Always A Pleasure

14th July 2011

The route to happiness is filled with potholes that are deep and treacherous and traffic jams that are six lanes wide and wind and stretch around the clock; stupidly steep hill and seemingly unimaginable routes through twisting, vertiginous back streets that open up, suddenly, onto the most magnificent vistas, a spreading view of the sea, creating tiny moments of joy on the even the most grueling journey. So, here I am, Chris Coco DJ, representing London, in one of the great cities of cities, Istanbul, 22 million and counting, playing some music, talking about the world, trying to make sense of it all and waiting for my soul to arrive after a slightly epic plane journey and car ride. Nothing out of the ordinary there. And just like Helsinki, this place feels fine, except for the jams and the smog, it’s fine; a totally good time. And I spin and I love it, being here, playing music, being here.

No Guide Book

My policy is still not to read a tourist guide book to a city. Ok, you miss the obvious, but every turn becomes an adventure.

The story of the stadium and the shopping mall or how one kind of ‘hell’ is replaced by another

On the way from the airport, in deep traffic, we pass a hole, a lack, a gap in the slow progress of medium-rise apartment blocks, packed back to back to back on either side of the elevated crawl-way. You know Galatasaray, the football club, their stadium, affectionately named ‘the hell’ by various English clubs, used to stand right there. Till about a month ago. Now there are just a couple of steps, a concrete walkway and half an old advert left, about to sucked into a bottomless gravel pit. The club has moved up the road to somewhere bigger and more lucrative, leaving a hole where hell used to be. It’s going to be a shopping mall, Emrah, my guide, tells me. Everywhere is going to be a shopping mall as soon as we get the chance to knock down what’s already here, I quip. One day the whole of Europe will be one big shopping mall, all the way from sea to shining sea.

The Strange connection between Turkish, Japanese and Finnish.

I am eating sea bass ceviche in Lucca with Yakuza. It’s the kind of place that feels like home as soon as you walk in. We’re drinking some kind of white that is light and delicious. We’re talking empires and the strange connection between Turkish, Japanese and Finnish. He knows two out of three and he has a theory that a lot of the grammatical construction is the same in each, though of course the words are different. Now, the theory goes that long ago some people living in the heart of Asia spoke the same language, but for reasons of survival, they split up and started walking in different directions, kind of north west, kind of south west and kind of east. Eventually, after many generations they ended up in what would eventually become Japan, Finland and Turkey, by this time speaking different languages, skin adapting to climatic conditions, but the basic construction of the language was still there. I heard about the inexplicable Finnish – Japanese connection before, when I was in Finland in March, now here it is again.

We Laugh At Traffic

We laugh at traffic, we sigh when our vehicle finally finds a clear road. But really it’s not funny. This city is choking. This city of humans is dominated by screaming metal on rubber wheels.

Ancient Walls, Modern Art (tribute to Cy Twombly)

Art is in the eye of the beholder. There is art everywhere, in the shadows, in the cracks, in the details. It’s not about looking for it. It’s just about seeing it.

Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

According to the Buddha, the art of living that is hardest to learn but most rewarding is the art of letting go. To be in the moment. To live every detail. Because when it’s gone, it’s gone. In this era of hyperconnectivity, where the moment can be where we are and somewhere else online with someone else talking in one ear and some music in the other and some traffic in the background, it’s hard to find such moments of tranquility. But the combination of much walking in the hot sun creating a fierce thirst, and the purchase from a quayside vendor and consumption of some freshly squeezed orange juice in a small plastic cup makes me feel as happy as I have ever been in my life. Here. Now. In the sun. By the sea. Sipping this juice, amazed at it’s sweetness, savouring it’s viscosity as it runs down my throat. Sugars turning to energy, liquid precious liquid. It feels like I am taking in all the power of the fruit, all it’s time growing, ripening in the sun, hanging on the tree, making me feel so alive, so real, so here, so now. It’s amazing. I guess if you’re really good at this you can do it all the time. I guess if you’re really good at this you don’t really need to do anything because whatever you do is brilliant.

Wind in the Trees – Nature’s Aircon

I am in the gardens of the Topkapi Palace. The sun is beating but it feels cool. There is no aircon. There is no glass box to hide us from the elements but the temperature is just right. The wind blows gently, moving the leaves in the trees. The leaves shade the buildings and the people. It’s nature’s aircon. It’s not burning energy, it’s not pumping out as much hot air as it makes cold air, it doesn’t buzz and whine and hum. It just works. Naturally.

The View from a Window

In this secular republic there are many mosque visit ops. none more special than the mini mosque inside the Topkapi palace. It’s a room with a nice carpet, so you take off your shoes, and nothing much else. What makes it special, and definitely worth a quick prayer, is the view from the window, across the Sea of Marmara and the start of the next continent.

From Europe to Asia by Boat

Here is a place where two continents meet. Istanbul spreads up and inland on either side of the divide. There is no border control, no change of flag or style of uniform, no celebration, no formality, no signpost. There is no colour change from one side to the other with one side pink and the other blue like an old Imperial map. No, it’s easy to travel from Europe to Asia. It costs TL 1.75 for a small metal token that must be inserted into a slot on a gate, then it’s a short walk in the blazing 30s to a roll on roll off ferry, a stand on deck, in the hairdryer breeze, admiring the bridges and boats, then bump, another quayside, the Asian side, under the same fierce sun.

Tea With a Stranger

I seek out shade. A group of men sit on small plastic stools, smoking, outside a cafe. They nurse tiny glasses filled with viscous, scalding, bitter sweet tea. It is the perfect drink in a most excellent location for a too-hot afternoon – under an extremely large tree. The man who runs the cafe is sleepy-friendly, happy to talk in simple phrases about the things men talk about when they meet – the weather (hot), beer (he likes English beer he says; I can tell by his extended belly that he like English beer a lot), and, of course, Football. He is Fenerbache. He is not happy, though I can’t work out why. I find out later that the club’s officials are accused of match fixing and relegation is a real possibility. After our brief exchange we fall into an easy silence. He returns to his mobile phone and his life outside his life under the tree. I stare at the tea cup, then up at the port, then back to the tea cup, till the tea is gone, till I realise that a new boat has pulled in, till I think that perhaps I should get up, walk down the hill, into the burning sun, past the bus station, and buy another small metal token for TL 1.75 and get back to Europe.

Sharing Some Music with Friends at Lucca

Thursdays at Lucca, currently one of Istanbul’s must-go destinations, is a family affair. The atmosphere is lively enough to be vibey, relaxed enough to be cool. Resident DJ and musical director Yakuza graciously offers me a turn on the decks and I am pleased to be able to share some of my favourite slomo disco newies and re-edits with my new found friends. It’s the age-old tale of good food, good wine and good music smoothing the edges of international relations.

Calf and Heel

Nocturnal joys include the observation of the relationship between calf and heel on a well turned out leg.

The Girl In The Lift

There’s a girl in the lift. Every time I get in she is here. Sometimes she smiles at me. Sometimes she doesn’t. The soundtrack says always a pleasure. Always a pleasure. By the end of my stay I have sort of fallen in love with her. These hoteliers are so clever.

Superstar Generator

Somewhere, past a wrong turning, down a back street, I find what everybody in the music business has been searching for. The answer to all our problems. It’s a Superstar Generator. If only it was small enough to fit into my hand luggage.

Pool Party

9th July 2011

Did I forget to mention the pool party?

Need a holiday?

4th July 2011

Holiday by chris coco

Where’s my fucking helicopter?

27th June 2011

I am an intrepid explorer. I am a filthy Shakesperian joker. I am a luxury spa mud wrap. A bass wave inside a bass cone inside a bass bin. Vibrating. Welcome to Glastonbury 2011, sludge and mud and rain and sun and music, sweet music.

It’s Friday and by 10am the tent is up, by 2pm we have already seen two of my favourite bands (Metronomy, Two Door Cinema Club), by 4pm the rain has set in for the day and we begin the mantra as we march around a mercilessly soggy site – love the mud, love the mud, let it slide you to your destination. And it really works if you work with it, move, slip, clog, slide. We’re on our way to Fleet Foxes on Other. They are majestic in wellingtons and muted browns and greens, like Robin Hood’s merry men in an iD photo shoot. They are shy and unassuming when not playing, transcendent and magnificent as soon as they hit the first perfect note. Of course the standout song for me is the existential, Glasto-perfect Blue Spotted Tail: “Why in the night sky are the lights hung, why is the earth moving round the sun, floating in the vacuum with no purpose not a one, why in the night sky are the lights hung.” It continues a 40-odd year tradition of cosmic musings of various calibres in the these very fields.

U2 continue the theme by introducing their show with David Bowie’s 70s drifter Space Oddity before flashing up slogans deconstructing modern life: Everything You Know Is Wrong and the Bono/God-friendly Religion Is A Clue, before thanking all of us in the mud and the driving rain for the life they have had. It feels like a swan song, some kind of ending. Of course they know how magnificent One and I still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and Far Away, So Close and a whole bunch of other songs are. Equally they must know that they haven’t written anything that’s any good since Beautiful Day. They end with a snip of Coldplay’s Yellow, which is beautiful and prompts one of the most wonderful things about Glasto, the mass sing along – look at the stars, see how they shine for you, there’s that cosmic theme again. And finally, they play their first ever single, Out Of Control, that came out only nine years after the first festival. Round, like a circle in a spiral, floating in space, endings and beginnings.

I am a diesel generator generating bass energy. I am a pulse, a wave, a scientific certainty. I am an idea that must come to fruition. I am the future perfect, the tense, the giant fence, world without boundaries, games without frontiers, as long as we’re inside, are we locked in or are they locked out? I am a self-medicating Avalon virus check. I must be deleted. I am a cyber-attack, a challenge-response code. I am a time-bomb waiting to explode. I am a message from another world wrapped in another world.

We’re in Avalon, the far fields, by the wall, like 1989 never happened. We’re in Kreuzberg, Avalon, home of the surreal, the make-believe, build-your-own future. It’s a soft nightmare,a living work of art, a stroke of genius, a pre-fab, post-apocalyptic, post-acid house, drugged-up, over-dosed, end of the world playground that makes the real festival feel like real life. It’s another level, it’s Morpheus’s red pill, the twisted wonderland. It’s genius, cracked.

Back in our other reality, still inside the perimeter, but not out of our heads, metaphorically, we’re loving the Balearic Folk Orchestra, covering acid house classics with acoustic guitar and mini-harp. We’re loving Nicolas Jaar for his cool and his cool band and his don’t care attitude, but we’re disappointed it’s not more live, too much backing track is a little lazy. Unlike James Blake who is real and raw and heartfelt and meaning it, whatever it is, he has it.

I am a disc, spinning. I am a DJ, I play old school new school because jack is back and it sounds like it did then, but more, well, more now somehow. It’s Sunday grubby Sunday. Oh, and the sun is shining, turning the mud to glue then flat baked brown, like walking on crusty bread. We catch Low Anthem on the Pyramid and can’t help crying along to their amazing version of Cohen’s Bird On A Wire, four souls crowded round one microphone, four souls joined by sound waves. And today is all about voices, and all of it’s all about voices, the sounds of humans expressing themselves, because those are always the good ones, the live ones, the real ones, the ones that play with our feelings. And so we’re in a Cornish pub, somewhere in the shopping streets, drinking Tribute and singing along with Fishermans Friends, an a capella group from Cornwall – I want to go home, I want to go home, feel so broke up and I want to go home. And, perhaps, after the final headliner, that’s the only safe thing to do. Beyonce’s show is pure cabaret, imagine the MTV Awards recorded in a field of mud and you’re there. She stares into the camera lens and tells us (and the watching world on TV) how she can’t believe she is here, how she needs a moment to get her breath and take it in, before launching into her gut-wrenchingly awful new single, urging us to sing along. I bet it sucks to be you right now, we chant dutifully. There is no sense of irony as she continues to churn out turgid drivel as if made to perfectly soundtrack the end of capitalism. It’s like reverse mad, so brilliantly awful, so shiningly perfectly disdainful, eyes in turn confident, staring, then empty, then pleading, then desperate, please buy my, please buy me, please buy my music, please believe in this thing that’s so vacuous, so empty, like the space that surrounds us, like another level of stupid, down the rabbit hole, beyond avalon, perversely crazy and completely in the real.

There is information collected on camera, there are probabilities and improbabilities.

And the days are so long and fruitful, and everything sort of ends up being about endings, about the past and the future, round, like a circle in a spiral. From the Spirit of 71 to the skittery, off beat, internal rhythm and bass of Blake. U2s journey from punk to pomp to politics. From the difficult adolescence of Pulp to the slo-mo push and swagger of Jaar. It’s about an end to things, things we used to love, like CDs, things we still love, like books, and the start of something else.

The future in a young girl’s eyes, a world we’ll never really understand, emerging, like a butterfly from the ruins of our former promised land. Now where’s my fucking helicopter.

Singita Beach, Fregene, Italy

20th June 2011

Singita beach with Antos Gurumusik

[setlist]Launch of new Lazy Summer 2 compilation.[/setlist]