So I missed 2 weeks. Well I figured it’s probably not going to bother my devoted public of 2 or 3 kind friends who read this on the toilet when they’ve run out of Facebook updates. I’ll also give you a free life tip: Don’t set deadlines to things you enjoy.. I actually worried about not delivering my ‘blog’ on time to an imaginary target I set for myself. Like life isn’t stressful enough.
In truth, it was a busy couple of weeks. I grew a year older, which is not something to brag about aside from the obvious credit that goes for still being physically intact. I travelled to Japan. Which is always something to brag about as it never ceases to intrigue, amaze and inspire. Now I find myself in a hotel room in Taiwan, finally with a bit of time on my hands and inspired to write something.
I’m often relying on friends I trust to give me inspiration for reading material. Jose is one particularly well read cat who has encouraged me to pick up a number of good reads. The latest I just finished on the plane over here was the semi-biographical ‘Kitchen Confidential’. A book from about 18 years back written by the recently departed Anthony Bourdain. I, like a few I know, was sad to see Mr Bourdain leave life. I have a great love of travel and food, so have always enjoyed watching the man explore the world and really relish discovering people, places and the culinary cultural adventures that they bring. He has a pretty good way with words too. One thing I found most interesting in the book was his assessment of the different styles of chefs he knows. He falls into the category of intense, aggressive delivery of quality food at any cost, to as many people as possible. Almost like a martyr to the cause of creation, although often you feel that the motivation is a selfish pursuit. There are musicians who comply with this ethos. 320 days a year of live performances, album after album, constant reinvention from one band to another, only staying as long as they are able to create something they consider worthy and then self-destructing or leaving a wake of destruction behind them as they move to the next project, all consumed by the need to create. Other chefs, like artists and musicians strive for perfection. A single restaurant seating 4 people that culminates a lifetime’s acquisition of skill. A painting that takes 20 years to complete, a singular work of musical genius which they know can never be bettered.. The latter is harder to find. Many musicians treating music like opiates and repetitively trying to recreate perfection at continual cost to their credibility.
I’m not sure that Anthony and I would have got on. I do respect the work ethic and the commitment to understand people though. That is important in whatever you do. Just want to remind you that this is not ‘work’, before you question my ethic…
In his honour, to some degree, this week I’m going to introduce songs with a link to food. Having understood that his music tastes seemed to start and end in 70’s punk rock I’ll suggest that he probably would not like these 4 tunes. But to adopt his blunt attitude. If you ain’t around to complain, then you don’t get a say pal.
So let’s start this four course honour role with some greens. Salad were another 90’s indie band with a female vocalist. Looking through my collection; Letters to Cleo, Echobelly, Elastic, The Breeders, Throwing Muses, it certainly seems like I had a thing for female rock musicians.. who knew. Who also knew that Salad appear to be reforming after lying dormant, leaves browning, juices coagulating (possibly), for so long. Recently they have been performing acoustic numbers as Salad Undressed. Well here we have the raw vegetables drenched in traditional distorted guitars – as intended by the chef. Drink the Exlixir.
Should the dressing not be sufficient, the Smashing Pumpkins produced a large dollop of Mayonnaise. This is classic Pumpkins, quiet/loud, huge guitars, when Billy Corgan’s ego was small enough to be held by an indoor arena. Beautiful track.
Main course and some Man Man with Steak Knives. Man Man are a recent discovery for me although introduced a long time ago by the Rooster, promptly misunderstood and sidelined. This duo, Honus Honus and Pow Pow (yes that is correct), have a history of collaborating with other people with incredible names. Tiberius Lyn, Sweet Chestnut, Kritter Krat, Turkey Moth and Chang Wang to name but a few. It sounds more like a Taiwanese menu than a group of musicians. They are branded as experimental multi-instrumentalists, which might be otherwise expressed as ‘indecisive’, but could also denote a modicum of genius. I think so.
For dessert I should offer some Blueberry Pancakes from Fink (not Jack Johnson – thankfully). Fink aka Fin Greenall, was born in Cornwall and earned some of his musical chops on the ‘mean streets’ of Bristol before gravitating to London and now Berlin. His music is honest expression. There is both a darkness and a simplicity to it. The unfiltered lack of glamour in lyrics such as ‘I don’t buy maple syrup in Asda no more’, is not something you are likely to hear from the more pretentious of his contemporaries. Nor is it going to win an Emmy.
Blueberry Pancakes is clearly a heartbreak song. Fink has potentially done something implausibly stupid, which only men seem capable of at a significant level, causing his partner to pack bags and take the games console and the cat and move out. Then he is coping with the situation in the traditional British manner of immersing himself in an environment that holds the most significant memories and drinking strong lager during the daylight hours. Finally, when his friends tire of his moping, he goes back to his apartment, burns something in the kitchen and falls asleep in his clothes on the sofa, softly weeping at a gardening program on the TV. Textbook. Who hasn’t.