Super Avilyn

Sometimes you just get the urge to do something old school. You know – like a fixed gear bike, or a MAME setup for those old arcade games? Well – this week I have discovered – although, I appreciate, hugely late to the party that there is an entire movement of artists dedicated to what I can only describe as my teenage years. That is to say something akin to Top Gun and Bladerunner breeding with an Arcade machine with plenty of neon, chrome, and VHS cassettes as a side order. Fan-ruddy-tastic.

I digress. One afternoon, headphones on, slaving away at the console – when I click on a link to the website of Gunship (that I was listening to at the time – in a font that I can only describe as Street Fighter)… and I discover they do their album-of-the-same-name on Compact Cassette with a Commodore64 game on the other side.  ….sweet rotating candyfloss trousers of Christ.

So – in a heartbeat I have a project in mind. My Yamaha KX-580 Special Edition is still very much plumbed into the rest of my hi-fi – I just cannot get around to letting go, and binning it off (as I did with my Mini Disk separate). I need a tape, and I need to fire that bad boy up and revel in its warm orange peak meters just one more time.

I need a tape though. I know there is a trolly bag of the things in a good friends loft, however, right here, right now, none. Zero. Zip. Nada. So I have a look online. HAVE YOU ANY IDEA HOW MUCH A NEW TDK SA90 COSTS? Well here is a thing – hens teeth – they have not made them for years. So in short they are worth about four or five times as much as they used to go for, and it looks like you are buying a pack of ten – thats the best part of £80-100!

Thankfully a colleague stepped up with something I could use to “get my fix”. What a thing. An old school tape with of all things Ultravox on one side and Motörhead on the other… hahaha. It is such a physical lump. Emotional. Hand written notes. Labels. Types. Specifications. There was a physical investment. An interaction.

The whole and the concept of “A mix tape” – dear lord – sure these days there are play-lists – hell you can even share them with the whole Spotify thing… but wow, a mix tape? That was a thing that stood apart. They just do not come close these days. In fact I am reminded of the film Hi-Fidelity … many a true word there.

What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?   … I am looking at you Radiohead.

Tape machines are such hugely mechanical devices. The quiet hiss of their operation as the two tiny spools gave out and gathered tape via a series of turns, and a set of pinch rollers setting the pace. The double edged sword of dynamics – the more you got the more hiss you reaped. The fight back with signal processing of Dolby B, Dolby C, and in the later years Dolby S. Ferric Oxide Type I, Cobalt doped Ferric type II, Chromium Dioxide type III, Metal type IV. The distinct stench of new BASF cassettes – like a school chemistry lab, or the sweet smell of the labels in latter day TDK SA-X with those curious but tactile rounded edge cases.

Memories are made of these.

A dormant area of my mind, so full with engineering, so full with people, so full of music. POP – back into existence – dust blown away.

The wonder of exercising my Tape Loop for the first time in years will take place this evening.

So about that GUNSHIP….

As Syndicated Wars would have it….. “Selected.”

*NB.: Tape shown / Used a 1979 SA-C90 !!

One Response to “Super Avilyn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this:
Skip to toolbar