Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Bedroom Cassette Masters - a prototype umbrella label idea...

So here's the idea:

I give you permission - on an annual basis - to use your own unique-coloured BCM logo on your promotional artwork, bandcamp banner etc...

You don't pay anything and bandcamp and any other monies still go straight to you.

The benefit for all of us is that every promotion concerning Bedroom Cassette Masters will lead fans of lo-fi vintage electronica in our collective direction!


I should say there are limits on how many artists I would prefer - certainly no more than 20 to start off with, and I would like to see and hear your material before conferring on you your own brand spanking new BCM logo!

Here are some of the artists already under the umbrella:

If you're interested in this or think you can improve upon it - please email me - carrillion at gmail dot com

Monday, 1 July 2013

Bedroom Cassette Master Sampler



Fifteen minute mix of a selection of tracks taken from the first two Volumes of Bedroom Cassette Masters - lofi electronica recorded in bedrooms around the word between 1980-89.

Artists on this sampler in order of appearance:

The Kepler Project · Tribrix · Вечер на рейде · Fayshalarts · Pierre Crotté · Richard Hanson · Vex Allen · Queer · Another Way · Omniluxe · Soviet · Ghosts of Glamis · Sliverfish · MCM90 · Noize Level · Twigwidge · Gligli · Al Bird Dirt · Sieja · Joey Jay · The Kepler Project

Special thanks to Candy Durant for spoken word

Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bedroom-Cassette-Masters-1980-89/500578276626680

Full volumes available here: http://bedroomcassettemasters.bandcamp.com

Bedroom Cassette Masters Volume Three: Selected artwork





Thursday, 21 February 2013

Bedroom Cassette Masters 1980-89 Volume Two: Call for submissions!

"Sounds like vintage electronica, looks like vintage electronica…"
Bedroom Cassette Masters Volume One was a thirty track downloadable compilation of synth & drum machine music recorded in bedrooms around the world during the period 1980-89.  It included a fully illustrated 60 page PDF. The original idea was to uncover purely authentic examples of the genre, but curator Simon Holland (aka Carrillion) soon discovered artists that were producing music that consciously sounded like it had been recorded in the eighties along with retro-style cassette artwork often featuring popular cultural references from the same period.  Suddenly it no longer mattered when the music had been produced - the sonic and visual aesthetic was everything.  At the time of writing, Bedroom Cassette Masters Volume One has been downloaded over 430 times, received over 7,000 plays on bandcamp and been featured on numerous podcasts, music websites, e-zines and social networking sites.  All this has been so much fun that a second volume seemed inevitable…

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Happy Valentine

Friday, 21 December 2012

Bedroom Cassette Masters 1980-89 Volume One

Finally, it's here!

It was only having spent some time uploading my own 80’s synth & drum machine recordings, that I became aware of fellow bedroom producers from the same era. We had all squirrelled away our old home-made ‘demo’ cassettes and many of us had now digitally ‘remastered’ them for subtle but comprehensive distribution on the web.  And as I began to look for and listen to others’ recorded work from this period I became completely enamoured. The ingenuity displayed in evading the various technical compromises of four-track cassette, the sometimes prolific output and always the sheer originality.  To this end I conceived the idea of collating the best of this material so that interested parties could enjoy a high quality and ecelectic collection of work.  I established some rules regarding the selection, primarily to enable me to disallow the hundreds of thousands of guitar-based bands who’d also recorded demos in their bedrooms - the musical aesthetic of primal teenage rock music is one that does not interest me. So, to this end the rules were as follows:

    1) Must have been primarily recorded on cassette tape (Tascam Portastudio, Fostex etc...) between the years 1980 - 1989
    2) Must include at least one synthesizer and drum machine (vocals & percussion optional)
    3) May include upright piano, 'found sounds', Casio VL-Tone/Stylophone etc... but - and I cannot emphasize this enough - No guitars
    4) Did I mention it must not include any guitars?

And so I began to contact people through their websites as well as send out general invitations to synth and tape-based forums, newsgroups etc...

But then an unexpected thing happened:  I was approached by a number of people whose material ticked all the boxes except that of having been actually recorded in the 1980’s!  So, I decided to allow these to be included anyway on condition they produced authentic cassette covers and/or photographs plus biographies.  However, when I updated this new set of rules I must confess I soon was unable to tell myself which artists were submitting authentic recordings and who were doing it ‘in the style of...’.  Certainly all the synthesizers and drum machines name-checked date from the 80’s and sound quite unlike their ‘soft-synth’ emulations.  And the often lo-fi recording quality has that distinct analogue warmth so many modernist artists and producers try to ‘cheat’ with plug-ins.
So this has become part of the enjoyment of these pieces for me:  guessing which are real and which are not.  It isn’t helped by the additional support material that has been supplied by the artists - it all looks completely authentic to me!

On a technical level, certain processes have become clear.  In the early 80s electronic reverb began to really make itself felt in popular music but was still relatively expensive for the bedroom musician (especially when they’d already shelled out for a synthesizer) and so you can often hear a guitar amplifier with a spring reverb being roped in for that classic 80’s drum sound. MIDI was still relatively new and although many of these tracks have drums coupled with monophonic synth sequences there is still plenty of real-time performance which includes a lot of live manipulation of filters and LFO’s - something often neglected by contemporary lovers of analogue synth emulators!

Real ‘found sounds’ feature heavily - I guess as a nod to the emergence of samples and other forms of what the French call ‘musique concrète’ in the pop charts of the 1980’s.  A lot of this music was being made by males in their late teens and this is perhaps most obvious in the sometimes lascivious choice of image for the cassette covers.  Cutting out pictures from magazines seems to have been the norm, with some of the more talented individuals trying their hand at Letrasetting song titles and artist credits onto the cassette’s j-card.  In an age where duplicating an image was fraught with practical difficulties (asking mum to do it on the office Xerox machine perhaps), these covers often became one-off artefacts, never duplicated and now - by the looks of many of the submissions - aged, sunfaded and sometimes with bits of letters missing.

But what of the actual music?  Well, I believe there is a real integrity on display here.  These recordings were so damned difficult to record and perform to any kind of standard that there had to be a driving energy to make one want to do it!  So whether it was wanting to write about your first love or jealousy, your vision of a distopian future or disparaging your elders there was plenty of teenage angst to draw upon.

As far as re-mastering for this compilation is concerned, I have confined myself to applying some minor level adjustments to account for the sometimes jarring volume differences between tracks.  The tape hiss, electrical buzzes and other historic verités remain unadorned.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this collection.  Feel free to pass it on, but it would obviously be better for all of us if you point people in the direction of the bandcamp download page and ‘like’ us in all the obvious places!  If you want more you can easily find most of the contributors by following the links on their pages or googling them.

The full album download of all thirty tracks from bandcamp includes a 60 page PDF detailing the artists and music.

Oh, and did I mention it's FREE?
There is also a facebook 'like' page for comments, questions, discussions etc here:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bedroom-Cassette-Masters-1980-89/500578276626680?ref=hl
Enjoy the festive season with some great vintage electronica as your soundtrack!

Cheers!
Simon
AKA Carrillion
http://carrillion.bandcamp.com/

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sounds Like Vintage Electronica, Looks Like Vintage Electronica

I have decided to alter the brief for my four-track 80's synth & drum machines project, allowing people to submit tracks that sound like they were produced in that period with those instruments. Because of this I have re-written the email I've been sending out thus:

Hi there!

First off - if you think you may have already seen this email - you probably haven't. The brief has changed in a simple but very important way - I have decided to allow music that sounds like it was recorded on a four-track in the 1980's. But it really has to convince - synths, drum machines and tape hiss! The finished compilation will include genuinely vintage recordings as well as these sound-a-likes, with the listener being left to decide which are authentic. I think this will open up the project to more people and make it more dynamic. So, with that in mind, here is the new project description, including the amendment:

The reason I am contacting you is because I am in the process of sourcing a selection of a particular type of music for a free downloadable compilation via bandcamp, and I believe you may want to be involved.

I should say right off that I am not a record label and should you wish to be included in this compilation your rights as an artist will remain unaffected.

What is it again?
So, the idea for this came about when I began archiving some old recordings of mine from the 80's and making them available on Bandcamp for free download. My music then was predominantly synthesizer and drum machine and was recorded on a four-track cassette recorder. The tracks have found a nice little fan base through Bandcamp and I began to wonder how many other people out there had recordings of this nature - with or without self-designed cassette covers! I began to search first Bandcamp and later Google for similar work and found virtually nothing. The reasons for this are no doubt many, but mostly I think it is to do with tags; those of us who have bothered to unearth our old recordings and upload them may have described the music with tags such as 'electronica', 'lo-fi' etc... but this does not highlight the fact that these recordings were genuinely made in the 80's on then state of the art cassette equipment and should be enjoyed - in all their original analoguey garb - for what they are. So, I thought I would make it easier for people like me (and you) to find similar music/artists by organizing a Compilation on Bandcamp that would retain the links to artists own sites but would benefit us all by having a central point where potential fans could find us all!

Why be part of a compilation? What's in it for me?
The idea here is that collectively we can all help promote the compilation via Facebook, Twitter etc... and that this will naturally lead down-loaders/listeners to our own website(s) if they like a particular track - be they on Bandcamp or not.

What's in it for you?
Nothing! Other than the joy of knowing I'm helping in some small way to get these old bedroom recordings "out there" where they can be listened to! I am not asking for money from you the artist or any potential audience. The artwork on the compilation and the meta tags will clearly remind down-loaders that the copyright remains with you, the individual artist.

What is your contribution?
For my part, I will use my not insignificant technical skills to remaster (don't be afraid - it's just a level tweak really) the said tracks into a reasonable standard listening level (there is nothing so irritating in compilations when you have to adjust the volume for some tracks up or down). I will also undertake to produce a nicely art-worked PDF (working with a professional designer friend of mine) that will form part of the Bandcamp download and will include a 'page' for each artist using biographical and technical information supplied by your good sel(ves)f.

I should perhaps emphasize again: These tracks will be available for FREE download from Bandcamp - there are no plans for creating a CD and I certainly will not be demanding payment from down-loaders.

I will however, be utilizing Bandcamp's useful stats tool and requesting that downloaders supply an email address. In turn I will forward these email addresses on to you, the artist/contributor for you to do with as you please (as long as you don't spam them and as long as you abide by Bandcamp's own rule that you always give an option for people to 'unsubscribe' from your mailing list.) As far as Stats go I cannot see a practical way that everyone could access the page and view the stats but I appreciate that this information would be interesting for you so I undertake to screen grab the Top Ten Play statistics at least once every ten days and email you the JPEG for your interest. If, in the fullness of time, certain tracks become obviously way more popular than others I reserve the right to privately email contributors with the good news!

Okay, I'm still interested... what do I do?

First of all make sure that the track you would like included on the compilation meets the following criteria:
  • Must at the very least sound like it was recorded on a four- or eight-track cassette system (Tascam Portastudio, Fostex etc...) between the years 1980 - 1989. (Whether it was or wasn't I leave entirely up to you. Ideally the final compilation will feature both vintage recordings and technical replicas.
  • Must include at least one synthesizer and drum machine (vocals optional)
  • May also include upright piano, 'found sounds', Casio VL-Tone/Stylophone in the background etc... but - and I cannot emphasize this enough - no guitars.
  • Did I mention it must not include any guitars?
The sound quality of the material (whether it's authentic or not) will obviously reflect the age and nature of the recording method and we need not overly concern ourselves with tape hiss and other analogue artefacts, but nevertheless I would will initally need the high quality audio file that one uploads to Bandcamp, i.e. .wav, .aiff etc... Therefore, if you and your chosen track are already on Bandcamp then the easiest thing for me to do would be to download the high quality version directly from your page before uploading it to the Compilation page when it is launched. (If this is the case, you may want to consider 'hiding' the original track when the Compilation is launched to make it a little more exclusive for the Compilation, but I'm not forcing your hand here.)

Why can't I see who else you've emailed?

Because I've BCC'd you all rather than CC'd... I want to reassure you that I am taking the project seriously and this is my idea so I am protecting this initial email list for now. If and when you become part of the compilation you will soon get to see (And hear) each other!

Why no guitars?
I really want this compilation to capture a particular type of music created by a particular type of artist and if you begin to include guitars you open the field up to a whole different kind of musical aesthetic, not to mention a whole different kind of artist - so, please, really: No guitars.

What now?
Simply email me back to say you're interested and send me a link to the track you wish to be included. (At this stage, please do not email me 14mb audio files... we'll get there in the fullness of time).

Once I've had a listen and okayed it then I will need you to make the track available for me to download and I will ask you if you have a relevant photo from the recording period of you, your equipment, your muse or whatever that you would like to be included on your page in the PDF along with some information about recording the track itself. If you are re-creating a vintage-sounding recording then you may want to have fun creating artificial photos 80's style. I will give everyone a chance to peruse and proof the PDF before 'launching' the Compilation when I would ask that we all tweet and Facebook about it as much as possible to draw people to it.

Depending on the response I am hoping to have this up and launched within a few weeks so don't be too complacent! If the project is reasonably successful then who knows - we may do Volume Two or begin to talk about that CD after all!

Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you shortly,

Best regards,

Simon Holland (a.k.a. Carrillion)
email: carrillion [at] gmail [dot] com
http://carrillion.bandcamp.com/

PS: It goes without saying, but maybe you know of others who may want to be included in the Project? Feel free to forward on this email to them.

Monday, 6 February 2012

I am attempting to create a compilation of like-minded artists who may have in their attics authentic original recordings done in the 1980's based around synth and drum machine. To this end I have posting the following email to various likely parties:


Hi there!

The reason I am contacting you is because I am in the process of compiling a selection of a particular type of music for distribution (i.e. free download) via bandcamp, and I believe you may want to be involved.

I should say right off that I am not a record label and should you wish to be included in this compilation your rights as an artist will remain unaffected.

What is it again?
So, the idea for this came about when I began archiving some old recordings of mine from the 80's and making them available on Bandcamp for free download. My music then was predominantly synthesizer and drum machine and was recorded on a four-track cassette recorder. The tracks have found a nice little fan base through Bandcamp and I began to wonder how many other people out there had recordings of this nature - with or without self-designed cassette covers! I began to search first Bandcamp and later Google for similar work and found virtually nothing. The reasons for this are no doubt many, but mostly I think it is to do with tags; those of us who have bothered to unearth our old recordings and upload them may have described the music with tags such as 'electronica', 'lo-fi' etc... but this does not highlight the fact that these recordings were genuinely made in the 80's on then state of the art cassette equipment and should be enjoyed - in all their original analoguey garb - for what they are. So, I thought I would make it easier for people like me (and you) to find similar music/artists by organizing a Compilation on Bandcamp that would retain the links to artists own sites but would benefit us all by having a central point where potential fans could find us all!

Why be part of a compilation? What's in it for me?
The idea here is that collectively we can all help promote the compilation via Facebook, Twitter etc... and that this will naturally lead down-loaders/listeners to our own website(s) if they like a particular track - be they on Bandcamp or not.

What's in it for you?
Nothing! Other than the joy of knowing I'm helping in some small way to get these old bedroom recordings "out there" where they can be listened to! I am not asking for money from you the artist or any potential audience. The artwork on the compilation and the meta tags will clearly remind down-loaders that the copyright rest with you, the individual artist.

What is your contribution?
For my part, I will use my not insignificant technical skills to remaster (don't be afraid - it's just a level tweak really) the said tracks into a reasonable standard listening level (there is nothing so irritating in compilations when you have to adjust the volume for some tracks up or down). I will also undertake to produce a nicely art-worked PDF (working with a professional designer friend of mine) that will form part of the Bandcamp download and will include a 'page' for each artist using biographical and technical information supplied by your good sel(ves)f.

I should perhaps emphasize again: These tracks will be available for FREE download from Bandcamp - there are no plans for creating a CD and I certainly will not be demanding payment from down-loaders.

I will however, be utilizing Bandcamp's useful stats tool and requesting that downloaders supply an email address. In turn I will forward these email addresses on to you, the artist/contributor for you to do with as you please (as long as you don't spam them and as long as you abide by Bandcamp's own rule that you always give an option for people to 'unsubscribe' from your mailing list.) As far as Stats go I cannot see a practical way that everyone could access the page and view the stats but I appreciate that this information would be interesting for you so I undertake to screen grab the Top Ten Play statistics at least once every ten days and email you the JPEG for your interest. If, in the fullness of time, certain tracks become obviously way more popular than others I reserve the right to privately email contributors with the good news!

Okay, I'm still interested... what do I do?
First of all make sure that the track you would like included on the compilation meets the following criteria:
  • Must have been recorded on a four- or eight-track cassette system (Tascam Portastudio, Fostex etc...) between the years 1980 - 1989
  • Must include at least one synthesizer and drum machine (vocals optional)
  • May include upright piano, 'found sounds', Casio VL-Tone/Stylophone in the background etc... but - and I cannot emphasize this enough - No guitars
  • Did I mention it must not include any guitars?
The sound quality of the material will obviously reflect the age and nature of the recording method and we need not overly concern ourselves with tape hiss and other analogue artefacts, but nevertheless I would will initally need the high quality audio file that one uploads to Bandcamp, i.e. .wav, .aiff etc... so, in fact, if you and your chosen track are already on Bandcamp (and most of you on this initial mailer are) then the easiest thing for me to do would be to download the high quality version directly from your page before uploading it to the Compilation page when it is launched. (If this is the case, you may want to consider 'hiding' the original track when the Compilation is launched to make it a little more exclusive for the Compilation, but I'm not forcing your hand here.)

Why can't I see who else you've emailed?
Because I've BCC'd you all rather than CC'd... I want to reassure you that I am taking the project seriously and this is my idea so I am protecting this initial email list for now. If and when you become part of the compilation you will soon get to see (And hear) each other!

Why no guitars?
I really want this compilation to capture a particular type of music created by a particular type of artist and if you begin to include guitars you open the field up to a whole different kind of musical aesthetic, not to mention a whole different kind of artist - so, please, really: No guitars.

What now?
Simply email me back to say you're interested and send me a link to the track you wish to be included. (At this stage, please do not email me 14mb audio files... we'll get there in the fullness of time).

Once I've had a listen and okayed it then I will need you to make the track available for me to download and I will ask you if you have a contemporary photo from the recording period of you, your equipment, your muse or whatever that you would like to be included on your page in the PDF along with some information about recording the track itself. I will give everyone a chance to peruse and proof the PDF before 'launching' the Compilation when I would ask that we all tweet and Facebook about it as much as possible to draw people to it.

Depending on the response I am hoping to have this up and launched within a few weeks so don't be too complacent! If the project is reasonably successful then who knows - we may do Volume Two or begin to talk about that CD after all!

Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you shortly,

Best regards,

Simon Holland (a.k.a. Carrillion)

http://carrillion.bandcamp.com/

PS: It goes without saying, but maybe you know of others who may want to be included in the Project? Feel free to forward on this email to them.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Her Vanished Heart

As I continue archiving old cassettes of original music I have found some that had no cover designed at the time (early 1980's) and so my soul-mate and muse Rachel has cunningly fashioned some new art for the pieces with a sort of 80's retro-look to them.
The music - in all its hissy, lo-fi glory - itself can be found here - it's all free to download.