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Hello lovely people, happy Wednesday. You're going to need a biro at the ready this week, first to write out the track listing, then to rewind by hand to save battery.
CASSETTES: Holding the misty-eyed nostalgia aside for a moment, there were lots of things about tapes that are far inferior to the technologies that have replaced them. The trouble with cassettes is they made a promise they couldn't quite deliver. You can take music with you, but it'll sound like it's  underwater. You can record off the radio, but the DJ will chirp all over the ending. And musicians can make their own recordings, but they'll sound hollow, distant and unfulfilling.

Yet, as we discarded the fluttering, hissing bathwater of magnetic tape, we may too have let go some valuable aspects not easily replicable in the digital era.

The greatest cassette player was the Walkman, now 40 years old. This one device changed how we listen to music, and Sony is celebrating with an exhibition in Tokyo and a Walkman at 40 website that rewinds to the beginning. But all this past glory may leave you wondering what happened to such an innovative company.

Even though we've all got copious digital storage on our person, the tangible analogue paradigm of the medium and the player is not well-replicated in the era of smart devices (and the current fancy Walkman). Fortunately, there's a current Kickstarter campaign that revives the personal cassette (no, seriously), this time with support for your Bluetooth headphones.

Cassettes had a strange beauty to their simplicity. Seeing Spotify, YouTube etc. reimagined as retro hardware reminds us that contemporary media services lack the tangibility of analogue hardware. And as we become evermore frustrated trying to get this thing to connect to that thing, we should keep in mind the gold-standard of democratic interconnectedness: the humble cassette adapter.

Tape still has an important role in creative composition rather than just recording. It may have been Brian Eno that got this going using studio reel-to-reels in creative ways, but there's a bunch of contemporary musicians with cassettes at the heart of their work, notably BlankFor.ms, AMULETS and Chris Randall. ๐ŸŽง
๐Ÿ™† Ladies Get Paid provides the tools, resources, and community to help women negotiate for equal pay, and power in the workplace. This looks really promising. Obviously I'm not allowed in, but I'd be interested to hear any first-hand accounts.

๐Ÿฅ A Brief-ish History of the Drum Kit: the first kit I played was assembled from odds and ends, which is why I play left-handed (parents: don't let yours make this mistake). I knew quite a lot about the history of cymbals but nearly nothing, it turns out, about the kit as a whole.

๐Ÿค– Australiaโ€™s first regional trial of an automated passenger vehicle is here. When someone says "autonomous vehicle" the image is one of a Lexus SUV with cameras strapped all over it, rolling around California. The reality is more likely to be much more diverse, such as this.

๐Ÿšฝ This portable bidet is crowdfunding: Sonny is more hygienic and less wasteful than wiping with paper. It might just win over hearts and minds, and behinds.

๐ŸŽญ The Ridiculous Fantasy of a โ€˜No Dramaโ€™ Relationship: it's something a surprising number of dating profiles claim to be seeking. Perhaps they get the relationships they deserve? Also, related:

๐Ÿ’ Love Island to be screened twice a year as ITV adds winter edition. Further signs that this may become the dominant commercially-viable free-to-air television programme.
Mixtapes: One casualty of digitalisation is the mixtape. Yes we have playlists of potentially infinite length, but they lack the social currency, curation and sense of exploration that mixtapes provided.

There are signs the absence of mixtapes leaves us wanting for something less formal than an album. When YouTube Music automatically downloads music for you, they call call it your offline mixtape. And mixtapes have been produced by diverse artists including Dev Hynes, Bassnectar and Idris Elba, as something more like a social offering. And of course, aboard Apollo 11, the astronauts listened to mixtapes given to them by record producer Mickey Kapp.

As the default democratised musical medium of their day, several genres have a history inseparable from the cassettes upon which they were recorded and shared. Hip-hop and rap artists used tape both in creation and distribution. Much depended on live performance rather than formal recording, so the rest of us would rely on bootleg tapes.

The challenge now is collection and preservation, as bodies including the Internet Archive, Cornell University and the Northside Hip Hop Archive try to archive these important cultural artefacts beyond the lifespan of the medium upon which they were originally recorded. Similar is true for the underground Goth scene, as well as masses of Industrial and Indie. There's mountains of this stuff, recorded both in and out of the studio, quietly degrading. ๐Ÿ—„
Finally: Keeping in the spirit, I've made you a mixtape, dear reader (okay, it's a Spotify playlist, but it comes from the heart) to accompany you as you go about your business. See if you can spot the theme. You can spot the theme, right? Course you can. ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿพ

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