My Xmas Turkey

28th December 2011 Comments Off

A quick trip to Turkey to distribute and collect some delight. It’s one of those – arrive, eat, play, sleep, leave – jobs. Because it is Istanbul there is traffic on traffic in driving rain, roads like rivers, roads like car parks. There’s Guray, the gentle door manager who lives in the country, who keeps chickens and cats and dogs and grows parsley in summer time, enough to share with friends and neighbours. There is grilled meat and lavish salad, there is Raki (pronounced wrecker, an appropriately descriptive word for a deliciously devastating drink). Then there is Lux, the bar club in a back street in the still driving rain, in the increasingly vicious wind. Function One sound, crossover, house music, hotel, and another night of fitful sleep. Half dog tired. Half waiting for the alarm. Rain lashing on the windows. Image repetition – a series of known unknowns on TV – an explosion in a city; a crowd protesting in another; hot or cold weather in various regions of the world; stocks and shares going up and down; a man on a beach playing an acoustic guitar, a beautiful woman wandering, hopeless, aimless, pleading, vulnerable, all eyes. In my dreams or in the club or on TV, I am not sure now, the waves of bass throw words onto the shore. Boom – superabundance. Boom – obesity. Boom – instant gratification. I want it and I want it now. That system doesn’t work anymore, we all know that, we can feel it, but what do we have to replace it? We can feel it like the wind rocking to hotel, like the windows buckling and bending, warping out of shape in the lashing rain. We can feel it in our stomachs like a sharp punch or the slap of a bass wave from the Function One. Enough is enough I splutter as the phone beeps or pings or does something. I compose myself for a second – hello. Upbeat, sounding to myself like I am awake. There is nobody there of course. It’s just another alarm call on just another morning in just another room with a view. In the lift on the way down to breakfast I hum a simple tune: Stay hungry, stay smart That’s a start, that’s a start When it all falls apart Stay hungry, stay smart.

Melodica 26.12.11

26th December 2011 Comments Off , ,

Chris Coco’s weekly radio broadcast. An eclectic selection of brilliant new music starting with house and moving on to electronica, downtempo, acoustic and all sorts of other styles loosely connected to dance and electronic music. Let tastemaker Chris Coco guide you through his selection of the week’s best new music. Well this one could have gone so many ways. It’s impossible to squeeze even a vague selection of tunes of the year into an hour, so I’ve gone for some of mostly electronic stuff, that, mostly, you might have heard me play in a club, or a bar, or on a beach, you get the picture. Rest assured there isn’t an xmas turkey among them… [setlist] 1 Solomun – Love Recycled 2 2 Poolside – Do You Believe 3 Rampi feat Miss Bee – Feel It Burn (Ray Mang Remix) 4 Jacques Green – Another Girl 5 Sepalcure – I’m Alright 6 Maya Jane Coles – The High Life 7 Julio Bashmore – Ensnare 8 Francis Inferno Orchestra – Meet Me In Salt Lake City (Soul Clap Remix) 9 Lovebirds – U Give Me Love (Greg Wilson Remix) 10 Dean Sunshine Smith – Piece Of Sunshine 11 Billie Holliday vs Sebastian Tellier – La Ritournelle (Lulu Rouge version)

Melodicablog 19.12.11

19th December 2011 Comments Off ,

More stuff about the music and stories on this week’s Melodica. All the shows are archived on the Chris Coco page at Mixcloud. There’s a new Melodica chart on Juno Download: here. Follow Chris Coco on Mixcloud Long Players of the Year 1 PJ Harvey – Let England Shake I was late on this one. After seeing her perform at Bestival I couldn’t stop playing it. The album is a masterpiece, it sums up the grit and the glory of England’s long faded light. I love to think of David Cameron travelling back from his EU meetings singing “God damn Europeans, take me back to beautiful England…” without the required sense of irony. 2 Nicolas Jaar – Space Is Only Noise Jaar was a pivotal artist for Melodica, he bridged the gap between the electronic club music and the experimental downtempo stuff. His music is at home at a sunset session as it as at an urban basement comedown. 3Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts Sonic Youth’s main man with a beautiful, mostly acoustic, rather hippy album, and it’s produced by Beck. The first three tracks are as close to perfection as a human can get. 4 Metronomy – The English Riviera Metronomy, self-concious, mildly hedonistic, thoughtful, beautiful in a strange way, they are so English it hurts, in a good way. 5 James Blake – James Blake James Blake shifted the sound of the mainstream several degrees to the left with his fine debut LP and the hit, Limit To Your Love, written by Feist of course. He’s annoyingly preppy and has already become part of the major machine but his live show, which I saw at Glastonbury, is amazingly strong and emotional. 6 Radiohead – King Of Limbs Yes, they are in a league of their own, beyond comparison or criticism. Codex is one of the greatest musical moments ever. I got stuck in the Coop with a shopping bag in one hand and an ipod in the other, listening to it on repeat, marvelling at the beauty of it all. 7 Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues Fleet Foxes live was another magic moment from this year’s Glastonbury Festival. The album is wonderful, strong, powerful, coherent and beautiful. 8 Jonathon Wilson – Gentle Spirit Retro 70s style LA muso meandering it may be but there is such a, um, spirit and atmosphere in this album I just keep coming back to it. 9 Gil Scott Heron & Jamie XX – We’re New Here Old soul meets new soul for this wonderful collaboration album, made more poignant by the death of Gil, of course. This album sort of sums up the year, the gritty soul voice manipulated by the cheeky young turk. There are no more boundaries, all music is happening all at once. 10 Sepalcure – Sepalcure Post dubstep space and vibes from the New York area, again lots of atmosphere in emotion wrung out of the ones and zeroes. 11 Feist – Metals This is just a really good old school album, great songs, proper production, excellent playing, one to listen to again and again. 12 Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Mirror Traffic Beck produces and reins in the worst guitar muso excesses of the eloquent Malkmus, includes the lyric that says so much about our society – “We know what the senator wants, what the senator wants is a blow job”. 13 Bon Iver – Bon Iver Layers and layers of sound, acoustic and electronic mashed into a strange new palette, this is not always an easy listen but it is rewarding and some kind of beautiful. 14 Toro Y Moi – Underneath The Pine Jazzy chillwave with great melodies and songs, so hooky you have to keep going back for more. 15 Lanterns On The Lake – Gracious Tide Take Me Home This one mixes electronica with more traditional slo mo band sounds to create something really lovely and atmospheric. 16 Samantha Whates – Dark Nights Make For Brighter Days My favourite singer with her debut, proper folk album, great songs and a pure voice. 17 Tycho – Dive Spacy electronica at it’s best. 18 Ducktails – III Arcade Dynamics Small sounds, found sounds, deep in the woods somebody is playing the guitar and it sounds fantastic, soundtrack music for outdoor living, includes the excellent Killing The Vibe featuring Panda Bear. 19 Seahawks – Invisible Sunrise This is the sound of psychedelic Balearic music, get lost in it. 20 Robag Ruhme – Thora Vukk Clicky, crackly, house music filtered through from the 80s to 2011.

Melodica 19.12.11 (long players of 2011)

19th December 2011 Comments Off , ,

[setlist] Chris Coco’s weekly radio broadcast. An eclectic selection of brilliant new music starting with house and moving on to electronica, downtempo, acoustic and all sorts of other styles loosely connected to dance and electronic music. Let tastemaker Chris Coco guide you through his selection of the week’s best new music. This episode we celebrate the art of the long player by counting down Melodica’s favourite albums of 2011, it’s sort of emotional, interestingly mostly very laidback and song based, slightly self indulgent but ultimately satisfying, a bit like a proper listen to a really good album actually. 1 Toro Y Moi – New Beat 2 Bon Iver – Michicant 3 Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – No One Is (As I Are Be) 4 Feist – Bittersweet Melodies 5 Sepalcure – Me 6 Gil Scott Heron & Jamie XX – My Cloud 7 Jonathan Wilson – Ballad Of The Pines 8 Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues 9 Radiohead – Codex 10 James Blake – Measurements 11 Metronomy – Some Written 12 Thurston Moore – Benediction 13 Nicolas Jaar – Too Many Kids Find Rain In The Dust 14 PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

Vertigo in New Territories

16th December 2011 Comments Off

Welcome to Hong Kong. Please take a red cab for the city, a blue cab for Lantau, a green cab for New Territories. From my window I can see the world, Chris Coco says to himself, out loud, probably, though it’s hard for him to tell, really, after such a long journey. Outside room 2607 of the Ocean Pacific on Centre Street, Western, Hong Kong, the corridor carries a strong smell of petrol, giving the man a distinct feeling that all is not well. But it’s only a feeling, and it is very early, or very late, at least, the journey has been very long. Kiko Towngas lives on the 15th floor of a short stack on Centre Street, above the King Success Trading Company. She works in the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Centre as a personal trainer and she suffers from vertigo. In Hong Kong, that most vertiginous of cities, vertigo is not just a problem, it’s just not an option. Any journey that Kiko undertakes is as likely to involve vertical as it is horizontal. She lives her life with a welling up of sickness in the pit of her stomach. This is accompanied by waves of dizziness and an occasional, slight but significant, rocking sensation. Like she has just stepped off a boat back on to land. Like her legs are still compensating for a movement that is no longer there. The only place that Kiko feels at ease is inside the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Centre; inside the dedicated gymnasium area, which though it is on the third floor and therefore raised above sea level, has only skylight, and so no view and, therefore, little indication of it’s location in vertical space. And, more specifically, on one of the state of the art treadmills, with or without a personal training client, running and running, totting up the stats on the digital display. Because, although the running is technically, literally, not going anywhere. It is most definitely not going anywhere in a totally horizontal direction. There is a button on the machine which changes the incline of the moving band but Kiko has no inclination to make use of this facility. She keeps running on zero degrees, perfectly flat, balanced. Her style is fluid with a slight bounce, enhanced by the give of the rubber running band. Unlike the other trainers who stand and watch while their charges work, Kiko likes to run with her clients. Keeping a steady 8.5 kph, encouraging them to step things up and sweat a little, totally at one, totally free on the totally flat machine. Eagle is free. She soars above the city canyons, dives over Central in search of strange prey. A tasty morsel, perhaps a mouse, or a rat, or a small child out with parents for a sunday stroll. Eagle has no problem with up and down, backwards and forwards, left and right. Eagle is fine in 3D. she doesn’t need a lift for lift. She never worries about the difference between elevators and escalators. She swoops past floor 26 of the Ocean Pacific. A naked figure stands behind the smoked glass. Still half sleeping he sees the mountain hawk eagle glide by and steps back. She seems so powerful, so graceful, so very close, sweeping and diving, lifted on canyon currents, high over the city and out to sea. Chris Coco stares out of his 26th floor hotel room window. An eagle glides past in the murky morning light, just metres away. Even through the smoked glass she looks so free, so high, so close. Even here, in this most urban of locations, there is no escape from nature or the nature of things. Even though he has flown higher than an eagle, taking to the stratosphere, locked inside a huge groaning metal machine, he is still just big prey wrapped in soft flesh, naked and alone on the cliff top, tired and hungry, staring out to sea. Chris Coco is a DJ. A name that is so out of date it has turned from an acronym into it’s own word. He is a Disc Jockey. Except there is no longer any need for discs, shiny slabs of vinyl have turned at 78, then 45 and 33. Now they have turned virtual. And jockey, well there is no riding involved in his chosen activity, unless you count the so called riding of the grooves, a rolling on waves of bass, bumping and churning like the pilot ships in the harbour outside the window. So now he spins virtual plates in various locations for real humans. Today he is Hong Hong, another transient in the push and rush of the big city. He takes a morning walk up Western Street, in bright winter sunlight, and finds himself singing this song: Under the shade of the banyan tree I kissed her and she kissed me We can be who we want to be Under the shade of the banyan tree Today I feel like I am here, in HK, he mumbles to himself, sweating a little now, climbing the steep incline. As I walk, he continues, thankfully remember now just to breathe and speak, not to talk out loud in public, high on air miles. That familiar rush that travels up from my feet, through my body. An endorphin release that makes my brain flash and consequently triggers my consciousness to say – I wish I could do this for always, wake up every day in a room with a view, a window on the world. Wake up every day and walk out into the sunshine to see what I can see. Walk and shoot, the devil in the details, just walk and shoot and make up stories. Walk and shoot and dream. Veronica Chi-yueng works for Double Friendship Trading Company. Her dream is to trade in her urban trading for rural training. Veronica, she says to herself on her way to work on the tram from Happy Valley, your trading days are over. Soon you will move out of the city to New Territories where you will work on your own small farm, learning the ways of the land from the helpful locals, training to be a useful cog in the village wheel. You will eat the vegetables you grow, selling the excess to restaurants that appreciate organically grown produce. By living such a life you will escape the rigours of work in Double Friendship and find a simple but deep sense of satisfaction and some kind of ancient and rewarding happiness. Blessed with remarkably green fingers, Veronica has a good chance of becoming a fine farmer, she has energy and genetic inheritance on her side. If she leaves she will, of course, be truly experiencing a new style of living. Not just a repetition of the last new style, as she is urged to do at the International Finance Centre Mall. She sometimes walks here at lunch time, just to remind herself why she longs so for New Territories. Even on a rainy December day, the outside, the nature. the wind on her face, the rain on her cheek, feels so much more pleasant than the artificial air con breeze and the distant float of synthesized Xmas melodies from hundreds of tiny ceiling mounted speakers inside the mall. The new style, it seems to her, looks very much like last December’s new style, except perhaps a shade darker, with a slightly more military cut, the epaulettes, the stiff materials, the oversize gold buttons, remind her a little of the uniforms she saw in a film when she was a child, The Sound Of Music, a western film about singing, children and nazis, about escaping to the hills, running from the coming storm to make a new, simple life in new territory. High over Lantau, the Big Buddha floats, less than a millimetre above his brass plinth. From below it looks like he’s attached. Only the grey cloth clad monks, clean shaven from the tops of their heads to the tips of their toes, to fight against infection and ease massage, know the secrets of Big Buddha. Only the monks can sit inside Buddha’s head. Only the monks can see, literally, through the Buddha’s eyes; only the monks, smoking their incense, dreaming their incense dreams, can turn Big Buddha into Big Brother, spying on tourists through his CCTV see all eyes. If you look into his eyes it feels like he’s looking back at you, they say. The monks smile serenely as they zoom in a little closer. When she is running on her treadmill late at night, Kiko sometimes dreams of the monks, floating over the city’s malls in their Big Buddha machine, over Tung Chung, over the International Finance Centre, searching for new territory, searching for new style. Their clothing hasn’t changed for generations, doesn’t change with the seasons, not really, not greatly, only recently, the grey has become a little greyer, the cut of their cloth has become a little more military, underneath their simple robes the occasional glint of a gold button is sometimes visible, often mistaken for the light of joy or a moment of enlightenment by enthusiastic believers lighting incense or tending the shrines. And the sign on the Buddha’s chest reminds Tsing Tao, on a tourist trip to Hong Kong from Qingdao on the mainland. The symbol reminds him of a film, a western film, that he saw illicitly in his youth, that gave him a kind of pulse, a throb, a glow he had never experienced before, the moment he saw Julie Andrews, dressed as a nun, a holy, religious, chaste woman, with flowing blonde locks, skipping across the mountains singing praises to the sound of music. A film with everything important in it – song, children, passion, intrigue, politics, show stopping numbers and nazis. Bing Tang Hula, known affectionately to some of her less than close friends as Austerity, because she never buys her own drinks, is walking up Glenealy in her 1:5 heels. 20% gradient on each foot. Luckily, this particular hill is also 1:5, so even in the most drunk of states, when she attempts the climb home, when she wants to peak, the heels and the hill cancel out and create a flat walk to her flat. She’s been on the molecules again. Her walk just another experiment in cocktail chemistry. Tonight it was strawberry syrup, turned into tiny droplets that explode in the mouth like salmon caviar, topped with some sparkling fizz, a sugary hit that does the trick. She wants to try the vodka pasta but it’s still in the lab undergoing tests. The only problem is, tonight, thanks to too many exploding strawberries, her mind has decided that the corner is too tight, she can’t quite get the required left turn right and she keeps tottering back down, 20% heel on 20% hill, a 40% gradient to get to grips with. Chris Coco, sipping a post-set premier cru Chablis, watches from the window of Hush with some interest, sort of wishing for a fall, sort of wishing for a full ascent, kind of distracted by his own impending climb into the skies, strapped into seat B in row 18, HK all the way back to LDN. Over the hill in Tuen Min, in another vertical reality, Fat Kit and Golden-Hair Cheong are at each others throats again. As Austerity totters up the hill the blows from baseball bats and meat cleavers smash into the soft flesh of 18 year old Kwok Hin-ching. He dies on the street, blood mixing with the light rain into a strawberry syrup that drains away with his precious life. In Hong Kong metro station, a man removes his wooden leg, places it on a mat, lies on the mat and starts to quiver. His mouth forms words that won’t come out – Julie, Buddha, Kiko, vertigo, cleaver, shark fin, duck neck, Doctor, Victoria, Peak, new, territory, music, future, past. He remains horizontal, shivering till his collection plate, strategically placed next to his quivering head, is filled with notes and coins. The milky grey dawn dissolves the night over the New Territory. 24 hour horizontal ticker tape speeds along its predetermined track outside the Hang Seng Bank HQ. The index has risen 0.73% today. Guodian Tech needs to raise HK$56m for it’s dreams of New Territory wind power. The lift in the Ocean Pacific drops from 26 to 1 in 9.3 seconds carrying Jeanette Wang and her family to breakfast. My Li lifts a sack of dried sharks fins and pulls a tiny intercostal that will put him off work for two days. The loyal staff at Sky Laundry begin the long and complicated move from Shop A to Shop D, just a few steps further up, hoping against hope that their fickle customers will not desert them after the change. The owner of Fuk Tat stoops down, exhaling deeply, key in hand. He unlocks the padlock on the shutter of his shop. Ahead lies another day laying in wait for potential prey, his heavy lidded eyes partially closed so he seems to be sleeping. But inside every muscle will be a tight, coiled spring, every sinew ready and waiting to jump up and go in for the kill. Doctor Wong Wing Tim drives his tan sedan down the snaking expressway to his workplace in downtown Western, past an apartment with windows open just two metres from the road, where he once spent a most memorable night with a young lad from Korea named Kim, but that was a long time ago, in another life. Now his thoughts do not descend to such base matters, he spends his days in high causes, mostly related to the church. In the windows of the shops, lucky cats wave. In the pot, the pigs’ lungs bubble. In the doorways the incense burns. In the street the crossings bleep and the taxi drivers in their red, green and blue taxis beep their horns. The Qatar airways flying machine that will take Chris Coco up to the stratosphere touches down at HK International, brakes squealing, burning another straight, flat black rubber strip the size of a human running machine on the runway. The pilot is a little spooked. He could swear, but will never mention, that he saw a buddha flying over Lantau as they descended. And on her treadmill in the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Centre, Kiko Towngas keeps on running, flat, steady, stepping in smooth rhythm, ever closer to her own, totally horizontal, final destination.