The Music Tapes began as a musical outlet for Julian Koster not long after his sixteenth birthday, with
the recording of The 2nd Silly Putty Symphony - a 25 minute long surreal and hiss-filled excursion.
This and the other "music tapes" soon to followed. Julian said these first recordings gave him "a place inside
myself to hide and a way to share something with my friends."
Over the next few years "the music tapes" became more of a private venture and Julian became involved with
other collaborations. "Spacely Been Hurt", a weekly surreal radio serial recorded for a community radio station,
and Chocolate USA, a band he started in high school, were among his early
collaborations with friends. Later on, a few of those friends would come together again in group that would be
known as the Elephant Six Collective.
It wasn't until around 1995 that Julian decided it was finally time to begin bringing The Music Tapes into
the real world with help from fellow "music tape" Robbie Cucchario. What followed a true labor of love;
thousands of hours of recording, tape splicing, editing and orchestration of the flickering image involved in
the building of The 1st Imaginary Symphony for Nomad. Over the course of 4 years it would take to
complete this album, they embarked on The Music Tapes' first tours of the United States and Europe and
released two 7" singles on Elephant 6.
The 1st Imaginary Symphony for Nomad was recorded on cassette, reel to reel tape, 1940's wire
recorder, and an 1895 Edison wax cylinder recorder; mostly at home and at the home of Grandmother of Music
Tapes (Julian's grandmother's house in Long Island, NY). Additional recording was done on state of the art
hard drive. The album was compressed and E.Q.'d using the original EMI desk and limiter at Abbey Road studios
in London. Also contributing to the record was The Elephant Six Orchestra, Eric Harris (The
Olivia Tremor Control, Chocolate USA), Andy Gonzales (
Marshmallow Coast, Of Montreal), Robert Carter, W. Cullen Hart (
The Olivia Tremor Control, Circulatory System), Brian Dewan, Jeff Mangum
(Neutral Milk Hotel, Circulatory System), Scott Spillane
(Neutral Milk Hotel, The Gerbils), and the school kids who
used to buy pretzels from Julian when he was a pretzel seller in Union Square Park, NYC. The album was released
on Merge Records in July 1999.
In March 2000, The Music Tapes released a picture disc 7" that came with the magazine Stop Smiling. It
was a split Dennis Koster, Julian's father, who is a renowned Flamenco guitarist.
The Music Tapes are currently working on three albums simultaneously. One is tentatively entitled
Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes. The other is a Singing Saw album that also features
Julian's dad on flamenco guitar. The third is for a children's story/film that Julian is co-writing with John Cameron
Mitchell. No release date has been set for any of these records.
Other projects involving Music Tapes members:
Neutral Milk Hotel, Chocolate USA,
Major Organ and the Adding Machine, Olivia Tremor Control,