That’s a journey made by friend Dan Quinn, mountain and volcano climber, musician, teacher and extremely odd ball.
Three years ago he and I spent a hallucinatory weekend in Semarang, with its decrepit Old Town which rivals Jakarta’s Kota Tua in its faded glory. I wrote about our train journey but didn’t mention the hired car journey to the local volcanic mud bubbles (video).
Our driver got lost, partly because he was following the instructions on his onboard GPS device. The instructions came through loud and clear in English. His problem was that he didn’t speak the language, so he had to rely on our map.
Dan took a couple of hundred photos of the bubbles while I wandered off to commune with nature and the sounds from the neighbouring kampung. I had hoped to show a photo of the mud bubbles, but you’ll have to make do with this screen grab.
Or this bubble in Romania.
Dan left Indonesia a couple of years ago because he had to get back to his music … but why in Stornaway, an island in the Outer Hebrides north of Scotland? That’s either going from the ridiculous to the sublime or vice versa. You can decide if this week’s interview on the BBC gives you a clue.
The title of this track, Cornwall in Java, from Acting The Rubber Pig Redux, his first album back in the UK. is an example of that duality.
Last year’s follow up, One More Grain’s Grain Fever has this semi-autobiographical folk drone The Scent Of Gorse Flowers, which I can identify with having made gorse flower wine. Not only that, but when he asks “how many more evenings spent talking nonsense with friends?” I wonder too. (Dan wrote to me yesterday indicating that he is thinking of returning to Java: friends there, know the language, many more gunungs to explore/re-explore, attractive women, gamelan, dangdut etc etc!.)
“It is chock full of antediluvian riddles, goggle-eyed bridle-shakings and invigorating inner-space drones that emit a deep non-wisdom.”
Yep, Indonesia is the place for you Dan.