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Last southern leg of the trip – Israel – Part II

I was lying on the beach one afternoon in Tel Aviv playing guitar and flute when someone came up to me inviting me to join her group of friends. They were sitting down taking in late afternoon sun, eating fruit and chatting. I joined the conversation and very quickly I was given the contact for a place to stay in Jerusalem. A few days later, with the first two artists recorded, I decided it was time to visit somewhere new. I got in contact with this mysterious person. Quickly, I got a text back saying I was welcome to stay at this persons place in Jerusalem. I hoped on the bus and arrived in the Holy City an hour later.

Jerusalem was just a tourist stop for me – I didn’t record anyone. However, I met some wonderful people. My host and her housemate were very nice to talk to and live in a very nice apartment. In the evening of my second day and last day, I went to see the dressed rehearsals of a small theatre/performance/design school my host was attending. I was pleasantly surprised by utterly beautiful performances with very cleverly designed puppets  and sets. As soon as the rehearsals finished I caught a bus back to Tel  Aviv.

With only a few days left before my flight to Edinburgh, I went back to the soothing rhythm characterised by late mornings, seaside and freshly pressed fruit juices. I met up with two more artists. The first is Nadav Zilberstein who is a fellow sound engineer but specialises in location recording for films and TV. He recorded two songs on guitar and vocals. Ironically, he grew up in Jerusalem and said he’s seen a drastic decline of the city as a vibrant cultural hub. The cultural actors are all moving to Tel Aviv leaving spaces for religious people to move into the holy city. He wrote a song about it:

For more: http://nadavzilberstein.bandcamp.com/

On the same day, I cycled on Tel Aviv’s green city bikes to what seemed like the out skirts of the city. There I met with Rami Feinstein and his band. We went to his bass player’s apartment which essentially is a studio with a bedroom annexed to it. Unfortunately, they didn’t have that much time to record so we weren’t able to use their equipment (although I did borrow a microphone). The recording session was quick and efficient but difficult to capture properly with the equipment I had with me as the musicians were all amplified. Thus, I apologies, the vocals nearly disappear in the loud bits.

For more please visit: http://www.ramifeinstein.com/

With four artists recorded I caught the plane for Edinburgh. Well first I had to go through security… And lost two flutes in the process… Anyways, after four months of absence and many adventures, I’m back in the UK! I’ll be staying in Edinburgh up until the end of the Fringe – 27th August. I’m here run the sound and light on a small production for which I did the sound design. I’m working with a very talented team on an absurd dark comedy called Pinch in Love written by Caroline Mitchell and directed by the crazy and amazing Tania Higgins from The Deck Theatre Company. If you’re in Edinburgh or know anyone up here please invite them to show. If they say “Pinch will grow up to be a cyclist” they’ll get a free ticket!

Voilà. That’s the end of Foreign countries for this trip. After Edinburgh I’ll be cycling back down to Oxford still recording on the way. I hope you to see you following the trip till the end. Thank you.

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Last southern leg of the trip – Israel – Part I

The Italy stay with the family ended very quickly. A friend who joined me in Italy and me took a ferry back to the other side of the Adriatic sea. After a whole night at sea, we arrived in Patras in the early afternoon. My companion being bikeless, an alternative mode of transport to get to Athens was necessary. Surprisingly, we chose the bus. We were hosted by the most wonderful hosts (friends of my farther) who not only took us out to dinner in a beautiful restaurant with view on the Acropolis but also helped me organise sending Doppler to Scotland. Unfortunately, I didn’t record anything during my time in Greece and I have no good excuse…

On the 29th July, I took a plane from Athens to Tel Aviv, Israel. I landed safely but nostalgic of the cycling days. A good friend of mine with whom I studied met me at the airport. What followed was a week and a half of events racing by. I started by taking another plane down south to Eilat. There is held the Red Sea Jazz festival. I stayed three days enjoying not very exciting traditional and modern Jazz, every now and then, surprised by a truly mind boggling act. Then I took a bus across the desert to Be’er sheva were I met my Israel friend who drove us to a concert of Idan Raichel Project in some sort of resort in the middle of the desert! Fleeing the fans, we drove back to Tel Aviv in the night. I spent the next few days recording, drinking freshly pressed fruit juices and lying on the beach.

The first artist I recorded was Galit Vashdi. We met up in a nice greenish parc (apparently the gay parc) in the center of Tel Aviv. Up front, Galit asked me to be her shaker operator for her first song. Excited by playing some music, I ended up taking out my flute. So after recording three of her songs we spent a bit of time learning an Irish song called ‘Sally Gardens’. Galit learnt it incredibly fast while I struggled to get the lyrics right.. Anyways, it was lovely playing around and here are the recordings:

The second artist I recorded was Amos Zimmerman. I first met him in Oxford when he was touring living rooms in the UK. Ironically, we recorded in his kind of living room/bedroom in his shared house in Tel Aviv. Once again, after recording a few songs, I whipped out my flute (I mean my sister’s flute) and tried to learn one of Amos’ songs. Sadly, I only got two takes to get it right and I’m not much of a flute player… Anyways, after recording we had a very nice interview/chat about music and all that jazz. We briefly met again on my last day as I was walking past the shop where Amos works. He kindly gave me a Israeli flag patch that I’ll stick on my bike luggage! For more music: http://amoszimmerman.com/


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Mother’s Land

The last cycling stop after Dubrovnik was Bar in Montenegro. I left late in the afternoon of the 14th July, climbed all the way back up to the road going to Montenegro and got a puncture… The hole was big! and I have no idea what caused it! I changed the inner tube in the burning sun and set off into some of the most beautiful scenery. For the first time since the beginning of the trip, I decided to stop set up my camera and get a video of me cycling. So here is the only proof that I have showing that I have been doing what I’ve been doing:

I got very excited when after over 3 months of cycling I crossed more than 3 other traveling cyclist. Unfortunately, they where all going in the opposite direction. At some point, I briefly caught up with a cyclist from London who was heading for Istambul but, sadly, our routes quickly parted when I decided to cycle all round the bay of Kotor and he to cut across with a ferry. If you ever go cycling there, don’t believe what people say, it is a long cycle round but the view is stunning and worth every single extra Km.

Finally, I got to Bar and booked a ticket to its Italian adriatic brother who grew an extra i: Bari. I left the next day and had a tumultuous ride across the sea and arrived early the next morning. That was it. After 5-6 years of absence, I was back in my mother’s home city and the cycle ride south was over! My aunt met me at the port to lead me to her house and for the next five days I was treated like a king! Such a huge contrast with the homeless cycling life I had been living most days since the beginning of the trip.

On one of those days, my cousin and I had a recording marathon. After going to a beautiful beach somewhere south of Bari, we got home picked up all the recording equipment and went to meet some of his friends who were rehearsing in a sort of little storage both in what seemed the middle of nowhere. Their both was one a dozen of other storage boths converted to rehearsal rooms. Each band rented out their own personal space for rehearsing and could contribute to the musical mess that you can hear outside. The band was called Rainvan and we recorded in the building heat of a none air conditioned room! The band is Daniele Mauro on acoustic guitar, Andrea Damiani on electric drums and Marco Annoscia on piano and synths. For more about them and their music: https://www.facebook.com/TheRainVan or http://soundcloud.com/RainVan

As soon as we finished with Rainvan, we hoped into the car all sweaty and drove to the other side of Bari where some other of my cousin’s friends had an outdoor concert. We got there with 10mins to set up. So I pulled everything out of the bag as fast I could, got everything ready and sound-checked as they were performing the first two songs. The band is called Orecchiabili and they are an Italian rockabilly band and we had a good time watching and listening to them. Unfortunately, the recording does not render the guitarist wondering away to sit on benches or going into the bar all whilst soloing. This photo will have to do:

And here are the recordings with Alessio Virno on guitar and vocals, Joe Leali on double bass and vocals and, Marco Nimi on drums:

That’s it for my brief episode in Italy. Next recordings from Israel will be up soon!


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Down the Croatian coast – Part III

That’s it… the cycling is now over until the end of next month. I arrived in Athens 5 days ago and the first thing I did was send my bike to Edinburg where I will be joining it on the 13th August. There, I will be working with The Deck Theatre Company on a play called Pinch in Love as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In Athens, I had break from recording to go exploring before taking a plane to Israel. Thus, I’m writing to you from a friend’s house in Tel Aviv! but don’t worry, the recording isn’t over!

In the meantime, after Zadar (Croatia), I had a lovely cycle ride to Dubrovnik. It was particularly fun, as to get there, one has to cross a small portion of the coast which briefly becomes Bosnia Herzegovina! Also, I went through some amazing scenery where the brown rocky dry coast slowly morphs into a much greener coast which then descends into a long plain surrounded by mountains. The road then leaves the plain and returns to its windy coastal self.

I finally arrived in Dubrovnik on the 14th July. I headed straight for the old town which is contained within castle walls. Once again, I was dazed by the passage from utter solitude to an overcrowded city. I sat down and observed the waves of tourists of all nationalities poring out of coaches, camera in hand, stumbling over each other as they tried to take pictures of the outer walls of the city. Amused, I made my way into the old town in mind of finding a place to sleep and rest Doppler for the day. The search was only brief as the prices were bogglingly high! Thus, I decided I’d sleep on a beach somewhere and found an internet cafe. After a nice simple meal, as I was slowly pushing Doppler back out of the small alleyway, the waitress asked me where I was cycling. I told her about the project and that I had nowhere to sleep in Dubrovnik. Instantly, she very kindly invited me to stay at her and her boyfriends place! I was even allowed to leave my bike by the restaurant for most of the day.

High on her generosity, I set out to explore the town and quickly came across some fantastic street artists! The first where a trio of musicians called Fiori Musicali. They play an eneregised version of many classical classics with flute, guitar and violin. All three musicians are music professors from Zagreb University and are spending most of the summer in Dubrovnik performing in the street and in more conventional venues. After a first matinal encounter, we arranged to meet again in the evening at the entrance of the city where they would be busking. That is exactly what happened. So here is, paraphrasing the guitarist, classical tunes performed as if performing Iron Maiden covers:

After meeting Fiori Musicali, I continued my exploration of the city. Sitting on some steps was a classical guitarist dreamingly plucking the strings on his guitar. Still dazed by the sun, I sat down and listened for a bit. Later, I learnt he was a music teacher and had his own little school in Hungary and, just like the previous band, had come down for the summer to enjoy the sunshine and busk. Here are some of the tunes he played:

Finally, as I was finishing my round I came across a very nice little bar called The Troubadour Jazz Cafe, supposedly a legendary Dubrovnik bar. When I was walking by, there were two musicians playing exciting arrangement of pop and classical songs. The duo is called Nota Bene and here are their songs! (there also might be a video of them soon!)

Soon some recordings from Bari, Italy!

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Fabryka Zabawek in Krakow!

Record and Ride, Fabryka Zabawek, 26.06.2012 from RecordandRide on Vimeo.

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Down the Croatian coast – Part I

The southern episode began in Ljubljana. After a couple of days celebrating my mothers birthday and an extra night in a hotel watching the Italian spectacular defeat with a friendly receptionist, I set out for Rijeka. It took me two days of beautiful Slovenian country side, an unexpected visit to huge caves – home of an underground river – and windy rocky roads to get to the main Croatian port. I’d been warned it wasn’t a nice place and indeed it wasn’t! Thus, I decided to set out down the coast the same day I arrived.

Before leaving, I met another traveller from Slovakia who’d been busking around the continent with two guitars and a bag. He was waiting for a train to Zagreb when I approached him. I told him about the project and we agreed to record whilst he was busking. He played a mutlitude of songs each one unexpectedly merging into each other. Here are a few snippets from his set:

That same evening I made it to Crikvenica where, for the first time since the beginning of the trip,  I booked in to a camping site. I didn’t stay long as I left early in the morning to do as much cycling as I could before the heat became too unbearable. When it did, I stopped for some food and a swim. Stupidly, I set out again much too early only to find that what lied ahead of me was non-stop uphill… I thought I was going to loose my mind! Just before I reached the top, I started having small hallucinations like wandering/worrying wether or not I had my hat on  whilst touching it.

Luckily, after a blissful race downhill I found a beautiful small fishing town with a single one way road to rest my bones. Again, I got up early next morning and headed down towards Zadar. Lesson learnt, I was more patient during my afternoon break, thus, I was able to properly enjoy the second half of the ride. In fact, it was so pleasurable that I kept on going all the way to Zadar – originally I wasn’t expecting to get there until the next day.

When I got to Zadar, I decided to book myself into a hostel as I wanted some confort to finish some freelance work. It is at the bottom of this hostel situated on the top floor of a five story apartment that Doppler was vandelised…  Anyways, the stay was very nice. I met a Polish traveller who has just set out to travel round the world and write about it: http://guideless.tv/. Instead of cycling, he’s hitch-hiking his way round. It was fun meeting again a couple of times further on down the coast when his hitch-hiking had not been successful…

Although I had no one to record in Zadar, I did have something to record: a water organ. I recorded it on my last day in Zadar at 5.30am before all the other tourist arrive to chat over a soothing background of experimental organ playing. I dedicate this recording to Astrid Willmote who first told me about this strange installation.

That is all for the part-1 of the Croatian coast!

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The good old Krakow blues

So I’m in Split Croatia (well actually that’s when I started this post, now I’m 30km away from Dubrovnik!)! I haven’t updated the website in quite sometime! I have just been very busy working on the sound for a friends documentary about deforestation in Prey Lang forest in Cambodia and it’s consequences those who live around it: http://www.rubbernaut.co.uk/

Although I’m now quite far down south I still have some recordings from Krakow I would like to share with you. To my astonishment my last Polish stop was full of blues! I never met so many harmonica players and talented blues musicians is such a few days. I stayed in a very musical student house sharing a room with a guitarist and harmonica player. While I was sitting in the kitchen updating this website with the recordings from Warsaw, the house resounded with instruments being practiced in every other room! In retrospect, I should have recorded it and shared with you guys – it was quite believable as an avant-garde musical experiment.

I ended up recording Tomek, my original Krakow contact, and an Italian harmonica player named Mario. We set up in the staircase leading to the music infused apartment to record. We recorded two tracks as well as the occasional passerby. The next day, before leaving for the station to catch my train down to Vienna, I recorded another pair of songs with The missing part, accompanied by Tomek on banjo and dobro.

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