This weekend while reading during the day I swapped out the LoFi Girl playlists in favor of listening to the entire discography of the late, lamented Toronto band A Northern Chorus.

The first thing to know is that I consider Bitter Hands Resign to be the best album of the twenty-first century. The second thing to know—and I brought in the blog post from 2006 where I mention this—is that I describe hearing them live as having given me an aneurysm.

I don’t think I ever tried to explain what I meant by that, but I wanted to circle back and take something of a stab at it.

As I mentioned in 2006, the band was on the bill at a show headlined by The High Violets at the Aladdin Theater here in Portland, Oregon. I’d never heard of them before, and I don’t even remember who was the third act.

Here’s, roughly, what happened.

It didn’t register as it happened, but I realized at one very particular and memorable moment that somewhere along the way, everything ceased to exist for me except the band. Although that’s not quite it either, because really what happened was everything ceased to exist for me except the music.

That one particular and memorable moment was this, and to this day I no longer can recall which song it was, although I’m trying to figure it out on these new listens: suddenly there was a trumpet.

Let me back up a bit.

My friends and I were more or less center house, somewhere in the first three rows. More or less center stage, maybe a bit to stage right, was the violinist sitting in a chair. She essentially was directly in front of me, but I never actually saw her put down the violin, summon a trumpet from beneath her chair, and then, at some point, play.

It was at that moment that I actually, consciously realized that everything for me had fallen away except for the music, and—more—what happened at that particular and memorable moment was that I had no idea where I was.

There was no stage. There was no house. I mean, there was. I know, and I understood then, that I was sitting in an uncomfortable chair looking ahead and up at a band—it just didn’t, fundamentally, somewhere deep down, feel like that at all.

I’m not altogether entirely sure there even was a me there, in that moment, despite there clearly being experience.

This is the thing I tried to capture by using the word “aneurysm”. Maybe I thought that having an aneurysm must carry with it some sort of profound disorientation and alienation from one’s own body, and it’s all I could think.

It’s possible that I used the word that night, as I bought the CD. I’ve no idea. It would be entirely consistent with my then-undiagnosed autism if, seeing as how I don’t just go up to people I don’t know to tell them it was a good show, and if the only word I could think of was “aneurysm”, I very possibly could have said to their faces that they’d nearly given me one.

What I do know is that no other band, at no other time, and in no other place, at no other show ever has done this to me.

As I said in 2006, the recording “doesn’t satisfy in quite the [same] way”, and even seeing them again a year or two later at Dante’s didn’t carry the same effect. It was a thing that always was going to happen once, and only and just that once.

Alas, the band is no more, having broken up in 2008 not long after the followup album, The Millions Too Many. At any rate, my recommendation remains today the same as it was then: buy the album.