Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tape Culture

Marc Hogan at Pitchfork has an excellent write-up of the nascent cassette tape culture that's gripped underground music as of late, as a medium and even as an aesthetic (Neon Indian, Washed Out, et al. use that woozy, warped tape sound as an instrument). Tapes provide a nostalgic factor, but they're also cheap as hell and have an interesting physical component to them. Hogan quotes music critic Paul Hegarty: "Within the dying of media comes the passing or slow dying of individual units-- tapes, records, cylinders, cartridges-- all of which decay, and in so doing, seem to take on characteristics of having lived." That's precisely what has drawn me to analog sounds, be it vinyl, tape, whatever. It's what makes William Basinski's avant-garde masterpiece The Disintegration Loops so affecting--the physical qualities of a tape of recorded music literally turning to dust as its played one last time. I'll write more about William Basinski later, but for the time being, check out the article here.

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