Soundtrack to Mendoza

In Argentina, Sud America, travelling, tunnnneeeee! on April 29, 2010 at 3:34 am

The bus winds it’s way through the Argentinian country side, following the course of the lakes, snaking along the humped road, the sun slits through the gaps left by the half closed curtains, golden and warm, as every so often my face catches the suns gaze, turning my lids orange. The view from the window is glorious, the green and dun knobbled, cobbled terrain, bushes bobbles on the surface, the moon is full and rising even before the sun has set, the low slung cerro’s casting long shadows, and the road stretches on for ever, wisps of clouds hang balloon like in the clear sky, a pale shade of blue, darkening as it pushes itself onto tiptoe to reach the upper atmosphere.
Johnny hammond’s “tell me what to do”

is followed by “our lives are shaped by what we love”

on my headphones, the perfect chilled soundtrack to this low flying journey, johnny’s piano intro, followed by a tweaking, wah wah guitar riff, high pitched over the little fills, which create a palette of melodies, then the bass and johnny’s short verses, before the saxophone does it’s thing, sly and wicked, and a cool walk away all combined in the solo which sits high above the beats beneath.
“flying high with you….
trying hard to sleep….
tell me what to do??”
Dusk creeps over the land, sun relinquishes it’s hot grip, and the vertically challenged hillocks in the distance are draped in a livery of purple and cerise and aubergine. The moon is big and full and easy to see but when I try to capture it, it just appears as a pale white dot, a glitch in the image, a bad pixel. I take shot after shot trying to capture it and immediately delete them, my eye is a 70mm lens and my camera is a 28mm.
I’ve sat on buses all day today and will be on this one into tomorrow morning. Listening to music all the way, glad the playlists on the iPod are so long, the big chill containing 338 chilled, mellow, outdoor tunes, named in honour of my first festival experience out in the wilds of Herefordshire, amongst deers and ageing children of hippies and friends ready to drink a cocktail, share a smoke and dance as the tunes roll down, sitting on grass, blanket beneath your cheeks, feeling the night come upon you stealthy with a chilly grip, eyes turned to the spotlit stage and the music that is amplified from it, heads nodding and feet tapping and the connection with it strong, linked to all those around you.

The bus is taken out of commission and we are transferred to another as we wait in the cool night air, underneath the awnings of a bus station that feels like an airport.
Restless night as the bus zooms through the darkness, uncomfortable, chill breeze emanating from somewhere, hitting just that tiny bit of exposes flesh, no position conducive to sleep, shift, stretch, scrunch, curl, nothing hapening. Check watch every so often, time moving in big chunks, so sleep must be pressing it’s weight upon me.
Awake for the final time as the sun draws a blood red line along the horizon, right side of the coach welcoming the new days arrival as the sky lightens and the sun rises, left side mourning the nights departure as the moon slowly disappears.
Vineyards cover the land as far as the eye can see, the only demarcation the taller trees that line the edges of the fields, and the gravel roads that bisect them. A low flat view, providing a perfect sight of the warming earth, the nights condensation turning to mist, weaving a blanket of smoky layers over the grapes. Assume at first it’s a fire then realise my mistake as i see the mist everywhere.
Outside of the cities, Argentina is a country of low slung single storey buildings with awnings and sloped roofs, of long roads whether paved or gravel, of the Andes dominating the view, the giant on the edge of your vision, well at least in the district of San Carlos which borders Chile. There is a pleasantly rustic and outdoor feel, of the community trying to make the best of the location, rather than gentrifying it, as if the land is too big and strong and rather than try and tame it they are just living with it’s routines, it’s habits, it’s nature, letting it dictate to them what is required and what isn’t.
In the time is takes to write the above, the sun has popped over the horizon, bulbous and golden, so low at this point that the trees which edge the vineyards, provide a shield to it’s glare, intermittently creating patches of sun and shade. And as the sun rises over the land, just like when it dipped below the horizon the night before, it feels like a scene out of a road movie, the wide expanse of land, the long two lane blacktop, the bright sharp shards of sunlight requiring the wearing of shades, the scrub growth, the dwarf bushes populating the ground all the way to the horizon, the electrical poles that quarter the earth sticking their wooden fingers into the sky, and just then as I look out into the light light light blue sky the Isley brothers pop into the mix, “brother, brother, brotherrrrr!”

Soon after a zed and two l’s from Fila brazilia comes on and I recline the seat some more, close my eyes and let it wash over me.

So wanting to make a film with a decent soundtrack, something as broad as the big chill playlist which reverberates inside my ear canals, none of this iconic rock, or wall to wall hip hop and rnb, or the odd nod to the present day, or the latest fey indie bands homage to heartbreak. It feels like movie soundtracks are either sweeping danny elfmanesque, yann tiersen orchestrations, or products of musical synergy, which band/artist/singer songwriter has produced a hit this time or let’s do a goodfellas and pack it full of hits that everyone knows. I want more, actually it’s more than that I want what I listen to and love to be up there, for the whole swathe of music, jazz, dnb, trip hop, soul, funk. And as I finish this you won’t guess what comes on.
Maxwell’s “I’m you: you are me and we are you (pt me and you)”

from the album that he and the hordes of screaming female fans at the academy last year seemed to conveniently forget Embrya, which in my mind will stand the test of time better than the two that have come after, a perfect, confident, sprawling, epic, egotistical concept album. Go get it people, big basslines, haunting vocals, and an overarching water symbolism, oh and strings to die for.

  1. Yep, Embrya is an absolute out and out classic record. In the top 5 for me… keep on truckin’ goatboy

  2. Great article, thank you very much!

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