Saturday, December 29, 2007

O-U-T spells "out"

When a wise close friend tells one on Christmas morning, by phone from Australia no less, to take care and to say no if you have any doubts, you should probably heed the advice.

Four hours later I tossed that advice around from one side of my mind to the other as I stood sheltering in the Scoot office on the Sanur beachfront…sheltering from the squalls of rain that were whipping across the grey expanse of the beginnings of the Lombok of the world’s deepest sea channels, and the divide between Bali’s mainland and the usually tranquil Nusa Lembongan. Do we go or do we stay and wait….ahhh, fuck it all, let's go. How bad can it be? After all, Indonesia hasn’t a history of marine disasters, and the weather can’t get that bad, surely. Brigid asks the smiling girl in the green uniform with the clipboard who says, reassuringly, that it might just be “a little bit bumpy”.

So off we go, convincing ourselves that the storm that’s been rocking Sanur all morning is easing, that the big grey blob on the horizon is actually dark blue, and into the smallish Scoot motor launch which I tell myself is well and truly ready for anything, noting the lifejackets, GPS and obvious flares. And the crew, naturally, are very experienced.

a That the captain / driver (I don’t know what one calls these people…it’s a boat, not a ship, but he does seem to have a two man crew) is chain smoking in direct, we are to find out on the return trip, defiance of Scoot rules, should have meant something. But, this is Indonesia and people smoking in confined spaces regardless of the discomfort of others is, like people who have no idea how to drive having full reign over the roads, something you take for granted.

The first few hundred metres, perhaps even kilometre or two, was relatively fine. As the lady said, a little bit bumpy. Aside from the engine stalling before we passed the Sanur reef of course (although the folks we spoke to on the return journey yesterday..which took some courage, mind..said that the day before they’d floated adrift for ¼ an hour before the crew had convinced the outboards to return to life). Then the first squall hit and off we went. Vision, in any direction quickly reducing to about two metres, the captain sent one of his crew, fag in hand, through the front hatch onto the bow, where, unattached to the vessel, he sat, god knows how he managed to…and the fag went out… for the next forty minutes and directed the captain with hand signals. I’m guessing that without his guidance, our next landfall may well have been Flores.

That aside, after the first twenty minutes it all went rather calm again. Of course calm is a relative term when that means the boat is simply crashing from mountainous wave to wave instead of lurching at an almost 90 degree side-wards swivel as we'd been a few moments earlier.

And, so, we thought it was over, in a good way. I guess I should’ve taken rather more notice of the frantic waving from the chap at the front and the nervous toothy grin emanating from the third crewman sitting opposite.

The cause of the frantic waving was, we were shortly to find out, the impending moment when we were to enter the collision zone between the famously brutal currents that rush past the bottom of Lembongan out of the Nusa Cenida / Nusa Penida channel (which is notorious for sucking innocent Korean snorkelers out of the mouth of Crystal Bay and handing them back three days later) and the fast rising gales whipping down the west coast of Lembongan.

And then we thought it was all over, in a really bad way. The waves were now substantially higher than the boat, the frantic man up front was literally holding on for his life as tower block sized waves crashed down on him. And the captain’s eyes bulged as he gunned the engines, which now seemed to be spending more and more time in the air as the nose of our scoot plunged into the wall of water.

And then it was as calm as a Lilly pond (relatively speaking of course) and the captain smiled and said “Ok?” And we all got off. b

The rain pelted down at Tanis Villas and we played 3 handed 500 and our pirated  magnetic Indonesian Monopoly set (includes Train Station of Tokio, Harbour of Sidney and Unio Soviet amongst its properties but pays $20,000 on passing go…however you go around the wrong way and nothing is colour coded correctly, a bit like the country of manufacture).

And had a drink at the local cafe, but avoided the specialty cocktail.

How was your Christmas?

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Hold tight wait till the party's over / Hold tight We're in for nasty weather

Ultimately, all these scenarios have to satisfy the same human urges: What do we need music to do? How do we visit the land in our head and the place in our heart that music takes us to? Can I get a round-trip ticket?

Its getting lot of press pretty much everywhere at the moment, and there isn't much there that hasn't been said many times before but David Byrne's Wired musings on the state of the recording industry as it relates to artists and record companies ties it all together rather well and is well worth the time to read. And the conversation audio snips with Brian Eno are very much worth the extra few minutes if this topic is of interest. These are not minor players.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

on the first day of Christmas.....



the ghost of XMAS past.....lest we forget....Prego 2004 (and suffice to say we were just observers....seriously..)

Say / my god / I say something

And so this is Christmas, and what have you done……..and all that nonsense of course.

Here in our corner of the world you’d be hard pressed to work out that you were slap bang in the middle of the most populous Muslim country on the lord’s (whichever one is yours) planet. Java is perhaps different (although the malls are all decked with fake holly and bells there too), but in Bali they certainly do the holidays well..all of them, be they Christian (bearing in mind there are more Christians in Indonesia than there are people in Australia), Muslim, or, naturally, Hindu.

The serving staff and shops and restaurants are all beaming underneath their Santa hats and fake snow…oh yes. In Ace Hardware, in the always oddly deserted Kuta Istana Mall (right next to the giant fake snow and ice fantasy pavilion that the locals queue year round to enter) the almost life-size nativity diorama (a snip at Rp3,000,000…about US$320) and the 5 metre high fake Chrissie trees (only Rp5million) seem absolutely illogical, but as someone recently said, Indonesia would not be Indonesia if you threw logic into the national mix.

Indonesians are very, very good at celebrating just about anything.

And the Chinese restaurant we went to tonight had all the trimmings including a much better class of fake Santa hats than I’ve ever seen in New Zealand.

When we had The Box and Cause Celebre we enforced a strict no Santa hats policy at this time of the year. We could, of course, have been accused of being grumpy old men. But more likely we just didn’t want the roaming meat-head, office party factor coming down the stairs. A no-Santa hats policy was easier than explaining repeatedly to people: you are drunk and you look like a twat so you are not welcome.....

None of this has anything to do with the main purpose of this post which was to pop up a couple of Kevin Saunderson tracks that have been sitting on my server for about six months waiting for me to remember, and the Box / Santa hat thing twigged my memory, as both of these were monstrous at said club. I’ve a soft spot for Saunderson’s Inner City, what with the soaring Paris Grey vocals, and the happy line they drew between the pure Detroit techno that Kevin was instrumental in pioneering (legend has it he coined the term) and dancefloor anthems. IC are well served by compilations and track appearances here and there, but usually in their OG form, with the raft of rather exceptional remixes generally being MIA. So with that in mind I thought I’d post a couple here:

Firstly, the Dave Clarke mix of Ahnonghay, which may or may not be my favourite single in any genre from the 90s (this came out in 1995) depending on the day. The DC mix is good old fashioned, rush to the floor almost banging tech-house (before there was such a thing) but Inner Citypretty much manages to hint at the searingly beautiful original, tucked away on the flip, next to an equally lovely, though quite different, very purist, Carl Craig mix…..

Inner City- Ahnonghay (Dave Clarke Mix) (6 X 6, 1995).

And then, as is to provide a contrast, from further back, 1989, to be exact, come the rather legendary Def Mix of Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin', which was extraordinarily hard to find new until the recent Defected Def Mix collection came out. Sadly, that collection has it only as part of a rather patchy mixed triple CD (such a wasted opportunity), and it’s still hard to find on its own. So to rectify that, here you go, complete with the classic lush Knuckles / Morales rolling groove and the lovely drop down to a downtempo Move Your Body riff at 4.55.

Inner City - Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin' (Def Mix)(Ten 1989)