I've never been a big advocate of feng shui, the ancient Oriental art of achieving harmony through strategic placement of objects in one's environment. I


Cleaning with Digweed

I've never been a big advocate of feng shui, the ancient Oriental art of achieving harmony through strategic placement of objects in one's environment. I simply refuse to accept the notion that where I put my laundry hamper is going to exert an influence on my mood, unless I keep tripping over it. Feng shui just gives people who refuse to take responsibility for their own lives another loophole when things get screwy: "Sorry I slept with your fianc鬠but that's what happens when your sofa faces north."

So needless to say, I wasn't exactly pondering how to improve the flow of spiritual energy in my home when I got inspired to rearrange my bedroom this week. In fact, when the idea hit, I wasn't thinking much at all. I was sitting in a coffee shop, stoned, trying to block out that I was almost certainly about to get let go from a temp job that I'd actually been enjoying. Miserable that I'd have to begin working from my tiny hovel again, I made a mental note that I might accomplish more writing if I moved my desk to under the window. Big whoop. Hardly a spiritual awakening.

That weekend, faced with the threat of contemplating my wretched life in detail if I didn't distract my brain with a chore, I set to work. Issuing forth far more grunts and moans than the neighbors have heard coming from my bedroom in a long time, I reversed the location of my equally cumbersome antique brass bed and vintage Herman Miller desk, displacing countless piles of crap—magazines, coffee mugs, office supplies, CDs—as I went. Surveying the debris, a little straightening up seemed not uncalled for.

But what to listen to? At first, I attempted to work through the dreaded To Be Listened To stacks of endless promotional discs, until a cursory spin of a handful of these titles quickly reminded me why they'd sat neglected for so long. I considered putting on Donna Summer's Once Upon a Time, her 1977 disco Cinderella story and my all-time favorite housecleaning album, but I only have it on double-LP and didn't want to have to reduce productivity by flipping sides every 15 minutes.

Deciding to kill two birds with one stone, I popped in the latest, forthcoming installment in the sprawling Global Underground mix-CD series (which I'd agreed to review for another publication), a Los Angeles set by British DJ John Digweed—as in Sasha & Digweed, the team responsible for the Northern Exposure compilations that helped trance break in America, and last year's Communicate, the first DJ mix of its kind to debut on the Billboard album charts in its first week of release.

Normally I can't listen to high-energy dance music in my home because it makes me too spastic. But Digweed's set turned out to be the perfect soundtrack for my white tornado outburst, his savvy knack for selecting tracks filled with myriad subtle gradations complementing my short attention span perfectly. As I went from discarding back issues of Teen People to purging the dreaded Hall Closet of Doom (where my evil twin had been hiding his cardboard box collection), Digweed moved from the dark, aqueous grooves of "Music" by James Presents Tatoine into the primal thump of Bipath's "Paranoize," then pulled back a little with the almost Tangerine Dream-like textures of "Groove Is in the Air" by Tijuana. And since my ears were being constantly stimulated by fresh timbres instead of just preoccupied by the thump-thump-thump of a relentless kick drum, I kept advancing from task to task.

Over the course of the two-CD set, I noticed how Digweed had programmed tracks that more often than not broke down into a long instrumental passage, creating a momentary opening-up effect without sacrificing the overall momentum. These little spaces to breathe only seemed to heighten my energy. Two-plus hours and six grocery bags of old clothing to donate to Goodwill later, as the last notes faded on the speakers, I realized that my apartment felt a hell of a lot more vibrant and uncluttered.

Replacing the CDs back in their case, I noticed the title of the final track: Salt Tank's "The Energy." An omen? Perhaps. In the week that followed my afternoon of cleaning, I not only got hired on permanently (hooray for health insurance!) at the job I thought for sure I was leaving, but an eerie sensation I believe some call "contentment" settles over me when I survey my abode. But I still feel more comfortable giving the credit for that good fortune to the impeccable mixing skills of a DJ over the orientation of my bedroom furniture in relation to the rest of the known universe.

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