Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture
edited by Thurston Moore (Universe)

Thurston Moore's collaborative zine-like book Mix Tape is like a mix tape of mix tapes: John Zorn, DJ Spooky, Christian Marclay, Mike Watt, Dodie Bellamy, Mac McCaughan, and dozens more writers, graphic designers, artists, and other people in the entertainment industry share stories of favorite mix tapes from and for friends, lovers, and parents.

The book is primarily a record of the mix tape as a method of emotional communication. Sensitive menfolk who can't verbalize their love can give a mix tape on which rock stars express their undying emotions. As Moore puts it, "The toughest cowpoke can express his gooey love vibe without losing an iota of man stench." He tells of bringing a box of mix tapes to wife and Sonic Youth bandmate Kim at the hospital when she was going into labor. Filmmaker Allison Anders recalls getting busted giving the same mix tape to multiple boys.

For those of us who have always had the capacity to duplicate and rearrange music it's totally badassical to hear stories of first encounters. Critic Matias Viegener writes, "Mix tapes mark the moment in consumer culture in which listeners gained control over what they heard in what order and at what cost. It liberated us from music stores and radios, the same way radios and recordings liberated generations earlier from the need to be present at the performance of live music." And the freeness of it is important, music arriving as costless as air. Moore recalls, "Before long there were warning stickers on records and cassettes stating 'HOMETAPING IS KILLING MUSIC!' If anything it was a quaint forebear to the industry's current paranoia over CD burning and internet downloading."

The book also serves as a collective autobiography to the way this group of creative people has dealt with growing older. Rarely has being a middle-aged rock star come across as un-shameful as it does here. As Brett McCabe says of his favorite mix tape "...when the Creed Taylor Orchestra kicks in its stereophonic majesty, the joy and excitement of being alive is still inside me."