In particular, pirate radio was the catalyst for British underground electronic dance music and hip-hop. Though less well known in the US, genres such as Jungle, Garage, Grime and drum ‘n’ bass were catalyzed and popularized by pirates, especially in London.
A new documentary by filmmaker Rollo Jackson tells the history of this music through the path of cassette tape recordings of prominent London pirates in his film Tape Crackers. The film just screened at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in London.
This is how an article in The Wire magazine describes the film:
A rosy-cheeked man in his early thirties sits in a tastefully appointed room with a beer and a cassette deck playing his homemade collection of pirate radio recordings and reeling out a history of London pirates of the 1990s with pride and nostalgic pleasure….
At its most basic level, Tape Crackers is an oral history of Jungle pirate radio.
As an enthusiast of both radio and analog music technology, reading this article makes me quite excited to see the movie. Cassettes have long been the medium of the air check, often lovingly kept, duplicated and traded with other amateur archivists, attempting to capture and immortalize an otherwise ephemeral experience. If radio is ephemeral, then pirate radio is all the more so, being fundamentally illicit and obscure. And slightly more than a decade from the time covered in this film, cassettes are increasingly seen as a useless, hopelessly obsolete technology.
But there is history in that old oxide.
I hope Tape Crackers makes it across the pond, or at least online.
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