Tha Future

From time to time, we entertain such thoughts as to what we shall be doing upon the end of this voyage. And at certain times, we share these thoughts and offer insight, advice, opinions as to each other’s future wished-for endeavours.

These goals or aims or whatever you may wish to call them are as varied as we are different of course. Gino has tried to see if he could extend his stay with us and the van, having always been the one needing to leave earliest among us. After deliberation and correspondence with the appropriate people regarding this extension – namely select persons of his university – it was ultimately decided that, as planned beforehand, he would be unable to stay until the end. Wherefore shall he then be heading? To no other place than the sprawling and limitless country of Brazil for which he has long longed for.

As for I, my mind seems to have slowly settled and embraced the notion that I shall be heading to Manchester, scene of (one of) the biggest scene(s) in music in Europe. The questions which tingle our minds are related to the activities we arae often engaged in here: we entertain/declare/pray/hope/confirm that we shall continue rock-climbing, be it in gym fashion or in outdoor mode. Gino shall continue slacklining, there is no doubt as to that. He harbours plans of highlining extensively. I harbour plans of bi-/tri- weekly trips to climbing gyms. We should also like to surf more. Will all this actually materialise?

The main idea I am getting at here is whether we will ultimately fall back, somewhat unchanged, into the same regular everyday lives we used to lead, into that same routine we always had before this trip. There is little doubt we will have remained unchanged and untouched from whence we first departed for this adventure but will it lead us onto something more serious? More significant? Will it change the course of our lives? Although a more pertinent question might be whether our lives require(d) such a change in course at the onset…

Another quite interesting facet of these conversations we have is that of Yann and Doug’s near-immediate futures. When I also leave to return to the beautiful blandness of routine, whither shall they go and whatever shall they do? Talk has fascinatingly turned from driving all the way BACK to Australia to then take up a working holiday and earn some money back; to continuing all the way to Europe and England to sell the van; to selling the van in India and cycling to Europe. Most compelling it shall be to discover what fate they choose.

And of course, the same questions then apply to them as to where they shall settle down, IF they shall settle down, if so, for how much time; whether they shall look for more audiovisual work, keep climbing/slacking/surfing…
The questions forever linger.

However, what interests me most here though is not the “what” of what we hope we shall be doing, but rather the “why” as to why we spend so much time thinking of what we hope we shall be doing.

It somewhat bugs me that we seem somewhat incapable of focusing on the present beauty of our current situation and instead concentrate hard on a time upon which we have as of yet little control. Are we that disillusioned already? Have we had our fill or share? Many inquisitive questions pertain. As for the answers to them, as to the reason why I have posed such questions, well I deem and rather hope that they are born from the manner in which we were forced to undergo a lengthy part of our journey so far: the part of Indonesia. That is to say we were unprepared, unexpecting of the immensity of the archipelago: we were taken by surprise and with it our time was taken hostage as we raced from point A to point B. As our visa ran out and the distances remained significant, our minds were trained upon the next destination, the next city, the next island, the next sleeping spot, the next beach, the next meal, etc. That’s obviously not to say we were unable to enjoy the many spectacular moments we were privy to. It only means that as soon as they ended, our thoughts were pervaded by the next thing on the agenda.

Towards the end of our stay in Indonesia, we were well aware that a change in country would bring about a more relaxed, a more ‘present’ attitude and atmosphere. And as our discussion this morning around a very pleasant breakfast confirms, we are all well wanting of this slowing-downness which is already taking place as I have actually had time to write this in the morning, a time during which we usually have but a quick breakfast (if any) before rushing off somewhere. There may remain a slight rushness until New Year’s Eve, but then I have no doubt the turn of the year shall bring with it a turn in velocity. Although one eye shall always most assuredly keep a slight look as to where we’re heading, I believe mind, body and soul shall be set upon the here and now.

Night Time Resolutions

Funny how man revolves around time.

Headphones on. Beautiful music playing (Ryan Adams – Nobody Girl). Slackline up. Short session just over. Postcard written. Night falling. Stone bench overlooking a green expanse of volcano mountainside. Almost perfect I’d say.

All this down to time. Time is the fleeting element we vainly keep trying to grasp in our hands. It dictates most of our moves in the long run. And it definitely has a say in all of our decisions during this trip. The four of us on this trip each have personal objectives on this lengthy voyage. I don’t presume to know theirs but I definitely can’t help but keep thinking of my own. What may these be?

You know all those things you think about before falling asleep? All those goals, ambitions, ideas, resolutions that seem so reachable in the darkness of your room and the softness of your pillow? Those thoughts you either completely forget the next day or push out of your mind because the new GoT episode is ripe for downloading? Well they’re (just about) a lot more achievable when you’ve got the utmost freedom at your feet and nothing but time to laze around in.

The key words here are “when you’ve got nothing but time”. Our 12 hour days of driving, or entire days dedicated to important van/trip-related tasks to complete in chaotic cities are testament to that. But when that ‘time’ does poke its head around the corner, there’s no better place to focus on what matters than when in the peace and middle of nowhere.

One of the fundamental reasons for being able to fully concentrate of these is the lack of Internet. It’s quite astounding the amount of time one has on his or her hands when unable to connect to this world wide web. I demean not its useful, far from it, but this disconnectedness I am privy to grants me the necessary ‘step back’ that allows me to realise how connected we really are. This is not “new” information, merely realisation of something we all know.

However, disconnectedness does seem to have its downsides of course: as the word itself suggests, I struggle to not only follow worldwide news for example (although I have to admit it is something I’ve never really cared much for) but more importantly, I’ve struggled to follow and keep in close contact with close contacts of mine. The fact that I am away on a year-long sort of trip helps in their understanding and little will probably change in their attitudes towards me, but, it doesn’t help my stupid paranoiac fears of being left out and shunted away. I miss those creeps.

Nonetheless, free from the distractions of society and everyday life (many more than the Internet can be listed: daily episodes of favourite series, hangovers lengthening your available production time, etc…), one is able to pursue the deepest of one’s personal desires in relative tranquility (until locals come and ask for your picture or want to try your slackline out).

And then you kind of settle into a certain mindframe or mindset: as I start writing lyrics for a song, new lines come to me more easily in different ways, for different types of songs. It’s basically becoming a habit: allowing ease of flow to permeate my mind. The same can be said of almost anything and it is rarely more true than when reading a book and picking it up every 5 minutes of free time, picking another one up as soon as the former is finished. The same might well be true of arguing…!
After all, man is a creature of habit (cf. Beckett yo). And so begins a most productive of personal periods.

Life in a Van (Part 1)

As for what life on the road is really like, well that’s a different story altogether. First of all, I can’t yet give a proper and full analysis or description seeing as all we’ve done is linger about in Australia. So I suppose I’ll give you a premature idea of “life in a van” – he says whilst rapidly typing in the back of the van about to be dropped off to be shipped off to Dili.

The previous is exactly the reason why I can’t yet give an accurate description: we’re still connected and in touch with the modern world, with society, whereas our obvious (and stereotypical) idea of “life on the road” is being lost in the middle of nowhere in a sparsely populated and exotic country, amiright?
I’ll give you a part two in a month or two…
As for now, for us, life in a van is constant bickering. I mean, what can I say, that’s what brothers do really. The only person able to piss you off like no one else in the world is that sibling who just gets under your skin and crawls there ever-lastingly. Of course, a lot of this is but good humour but it can often lead to the brief and sudden flaring of anger. The little brother must often obey the big one who also happens to be the ‘leader’ of the trip we find ourselves on.

Now let’s not pretend there isn’t general disagreement between all of us four. Shopping, driving, packing, cleaning, cooking (especially the first two) all the way to teensy little things of absolutely pointless importance that we’ll obviously also argue about. Arguing is a must…but it often ends in a joke, a smile, and a hug (with Gino).

Life in a van is four of us sleeping in said van, two up top, two down below, space is sparse. We got a routine going to keep it organised and fine. Life in a van is waking up with the sun at 7 everyday (more or less) or later (if no alarm was set) in a pool of sweat. It’s having our customary vegemite breakfast and then maybe having a shower, maybe not. Shall I shower when I know I’m going to spend the afternoon sweating? But then again, when am I bold not sweating? Then again, when do I have access to a shower? (quite often in Darwin…). Life in a van is bunkering up in our van and closing all escape routes with mozzy nets; lathering ourselves with mozzy cream, and endless, endless scratch scratch scratching (until they pop and bleed in someone’s case…). And life on the road is constant dirt underneath your nails. Seriously, so annoying.

I know what you’re thinking, “man that sounds awesome, it’s what I always wanted to do”. Nah seriously, there’s also the awesome flip side to it. I’ll get back to you on that.

Brothers

Life on the road is funny. Not funny “haha” etc, though invariably there many of those moments. I mean “funny” in that you can’t quite pin down that peculiar feeling you feel. And this being my own case of course, I think that peculiar feeling is that there is none. There was no monumental shift in anything. I waited for “it” to hit me. For that hanging moment when the sudden realisation that I was heading out to Australia, or that I was IN bloody Down Under, or that I was officially living in a van, or that I hadn’t and wouldn’t be having a shower for a few many days, etc etc…

I wasn’t lacking in opportunities for the fact that I’d be traveling 8 months in South-East Asia to actually stop me in my tracks but it never did. I could suggest different hypotheses ranging from my multicultural background (sounds so elitist though doesn’t it?) and upbringing, from my bi-yearly family vacations abroad to exotic-enough places or from my parents innate passion for travel. Or was it from my constant moving around during – still young – adult years? Truth is I’m still not too sure. I couldn’t help but expect the start of my first travel adventure to be a “moment”, although there were some near-epiphanies . I suppose the obvious answer is about “comfort zone” really. I like to think I have a broad ranging one and in this case, as opposed to being thrust into unfamiliar territory (yes, Australia is unknown territory for an expat Ozzie…) all on my lonesome, I was welcomed with open arms by familiar faces at the airport including my brother and best mate, along with his brother.

Thus, as I was always surrounded by a circle of familiarity, the transition was smooth (more so that we were still in an Occidental country). So be it at home with my family in Dubai, flying solo (ugh, so cheesy) in Paris or living with housemates in the U.K. Or Granada; or living in van with four brothers of mine, home is definitely where the heart is.

Fare thee well

I’m off!

Off off off into the wild. I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while yo. Especially what I was gonna quote, there was an amazing Gandalf sentence that I picked up while re-watching the film for the umpteenth time but it seems my memory is as bad as his…
Bunch of songs I could post as well (and I will) that would adequately depict the situation!

The time has come to leave this hectic society behind and move forth into the sweet nurturing (well, we’ll see) arms of mother loving nature. 3 airports, 8 + 4:30 hours (+7 stopover fukdat), I shall arrive in the city of Darwin, I shall land in (one of) my motherland(s), and I shall step forth into the new and invigorating airs of what I like to think of as Freedom.
As through this freedom shall come, piercing the bright white clouds, speeding along under the deep blue sky, unified as one, glinting in the dazzling sunshine, blinding all in their way, the vessel, the wagon, the van bearing my fellow kindred and brothers as, finally united, we set off into the wild.

Khanyways, enough with the lyrical waxing, before I make my leave to spend hours ripping my hands to shreds upon mountain facades, break me wee leetle feet upon trails and trails along mountainsides and repeatedly fall off a piece of damn string tied between two trees; before sitting down in the campfire light and waiting for the ghost of Tom Joad, chillin’ in ma hammock with ma guitar, jamming around the van with our utensil like instruments (utruments? instrensils?), well before all this, I should like to leave you with a song or two (or many fucking more) that portrays my current mood.

Peace mofos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cy6iwP9Ux3A (duh)

(Song)writing & composing (The Night Receptionist)

To follow up on my previous post about lyrics: how does one write them? compose a song?
Focusing here on the lyrical aspect as opposed to the instrumental section, well there really is only one answer: each to his own. I don’t think there really is a secret to it, maybe some tips and such, but as long as you work on it yourself and write what you want, it’s allll good.

I usually write with music, with my guitar, playing the chords or riff or whatever piece of music I’ve come up with before finding a melody/words/gibberish to sing along to it with (guess the music helps with the melody, makes it smoother and easier, though I find breaking the vocal melody away from the musical melody often yields the most original results and is also the hardest thing to make work together -.- ).
However, sometimes, I’m playing 4 simple sets of chords (cause sometimes, nice and easy is just so relaxing and pleasing), and you think “why the fuck don’t I have a pre-written bunch of lyrics”. That’s another way to write, kind of like writing a poem, with no accompaniment. It also allows you to focus more on the lyrics, the downside being that when you apply said song/lyrics onto a certain piece of music, you might have to modify/shorten/lengthen lines to suit the song.

The following song came both from wanting to have more pre-written lyrics at my disposition and also came from Guy Harvey (Elbow) inspiration (with a nod to the idea of their song title “Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver”):

Always on time to join the fun,
But can only watch as they wander on,
It’s night time and it’s high time to start winding up my mind,
As I roam the lonely little halls,
All through the night,

The night receptionist job is quite a soulless one,
Nothing but a lie, and an evident one,
The janitor’s cousin, I clean & clean & clean,
Take care of the drunk,
& make sure I’m always seen,

Every task at hand is but another chance,
To let your thoughts ferment,
And watch them spread & spread,
Taking all in their way,
On their way to making you feel dazed,

Like the bedtime resolutions that fade upon awaking,
The mind leaps and soars from subtle places stored,
Thoughts you’d thought would never see the light,
Now they’re knocking at your door.

Up comes the sun to wash away,
All the tired crumbs upon your wake,
So you head back home a heavy head,
Struggling with your feet,
On waking you won’t realise,
All that’s left is to repeat.

“lyrics, lyrics, constant controversy”

For those of you unaware, the title refers to Eminem’s song “White America”. Proper tune mate. No really, a great song, one of his more old school (pre-Relapse in my eyes) and serious song, to differentiate those songs with his comical ones. Eminem’s a fucking great lyricist, grand wordsmith. Not only has he great crazy rhythm (not that I’m an expert on rap but daaaamn son he got some skills) but he has amazingly well written songs. I say this as much from vocabulary and rhythm as from a literary/poetical point of view. I mean, check out dem alliterations and assonances, he just strings them together effortlessly (well obviously while singing, he probably practiced them for ages, who knows how long it took him to write them..) and it isn’t pointless or useless cause it helps his rhythm and flow and makes him all the more impressive.
To take the above example: “lyrics, lyrics, constant controversy, sponsors working ’round the clock, to try to stop my concerts early”, look at all the ‘esses’ and ‘tees’ yo. Beautiful.
(if you dig this, check out the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, king of Kings for this).

Now these alliterations and assonances may seem more at home in the realm of rap due to the more complicated inducing nature they lend to the genre (to the flow and such) but they can be just as useful and prominent in other genres. I obviously have no concrete examples in my preferred genre of Rock………
*pause to think some more* : still no results. Anyways, you’ll all notice it in some songs.
Lest we forget, the content is just as, if not more, important and again, Eminem hits the nail on the head as regards to that as well. Again in “White America”, he talks about the controversy surrounding his fame, his reputation, with kids, with the law and it’s all very interesting and poignant. The same can MORE than easily be said about songs such as “Sing for the Moment” or “The Way I Am”.

Now I’d like to take a moment to talk about the nature of writing and judging lyrics. First of all, you could ask: who the fuck are we to judge what someone’s written? Fair question…but come on, it’s been going on for centuries in all arts (but who’s to say Shakespeare is actually good? eff off mate, whatever). We criticise Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber to Nickelback and AC/DC.

Let me say two things about that: first of all: some lyrics are pretty unforgivable, I mean, “Anaconda” (just read the lyrics, maaaan), some of those lyrics might actually be alright on a standard scale of what’s happening nowadays but you know THEE part I’m talking about (wow, it’s actually the whole last stanza…):
“Yeah, he love this fat ass
Yeah, this one is for my bitches with a fat ass in the fucking club
I said, where my fat ass big bitches in the club?
Fuck those skinny bitches, fuck those skinny bitches in the club
I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the motherfucking club
Fuck you if you skinny bitches WHAT?
I got a big fat ass
Come on”.
I mean wow. ‘Nuff said.

Now that I’ve just taken the piss about her, it makes it easier to compliment Nickelback. I’m juuuuuust gonna say, sometimes it’s fucking pleasing to hear things being said nice and easy and simple and straightforward, which they do well (some will say TOO well..). I just can’t help but compare to Radiohead when you sometimes wonder “dafuk is he talking about?”. Not a criticism here, just a remark, I looove me all of Radiohead and the lyrics make for more interpretation and metaphorical allowances, no problem about that, just a different style that sometimes mean switching to more easily understandable lyrics leads to some sort of “oh well at least with this guy I know what he means”.
If you’re wondering why I “praise” Nickelback but not Nicki Minaj, well, I shall answer “lyrical content” AND “presentability”. Yes, Nickelback have many songs about sexsexsex and alllll the such, but just take a look at HOW it’s done (look at that those Anaconda lyrics, there’s a certain way to present stuff to people’s ears…)

I will take a minute to wax lyrical about Elbow and more specifically the singer and songwriter Guy Harvey for his beautiful distribution of lyrics. Seriously, just check it out. Stunning.
Also in for due praise, among others: Eddie Vedder (he makes any cheesy lyrics NOT cheesy, too much emotion…), Zach de la Rocha (raging political bashing at its subtlest and exquisite finest).

I’d like to end on the note, that writing anything is first of all something very intimate, revealing and daring and that it doesn’t matter too much what you write as long as you believe in it really.

I once read an article where Sting was rated worst lyricist: the fuck does that even mean? Yeah he wrote “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” but The Beatles wrote “Obla Di, Obla Da”, seriously…

The lost art of listening to music.

How many of us listen to music whilst doing everyday chores, hobbies, activities? How many of us just put our iTunes (or whichever player one may use) on shuffle (or not) and let the songs roll on by? I often tell people, or my housemates, that I really don’t mind cleaning up, washing up or anything because I describe it as such: my main activity is listening to music and the secondary one is washing up. If I were to concentrate on my washing up skills, I wouldn’t be listening to the music, it would just BE there in the background and a few snatches of certain catchy moments would stream into my consciousness. But if I’m concentrating on the music, I can just let my hands seamlessly work themselves into washing everything up.

[I HIGHLY recommend absolutely any AC/DC when performing some sort of chore deemed “boring”, it suddenly makes it so much fun]

What I’m saying might seem a bit superfluous but think about it: you’re playing some music and scrolling down 9gag, or reading someone’s post on Facebook, the song you might have been listening to just drifts into the background and when it finishes and a new song comes on, if you notice the switch, you might think “wait, I missed that bridge section I really love”..
People listen to music in different ways, no doubt about that, hell I constantly have music playing in my room even if I’m not always concentrating on it, *clicks on iTunes to actually put some music on…*
And especially in this day and age, the ‘album’ seems to be a dying breed, especially in modern, popular, commercial terms of course. Don’t get me wrong, my posts are aimed at people like me who still listen to an album from A to Z so I guess I’m just rambling about the state of current music. Have we not all seen articles by different indie, rock bands claiming they might just release a succession of singles, or some EP’s, or free to download songs, the landscape has definitely change: one does simply put on a record or CD and lounge around contemplating, enjoying and listening to it..!

Having done my first night shift last night (working in a hostel), I found myself in the tranquil quiet of the night, able to put on album after album whilst performing my nightly tasks, interrupted only by the rare returns of weary/drunk backpackers. During these peaceful working hours, I was able to listen to a half a dozen records I’d say starting off with:

Future Weather EP – The War on Drugs.

These guys are fast becoming my new second favourite darlings (behind The National) and having seen them live a month or two ago, I was glad to recognise a song or two (Baby Missiles which is SO GOOD, they’ve got such Springsteen vibe, fast paced drumming with his singing style / and the other song was, well not sure, but Brothers was quite a standout as well). On the whole, just what I’d want from an EP, not too long, one or two short interludes, and it’s just enough to hit the sweet spot.

Royals – Lorde.

Not my typical sort of jam but hey, she’s good goddammit. Might not have been 100% attuned (I was still “working” yaknow) but TEAM definitely hit the sweet spot, and other songs as well, such as the well-known Royals itself, will be giving it another shot when I’ve nothing else to do but listen..!

Promises – The Boxer Rebellion.

Not quite their strongest effort but damn that first song Diamonds is a sad beauty. Such a pretty song. A pleasant listen on the whole, especially in the circumstances I found myself in. Not much else to say, like Lorde: some moments had me stopping whatever task I was performing to properly listen to it.

I also played Coldplay’s Parachutes and Radiohead’s In Rainbows, but that was whilst at the desk, with a FUCKING CRAPPY little speaker belting out the soft melodies. Both great albums I dno’t really have to praise. Also, Andrew Bird’s early stuff, a LOT of violin there, quite squeaky…

Anywaaaaays, will go through another bunch of albums tonight! Hopefully Port St. Willow if I remember…!

I started off defending the art of listening to music but seems I wasn’t 100% there while working but yeah you get what I’m saying.