Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Paging Mr. Proust, White Courtesy Phone....

Something amazing happened this morning.

As a result of the release of some recent work of mine as a part of the Palace of Lights FLOOD series, an old acquaintance from the days when I was involved in cassette culture got back in touch after a number of years. That kind of thing is always a rare kind of pleasure, if for no other reason than forcing you to compress some large period of your life into a single short newsy paragraph.

He pointed out that he still had all of my old releases from the 1980s. It was certainly flattering to think that he valued them enough to hang onto them, but also got me thinking that - as nearly as I could tell - I might well not have some of them amidst various relocations and repacking for sabbaticals, etc. He was going to transfer the cassettes to CDR, and offered to run copies of them for me.

A package of five lovely CDRs arrived in the morning post covering a little over a decade of released work of mine during the decade of the 1980s, sporting jaunty color covers derived from the original cassette liners. I was stunned.

This was work I've not heard in at least a decade, and probably a lot longer. Imagine that someone reported finding a whole box of your treasured posessions in the attic of a house you lived in while growing up and sent the box to you and you'll begin to get the flavor of the rare gift my acquaintance blessed me with.

What's made me slow down while listening has been the discovery of the extent to which hearing these brings back a flood of memories about how and when they came into being. Election night of Ronald Reagan's first term when the engineer and I got drunk in the studio and recorded this beery eccentric handclapping for a track, an odd record of my learning to program FM synths and discovering samplers, backing tapes for my wedding, and guest appearances of my friends' children, now grown.

There's no absence of cringe in the bargain, as you would imagine [I certainly liked analog delay lines and gauzy synth pads, it would seem]. But I'm going to be a long time repaying or paying forward this chance to meet my old self and listen to the stories he has to tell me. This is a gift I would wish on everyone (and yes, I'll probably put a few of them up on my downloads page, at some point. There's a lot to choose from. :-) ).

Thanks, Robert.