Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Got it, boy!"

Although I maintain most of it is gibberish, the lyric does tell a story. The music industry is currently beset by fiscal disaster and a variety of scandals. One scapegoat for these events has been your and my practice of taping music on blank cassettes. To me, it's a classic case of technology rebounding (if only for a short time) on those who'd seek to control us with it.

Dave agrees: "Got it, boy! It's also good for everybody. Poor people and kids—pay five pounds for an LP—when you can hear it on the radio and press the button. What can you do with vinyl? When I was writing the song I was thinking, why don't I tell the truth? You do it, I do it. Look, there's a shop there. Cassettes! The message? It’s just really cool to have a cassette player. Can't carry a music centre round on you shoulder, two speakers bouncing on your head, can you? So you get a cassette, tape it off the radio, and you can take it out with you."

A giant-sized baby thing minces past with a tiny cassette, headphones on guard. He's oblivious.

Dave continues: "That geezer is red hot. He knows what's what—tape it, man! Don't you think it’s brilliant? You'd never see him if he was at home listening to records."

Stifling nightmare visions of one nation under a Sony, I can see at least his stylistic point. The Sony Stowaway—a tiny cassette player with excellent reproduction—has become this year's toy: 10,000 sold in the UK since April. "We thought Britain had a recession," one bemused executive is quoted as saying.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Salacious and unnerving things

Comfort Link - The Gentle Sounds of Comfort Link

Songs trigger nostalgia, evoke adolescence, and whisk us away from adulthood in all sorts of wondrous ways. Sometimes it's a melody or a couplet or a captured image or a sustained mood. Sometimes it's all of these things.

The piece on the first side of Comfort Link's The Gentle Sounds of Comfort Link took me back to summers spent futzing around with my cousin's banged-up tape recorder. Described on sPLeeNCoFFin's web site as a "reclusive Baltimore archivist," Comfort Link slaps together pre-recorded tape loops to produce a new sound from old sounds. Knitted into these sounds is a bit of high-pitched babble, something akin to what recorded voices were like when we slightly held down the play button on my cousin's recorder. Like what Orbity would sound like if he huffed helium and ingested speed. We would hide the thing behind a couch, hoping to catch family members saying salacious and unnerving things, but when we played it back and learned they didn't, we enacted our revenge by slightly holding down the play button and altering their taped words in rapid, squeaky ways.

The compositions on each side of the tape features circular melodies played on what sounds like synthesizers. They are comprised of three sustained notes, and after hearing them play over and over, beneath that aforementioned high-pitched babble—as well as bear-like rumbles, disaster-flick eruptions, manufacturing-plant hammering, and other assorted noises—I began to wonder where we had put all the tapes we made on that beat-up recorder.