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Jack White Made a Fidget Cube Song to Torture You

Misophonia is a condition whose sufferers are adversely affected by what might otherwise be mildly annoying noises, like the sound of someone else chewing. It’s also the inspiration for “Hypermisophoniac,” a song on Jack White’s new album Boarding House Reach. A daring artistic choice for a record generously described as divisive, but White’s pulled it off: “Hypermisophoniac” is so irritating it’s darn near unlistenable.

“There are these people who have a hatred of sound, and certain sounds drive them to tears,” White said in a video interview last week. “[I] thought, ‘What if we took annoying sounds with a recording, annoying musical sounds, and tried to make something beautiful out of them?’ I don’t think we succeeded, but we definitely got the annoying part down.” His secret weapon: His son’s fidget cube, those handheld clickety-clacking, switch-tapping, gear-twisting miniature Bop-It gizmos.

You’ll hear the fidget cube right at the top of “Hypermisophoniac,” chattering away like a set of wind-up teeth, followed by screwy phaser synths and a noise that can only be described as an anvil to the head. Then the vocal kicks in and we’re treated to White ranting away like crotchety old Reynolds Woodcock in Phantom Thread:

Every sound I hear
Is louder than the last
Sounds like a dynamite blast
When you click your teeth
I need relief

Each one, each one
Louder than the last and
Makes my fingers curl
Sounds like a dynamite blast

There’s more—distorted vocal samples, ICU beeping, detuned piano, one voice whispering in your left ear and another drilling into your right. “Hypermisophoniac” achieves exactly what the name suggests: minutely concentrated torture. Listen below.

Tags: jack white