On March 6 2021, Lou Ottens, a pioneer in the audio tech world, handed away. We converse with collectors about why this medium will at all times stay particular
For radio loyalists, classic music collectors, and historians, the passing of Lou Ottens was a sobering second.
Hyderabad-based Bass artiste, DJ and RJ Bala Subramanyam, higher generally known as Dakta Dub, says he was greatly surprised by how actually upset he was when he heard the information of Ottens’ loss of life on March 6.
Many are particularly intrigued by the historical past of Ottens love for audio. The Dutch inventor indulged a curiosity in experimenting with radios when he was an adolescent, even going as far as to construct one himself from scratch in order that he and his dad and mom might tune into the Radio Oranje in the Netherlands in the late Nineteen Thirties. He modified the radio with a directional antenna to keep away from Nazi German radio jammers.
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In the Nineteen Fifties, Ottens’ love for tech would take him to college the place he earned an engineering diploma after which a profession at Philips. This was the place he would develop the EL3585, Philips’ first transportable tape recorder. Like the gentle bulb and Coca Cola, Ottens’ cassette tape can be an ‘unintentional invention’, that was really born out of annoyance with the bulkier tape methods of the time.
In 1963, he would stun the world at an electronics honest with the cassette tape that was “smaller than a pack of cigarettes,” as per his catchy slogan. He shortly patented the know-how with Sony and Philips as soon as the know-how was recreated in Japan, at a decrease normal.
‘A brand new technology’
Since then, the cassette tape stays a beloved medium for music and different audio experiences, particularly in India when the cinema increase was occurring in tandem. Its standing as a cultural artefact has inspired a brand new technology of collectors in the latest years, reminding us of belt-hooked Walkmans and painstaking efforts in handbook rewinding and quick forwarding.
Now, e-commerce vendor websites promote ‘mint situation’ cassette tape collections for as much as ₹15,000 — a far cry from the ₹30 to ₹50 worth vary for tapes at the time. And these things are a favorite for stated collectors.
During a 2017 go to to Bala’s studio, MetroPlus was given a glimpse of the teetering towers of cassette tapes and vinyl information in addition to console gamers. “Don’t ask me what number of I’ve,” Bala laughed at the time, “however I can let you know they’re in the 1000’s as a result of I began ages in the past.” He has all of them: Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff and extra.
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Another collector is 25-year-old Delhi-based DJ and entrepreneur Nishant Mittal, who’s well-known as his alias ‘Digging In India’ on Instagram the place he showcases an array of classic music collections, from posters to vinyl information to cassette tapes. Nishant, who has collected greater than 800 distinctive cassette tapes since 2013, began out gathering information from the likes of Nirvana and Radiohead, however then ultimately gravitated in the direction of Indian pop and Indian funk genres.
“It is such a thrill to seek out extra obscure issues I didn’t know existed,” he explains. He additionally enjoys the means of sharing these finds by way of his Instagram account @digginginindia, with followers out and in of India. “One of my most treasured ones is a tape of Hindi-language covers of Michael Jackson songs. I lately discovered a cassette of youngsters’s songs by Zeenat Aman. Another nice discover was a soundtrack to Mira Nair’s 1991 movie Mississippi Masala,” he describes.
Probably considered one of the large lures of those tapes is the maximalist artworks on these cassette tape covers, harking back to the posters we see in older houses and classic movies. “Most have been hand-done: reduce, collaged and painted or drawn,” says Nishant, “and computer systems and modifying functions weren’t considerable at the time so this effort makes it extra significant. It’s simpler to deal with cassettes in comparison with vinyl and way more simpler to take care of, although each codecs are incredible in their very own methods.”
Ottens’ cassette tape is highly effective as a result of musicians have poured their lives into cassette tapes to make mixtapes to ship to file labels or preserve as musical diaries for themselves. The energy of the cassette tape is rarely going to go away, that a lot is true, regardless of how superior our recording or streaming know-how might get.