First some sex - sort of. Foot fetish videos are usually amusing, but this video nicely ties in with today's post: "Crushing cassette box with my high heeled pump. I'm wearing trousers and pantyhose."
I love the mp3 digital revolution, and my computer is busting at the seams with music files. But I do miss the audio cassette. For years it was an indispensable part of my life. Starting at an early age, I would make fake radio newscasts and parodies on my portable tape recorder, and mix them with whatever 45s I happened to pick up that week (probably Huey Lewis & the News).
Beware of the Blog has waxed nostalgic about the cassette before, looking mainly at the design of the tapes themselves. But one of my favorite things about working with cassette tapes was trying to get rid of that "ca-chunk" sound that would sound on the tape whenever hitting the stop button after recording. And so came the fine and delicate art of using the pause button. Nearly as soon as I learned to use the pause button, I started using it in ways it was not meant to be: for re-mixing, re-ordering, and re-constructing the songs themselves. I would work for hours sometimes on a single song, removing sections, editing together various remix and cover versions (don't even get me started on the 45 minute version of New Order's "Blue Monday" that I edited together in high school), and even randomly hitting the pause button during songs just to see what kind of Burroughs-esque cut-up would transpire.
Digital recording, as grand as it is, does not have quite the visceral (or time consuming) thrill of the old button pushing. I learned pretty quickly that cassette recorders using electronic "smart" recording buttons are just no damn good for any editing tricks. But even with manual butons, there were still many pesky challenges. Where exactly will the recording begin? Depends. How do I get avoid the sound-bleed overlapping? Record some blank first. How do I flawlessly edit something into the middle of what I have already recorded? You're pretty much screwed, there.
No matter how hard you try, there is just no way to get cassette editing to sound perfect and crisp, and that again is one of the joys of the process. There is a point where the sound of the editing becomes a part of the edit itself, and making the listener aware of it somehow feels okay. Pesky limitations and happy accidents can sometimes yeild the best results.
Recording and editing in digital is so much easier and offers a lot more opportunity to experiment (even if it always sounds so slick). The clunky cassette pause anymore is well on the way out. But I still have a dual cassette deck hooked up in a prominent location in my home. Though I don't make mixes on it very often anymore, that doesn't mean the love isn't there.
So, in honor of the cassette deck pause button, here are a few mp3 samples of pause-the-tape editing from a bunch of old mixes I recently converted to the 'puter:
Ernie Plays the Drums
First there is a brilliant skip, then the record is scratched and the speed changed with over several recordings. The different versions were then edited together with the tape deck.
A friend re-edited the Mister Ed theme and added some clips from the show (all from two complete episodes on LP). I lengthened it and sent it back, hoping he would make it longer still and we could go back and forth until we had an incredibly painful version of Mister Ed. This is as far as it got.
Just the Operator
One of my favorite experiments, manually hitting the pause button during instrumental bridges to create a sloppy condensed version with just the lyrics. Except for verse three, where it is reversed.
Abraham & Isaac
A Christian kiddie record (featuring a ventriloquist and his dummy) is re-edited into something rather more disturbing. Obvious, I suppose, but it still makes me...well, rather uncomfortable, actually.
Sammy Davis Jr.'s booms are multiplied in this live Rat Pack stage obnoxiousness.
Here I Am
Similar to the Operator edit, but with more playing with the record and, you know, it's Air Supply. Ouch.
Stop, Look, Play
A folky kiddie safety song re-edited to spout nonsense, plus some nice random pause buttoning near the end.
And for a bit more on the lost world of the audio cassette check out these links:
Wikipedia's history of the format.
A blog just about push-buttons (including the pause button).
A photographic essay comparing the iPod to the cassette.
Certainly you have Thurston Moore's book on the art of the mix tape.
Variation on the old Maxell commercial featuring Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy.
But I was more of a Wham! fan, myself. Especially when they sing "You're the fish face I adore".
Okay, fine, how do you feel about The Skids, then?
Homemade cassette DJ mixing board.
Art of Mix's making the perfect mix (they agree about the non-logic buttons).
The c90 project has moved here, and Tapedeck.org is also holding the fort.
And you won't believe how amazingly awesome this Japanese cassette tape couture is!