Haven’t listened to this in almost a year. I spotted the ziplock-bagged tape in the same small odd group of tapes that has been sitting in a nook in the stereo cabinet for about two years and chose to get it out today. Electronic Cottage was a zine produced in the late 80’s and early 90’s. This was the only magazine devoted entirely to the hometaper scene, and produced by Hal McGee. What I like about this compilation as well as the magazine is that it covers the entire spectrum of music and art related to the hometaper scene at the time, rather than only a chosen corner. Creators of all types of music were encouraged to contribute and participate. There is also a marked emphasis of the community / communication aspect of the scene, with mailing addresses included as well as ample information to introduce people to new artists they may want to interact with. This is something I feel might be washed out a bit with the current scene, with emails taking precedent over written letters & exchange of physical items by mail. Having experienced a good amount of physical mail exchange in my life, I do feel there’s a distinct difference in quality between the experience of exchanging physical mail (with hand-written letters and often the inclusion of various objects in packages) and electronic mail. There was a bit more (or at least a very different) excitement when the only way you would hear from somebody other than a phone call or a personal visit was by post. The predominant use of email and websites to display catalogs, enact sales, and provide for other aspects of d.i.y. culture seems at times to discourage more personal communications and focus more on efficiency of commerce and cultivation of myth/vanity rather than earnest exchange of ideas & enthusiasm. Obviously there are numerous benefits to electronic communication and the internet that can’t be put back into the box, regardless of any nostalgic/idealistic sentiments. The cultivation of myth, obscurity, vanity, increased efficiency of commerce, and other things greatly aided by electronic distance are helpful to and sometimes central to the work of some really great artists. The internet and the many things resulting from it are key elements of present day human existence, so it makes sense that electronic communication and distance dominates. It’s cool, though, that this compilation has in its packaging an informative paragraph about each artist, including their mailing address.
The compilation is varied in a way that makes it surprising and fun to listen to, at least for those into eclectic compilations as I am. There’s some quirky spoken word pieces, dark noise, incidental music, ambient, sound collage, psychedelia, synthesizer music, folky pop, even some weird rock music. This is some very creative, fun, evocative, imaginative stuff that enlivened my day today and always does when I dig it up.
Check out Issue #1 of Electronic Cottage: