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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Perfect Timing. Mix-Tapes RIP. Long Live the Digital Age

I miss making Mix-Tapes. Trying to decide whether side A would have a different theme to side B and dropping your needle on the vinyl at that precise moment just before the safety tape ended and real recording began. Nothing felt more rewarding on a Saturday afternoon than rushing home from town after a visit to WHSmith with some TDK blank cassettes in tow. A packet of three had a different meaning to teenagers back then and pleasure could last for as long as 90 minutes.

Whilst there is no denying the convenience of the digital age for all amateur home-pirates, I wonder if any of the sentiment I felt as a teenager is now lost. These days you don't have to worry about timing your tracks to make sure they fit a 45 minute side (in fact, I struggle to think of enough tracks that sit well enough together to fill a 650mb CD). And that feeling of nervousness as you hovered over the pause button to avoid the stop-play-and-record clunk sound in between tracks is now confined to same cardboard box in the same junk room that I store my cassettes in.

Mix-Tapes took endless hours of dedication and patience and the results were thoroughly rewarding. And any taping session could be so easily spoiled by mistimed tracks, jumping vinyl, re-recorded moments and dirty tape heads. Good Mix-Tapes were a skill. Perfect Mix-Tapes were an art.

Do Mix-CD's require any of the labour or dedication we used to invest as teenagers? I am not sure, but where Mix-CD's do give me the warm and fuzzy's is why we still make them. Mix-Tapes we made for ourselves and made for our friends. They were a way of changing the format of an LP to fit inside our walkmans, or satisfy our constant need for a soundtrack to our lives. And we wanted to share them with our friends.

With the invention of MP3 players, iPods and computer file sharing, there are few reasons to cut CD's for ourselves anymore. The soundtrack to my life plays from my PC while I work and dropping a CD into my PC automatically produces every format I may possibly need. But I still make Mix-CDs and I love receiving them. They are a truly personal gift, they are made to be shared and can tell you so much about your friends without having to ask them a thing.

Last weekend I made a Mix-CD for Lando C to thank him for taking me to Las Vegas. It's called Welcome to Sushi in Las Vegas and covers everything I enjoy listening to right now. Here is the track listing:


1. The Von Blondies - c'mon c'mon
2. The Bravery - honest mistake
3. Interpol - evil
4. And you will know us by the trail of the dead -and the rest will follow
5. Brendan Benson - spit it out
6. Idlewild - love steals us from loneliness
7. Kasabian - cutt off
8. The Wedding Present - interstate 5
9. Arcade Fire - neighborhood #2 (laika)
10. Razorlight - the city


1. I am Kloot - over my shoulder
2. kings of convenience - misread
3. Phantom Planet - california
4. Maximo Park - the coast is always changing
5. Rufus Wainwright - the one you love
6. Ambulance Ltd - stay where you are
7. Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - spanish dance troupe
8. Elliot Smith - st. ides heaven
9. Devendra Banhart - at the hop
10. 4Hero - les fleurs


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