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.