Genres: Minimal Wave, Electronic, Synthwave, Vaporwave
Remastered by Sam in 2023
Influenced by John Carpenter and Tangerine Dream soundtracks, Soft Cell minimal synth, and sweeping romantic Jean-Michel Jarre electronics, ROUND TRIP is future Black Tape For A Blue Girl founder Sam Rosenthal’s first foray into electronic music. With tracks such as “Looking Glass” keying into the genre that 20 years later would be dubbed Synthwave or Minimal Synth, Rosenthal released this album on February 23, 1984.
The second cassette on his new Projekt label, Side A captures an early 80s iconic synth sound. Striking a different mood and influence, Side B’s “Spotlight Marsh” displays a burgeoning interest in Eno-infused organic ambience.
Performed on a Korg Poly-61 and a Realistic Moog Concertmate MG-1, the primitive recording process involved two cassette decks and a cheap Radio Shack mixer; this was cleaned up in 2023 for digital release. In his late teens at the time, Rosenthal displays the initial uncovering of his musical muse on ROUND TRIP; within two years he left this style behind to release Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s debut, THE ROPE.
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DESCRIPTION FROM EARLIER IN 2023
This is the earliest cassette release of my music, recorded from January 4 to February 20, 1984. I transferred the master cassette to digital today — it still sounds surprisingly good! The only changes I made were (1) removed the 10-15 second gaps between songs, (2) added fadeouts so the hiss isn’t as overbearing, and (3) adjusted levels so the songs are in the same ballpark.
These songs were recorded in my bedroom in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, I was in my second year of community college. The recording process was as follows: I would record a synth to cassette tape (the arpeggiator went first). Then I would play that cassette through the small Radio Shack DJ mixer* while adding a live synth, recording to a second cassette. Then I’d play that second cassette through the mixer while adding another synth. Each pass was recorded live, with maybe 3 or 4 passes per song. I suspect I recorded an entire song within an hour (as opposed to coming back later to work on it more.) The process added a lot of hiss and there was no way to go back to fix earlier mistakes. I had no reverb, delay, or effects, and no eq. Later, I sequenced the songs on a cassette “master” that I would use to dub the cassette tapes I sold (so many generations!)
*This is the model of mixer I used: Realistic 32-1101A Stereo mixing console reverb.com/item/31920865-realistic-32-1101a-stereo-mixing-console
Who was I listening to at this time? Lots of Kitaro, Tangerine Dream, and ambient Eno.
I haven’t listened to this album since the time I stopped dubbing cassettes for mail-order buyers. I’d guess that’s around 1990? So let’s say 30 years ago!
Original liner notes:
Round Trip was performed by Sam Rosenthal on the Korg Poly-61, the Realistic/Moog synthesizer, a Realistic mixer, and two Pioneer cassette decks. Each tape was individually dubbed in real time. The music is divided into a “COMPLEX” Side (A), with near leads; and an “AMBIENT” Side (B), with various soundtrackish textures. The title, Round Trip (in Japanese: ‘Oohuku’), implies the direction the songs often take, ending up in more or less the same spot they began. Recorded between Jan 4 & Feb 20, 1984. Permission will be granted for other uses. - Sam Rosenthal (Feb 23, 1984)