DECORATING WITH MUSIC MERCHANDISE: BACK TO THE WALKMAN
Most aspects of the back to analog movement make sense to me. Vinyl albums both sonically and physically being more beautiful things. I understand the appeal of paper books, celluloid film, polaroid photographs … but cassettes? When I had my first Walkman I remember the cassettes becoming tumbleweeds of audio tape and I don’t remember them having superior sonic qualities.
But when I was listening to the albums on the World Galaxy Records page on Bandcamp I noticed that they had a number of special limited edition cassettes. I spent quite a bit of the day listening to the sublime jazz vocalist Natasha Agrama, who has a phenomenal voice: tender, strongly crystalline, and exquisite technique. She says, “I am the continuation of the karmic path paved by certain pop culture icons, Billie Holiday, Marilyn Monroe, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nina Simone. I am here to hold their victories for the collective in the light as I stand strong as a female artist in this ever shifting world. I work to bring our footing further into freedom, equality, strength, honesty and love. I’m here because of those women, and I want to be a doorway future generations can point to as one they reached elevated promised lands through. This is what I feel jazz music has been doing since the beginning: this is why I’ve made my home in jazz.”
The gold cassette copy of her The Heart of Infinite Change album made me think of a merchandise interior put together for a fan of the 30s and 40s jazz who might have happened upon an old cafe storefront (in my mind I see it as the “Owl Wagon” that Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake go into in Sullivan’s Travels) and renovated it, making it a part of their home.
.Maybe they found an old Sony cassette player that had been left behind, and polished it up and got it working again so that they could play Natasha’s album. But it wouldn’t be entirely retro, the owners would do it up with the airy sweetness of the River Cafe in London, with frosted green glass on the walls and a huge clock. They’d begin collecting old jazz souvenir coffee mugs, and for the photoshoot I’d create a big bowl of pasta made with music note pasta shapes.