Friday, February 09, 2024


For a fellow who still prides himself on delving into cassettes at a time when 8-tracks were the prevailing form of tapeage (so proud that my very first cassette player, inoperable since 1979, sits a good one foot from where I am typing this very schpiel) a book like HIGH BIAS comes off more like a vindication of my perseverance against the raging stoner box boy mindset that surely wasn't exactly the high point of seventies teenbo culture. 

This Masters guy (who also wrote that higher than highly recommended no wave book a couple decades back) actually spent the time and exerted the energy detailing the who what when wheres etc. of the cassette, spinning yarns regarding some pretty interesting things about the impact of those little things on a whole load of musical trends, some good and others of which we couldn't care one whit about. But he did it and he did a good job at it and it's all here and it does thankfully end up as a rather hallowed tribute to a once-overlooked innovation that, even sixty years after its debut, still seems to have about as much of an impact on a whole load of things as it did 'round '80 when these things finally surpassed the 8-track as the prominent tapemode most recommended to capture the music one would want to hear on the go. Or, when combined with pharmaceuticals, that music which was blasted in public places for people who were probably more attuned to the strains of Jan Garber.

You might think that things along the lines of eighties tape trading or the whole "cassette culture" mode that seemed to make up a good portion of OP/SOUND CHOICE's reason for existence nothing but a bad eighties memory but I don't. For me the cassette meant easily obtainable rare recordings, a cheap way for an act to release their music and (best of all) a nice eff-few to the bigname record labels who were beginning to look like even bigger downright evil frauds than any of us would have believed in the first place. If the cassette had never been invented boy, the access and distribution of music to folk in the boondocks like myself would have been quite stifling different.

Yeah, I coulda used some more juicy turdbits regarding this definite step up in the evolution of man. It woulda been nice to see some snaps of those early pre-recorded musical cassettes that were up and about a good four or so years before the advent of mass tape marketing, or for that matter the evolution of blank tape packaging with all of the strange and breakable contraptions these things came in. Shucks, if I were the guy pecking out this paen to home taping I woulda devoted an entire chapter to those cheap beyond belief "assembled in Mexico" three-packs that tended to fall apart after a good two plays. Eh, you can't have everything and I should be grateful that Masters slapped the tasty morsels regarding home taping that he did into this recollection of a not-so-distant past that was the best/worst of times in ways Dickens could never have fathomed.

The enclosed tape serves as somewhat of a soundtrack for the printed page although it seems (at least to me) somewhat of an arbitrary selection of current cassette label offerings. Sure looks nice and the musical selection rather tasty at that, but I couldn't tell you what was on it. Y'see, the thing jammed.


Señor Wences said...


Christopher Stigliano said...