Thursday, June 07, 2007

kiss me / you know you might miss me

And over at my website I’ve put up a singles catalogue for Trevor Reekie’s (and Sheryl Morris & Tim Moon’s) Pagan and Antenna labels up until 2000. Trevor has written the track notes and they're both witty and informative. What does immediately leap out is how much incredible music radio in NZ simply ignored over the years....why isn't Greg Johnson a has nothing to do with what he recorded.

Trevor, to my mind, has the best set of A&R ears ever in New Zealand…his signings and discoveries, more than anyone else’s, have defined NZ Music over the past few decades…and indeed, have provided quite a bit that others take credit for.

The recent history of NZ’s popular music has been rather re-written in recent years by those who are able to. Hopefully discographies like this (and more I have to come…going back to the golden pop era of Zodiac, HMV and Impact in the sixties) will help to put the record straight.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

please believe me / I'll never leave you alone....

Fabulous darling….well it was, almost. Blossom is all the thing here right now, situated in the middle of the villas d’choice (this week), Sentosa, just off the ever deteriorating Jalan Laksamana / Jalan Pettinget thoroughfare (one has to ask when they’ll see fit to repair the worst major road in central Bali…they crave tourists but won’t fix the bloody road which is like traversing quarry).

It’s the restaurant and all the beautiful young, and not so young anymore, things in their flowing white resort-wear, and Paul Ropp, thinking they’re so tropical and sophisticated are loving it, and flocking.

The holidaying elite from Jakarta, checking out their new beachfront villas, seem to have flooded in too (I imagine that’s the real target market...they have the money) and it’s like being in (fab) Indonesia but not really being in Indonesia. That’s because the management, senior staff and front of house all seem to be staffed by non-Indonesian imports, leaving the lesser waiting jobs and other positions for locals….which makes me more than a little uncomfortable (especially as the service is not the venue’s strongest point, of which more in a minute). But lest I sound too snarly, let me say it does look incredible (even if the pool is a little too Playboy Mansion tack), the audio is a very passable mix of modern house and classic disco, the food is stunning, albeit it a little over-priced for what it is (we are in RI, not Double Bay), but I guess that’s because the target markets either don’t know or don’t care. We couldn’t fault the favours or the presentation of the Thai styled cuisine. And, like the new Bali Café (or is it Café Bali?), it offers a very pleasant and slightly less twee place for a late night drink than the likes of Ku De Ta, which I love for breakfast but have trouble with any period after noon, when the we-are-so-fabulous masses waltz in for their sunset drink or rather overpriced, and often less than average food.

God, I sound cynical, but I guess you get like that when you’ve been traipsing around bars, clubs and restaurants for as many years as I have…but it’s not all bad...let me get over the jaded snipes before I move into a more positive mode. So, yes, the service….is shockingly bad…and for that there is no excuse in Bali, being as it is allegedly tourist driven, and that there are countless places where the service is of a standard you can only dream of in most western cities. I guess that may be the problem…whoever thought of bringing in Australian and European staff to fill the senior service and on the floor management jobs needs to have their heads read. The Indonesians, and indeed most Asians (excluding Singapore which specialises in appallingly rude service), do it so much better….visit any restaurant in Jakarta, Bangkok or KL and tell me that’s not so.

It occurs though that Sentosa seems to be perfectly suited to the sort of people that came here, may spend years here, learn nothing of the language and spend no time either outside the Seminyak / Kerebokan / Canggu triangle, or with any Indonesians who are not serving staff. Which is a rather ugly reality.

But service….after we were seated, and ordered, there really wasn’t any to speak of unless we pointedly stood and waved furiously to call over a staff member, of which there were dozens milling around. Someone asked if they could take a chair from our table..we said no, we had another soon to arrive, and after all, it’s not KFC, at these prices. And to top it off, after having been there for just over an hour and a half, in which one of our party had ordered a bottle of Piper Heidseick, and before we’d been offered any coffee or desert, we were asked to vacate our very pricey table for the next sitting. We were polite in our refusal until they were out of earshot. And when the large bill finally arrived it had been overprinted several times and was unreadable. A request to reprint was met with reluctance. And then nobody seemed to want to collect payment.

So, yes, the service was flawed on every level but I still liked the concept…the bar was rather cool, it was a very enjoyable place to sit and talk; and the potential, assuming they bring in some local management to sort the issues, was promising. I need to feel a little excessively decadent at times and there are not many places on the island, despite the choices, that offer that.

To be honest we’ve found ourselves quite regularly at the quirkily cool new Café Bali (terrible name…great drinks) in Jl Laksamana, sitting on the veranda out the front sipping the very reasonably priced Caprioskas which are almost as good as the tried and true passion-fruit ones down Dhana Pura at Antique. It’s the best new bar on the isle…and the service, all Balinese, is rather good. I guess Blossom, despite misgivings, offers another option, and it will get better you would hope…..the place must have cost a fortune and they need to it to service that investment.

Jaded, me?