The plain fact is I am a back patting cheerleader for the underground music scene offering little objective light on the subject. But then again, that is not my job. This is a not a review site to help you buy things. This is not a standard blog providing passive text and links for downloads. Put simply, The Living Archive is my life. Well, a lot of it. My wife, my Mother, kids and grandkids are more important as are most of my closest friends.
However, I made many of those friends through this very same network. In some cases they are people I have had decades of comradeship with, have confided and trusted in, have done musical collaborations with and have spilled my various concerns and emotional issues with and they with me.
To me, Cassette Culture/ Underground Music is not just about music and making creative projects. No, it is much more. It is personal, very personal. I have been able to talk to many of my home taping friends on the phone, met some of them and I even married one. How’s that for personal?
Sure, I have occasionally offered criticism but rarely has it been biting Lester Bangs-style ripping. And yes, I have fudged and oversold my enthusiasm for their art. I do this also in my daily life at work in a grocery store. It is just the way I prefer to live. Ye olde glass is half full to me, in fact, three quarters full at least.
So I guess this is all in response to some criticism that could be leveled at me. Spotlighting my friends, doing articles and news items about close colleagues, cheering on new releases of long time contacts,etc. I plead “nolo contendere”. This is undoubtedly true but I’ll be a grade schooler and say it: It’s my ball so we are playing by my rules.
So when someone asks me “are you making Tom Furgas Artist Of The Month because he is your friend?”. I can simply say “yes” unless they want the full explanation which put briefly is that he was the first stranger I ever traded tapes with, was honest and open toward me from the start, makes amazingly eclectic music, trades me music from his own large collection, and exchanges his feelings about life with me in letters. So there. Tom is my friend but he is also extremely deserving of his Artist Spotlight.
My own suggestion for people just finding out about Cassette Culture or trying to find a way to bring passion and friendship to their own “scene”: meet and stay open to strangers. They may just be your next best friends.
I was never friends with Steve Tetzloff and only exchanged a couple of letters with him if I remember correctly. Still, I felt it was time to offer one of his tapes as Tape Of The Month because of the unique personality and lo fi musical character that he brought to my own listening pleasure. Once again, I am making a tape available from an artist I cannot find anywhere. So Steve, I hope this is alright with you. And if anyone finds him I’d like to get the information.
Large thanks to my German friend Siegmar Fricke for being the translating “go between” for the fascinating interview with IRRE tape label boss, Matthias Lang. I have been wanting to feature Matthias ever since I began this project because of his special place in the worldwide underground scene. His tireless efforts during the 80s and 90s were instrumental in exposing many people to some very obscure and unusual music and his disregard for jumping on the bandwagon of any particular style was an important part of his essential IRRE label.
I have known Billy James since the 1990s when he would send me his always entertaining Ant-Bee music. Billy is back with his own new incredible CD “Electronic Church Muzik” and also regales us with a classic “confused identity” story about his cover of a Beach Boys tune. In the “Features” section.
I was super happy to be back in touch with Linda Smith, a distinctively fine singer from Baltimore and Dwain Woodliff of the home taping trio, YU. I have been fans of both of them for many years and part of the fun of this web site has been the reconnection to people like them. So glad to have you back. Read about their “early experiences” in that section.
And from San Francisco Brook Hinton chips in his own comments about the early days running a label and making his strange music. I have been looking forward to Brook’s input for awhile now. Thanks to all for your efforts.