Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cassette Review: The Mothership Collective "All N---- Radio" (Bonding Tapes)

[$6.06 // Edition of 50 //]

There was a time when I was hesitant to review this cassette.    The fact that the n-word is all over it makes me a little uncomfortable and then some of the artwork also bothers me but according to the Bandcamp page it is to be taken as satire not as representing anything this collective of artists thinks/believes.    I mean, to be fair, there is even a paper sleeve that goes over this cassette to sort of censor it in some ways and I feel like if you have to censor yourself in that way perhaps you know you are doing something you're not supposed to be doing.   But, after all of those thoughts and at the end of the day, I remain a reviewer of music so art word and n-words aside I decided to press play and see what this was all about.

It's funny because when I was in my younger years and perhaps more rebellious than I am now this is the type of cassette I would have been all over and the paper sleeve to censor it would have just been the icing on the cake, if you will.   I have cassettes- bought when they were released- by Black Sheep who has an entire song with the only lyrics being "Fuck you".   I bought a cassette by a rapper called Paris because of his controversial song called "Bush Killer", which was back during the time of the first President Bush.    So as much as I think about this and wonder if it is "too offensive" to review I would have been all about it twenty years ago.   A combination of my getting older and a sign of the times because we're all too damn sensitive and PC these days anyway.

With all of that out of the way, The Mothership Collective is what the name implies- a collective.   It's a group of artists coming together to form music and if you look at the Bandcamp page they even have George Clinton among their members, which is appropriate in some ways because the music on here makes me think of that NBA Jam game that they used to have on Super Nintendo where you could play as him and other P-Funk All-Stars.   Yes, this music is a mix of hip-hop, groove and funk or even more accurately phunk.   Hearing George Clinton say, "So I sent him the only copy of the cassette that I had" makes me happy for some reason if only because maybe it's George Clinton talking about cassettes, though all artists probably talk about cassettes at some point.

Seriously though: George Clinton- send me some demo cassettes please.  Much love.

There is an almost reggae feel to this at times and at other times it's simply electronic bliss.    While I understand the idea behind this being a "collective" it still feels more like a compilation in that way than an actual album by a group artist.    The best way that I can describe the structure of this cassette is by thinking of a time back in the 1990's when the majority of "modern rock" radio stations (Including Radio 104.1 here in Connecticut) let Pearl Jam take over the airwaves and do more or less whatever they want.   They played tracks from their favorite bands as well as playing some live songs and I was actually recording that piece of time onto a cassette while it happened.   So just imagine this- though it has sounds of the past, present and future on it- as being something that was transmitted live on the radio then captured by Bonding Tapes (as well as the others involved) and released now, whether you think of it as being something dug up from the past, sent back in time from the future or simply having happened earlier this year.

If you have a problem with people using the n-word in a musical sense (and it's something you really can't avoid if you listen to hip-hop) then this cassette is probably not for you.   What this cassette means to me though, and I've never really been bothered by rappers dropping the n-bombs any more than the other offensive things that they say because really it's just music after all (i.e. a rapper can sing about murdering everyone without actually doing any harm to a single soul) is just that it feels like this moment captured in time.   It's somewhere between a compilation and a live cassette because it just feels like something that was created and so special when it was done and now we're kind of hearing the results as a sort of bootleg like maybe we're not supposed to be but we are anyway.   I love it both musically and as the concept.