Wednesday 24 April 2013

BBC in the Desert

On a recent trip to the semi-arid zone of Sunraysia district for a family wedding during the late throes of an Indian summer, I found myself listening to Delia Derbyshire (music & documentary), BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Ekoplekz, eMMlpekz and an audio book of JG Ballard's first novel from 1962 The Drowned World etc. A couple of the tunes from the eMMplekz record Izod Days surprisingly fit the draining summer heat, eMMplekz Theme and Bocanet particularly. I was going for that incongruity thing.

Later smoking out in my sister-in-law's backyard I heard the Dr Who theme (arranged & cowritten by Derbyshire) tune wafting over from a neighbour's TV set and thought 'yeah, right, that sounds perfectly normal to me. It's from my childhood and I spent that time in this geographical zone!'

The Drowned World I thought would be incongruous too, but as I thought about it; not really. As this district I was in was once part of an inland sea. Despite now being 500km from the sea, remnants of that inland sea remain - massive sand dunes, sand bars along the Murray River give the river that weird beach-like vibe, without the waves of course and the salinity problems in the soil. Post apocalypse stuff fitted too, considering Mad Max I and II were filmed a few hours north of Mildura and contain similar features to the terrain of Sunraysia. Man made disasters from damming once great rivers, now drying up  and salinity problems caused by over-irrigation and so on. All this stuff on my ipod seemed well, normal, and quite fitting. Blue Monday on the wedding dance floor - natural - as Joy Division/New Order were part of the soundtrack of my youth here.

Funnily enough, the most incongruous music moment happened back in Melbourne in an inner-city suburb. At 4.30 in the morning, a party started up next door, full of 18-22 year olds where they were singing Billy Joel's Uptown Girl at the top of their lungs, followed by a bunch of early '90's mainstream alternative tunes. Weird? This also parallels recent footage of a friend of a friend's 16 year old daughter being dragged on stage at a recent Springsteen concert in Melbourne to dance the Courtney Cox part during Dancing in the Dark.

It made me think of the atemporality of the times. The kids don't own their own times like they used to. My dad dragged me to an Everly Brothers concert as a young teen. As a protest, I pretended to go to sleep. The Models and INXS were playing a concert in Melbourne that night and there I was at the Everly Brothers, how naff. Now, of course, I think I was being naff by being an obstinate brat. But you had that rebellion to make a generation gap and to have your own soundtrack to your life.

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