Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] First impressions of Capricornia

Duane Heath duaneinsweden@hotmail.com
Thu, 11 Jul 2002 15:46:03 +0200


An album that screeched through me, like a car eating into an empty horizon
of flat scrub and middle-distance mirages conjured from tar and sun. Every
track on Capricornia sent me back along a similar hazy highway  an
out-of-focus memory dug out from the good old days, made increasingly lucid
the higher the volume got turned up.

"Too Much Sunshine" had me back at the wheel again, mom's blue Beetle
busting out of suburbia and down the old coast road on my 20th birthday, all
of Shaun Stretch's (his real name) 6ft6 frame along for the ride and a June
morning as a gift only to us  nobody else noticing the present unwrapping
before them. Always something new to see as soon as we'd break ties with the
town limits, thawed land breeze shifting smoke from tribal huts all the way
down to Umgababa  the white cirrus of winter long since gone the way of the
south wind, perhaps a journey completed in Mocambique or Madagascar. On
perfect days like that one we'd learn how anticipation is an agonising form
of time travel at the speed of life. When I think back now, we couldn't have
been more stupid: mesmerised by Green Point's calling waves, we forgot all
about the packs of silver sardines in the water, didn't even think about the
Great Whites which spent their winters tailing them all the way from the
Cape. Today, I'm slightly more cautious.

"Capricornia" and I recall deep dreams under a yellow star and nobody but
lone fishermen with faces turned seaward to threaten the endless summer
fantasy we'd slip into on varsity vacations at Warner Beach. New Year's
parties in Margate and Ballito chatting to Max and Al in their car, ten
years ago now, and how they were ready to leave their land, the first of our
group to venture overseas. And a year before, us all leaving school on the
last day, but not knowing quite where to go in these suddenly liberated
lives of ours. 'Don't leave me here, dying in the back of your land.'

Two examples of emotional truth, as Peter might call it. Mostly with this
record I find that same space, those same empty dusty roads, I wandered
along on Diesel and Dust and Blue Sky Mining. Through a wormhole of the mind
I surface again and reach out across a decade and a half to picture my own
version of "Luritja Way"  a hired VW bus like a white skyscraper among
flat, dry plains of the parched Karoo, on its way to the coast, stuck lonely
miles between sub-tropica and our final destination somewhere in the Cape,
an eternity from the waves the group was chasing.

So maybe I've Been Away Too Long myself. My bruised world that is Africa
sure has its beauty, and I long to see it again. It's been a year and a day
since lip-biting farewells and it's surely no coincidence I open up the
mailbox today to find Todd's gift of the CD plus an unplugged MD
compilation. In a week where half of me was six thousand miles away from
this land of forests and islands, Capricornia pulled me back to the present
and made me realise the 'good old days' are at once all around me, and still
unborn. A golden age.