impresario, the

Songshifting's most mysterious character or entity, the true nature and identity of the impresario is never revealed. It is apparent that he, she or it represents some form of governing body or dictator that has declared recorded music illegal in order to perform experiments of crowd control on concert audiences. The impresario is first mentioned in Chapter 1.

The impresario’s predecessors in the bullet point party prescribed electro-shock therapy for countless citizens but had failed to cure them of the information overload it claimed they were suffering from before the banks and big business collapsed, presaging bailouts and the more drastic measures that came to be known as the Almighty Crunch.


I rediscovered lost days, reminded myself how we made our hours less mind-numbing before the impresario found other ways of numbing our minds.

Chapter 2
Here’s one of me taken with Joe Larkin of Rich Cunts Craving Esteem. The guy on the right was the governor of the Calves Head Club, I think. It was probably taken there before a show. I wasn’t a lover of Rich Cunts Craving Esteem’s music but unlike my colleagues on the Grid I wouldn’t agree they deserved what the impresario did to them on the Affable DJ Hologram’s show.

No one deserves that.


[Rich Cunts Craving Esteem] reappeared a short time later at Kangaroo Valley; not one of their better performances but nevertheless memorable. The impresario had ordered a small white podium to be positioned in the middle of the arena. In place of the band’s usual backline was strewn an array of heavy duty, industrial-orange power cords.


When popular bands like the Double Ds and Brittle Dullard sold-out, the impresario wasn’t stupid; a backlash was inevitable. Raguly and Nebuly may have seemed to be blundering and ineffectual to most punters but it was impossible to be certain this wasn’t a design feature intended to create a sense of false security.

In turn, the impresario had the Hologram programmed to respond to irreverence with humour. Punters came to expect this levity. It was why the impresario chose the Affable DJ Hologram as its public face. What the impresario couldn’t have anticipated was a band willing to rebel so publicly, in front of millions of viewers and without the barrier of anonymity.


The impresario’s treatment of Rich Cunts Craving Esteem was entirely predicated on its visual impact. The ‘lesson’ that event represented came back to me as I shook dandruff over the Grid Encyclopaedia of New Music entries for two of their contemporaries, Tax-Deductible Tentacle and Prince Rupert’s Drops.

In their case the impresario kept the punters out of it and directed the punishment at the musos. An afternoon at the snuggery resulted in all members of Tax-Deductible Tentacle losing their ability to differentiate between musical pitches at certain frequencies. The band’s damager went on to blame “systematic cochlear hair cell destruction”, if I remember correctly.

A disastrous experiment on megabang act Rubber Sentinel ultimately led the impresario to retire its practice of blinding musos, on the basis that world-weary members of that profession bizarrely treated the penalty as a gift. In the case of no-wavers Béton Brut, for example, it had the effect of attenuating their capacity for making and enjoying music rather than impairing it.

Mindswerve act Prince Rupert’s Drops were forced to curtail their Dutch Tears tour after their singer suffered extreme hearing distortion and a sharpening of pitch in the upper registers. Following an appointment at the same floating ‘lab’ she found it impossible to sing in tune – although journos at some rags would cruelly claim she’d never been able to in the first place.

Chapter 5
Punters hadn’t trusted the official water and food supply for years. That distrust initiated a growing black-market demand for additive-free crops, farm-free eggs, untreated milk and, to a lesser extent non-government cheese, meat and fish. It didn’t take a Grid reader – and there were plenty who weren’t – to realise that if the impresario could exploit our music tastes at gigs, it wouldn’t require a lot of effort to take advantage of us in the workplace and our homes

Chapter 42
The impresario had its metaphorical hands full, confiscating recordings and hassling punters, and hadn’t applied itself to the potentially larger problem of timebinders – yet. I still relied heavily on mine, even though I was only supposed to use it for work-related interviews.