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I ought to warn you now that I've got my iPod buds in while I write this, and "Gates of Hades" is playing. So if it turns out that I'm completely wrong about all of this and this review goes off the rails somewhere in the next few hundred words, you'll know what happened.
Last week, Oklahoma City News Channel 9 reported that kids across America were getting high on MP3s (Wired originally reported it was in Kansas), and it's called iDosing. According to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, the tracks contained "bi-neural" waves that simulate the effects of drugs like marijuana, cocaine and peyote. If you wanted to try it you could download the track "Gates of Hades" for free -- because the first hit's always free -- and once you're hooked on that, you'd beg to pay for more tracks. You're also supposed to get a 40-page book to teach you how to get properly lit when you're using the tracks. Even if you ignore all the other red flags that booklet shit should tell you right there that this does not qualify as a real drug. Nobody looks at a pile of weed, blow or peyote and needs a pamphlet to figure it out. In my younger and stupider days, I did two out of three of those, so I have an idea of what they're shooting for here.
I'm not a cynic about the possibility of audio drugs either. Music is supposed to drag feelings out of you, and everyone reading this can name a song that makes them feel angry, or sexy, or sad. Otherwise, what's the point, right? Why not a track engineered to trip that wire in your head? The way we interact with technology does affect us, and not unlike drugs, can be used to alter and manage our perceptions. It's just no one's written Fear and Loathing and the Electronic Entertainment Expo yet.
I'm sorry to tell you that based on my experiment with iDosing, we're still not there.
For the purpose of this experiment, I downloaded the "Gates of Hades" track, as well as "Orgasm," "Ecstasy," and "Nitrous." I loaded these onto an iPod with a pair of standard Apple earbuds, then laid down on my bed at home, turned off the lights and hit the switch on "Gates."
Here's how the experience is described on i-doser.com:
Smoke of their
torment. Weeping and gnashing of teeth. Death. Destruction. No rest day
and night. Tormented. Their worm does not die. Expect nightmares, near
death experiences, and strong onset of fear. A failure of a creation
that we offer only as a premium for those who want to experience both
sides. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of
the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were
darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
I am an authority on darkness, and that statement is bullshit.
"Gates of Hades" is a 30-minute track, and I don't know how anyone can force themselves to listen through it after their curiosity is satisfied. It starts out with what sounds like a hovering flying saucer and a radio jammed between stations. This never changes. The saucer sinks a little lower to you and revs its engines, and sometimes it tilts on its axis, and every once in a while the static gets thicker or thinner, and for a few minutes you get a test of the Emergency Broadcast System, but that's it. I figured I'd give this a fair try so I didn't distract myself by keeping a journal of the mundane thoughts that did occur to me, but if I had it would've read Minute 5: Chest still clear of dancing demons. Minute 10: Insomnia must not be one of Hades tortures. Minute 15: Remember to buy skim milk at grocery store tonight. Assuming Satan doesn't appear.
It just goes on, and on, and on. There isn't much to say. It's dull. There is no enviable response to listening to the tracks -- even if you think of them as pretentious art noise -- because the only feelings you have are boredom, listlessness, and a mild and growing irritation that you can't even dance to the shit. When I finally took the headphones off, my pulse and temperature were normal, and I felt like taking a nap. I sure as hell wasn't high. Not even a headache. I think that the droning actually made me feel even more sober, if that was possible.
When I tried the other tracks, I noticed that they all employed an extraordinarily similar "bi-neural" wave. Never in my basest drug experience did I ever hear emotions like some people report here, or feel colors. But if I had, I suspect the feeling of orgasm would sound at least a little different than the feeling you get after huffing nitrous gas.
I cannot truly express my disappointment. There was a dream that died that afternoon, and it was of me on the interstate driving at 90 miles-an-hour with "Nitrous" blaring in my speakers, unafraid to see those flashing lights in my rear-view mirror, and actually anticipating the conversation with the officer when all of his booze-detecting equipment read zero-point-zero-zero. That would've been fun.
Like a lot of things in this world, iDosing is a horrible scheme, sold to gullible people, that can only work if they convince themselves that there's something to it. Some websites are actually selling these tracks for hundreds
of dollars. If some dumb kid spends $20 to download them out of curiousity, I think they're still being swindled. On top of that, a handful of equally foolish adults will want to burn iPods and pass federal laws -- which isn't that far-fetched when you consider all the college-educated parents who once believed you could hear the voice of Satan if you played an Ozzy record backwards or who blamed Marilyn Manson for Columbine. The only good aspect of this is that if you are in high school, this gives you an clearer view of the field. Anyone who tells you iDosing works is giving you valuable information about steering clear of them because they are capable of a dangerous level of mental masturbation. They are telling you that there is too much reality. They are like the baby turtles that aren't going to make it from the beach to the ocean. Beware.