is a novel by Chris Bell, published by wordsSHIFTminds.
Nothing is as it seems. Recordings of your favourite music are banned and confiscated by a repressive regime. You can still see state-sanctioned bands play but at their gigs you’re likely to be administered Sentimental Hygiene: a top secret psychotropic substance with unpredictable and occasionally fatal effects. Of course, you won’t know it; although you may wonder why the musicians have developed supernatural abilities, levitating, disappearing or worse. Raguly and Nebuly, the state’s sinister spies, are everywhere; out to put a stop to anything not controlled by a shadowy head of state, the impresario. And should you manage to evade them, Hector, Scuttler, Mohock, Ugmo and Mentull gangboys are lurking, ready to do you damage and steal your gadgets.

eanwhile, music journalist Rarity Dean is on a deadline: The Grid, the paper she writes for, is a relic of a past age, still attempting to champion the new music although all home entertainment is considered treasonous. 

‘Songshifting’ is set in a city that may be an alternative or future London. The state-sponsored Affable DJ Hologram gives punters a sense of freedom through a stylised form of entertainment while the impresario controls them through its insidious crowd control techniques and censorship. So an ability to songshift – a clandestine and elusive form of time travel that enables listeners to slip into the relative safety of their pasts with the help of their chosen music – is highly prized and jealously guarded by punters and musos alike.

Fraser Carlyon is bassist with Scrooch, whose music falls outside the spirit of the times. Dean suffers from worsening musical hallucinations and relies on the Grid Encyclopaedia of New Music to refresh her memories of tours past as she tries to dodge the impresario’s agents. 

As the state’s experiments in mind, mood and crowd control ratchet up a notch, rebellious musos, songswappers and rival gangs fight the system. Dean inadvertently discovers more than she’d bargained for: a more worrying explanation for the musos’ supernatural onstage ‘shtick’ and the ban on recorded music. Meanwhile, a power struggle rages between Scrooch and their biggest rivals, the Dust Bunnies, who eventually call a truce and join forces for Imprimatur, an event to protest the ban on recorded music.

The managers attempt to delay the event’s cancellation using a taste of the authorities’ own medicine, and the benighted mood lifts as Raguly and Nebuly are thwarted by the power of music and strength in numbers.

Reader comments:
  • “Bell writes excellently. It’s particularly rewarding to see that done around the subject of music because it’s such a hard thing to write about well. There’s a real and plausible sense of the future musical landscape despite all the bands being fictional and the characters are well drawn”
  • Songshifting has the authenticity so many attempts at capturing rock music in a novel lack”
  • “A really unusual and beautifully written work … It’s a fascinating idea, very original … I found Songshifting creative, unique, and intriguing”
  • “The music scene that provides the backdrop to most of what happens is beautifully fleshed out. I love the slang Bell invented as well as the sense of history he invokes. The setting is excellent”
  • “Marvellously written … There is a compelling richness to the world Bell creates”

“Bell is very, very good indeed. His work is smart, mythical, intimate and wonderfully international in flavour”
The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror

“Chris Bell’s ‘Saccade’ is a beautifully constructed, heartfelt work … He has a gift for emotionally loaded, short, concise statements”
Seven Stories Press

“Exhibiting a tremendous facility with style and form, Bell can produce everything from vigorously plotted cyberpunk narratives to whimsical daydreams … Powered by his torrid love affair with fantastic literature and pop music, Bell’s stories fully succeed in their stated intention of being ‘incantation[s] to summon an atmosphere, in the way the best songs and most potent perfumes can do’. Highly recommended …”
Asimov’s Science Fiction

“Chris Bell’s short stories [have] appeared regularly in the UK independent press … fusing ideas of time, meaning, and a filmic atmosphere that placed them firmly at the quality slipstream end of the spectrum”
Infinity Plus


Songshifting II: Requiem For Stage Diver & Bass Guitar

OUT NOW! Available in Kindle and paperback editions, the second part of the Songshifting trilogy.

The Dirty Birds, Poodlefaker, Jackass Morwong, Bizarre Avocado Crimewave and Cheeto Jesus are bands touring with a live show called Dangerous Mixture. Dirty Birds’ singer Sam Ratcliff devotes much of her band’s set to stage-diving into the punters. One night, at the club Everything That Ever Was, she’s returned unconscious to the stage and dies of apparent asphyxiation. Unemployed music journo Rarity Dean sets out to investigate her death.

Dean wrote for music paper the Grid before being fired for criticising the brutal regime of the mysterious impresario following a live event at which bands like Scrooch, the Dust Bunnies and the Dirty Birds made a stand against the state’s ban on recorded music.

As Dean attempts to unearth the truth she begins to question everything she once considered sacred. She’s soon on the trail of Teasel Fuller, a former security man with a violent past. But can this odd crime really be as simple as that? Other clues appear to suggest a grassroots rebellion is afoot – one systematic enough to unite punters and street gangs to rise against the impresario.

The sequel to Songshifting and the second book in the Songshifting trilogy.

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