Music / with that r’n’b flavour to get it across

I arrived back in Bali last week rather laden down with luggage. I’d managed to exceed my weight limit quite substantially both in check-in and carry-on. The woman at the Malaysian Airlines counter at Auckland Airport looked at my excessively heavy bag, paused and then smilingly said, it’s not a very full flight, you’ll be fine.

The next hurdle was the journey through the immigration area and past those ladies in their red frocks and funny hats who insist on weighing your carry-on, and writing down offenders’ names on a sheet. I guess you go into a database and may end up as a serial over-7kg offender, and ones name passed on to the Department of Homeland Security, or its Wellington equivalent.

From experience, there are reliable ways to slip excess (we are always way above that dreaded 7kg – the bag alone is almost 5kg and toss in a copy of The NZ Herald and a toothbrush and you are buggered) weight past these people but even applying those sneaky fixes, I was worried that my main carry-on was going to be a problem.

Fortunately, as I tried to merge into a much larger group of Japanese tourists somebody caused a kerfuffle elsewhere (one too many tubes of toothpaste or some other affront to the War on Terror) and I was able to use the distraction to rush past.

Of course, once past the carry-on ogres, carry -on is not a problem – nobody in the world beyond Auckland gives a toss and you won’t find your carry-on weighed again.

Yep, as said, we always push the weight boundaries and Brigid has been seen extracting large steel cooking pots and printers from a bag at check-in to keep them happy.

This time, however, it wasn’t computers (although I had two laptops in my carry-on) or kitchen hardware, or glassware that offended, but simple round plastic laser-read audio discs: CDs.

I’m happy enough with my digital bits and pieces but weaning myself from the physical format is hard. If I’d had the space there would have been several thousand bits of black plastic in there as well.

I’d had to put my CDs (a wall of them no less, but you get that I guess) into storage as we moved out of our NZ studio space and felt driven, nay obsessed, to go through them one by one. I ended up with some 200 I felt I could no longer live without, and looked longingly at these. I knew my 20kgs wouldn’t stretch quite this far. So I edited again, and then I edited again – into must-take, must-take if-there-is-any-room and, finally into next-time.

And so it was I ended up with a large red suitcase with six shirts, a few socks, a book or three, and a mass of compact discs.

fb1 I staggered across three borders with this and had nightmares about burst bags. I also looked at the Indonesian customs forms. Whilst the kids are absolutely on to it here, the generation before and those that write many of these bits of paper and the regulations that they attempt to enforce, seem to be in a no-mans land circa 1988. So, the form asks whether I have any records – no I don’t. And any laser discs? Good god, now that’s a format living somewhere in DCC and 8 track hell. So, no I don’t – and I hope that the technology that peruses all bags arriving in Bali hasn’t led to a big white chalk X on my bag. The guys at customs, hands out waiting, love those chalk marks.

But no, no chalk, and as with Auckland, someone called out, distracting the guy, as I rushed past the green desk and I tossed my form at him. They always seem bemused that I don’t smoke – what male doesn’t smoke, or at least try and smuggle cigarettes. It’s a point of much bemusement here in Bali.

Hence I managed to get almost 100 bits of my musical past to Sanur.

It’s funny how you crave these things when you don’t have access to them. There are things here I probably will only play once or twice, but at least can now if I do want to. Not that it’s enough, but I do have my Nuggets box, and my Joy Division box (which I’ll likely not play but at least I can look at it), and my various impenetrable live Miles Davis albums from the early seventies, which I can listen to forever but no-one else gets – they’re not friend-friendly; and my much loved Dr. Alimantado album; a Carl Craig set that I listened to over and over for at least a year; an LKJ anthology; Joey Jay’s fab old school Trojan selection; Coltrane’s Crescent; the Andy Weatherall Fabric mix; a killer double Fatback and god knows how many more.vl

I was like a kid in a lolly shop… touching, looking, shuffling.. all that…

And playing too of course. I played the Miles things several times until Isabella opined that I had shocking taste in music, and had likely lost touch. I sat and thought about the generation gap for a moment or two and they decided, firstly, to scoff at her, and then, thinking better of it, let it go and delved into the rather good Ricardo Villalobos Fabric 36 mix which in its minimal, stuttering and almost, dare I say it, world music-ish way, is maybe my album of the year – this week anyway. Not, of course that I’ve heard them all, but in my year. And then there is the Nomumbah album, Love Moves, which a current daytime repeat, and is very much that lovely thing that we used to call deep house in those slightly messy Calibre 98 days, the sort of thing labels like the once great Guidance used to toss out with such ease. Warm, a little bit slight, moody and quite cosy.

It’s all about the now anyway.

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