What do you call it when a song that didn’t exist at the time evokes a sense of place from your past? This kind of phenomenon, when unconnected melodies trigger memories, should have a formal name. It’s been happening to me with “Cavern’s Dark” by the mysterious musician calling himself Mappe Of. He wasn’t there that night. It happened so far back in time that he may not have even been alive, but somehow, he’s brought the moment back to vivid life for me in his song.
Notes plucked out on guitar hang like the stars in the sky that night, obscured by clouds of swelling synths; distant horns trace the outline of the shore and the slope of the beach; precise drums beat out the shadowy outline of rocks, trees, and other unseen perils lurking in the dark. Even before your hand grazes mine, I sense you beside me, conjured from my memory by the layers of Mappe Of’s disembodied voice floating above the din.
I traced a thought along the back of your hand. I felt the raised contours of your veins. “They’re like a bloody highway”, you joked, and I couldn’t tell if you were aware of the pun or not. The chill of your skin catches me off guard— how can something so alive feel so cold? How is it that a lifetime’s worth of work, worry, memory, and feeling, can be captured in the wrinkles and knuckles on the back of a hand? How can a person who’s never met us, who knows nothing of our story, know what it was like to have the trajectory of your life change in an instant?
I can’t make out the words he’s singing, but I know they mean he’s lived a similar moment. For us, it was the start of a life’s journey; for him, it might have been the moment a life ended. Whatever the details, the more I listen to “Cavern’s Dark” the more I’m certain that Mappe Of knows the rush of emotions that pass between two people in the dark of night, hands entwined, reading each other’s life story in the lines and folds of skin. It’s the closest two souls can come to making physical contact. Maybe that’s what we should call it: Soul Touch. That moment when a song takes you by the hand and brings you back in time.