Tales for Tapes – A Fairy Tale

Last Minute Notice.

After all the preperations of last months, I got to know how things are organized sometimes at Altes Finanzamt. A few days before the event I got a phone call, saying,with a lot of embaressment, that it will be impossible to do the evening. Ah well, that’s the end of another story.

Here is just another fairy tale, that could have brought some warmth to these dark autumn days.

One can do a lot of things these days, like packing and unpacking suitcases or stand in front of the central heater and watch street life with its leaves glued to the pavement and the passers-by. Another “I- want – to – stay – in – it – rains – or – snows – and – it – is – cold” activity could be, apart from staying in bed all day with your loved one, going through old correspondence … ehm, wrong, nobody writes and receives letters or postcards any more … or, watch old photographs, though also they are almost extinct. But! Some of us might want to listen to old recordings, audible memories, and dig those cassette tapes out of a shoe box.

For those unfamiliar with the aesthetics of magnetic tape, and also for the lovers of the imperfect sounds of the medium, another edition of Tales for Tapes is set up on coming Monday 29th, at Altes Finazamt.

The evening will start with a lecture by Luka Ivanovic (aka Lukatoyboy), a young tape enthusiast from Belgrade, label owner of ‘Blind Tapes.’ He will talk for about 40 minutes. Maybe he can explain what is so special about working with tapes. For sure there is a big difference in quality with the digital sounds. There is also a chance to hear a hint of ‘cult’ or ‘fetishism’ or just ‘fascination.’ Luka was born in a period when the cassette as a means of reproduction was at its peak. Now he faces extinction of the medium.

A surprising guest is Markus Schwill, who most of the Berliners know as a talkative visitor to concerts, a devote organizer of performance evenings at Dienstbar and as his noisean re-incarnation “ohmnoise.” But the history of Markus goes back to the mid eighties and the antenna of Lopik that transported waves to the radio in the German border town where he grew up. That’s how he got to know our kind of music, and joined a world wide community of emerging sound artists (like Merzbow, Al Margolis, Francisco Lopez, Zan Hoffman, Jim O’Rourke) who produced cassettes at home and exchanged those via mail. Those were the times when shipping a packet was still affordable.

At ‘Tales for Tapes Vol.7’ Markus will show the results of a crash course “how to work with four cassette players at the same time” and will play and mix a selection of tapes he has produced over the last twenty years. And, to be honest, this could result in a very surprising anthological encounter.

Second guest of the evening is Coco. She is recommended to me by the Hamburgian faction of composers here in Berlin, because it is from the north German port that she recently arrived. Coco brings a Dictaphone, a cable and an old vintage amplifier. Regular visitors to Tales for Tapes have witnessed and heard the sound reproduced by such amplifiers at the concert of Aki Onda. The listening experience becomes almost tangible. But Coco could prove to be of a different, rawer elegance then Aki.

I will organize less evenings in the coming months. Apart from the fourty days cycle of concerts at the staalplaat basement, I will occasionally set up a Tales for Tapes evening. But it will not be as a result from a tapes for tapes sake reason. If you take a look at the Berlin calendar, you will notice that artists who exclusively use tapes are rare. I won’t consider ‘tape artists’ those who have added a walkman to their set up. Maybe they don’t know yet, that…

…one of the main attractions of the use and sound of magnetic tape is what I call ‘ The Tarkovskian Notion.’ Tarkovsky’s movies all have the same mesmerizing flow. By some experienced as unbearable slow, it is this camera movement that links the narration and the images to a general sense of time passing. If I remember well, it is in “The Mirror” that a longer shot of a flowing river is shown. The pace of the river is the same as the pace of Tarkovsky’s camera movement, but, in my ears also the same speed at which a cassette runs. And those cassettes play moments from a life that is passing by, or has passed by. A life that is full of stories.


The series Tales for Tapes is set up by radio producer and sound artist Anton Mobin, and takes place at irregular intervals in Paris and in Berlin.

And in Bruxelles.



2 responses to “Tales for Tapes – A Fairy Tale

  1. Although it may violate the purpose of the session, I was wondering if the series is being recorded or broadcasted.


  2. hello Ian,

    Most important is of course to make the series happen!

    Anton Mobin, the initiator of the series, tries to find time to set up a wordpress for tales for tapes. He_is_a verydevoted documenteer. And I am sure he recorded all the episodes in Paris.

    I am strictly analog, so recording becomes more problematic (flipping cassettes and such). But sometimes there is someone around who brings a camera.

    also tapes
    diy church radio on radio23 http://www.radio23.org/
    frequently invites artists who use tapes to come over to the studio for interviews and live sessions.

    hope this helps,
    and if you play tapes yourself, don’t hesitate to contact me if you plan to come to Berlin (or Paris)