The pink balloons atop the four foot tall Altec 7 cinema speakers are deflated, spent and shriveled like ball bags in an outside privy on a winter’s morning. The lists of cocktails that decorate the walls have long since been mixed. The night lit by fluorescent shots long since sunk. No more limes to slice. No more lemons to be squeezed. No more gaigen swearing at the overworked bar staff. The Lowrider posse. The samurai. The photographers. The dancing girls. Girls in tracksuits, see-through sheer dresses, and corn-rows. The Rosies. Have all gone.
The couch beside the decks left vacant now the Metro is up and running. The gorgeous jazz-singer out of sight and out of mind. My eyes, long accustomed to the dark and the smoke, watch the dB-display attached to the vintage UREI. A flickering pulse amid the empty glasses and overflowing ashtrays. 6 AM in a basement bar in Ebsiu, that’s fun but uncomfortable with more than thirty people. There’s only five of us left.
An irresistible force feeds Coldcut through infinite loops. Reflecting sadness off a thousand mirrors. I hammered this when it came out. I was living above an off-license at the wrong end of Upper Street. Naked to the top deck of the No. 19. If it’s tonic water youze want, it’s tonic water you’ll get. Bandulu do Acid Jazz. One for the Land Of Oz regulars who swapped writing graffiti amid the violence and whores of Streatham Hill for Thailand and a dragon’s warm embrace. Electric counterpoint and a key change bring new horizons. A rare feeling of great optimism. (Little Fluffy) Clouds in a blue sky. Ships at a distance have all men’s dreams on board.
Voodoo echoes through an empty city at dawn. Rattling down the black line. Post-coital techno. Sexed with strangers on a lonely come-down grey journey home from North to South. My love she lives on the Tulse Hill Estate. Dresser strewn with make-up. Cold wooden floor strewn with fashion magazines and clothes. Silverfish in the loo. Woozy with cider. Sick for another drink.
Nineteen years later sunshine betrays the cold on a lonely afternoon in Kohinata. I haven’t spoken to a soul all day. Waiting for the kids to come home. Thoughts move to the frozen snows of Karuizawa. A retreat from the world half-way up an active volcano. Home seems too long ago. Tokyo is too hard. I need a place to hide awhile. I am not Tereza, like Sabrina I’ll disappear.
Some strange cargo, back in another basement. This one on Seven Dials. Running with Fat Cat and GPR. Out-drinking Bjork and freaking out Scanner. Wandering the Mermaid Theatre in a haunted cowboy-shirt with mother-of-pearl buttons. Big apples and star dancers. The ghost of A Gravitational Arc Of Ten sings the blues. Rez over everything. White silence on Almeida Street, bar the ringing in my ears.
Heavy skies give (fallen) angles sway. Airto swings into the theme to Roald Dahl’s Tales Of The Unexpected. Bar-owner Batch gives his last thumbs-up. Marbo, who was feigning sleep, gives me a round of applause, but I can’t tell if it’s in jest. A standing ovation before stumbling up the stairs and out towards the cold morning and the station. Skipping breakfast from the restaurant opposite that specializes in horse meat sashimi. The streets of Ebisu empty save clean-up squads washing the roads and picking up drunks. Guys in tight black Beatles suits. Girls in floral mini-dresses and cowboy boots.
So much is different. But so much remains the same.
Coldcut: Autumn Leaves (Irresistible Force)
Koh Tao: Sun Down
Steve Reich: Electric Counterpoint
Primitive Painter: Levitation
James Yorkston: Woozy With Cider
Mark Isham: Mrs Soffel
In The Nursery: Incidental Guilt
Stange Cargo: Million Town (Kruder & Dorfmeister)
Detroit Grand Pubahs: Skydive From Venus
Craig Leon: Nommos
Ellis Island Sound: Angels Way