1992. Cassette Mythos

review of

Robin James' Cassette Mythos

by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - February 10, 2011



Robin James, the editor of "Cassette Mythos", definitely knew his shit. I wonder if most people have forgotten about this since Thurston Moore's "Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture" came out 13 yrs later. I hope not. Just the title of Moore's bk is an immediate give-away: "mix tapes" are the lowest common denominator language of the uncreative just as "bands" & "songs" are: cassettes conceived of as just a medium for putting together yr favorite SONGS by yr favorite BANDS - a consumer activity w/ barely any originality involved. "Cassette Mythos", on the other hand, is about the home taper scene that was ORIGINAL - the people who made their own music, made tape multiples b/c it was cheaper than making records since the tapes cd be made "on demand" (as is sd these days), packaged the tapes, & sent them out in trade to other like-minded people & to those not-totally-rare-in-the-1980s magazines that wd review them.

"Cassette Mythos" came w/ a CD &/or a K7. This was the 1st CD compilation I was on. I contributed 2 pieces: a short 4 track piece using conventional instruments & a long recording of clothes that I'd made entirely out of zippers bouncing around in a clothes dryer. [apparently, one can download a long mp3 version of this on multiple sites but I don't trust any of them enough to provide a link here] This latter piece was, perhaps, 45 minutes long in its entirety but I selected a short excerpt from it for the editor(s) to use if so inclined. Much to my astonishment (& the consternation of at least some of the people rejected) they used a much longer selection. To me, it sounds like a Xenakis piece & it IS an example of stochastics in some way or another.

This bk, & the recording, really does represent, for me, some of the most creative work in the home taper underground. No mix tape consumerism here. These were the people who were making it happen: John Oswald, John Foster, Eugene Chadbourne, Annea Lockwood, Sue Ann Harkey, Qubais Reed Gazala, Gen Ken Montgomery, Al Margolis, John Trubee, Cyrnai, Mike Gunderloy (a human encyclopedia if there ever was one!), Karen Eliot, John Hudak, Miekal And, etc..

My own primary article is about my "Portable booed usic Busking Unit" - a suitcase containing a battery-powered CONCRETE MIXING studio that enabled me to do live electroacoustic guerrilla performances that used not only pre-made K7s (& other sound sources) for this purpose but ALSO K7s used as vaudeo thanks to the Fisher-Price PXL camcorder. [a sample of one of the latter can be witnessed here: https://youtu.be/gVqpSGYVAbo ]






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