Why record on a shitty old reel-to-reel?
It’s heavy and awkwardly-sized; it’s a pain in the ass to lug around and set up anywhere; I always worry that the tape will run out before the show's over; tape isn’t exactly cheap; tape degrades rapidly when you keep reusing it because it isn’t exactly cheap; etc, etc.
In spite of all that, I choose to record shows this way because (a: I just dig the sound of almost anything on tape, and I still haven't found a satisfactory substitute, and (b: I find that sometimes setting up a weird, clunky process of recording invites unique performances out of people. Digital recording has done wonders in democratizing the art of on-the-fly live recording; still, I think there’s something worth keeping around about the way sound waves cling to the iron grains of magnetic tape, and then play back a little jumbled up—a slightly impressionistic version of whatever was recorded. And I guess maybe I feel a sort of kinship with bootleggers of yore who hauled their reels to Grateful Dead shows, putting in the extra effort to make a lasting record of the night, albeit a colored and faded one. Sometimes a grimy record of the past better suits your memory anyway.
I strive to make recordings that capture the whole environment—where the music, while perhaps the focus of that environment, is still just one piece in it. That means I invite dogs barking and babies crying, and spaces with loud crickets, birds, traffic, or trees creaking in the wind. Incidental noise has a way of becoming affecting once it finds its way onto tape. I take a more heavy-handed approach to mixing than the standard bootleg, with the goal of landing somewhere between a more polished live recording and a spontaneous audience recording.
I’m planning on recording any and all sets I think will fit the medium, but I’m especially seeking out unique one-offs, or combinations of artists that don’t generally play together, or artists playing in unique environments. But I’m also just recording shows I’m excited by. I live in Minneapolis and record shows around there, for the time being. If you think I should record something, contact me and let me know.
Thanks for being here. If you really like something, you can pay what you want on Bandcamp for the recording and I'll pass those proceeds along to the artist. If you feel like donating to help me out with the hosting fees of this site, hit me up. Long live the internet outside of Facebook.
(Full disclosure: while everything on this site is recorded analog on a Realistic TR-3000™ reel-to-reel, I do mix digitally—mostly just EQing, some stereo panning and adding a little compression here and there. I don't have an analog mixing suite in my bedroom for chrissake.)
Disclaimer: All rights to the music on this site are reserved by the artists. I only record with permission of the artist. If your music is here and you want it taken down, please let me know.