Saturday, March 31, 2007

Feel Good Hits Of The Summer

So it turns out the internets is everywhere up here and at this particular moment FREE! So I just thought I'd digress from the pictorials (too much work) and just let you know what I've been listening to and reading while on my trip. For most, this will be incredibly boring, so switch off now.

Reading: Just before I left Australia, my good friend Ian was reading Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles and was raving about it. So on the day I left, I bought it on a whim and have formed an unheathly obsession with this writer. I have feverishly scouring bookstores in every town we've been to and managed to find/read/inhale Kafka on the shore, Sputnik Sweetheart and The Elephant Vanishes. I'm currently making my way through Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World. As a writer, he toucches a lot of the devices used by magic realism but in a really bent way, almost akin to early Peter Carey short stories. The funny thing about his novels is that each one alludes to the others in themes and images. As such, I have decided I must read them all.... now!

When I couldn't find any Murakami, I swapped one with Mumtaz for a book called The King's Last Song by Geoff Ryman. This book basically imagines the life of the Jayavarman (an ancient king) in Angkor juxtaposed with an archaeological dig in the present which uncovers his memoirs. Very good, not usually my type of thing but a enjoyable read that gets into the Cambodian psyche quite well. Tim also gave me River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler which is a recount of the author's time as an English teacher in China in the mid-nineties. Very enlightening in regards to the way China works and a really cracking read (I read it in a about two days). Actually not a dud book yet which is unusual.

Music: I have found that hip hop is the best travelling music and the Dangermouse (with Jay-Z and the Beatles) Grey Album is the perfect bus/train album. If you haven't got your grubby paws on this, its fantastic, way better that the Jay-Z black album it originates from but I guess if I said it was better than the White Album some narky Beatles fan would probably get all Mark David Chapman on my ass. I'm also listening heavily to Iron and Wine, this is probably my favourite at the moment as it instantly makes me feel calm and happy. Anyhow, here's my top songs for travel:

10. Shitty Future - The Bronx
9. Like Herod - Mogwai (Government Commissions version)
8. Night Train - Guns N' Roses
7. Long Snake Moan - PJ Harvey
6. F.E.A.R - Ian Brown
5. God's Gonna Cut You Down - Johnny Cash
4. Beware - Deftones
3. All The Same - Queens Of The Stone Age
2. Swallow That - Superchunk
1. Upwards Over The Mountain - Iron and Wine

Lots of rock but that's the way I like it. Of course, new Queens album soon and all this is gonna change. On the local music scene, we went to see these guys, the Naxi orchestra of Lijiang. During the cultural revolution, the muscians hid their instruments by burying them so they wouldn't be destroyed which is pretty rock. The Naxi Orchestra is one of the few orchestras that still play traditional Chinese music as it was before the revolution and they are pretty gnarly as at least ten of the band are in their eighties. The only downside was too much talking and not enough rock action but more on that later. It was almost as good as seeing the Pixies who are touring Australia but I guess I really wouldn't want to see them would I? (starts to cry)...

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