The art of the radio mixtape. Ensure the tape is exactly on the invisible weld between clear and tape. Hover over record and play, then practice pressing them together in case the unthinkable happens; button jam. The tracks on: obsess with volume controls before finally, hover digit over stop button to eliminate unwanted radio chatter.
It wasn’t legal, but it was connective. For, dare we say it – the very act of putting the rest of your life on standby for an hour to get 3 minutes of snatched tape glory suggests you care about your music. Your investing your time if not your money, and more often than not the love of an illicit single lead to the purchase of the album.
Today all music is ‘free’, huge monoliths of emotionally detached streaming provide disparate noise to the largely apathetic. Mixtapes on the other hand are far from apathetic. Mixtapes say you care – about music, about artists and about the people you give them to.
Tornoto based RLMDL agree – they even think their music may have been influenced by formative mixtaping. Before we dive headlong into their submission, we pause to consider their particularly engaging dreampop creations. RLMDL have clearly taken time to mould the latest album ‘Before Then Was Now‘, delivering a swathe of tracks that take the ethereal form of mists rolling from mountains past.
Enjoy the sweeping vocal harmonies and heavenly spacial synths of ‘Cover Girl’, be propelled by the symmetrical rhythms across ‘Trans Canada Misery,’ a track that unfolds beautifully from a cramped darkened corner to reveal a finale of towering, glistening electronica. It’s an album well worth listening to, especially to hear the rarest of achievements- the successful marriage of triumphalism and melancholy in the subtly flexing ‘Young Rebels’.
Here’s RLMDL’s submission:
RLMDL: BRAVE NEW WAVES
In spite of the many technological advances the music industry has seen in the past two decades, the mixtape still stands alone as one of the purest, most personal methods of music consumption. I’m not speaking about the discount rap “mixtapes” you find in convenience stores everywhere; I’m referring to the raw, label-torn 60 minute cassette tapes that used to lie scattered across our bedroom floors.
Every tape has a different story: one for your friend on their birthday, one for the endless car trip on a long weekend, one for the girl you like but are too afraid to talk to. These tapes could often say more than written letters, give life to new memories in the blink of an eye and inspire creativity when you least expect it.
I used to record everything on cassettes. Like so many others, the tapes consisted largely of songs recorded off of the radio. Even after CDs came to the forefront, the mixtapes never stopped in my room. Aside from music history’s heroes (The Who’s Greatest Hits is still, proudly, the first cassette I ever owned.) and music television, my knowledge of the vast ether of independent music that existed in our world was limited.
This would change on a night when I had trouble sleeping. I scanned the radio dial for something to fill the silence. I eventually came across a dark, minimalist piece, and instantly fell in love. At first, I thought for some reason I must be tuning in to a station from the US by mistake. I had never heard anything like this on radio in my hometown before. As it turns out, it was a program called Brave New Waves on CBC Radio 2 that would take my musical world for a spin. I hit record.
In the year that followed, I would leave a tape recording for hours after I fell asleep, and when I woke up I’d have 90 minutes of new music for the following day. The program played artists from Cat Power to Animal Collective and Broadcast, all of whom would soon make up my new collection of compilations. I quickly learned of local and left-field underground artists such as Beef Terminal, SIANspheric and the Famous Boyfriend, who challenged elements of production and sonic experimentation.
It became my world.
I began experimenting musically with my own material as well, even going so far as to record drum loops to tape and play along with them in my bedroom; my own DIY loopstation studio (a daily exercise that my family grew to despise).
I still have a few of these tapes, and in retrospect, those years were some of the most important in developing my identity as an artist. The mixtape aesthetic I was deeply in love with remains a significant cornerstone to my development not only as a producer, but as a listener. You learn what music works well together, the importance of flow and consistency, and crucially, what makes you sound like you.
If you have the means, make a mixtape for someone, and let the music do the rest.