The Wire

In Writing

The Mire: Tangents, threads and opinions from The Wire HQ

Derek Walmsley



With a certain synchronicity, just as Blissblog reminisces about old tapes (with the help of FACT magazine's Woebot), this item emerged from the postbag at The Wire – a promo release for the forthcoming Russell Haswell Editions Mego double LP Second Live Salvage (fearsome, thrilling noise architecture). The Wire office has been without a tape deck for a short while, so I had to do my own salvaging, retrieving mine from the loft to play it on.

I've no idea as to the sonic merits of tape versus CD or MP3. But in terms of how they are used, and how they embed themselves in you habits of music appreciation, there's lots to be said for tapes, specifically self-recorded ones which allow you to write many times/read many times. Many tapes of mine have changed like a patchwork quilt as I've dubbed new things next to old, over and over again. Strange juxtapositions emerge and persist (Black Dog Peel Sessions next to Will Oldham, Wu-Tang albums from mates bookended by Seefeel), and they become a living chronicle of obsessions and listening habits. Compared to the wealth of once-used CD-Rs which litter my desk, all of which carry a psychological traces of me wearily inscribing the album name on them, knowing soon they'll probably be lost among many other once listened to CD-Rs, tapes are like long lost friends. Of course, with iTunes, everything is at your fingertips anyway. But frequently one doesn't want them to be at fingertips. That conscious decision to access something feels too much like work, like acting as your own private librarian. Not only that, but you're at the mercy of the speed of the computer – so it's like being a librarian but needing someone else to clamber at that ladder for you.

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