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The Music Tapes

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Though the Music Tapes are seen primarily as a spinoff from the Elephant 6 music collective, which includes bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, the Olivia Tremor Control, and the Apples in Stereo, they began as the brainchild of Julian Koster. As a 16-year-old, Koster conceived of his early recordings, like the "Silly Putty Symphony" as a surreal soundworld to escape into and share with friends. This motivation also fueled Koster's band at the time, Chocolate U.S.A., which eventually evolved into the Elephant 6 projects, including Neutral Milk Hotel, in which Koster performed as a multi-instrumentalist. When he decided to resurrect the Music Tapes in 1995, Koster enlisted the help of Jeremy Barnes, another member of Neutral Milk Hotel. Their first single, Please Hear Mr. Flight Control, was released three years later, and featured a variety of sounds and antique and contemporary instruments, as well as pop-up artwork. The 1999 debut album 1st Imaginary Symphony for Nomad had a similar aesthetic: a wax cylinder recorder and a wire recorder were used to record it, and a supplemental comic book was also included. 2008 saw the release of the like-minded Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes, which took nearly nine years to record, and 2012 heralded the arrival of the Purim's Shadows (The Dark Tours the World) EP and the full length Mary's Voice.