I watched the video of Wolfgang Dorninger's lecture on the cassette culture, which was part of the Cassette Culture Node Linz exhibition in June/July 2018. It is in German language, so I guess many of you can't enjoy it. This is a real shame because it is an extremely well researched, analysed and presented look at this era of Earth's culture.
Editor's Note: Some people viewing this page on smartphones might not be able to see the embedded video player above. Click on the video of Wolfgang's lecture link above. Even if you cannot understand the German language you should watch the video any way because it contains many great images from the Cassette Culture Node Linz exhibit.
I was part of this era but now hearing the facts being presented in such a well structured way definitely brought some new insight.
Some main basics changed completely since then and thus everything changed. A main statement in Wolfgang's lecture is:" If absolutely everything becomes easy, there is no more output of value."
More or less everything in the underground of those decades was created from scratch - own basic ideas were inalienable if you wanted to create, record, paint, write etc. Today everything starts with a program that already defines many basics. The worst are *apps*, where people no longer know/understand what they are doing, what is going on, the app does it all for you. Those apps define your life.
"Yeah but.." Yes there is sure always a *but* - I just want to talk about a reality we're living in. When I started using the internet almost every website of artists I visited was a unique creation - often a unity with the released material, whether Pop CD or harsh undergound tape.. Today all websites look alike. And you basically don't exist if you're not on Facebook/Twitter. What a loss of creation.
Which leads to the aspect of communication. Wolfgang has a very detailed part in his lecture explaining how communication did work in those days. What it did to oneself, to the process of working, developing, thinking(!) etc. He talked about 3 paged letters with detailed reviews and opinions, about the continuous flow of thinking, writing, sending tapes. (I heard the same from Darrell Draeger of Hermanos Guzanos, who came from a completely different part of the cassette culture, he talks of 4 paged handwritten letters with teeny tiny writing.) A worldwide tight network of deep thought and exchange. Today all this is more or less down to a *click* and a *I like*. What a loss of thought and inspiration.
Almost every release I remember from those days had a unique approach, in sound and production. whether guitarband or soundscape musician - almost every participant was individual! That was based on A) the simple fact that the recording means needed to be approached in a clever way to get your own 100% out of them (how to avoid hiss, how to boost 4 tracks to 12, etc) - and B) the idea of being *different* was part of the attitude. "I don't want to be like *Joe Walsh* I know there is a different way to play this kind of music - I am not one of them."
Today if one has a laptop, a simple studio program and several samples, one can *create* something that sounds like a *big* studio production. And too many want to sound like *Joe Walsh* today - so I get *Joe Walsh* clones 'till it hurts for airplay - all with super shiny newletters and guest musicians that already played with this or that *star*. Too many act like being part of a major music scene - in fact many aspects that made me flee the *music scene* in the 1980s are now a part of the *indie underground*.
I would like to put some real emphasis upon the fact, that in the past I always had the impression that there really was a will to "do something, go somewhere, change something, be part of a cultural revolution". I guess this was part of the culture in those days.
If you created some very harsh shocking noise in these years and made some unconventional statements that was enough to be really *different* and push culture! ... today?
Today I have to admit I often get the impression everybody is sitting comfortably and playing the music / making the sound they like ... and that's it - a nice little world where all is fine - I'll post it and then collect likes.. Combined with the narcissism that became part of today's culture this is often pretty unpleasant .. to say the least.
I heard an interview with a long working Berlin photographer who said when being asked about differences between now and then that today everybody walks about as if being photographed / filmed all the time .. *noone* acts natural anymore - everybody is a little *star*. Well - selfies and smart phone movies created a new breed of clone.
What did *Social Media* do to in-depth culture pushing communication? What is behind the *I like*? Why do you like? what exactly do you like? How do you like? Can you still go deeper? If so, why don't you do so? Do you still have more words? If so, why don't you use them?
This way of communication is paralysing and dulling .. and yes .. all this came to my mind listening to Wolfgang Dorninger's lecture about a time and a scene that was really different... I was there and it all came back with a BANG.
I think that we as artists need to look for *different* ways.
Yes I agree what do you like or not like, if I had to hear a buncha Joe Walsh, oh my I most likely would go batshit crazy.
I'm starting to hate the internet (I'm kidding). That time was wonderful, really ... Do you think it could happen again? I mean using the current technology to which we all have access. Or is it unrepeatable?
While I used to love the internet when it was first introduced it was the wild wild west so to speak & further on,I merely like it now because its become the way of communication,I stayed away from the internet entirely for 5 yrs, I exiled myself from it. So we know I dont partake in social media its data mining in my opinion, like button said enough. To me today the internet has its good points but one must wade thru a cesspool of garbage,in order to find something you want to read or look at, or listen to or participate in. I was on every mp3 site I could get on in beginning, Even in Israel which was in hebrew in which I knew enough to upload my mp3s there as well. I had my own domain Harsh Reality Music it was fun, I helped run the Domain for Tapegerm for 10 plus years actually we started it Bryan Baker,Scott Carr,J.Mundok my self we leased our own server as not to be on a shared one but a dedicateed one we had 3 tiers free up to 10 songs, gold which got you a lot of space for your music, for a price of course & full member which got you unlimited for a price, We had guest artists whose loops were used in compositions,some of them here at EC the guest artists.We had rules one had to go by othersise your track would not appear. You can check out archive. org & find many of the cds that were produced.We sold web space, all to pay for the server, Scott was in charge of technical support maintaining the server, Mundock bailed out early, Bryan & I did the coding, we started out with html but ended up using php coding. I got burnt out & quit due to personal garbage, Scott quit right after me for same reasons more burn out than anything plus health issues. I must admit it was all fun while it lasted. I deleted everything I had on net to listen to that I was in control of, When I isolated myself from the net. Anyways Tapegerm is still around but its not the same & I dont think it ever will be. Bryan changed it all graphic wise, he still runs it but its participation level is not near what it was & I dont think it ever will be.This bit of the past could go on & on but to answer your question Rafael I personally dont think it could happen again, I think its unrepeatable, when Joe sixpack could get on the net because windows did it for him instead of having to know what the hell you were doing the net got flooded & smart phones have made it even worse. Just my opinions & observations. Most of the music I listen to today comes straight thru EC so I dont have to wade thru the cesspool anymore lol I thank Hal for getting me back into it all as he did before EC.Hal & I have recorded so many albums of music I cant remember the actual number without going & looking & counting & to lazy right now to do that.:)
Thank you very much Chris. Your answer is very illustrative. If those first years of internet are unrepeatable ... what about the 80's and 90's with their cassettes?
Rafael The 80's & 90's with their cassettes are repeatable to an extent yes more cdrs today though it seems. The difference being in the cassettes not usually the personal level they once had letters some still do. usually cassettes or cdrs followed by electronic communication thru email. Again just my humble opinion so I say maybe sorta but different.
Thanks for your answer, Chris. I know there has been a resurgence of the cassette, but in my modest opinion, it is not similar to what happened in the 80's, as is logical. As you said: different.
.. I'm too busy today to write a detailed reply .. but ... thank you very much for this! .. I did'nt know..
I agree in many aspects
Welcome LL glad you liked, I agree it all can be be gained back to some extent especially thru alternatives like EC. Used to be a cassette culture forum by Kevin Thorne ( We Be Echo) in which we talked about some of the same things. Did a few projects Don Campau produced Cassette Culture compilation #1 of older stuff from the 80's if memory serves correct, I produced Cassette culture compilation #2 of what was happening now late 90's early 2000's Was fun & if not having fun then whats the point right :)
The alternatives are always good to move forward, be free and have fun, that's true
The idea of "re-creating" the 80s cassette culture is very interesting, for any number of reasons, but I wonder if it really is possible. That time, like so many others, was unique. The launching pad for so much of what we did in the 80s was the 60s/70s--when the top-40 was incredibly diverse and the search for new sounds in pop music was moving at high speed. By the time the 80s came around, many of us had become sickened by the manufactured quality of mainstream music and the whole perverse business of mainstream music. We rebelled, made our own music, and, voila, the 80s cassette culture emerged. What will emerge in the 20-tens or 20-20s? Perhaps we are all as sick of the social media mainstream as we were of the mainstream music business back then. Perhaps a rebellious underground could once again emerge. The big "but" in the room (not me, I'm a skinny freak) is that social media will no doubt be the arena in which such revolution occurs. But Lord Litter turns that around on us by saying we ride the information highway any way we like. Exactly!
Yes I like these thoughts very much!
Sorry for getting so late into this great threat but after the Cassette Culture Node.Linz exhibition I needed a break, some time for sailing, riding my bicycle and family live.
"..the internet was a real utopian space for many years."
Hal McGee, EC Editor
I have tried to make Electronic Cottage look very simple. No fancy flashing images or special effects. Just simple texts and images. This places the emphasis on the people who are members of the EC Community. I believe that the ideas and images created by the members are interesting enough without *showbiz*. No mind control! This hearkens back to an earlier more utopian time of the Internet!
"No fancy flashing images or special effects"
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