Saturday, May 17, 2008

thoughts on travelling

Of course, if I was a genuine traveller, rather than a tourist-fraud, I'd immerse myself completely in the culture I encounter when I'm abroad. Here's an example: one thing I've noticed since I've been in Lisbon is the extent of the Brazilian influence in the city - and several times while I've been out I've noted a band playing the country's music in the street. And each time I've walked by all but oblivious, hearing not their undoubtedly beautiful music but rather the bass pounding in my headphones. Equally, I've sat outside cafes with a stunning view before me, basking in the Portugese sun, but at least half my consciousness has been wrapped up in thoughts of post-war Tokyo, because I've perpetually got my head in a book about the city at the moment.

Obviously this isn't constant - so I have spent hours admiring the city for what it is, enjoying the local food and beer, listening to the fado players in the Bairro Alto. But equally, when I look back on Lisbon, I suspect mixed in with the genuine observations will be flashes of Tokyo, played out on a soundtrack of the three records I've had on constant rotation: Supa D's joyful Rinse mix of house and garage, Uusitalo's Karhunainen LP, and the more-stunning-with-every-listen Think Tank, Blur's last album.

My memories of other places work in the same way - in fact in many ways the sounds I remember become a distinctive feature of the city, even if their relationship to the city is entirely imposed. I remember listening to The Wave Pictures in Florence, Prodigy of Mobb Deep in Croatia, and The Silver Jews in San Francisco.

Am I in some way polluting the purity of my experiences? Or doesn't it matter at all?

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