’s what makes this product so unique.”


 If you asked me to rank high-resolution audio, iPod, diamond/beryllium/other rare material speaker construction, powered subwoofers, advanced room correction software, or any other audio improvement from the past 20 years against the improvements from a single listening session with the Musicmask I would take a deep breath and then punch you straight in the neck. That’s how strongly I feel about Musicmask. But don’t take my word for it; here are some video captures from the riveting presentation:

Go on, shine a Mag-Light straight into your face! Just see if that lessens your listening pleasure even one fraction with the Musicmask in place! You’ll be challenging your friends to find brighter and brighter listening environments just to shame them into knowing that they music offers full shut off!


Frankly, I find this comment a bit offensive. We’re all audiophiles here. We know that great audio comes at great cost. When I hear that something is affordable, I immediately dismiss it like a $3.99 red wine. Affordable means that others can own it and that means that I no longer want it. I would quite prefer the Musicmask was made from exotic materials and spun fibers and cost thousands of dollars. Perhaps an upgrade model offering even more light blockage? However, $45 for about $.37 worth of foam is the kind of premium upcharge that I can tolerate. Though just.


Mmm-hmm. And your pulse was slowing and you felt your organs shutting down one by one? Sir, did you also see a bright light and someone beckoning you towards it? I think what you were experiencing was slipping into a comatose state. Musicmask is clearly not without its hazards, as the full sensory denial can confuse older listening into thinking that it’s time to die. Parents of children under 8 are encouraged to use Musicmask during “relax” or “daddy needs a scotch” time.


This seems difficult to believe when clearly this is a man that is not easily excited and who sets his expectations high at each encounter. “I’m going to put a mask over your face, completely shutting out all light. Then we’re just going to see what happens.” Clearly, expectations were running sky high!

This clearly had nothing to do with sitting literally in the middle of the audio presentation. She went on to further add, “It was like someone was sitting right next to me in the room. I could have sworn that I actually felt his hot breath on my cheek. It was unnervingly real! Then it was as if he were touching my leg. Lightly at first, then more insistently and rather inappropriately. The sensations were so believable! I will probably never be able to listen to jazz again, it was that disturbing. When I removed the mask, the man next to me said he had no idea what I was talking about then he quickly got up and left.”

Of course, I don’t know any of these losers. All I know is what I can try for myself. Sadly, I didn’t have immediate access to a Musicmask, so, I did the next best thing. I turned all of my lights off, threw a black shroud over all of my equipment, put on a welder’s mask and put on some music. It was definitely revelatory. I could hear the center French horn player sweating. Each sweat droplet exploded out of his pores like a volcano exploding. A woman playing piccolo had a chipped back tooth. It was actually quite distracting. But, assuming that if blocking one sense was good, I decided to up the ante and try enjoying music by blocking other senses. By putting on some ski gloves along with the Musicmask I noticed that I could definitely hear an entirely new world of audio. I could tell for instance, that the floor of the orchestral hall hadn’t been vacuumed recently and that the pianist was left handed and sitting on a vinyl covered bench. Sure, that was better, but I wanted to probe deeper into the music. What was needed was cutting off another sense. I wadded up some cotton balls and jammed them into my nostrils. With the sense of smell also removed, my concentration opened up three more layers. I could tell that harpist had a slight heart murmur and that the violinist in the second chair was suffering from a rather unpleasant case of irritable bowel syndrome. One of the cellists was nervously rubbing her toes together and it was clear that she had a hole in her sock. The left one. Sure that was better, but I wanted to reach a plane where I was on a sub-atomic level with the audio experience; a point to where I wasn’t even listening to the music any longer but rather the air molecules rubbing and colliding against one another. I decided to up the ante and cut of my sense of breathing. Immediately I was assaulted by a new level of sonics previously unimagined. It was as I’d been living my life with my fingers jammed in my ears. And they were dirty and needed a manicure. The music disappeared and below it all, I hear a new sub-symphony. Whiskers were growing, An oboist was thinking about having pasta for lunch. A string on a violin bow remembered the horse it came from. Then below it all, suddenly standing out in stark relief was a beautiful, precise singing of little gears and springs. Clearly the conductor was wearing a Patek Philippe. I opened my eyes wider, staring into the darkness of the mask and… is a…white face…Calatrava…5119 movement. And the time was 6:39 PM. Sure, that level of detail might be suitable for some. But I knew I could reach even deeper into the music. And that’s when I passed out. It was magical and spiritual and the only true way to listen to music.

Finally there is a viable option worth considering to elective surgical blinding! You might not be able to put a price on darkness; but Musicmask can.The revolution is coming. Put a mask on, open your eyes and get ready to listen for it!

Categories: April 2011, Music, Bizarre

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