I’m not going to tell you about my first* or second** cassette, but the third – it has stuck with me all these years.
I was 10, running an errand with my parents at Caldor, when this caught my eye on the cassette rack. Maybe it was the red foil writing, the (strangely inverted) lightning photo, or the confidence that I could pay for it with three of my own crumpled dollar bills.
Sudden memory – it is 1992 and I’m on the phone with a t-shirt company whose ad I saw in Circus Magazine, trying to order an iron-on back patch for my black bomber jacket. I’m leaning towards Led Zeppelin but I can’t remember what the Houses of the Holy album cover looks like, even though I’m pretty sure it was on my parents’ record shelf all along.
I ask the woman on the line and she starts describing it to me: “It’s, like, this big pile of rocks and there are a bunch of naked kids climbing up it. I’m not really sure if they’re boys or girls.”
These things we did before the internet sound like a dim, ancient fantasy, right?
I’d like to take a rare break from the food-related posts and mention one of my favorite recordings. It’s called Bellum Gnosticorum and was recorded by G.O.R., a project of Italian musician and composer Francesco Banchini. His website describes it as a “journey in the antique Mediterranean cultures in the late Medieval period”.
Similar to the title’s meaning (the war between good and bad), the music is both dark and pleasant, and seems at home in many different contexts – meditation, dinner, dancing, a walk through the forest. Complex instrumentation provides a lush accompaniment for multilingual vocals and chanting – or is it the other way around? What I think is amazing about this album is that it’s accessible to people with ‘normal’ musical tastes, but is especially appreciated by musicians, music historians, and more eccentric musical palates.