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Welcome to a very special edition of Melodica. This episode is the soundtrack to a sunset in Bali. I am at Ku De Ta, a fantastic bar / restaurant / night club, right on the beach in Seminyak. The DJ booth is the central feature of a large open area with a most magnificent view of the sea, framed by palm trees. There’s about an hour to go till dusk and we’re hoping for a full 100% orange drop into the ocean. There were showers this morning but now the sky is clear and the air is fresher but still extremely hot. People are gathering one cushions on the grass, in the lounge beds by the beach, cocktails at the ready. A black sail pirate ship is floating out of the sun, a flying silhouette from somewhere in the past, I can’t quite tell if it’s very small or very big and very far away. It’s all about the spinning away, the solar winds, the world spinning, and us, little dots and a little rock, flying through space. Right, it’s time to get back on the decks and soundtrack that sun set. Here we go… [setlist] 1 Gus Till – Light Rain 2 Nicolas Jaar – I Got A Woman 3 Deano – Lovin’ In The Sunshine 4 Herman Kelly & Life – A Refreshing Love 5 Kool & The Gang – Summer Madness 6 Gregory Isaacs – Cool Down 7 Ozo – Anambra 8 Gabor Szabi – Mizrab 9 Brian Eno & John Cale – Spinning Away 10 Sepalcure – Outside 11 James Blake – Limit To Your Love 12 Orion & J Shore – One Sunday
Music has been everything to me – best friend, mentor, guide, lover, as well as pusher, boss, torturer, attacker, and annoying little brother who won’t stop poking me in the arm going oi (jab), oi (jab), oi. From the first time I cried to The Sound Of Music as Julie Andrews and Christopher Plumber sang Eidelweiss to the nazis before heading from the mountains, music has been my guiding light, my joy, my reason for doing a series of what could be seen as being stupid things – like spending my life listening to it, playing it and making it. It has certainly brought me much pleasure, and taken me round the world. But my relationship with music is changing. I now spend more time seeking out places where there is no music, where I can hear the sound of the wind, waves, birds, kitchen implements, voices, traffic. All this sonic input, in the right place, can be as beautiful as a symphony, as uplifting and emotional as the purest pop song. When I was a teenager, music was culture, music was currency, music was language. The bands you liked formed a complex pin code that could unlock a friendship, start a love affair, seal a deal. If somebody knew that the drummer on the first EP from Echo and the Bunnymen was not a human at all but a drum machine called Echo, they were in, best mates, lifetime friends (hello Carlo). Now, in the digital age, music is a file, mere code, a devalued currency, a wheelbarrow-full of Weimar notes to its previous gold doubloons. Of course, modern pop is as culturally significant as it ever was. Unfortunately that means that most modern pop is an irritating soundtrack to late capitalism, something to keep the shoppers shopping and the drivers driving, a pointless loop, some autotune, an endless list of brand names, a hiss and a whizz on a phone on the top of a bus, hold music for the limitless call centre of twenty first century life, pointless music soundtracking a futile, soulless existence. And my music? It’s still there, where it always has been, on the margins, somewhere you can find the edge – post dubsteppy electronica, emotional folk, deep, dirty, sexy house music, even the odd rock anthem. But I wonder if it means as much as it used to. Maybe I am asking too much. Maybe I am spoiled by listening to and working with so much new music every day. Maybe I am satiated by the increased flow of amazing sounds. Maybe I am slowly, simply drowning in a sea of digital files. It’s not that I have lost my way. I still love music and she still loves me, just as much as ever. It’s just that things have changed, the world have moved, the currency has been devalued, there are new ways of playing, new joy from games and movies, and there’s so much of all of it. The challenge then is to find new ways of finding the good stuff then sharing the love, new ways of feeling the passion, new ways of connecting, new ways of hooking into the culture, new ways of sharing my music with more people. But what are they? (to be continued…)
It’s like an experiment in perception. I am here but I am not here. There is only the sun and the wind and the sound of the waves. I can smell the P20 that protects me from the burn. I can feel the warm wind, like it’s a hair dryer blowing on my wet skin. But really I am still in London, in the winter, moving coloured blocks around on the computer, trying to make a living. To the man in the surf shack I am just another piece of euro-meat, a big walking, floppy 10k note. Has he got time to appreciate the beauty of this beach, to marvel at every grain of sand, every crashing wave? Or is he somewhere else too? Counting money, buying rice, feeding the family, pushing boards and loungers around, trying to make a living.
The power cuts as the last notes of One Sunday fades, as the sun drops below the waves, clear as day. It’s going to be beautiful. My hands are shaking with the bass in Limit To Your Love. One more track and we’re down. ORion & J Shore – it’s beautiful and emotional. Ah, Spinning Away. I love this song so much, it’s about the world spinning, the solar winds, and us, little dots of human, trying to make some sense of it all, some kind of spinning away. I close my eyes, inhale, capture in that little brain compartment marked – flash past my eyes when I die moments. Burning, my arms are burning, not enough P20, no, burning, there’s smoke, ah, the light in the DJ booth is burning in it’s casing, better fetch Billy. Black sail pirate shop floating out of the sun, so we can’t see it coming, a flying silhouette from somewhere in the past, can’t tell if it’s just very small or very big and very far away. Gabor Szabi, Misrab, a classic from somewhere in the 60s haze, floating out across the ocean. I forgot to tell you in the last half hour you’re going to fry. As the sun gets lower there is no shade, sunnies on, full steam ahead. Partly cloudy, but clear at the horizon. Game on.