I began writing this blog entry in Borneo, but I find myself finishing it somewhere else entirely . . .
After two years living in Sabah in the north of Malaysian Borneo, a new job means it’s time to move on. We’ve been lucky enough to have spent our time here in a magical place; the quiet little kampong of Menumpang. This tiny village by the sea has been our home, and living in our wood-walled house by the beach I’ve rediscovered my muse, mojo, or whatever you want to call it, and thrown myself back into writing songs and playing guitar.
I’ve spent an awful lot of time sitting on my porch of an afternoon or evening here. As I compose, I’m continually recording snippets of music on my laptop or phone, and over my time here I’ve amassed a library of hundreds of different ideas; riffs, chord progressions, melodies, song demos. Listening back to this work there’s one constant.
Anything I recorded at night is accompanied by the chopping buzz of cicadas, the repeated tok of the nightjar, and sometimes the laughing of a gecko. During the daytime, the birds are most prominent; the constant bickering of the sparrows, the added music of ioras that nest in the tree above, and the cooing of the doves. When the tide’s up, the waves on the sand underpin it all.
Occasionally domestic flavours enter the mix; my wife’s singing Vietnamese folk songs as she does something industrious or conversations in broken English when our neighbours come visiting. Once in a while, a motorbike trundles by at no great pace to be barked at by the dogs. Bur the human touches fail to break the tranquillity.
If you’ve watched and listened to any the videos I’ve shared on this blog you’ll have a sense of the inspiration that the natural world has provided whilst making music in Borneo.
Well, that’s all over now!
I finish this blog from Cairo, Egypt, which looks as though it will be home for a while. The new soundtrack is the unceasing hubbub of one of the world’s great cities, the hawkers, the competing muezzins, and dizzying cacophony of car horns. Energetic and intoxicating, exploring the musical treats Cairo might have to offer is high on my list of things to do. And a completely different tapestry of field sounds will be accenting the recordings.
But when I trawl through the old sound library to see if there’s some song idea that could be expanded upon, I’ll hear those natural field sounds, and realise wild Borneo will forever be in my music.
Sabah, Borneo & Cairo, Egypt