I’m pretty new to the whole tape scene. If there was a way to Marty McFly myself back to the mid-90s, I’m sure the last thing my teenage self would expect to hear is that I would still be buying cassettes in 2013. Sure there’s a nostalgia factor, but I think the appeal of the format goes beyond that. In some ways, cassettes have a lot of the same appeal to me that I find in drawing. Drawing is typically a personal, immediate, and usually low cost medium. There’s nowhere near the degree of material preparation one might have with a painting. In some of the same ways, home-made lo-fi cassettes exemplify an imperfect, direct, and personal medium.
If a lot of recent cassettes fall into the “bedroom pop” category, I might compare the new M. Sage recording to “bunker pop.” While listening to this new tape from him on Moon Glyph, I keep imagining it as a soundtrack to a Cold War bunker scene. Through the layered grain one can hear what sounds like a distorted and muffled Obama speech about Colorado (home to Mr. Sage). It is as if a lone survivalist was spinning the shortwave radio dial back and forth until a faint pronouncement could be heard through the static. Just as soon as it arrives, the speech recedes back into the dense soundscapes that M. Sage does so well. A lot of the song titles to these soundscapes help me further envision the scene; “Radio slope (for Whitcomb)” certainly brings to mind AM radio used on a couple of the tracks, while “Fuji Station: Confines of Time” might be referencing the brutalist, Cold War era architecture of the Japanese train station. “Campaign Cycles/Harrowing Straights” most likely is in reference to the election season during which M. Sage made these recordings (October of 2012).
M. Sage has been busy lately. Last year he put out the excellent Into the World/Long Peace double EP which was one of Pete’s favorites of 2012 (and my own as well). Soon after, M. Sage follwed up the EP with the dynamic full length Lux Collapsing. This year, his first release continues to reinforce his exceptional reputation. You can get a copy here, and visit his Fort Collins-based label Patient Sounds here.