Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Don't Miss The Hiss

CDs MP3s and digital downloads may be as sexy as the highway code, but for all the cosy fireside crackle of analogue and super size artwork of album covers, there’s a fistful of things I don't miss about the old fangled ways of listening...

Housing a Hi-Fi the size of a paraffin heater.

Picking up phantom ham radio broadcasters through the speakers.

Know alls picking holes in your personal filing system 'you've got *** next too ***? - That's not right!'


The mind melting madness of actual man hours invested in compiling a single 90 minute tape, or the trickery and tactics of trying to wrench in that last track without clipping it or leaving a large gap.

The ghostly notes of backwards backing vocals seeping through from the other side. IE
Andy Partridges home demo of 'Harvest Festival' - recorded onto cassette, which hasn't quite wiped the previous classical recording from the tape.

The mangled reels and reef knot ribbons in the tape head - dear God please not the car stereo.

Those 'been done left in the sun' wobbles.

RSI from rewinding with pencil


Knowing the hops, skips and jumps as initmatley as the lyrics.

That random dusty needle glide (hey hey hey what's a happening!)

Blu Tack and copper coinage (never silver) employed as a weighting device.

Set dressing the 'scene' with romantic mood music, only for the mood go into meltdown at the inevitable album turn over( or the passion killing clunk and fidget of auto reverse tape decks.)


Piley said...

this is genius Mondo!

although of course the 'filing police' are still in operation wherever CDs are collected...

Motorways in the 80's used to be a regular graveyard for tapes, and seemed to stretch for miles in places - always handy for directions tho, "take the 3rd agfa c60 on the left, and then right at the smashed half a case..."

backwards sounds coming through on a tape - I won a competition on Essex radio once, they played a tune backwards and you had to guess it - I had a old sterio that played everything backwards, so I taped it, played it back and phoned it... hey, hey, Pileys the big winner! (think it was a Police album!)


Planet Mondo said...

I forgot about that - busted tapes in gutters from being slung out of car windows. I never knew about your Essex Radio thing either.

There's a great Andy Partridge home demo, recorded on cassette - where the previous recording leaks through and seeps into his take. I'll post it in the blog

BLTP said...

I must be living in the past as just last night i played some vinyl and even a tape, the sound from "my last ones to be made" tape deck is really good. Having said this I did spend weekend watching flms on super 8! All the rest is true although my rega doesn't need blu tac.

Planet Mondo said...

It's funny you say that apart from the hiss some of my old tapes have a richness and magic that CDs and MP3 never capture.

I also dug out some of my old VHS tapes (until my player went pop) and the picture quality of the recordings was incredible, even having been stored in a shed and loft for several years.

Matthew Rudd said...

RSI from manual rewinding I can certainly empathise with. I had a nice sideline in compilation cassettes in sixth form back in 1990.

The trick was to put the pencil through the whole and then flick it over and over again, as if you were winding wool.

Another problem was high-speed dubbing when making copies - when you listened back there was always a high-pitched whine which just ruined it.