Gino Robair is former editor of EM

Archive for May 27th, 2010

Tape, Ephemera, Loss, and Memories

cassette.jpg

Recently, a performance of mine was released on cassette (yes, analog cassette—the preferred format of the ’80s). It was an extremely limited edition (less than 50) and it sold out immediately. That surprised me… until I listened back to it.

Yes, there’s hiss—you can’t miss it. More importantly, there is a combination of wow, flutter, and crunchiness that warmed my heart. All the worst things about the cassette format as a playback medium were the best things for this new release in terms of sound quality. Although the live performance was from ’09, it sounded as if it was recorded in the ’50s—in a good way.

I have yet to find a plug-in that does lo-fi like this.

Particularly sexy was the way this inexpensively duped tape changed the sound of my cymbals: they have a distinct warble that I love. Maybe the Dolby circuit in my player adds to the weirdness. I’m not sure if I can recreate the effect digitally, but I’m going to try. But at least I know one way to get it: use an obsolete storage medium as a filtering device. more

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