The melody that gives me courage

People who knew me well might be bored of me talking about this one Manchester-based band, GoGo Penguin. I discovered them for the first time when I was traveling in 2014, and visited a humongous music store with the tagline “No Music, No Life”. I accidentally passed by a display with a crazy piano sound by the exit. It was Garden Dog Barbeque from the album V2.0 by a band called GoGo Penguin. A very unlikely jazz name, and it was probably made by a 5 yo.

I had forgotten about the band for so long, until 2021. 2021 was the year I thought everything is going to be okay. We no longer be in isolation, we no longer need to suffocate. That’s what I thought it will be.

But on the contrary. The state of the world hasn’t progressed from 2020. The economy in Bali, where I lived at that moment, was in a devastating condition. I did feel hopeless. There’s so much I can do, but never enough.

On a personal level, I had lost my four legs best friend over my own naivete, and perhaps, lack of attention. When she’s about to die, she kindly let me know. Deep inside, I think she knew I was tired and decided to let herself go to ease me a bit. I carried her beautiful body to her graveyard with my own hand. She smelled so nice after a shower the day before. Her death put scars on me even until months later. I took it hard on myself.

Three months later, a kitten I rescued died, right next to me. She got bitten by a dog. She broke her spine, and couldn’t process food or throw her urine. We believed she couldn’t last long after. Getting her euthanasia was expensive. For five days, I let her sleep by my side. Thinking that, at least, she wouldn’t die alone. The night she died, I opened my eyes at 2 a.m for no reason. She stared at me, and with her last power, crawled from her bed, and laid next to my pillow. She died some minutes later.

For the first time, I’ve thought deeply about death. It is still hard even after believing death is a natural succession to life, as the stoic teaches us.

I tried to trace back new and old music as I wanted to get myself distracted. I stumbled upon GoGo Penguin’s Petit_a from their newest EP ‘Live from Studio 2’. And that EP it was, that got me hooked with the band (yeah, for the first time since 2014).

That EP was recorded from a studio live session in Abbey Road in 2020, during the lockdown. It got seven tracks and they are all very well performed. One track in particular that touched me to the bone is Bardo.

Without even knowing the context of the music, nor the meaning of the word itself, for some reason, I knew it is about death. And so it is. Bardo is a liminal state between death and rebirth, according to the Tibetan. And, oh boy, the old man on the official clip looks like a portrait of Seneca. One of the pitiest Stoic figures.

The music is fast-paced but it wasn’t a happy tune. It was sad and desperate, but it gave me a little courage and hope aftereffect. As if I am going toward the end of the tunnel very soon.

Nothing is permanence. And so is pain. That’s basically how I felt Bardo reminded me about. I’m totally grateful that I discovered this music at the right time. I am no longer afraid.

I once tweeted, that to hear GoGo Penguin music is like feeling a victory. There’s a rewarding feeling that comes afterward. A sort of climax after a long hero journey. That climax is definitely a done deal. It’s not the kind of jazz that I want to hear in a relaxing time. It’s a kind of music I hear if I want to be transported to another universe and ultimately brought back to reality with much more courage and acceptance.

This band is probably my Alan Watts of music. I am new every time I finished listening to them (even though, sometimes, I can’t stop listening).

Recommended first-timer:



One Percent


Last Words