Arts Desk

The Music Tapes Tinker With Reality Through Lullabies and House Shows

The Music Tapes are a living and breathing group of musicians, but they move between reality and myth. Led by Julian Koster (former member of Neutral Milk Hotel), the band is in the middle of its "Lullaby" tour, traveling around the country to play in people's homes. "The Music Tapes is an all-encompassing world or feeling, and the recordings often feel like places," says Koster. "It's just this world that you can enter, and we want to make that accessible to people." Interested applicants e-mail the band, and after some coordination, The Music Tapes generally arrive on their doorsteps, ready for anything.

"It's like were doing a show, but in a sense, it's almost like an imaginary holiday," Koster says. "You know that tradition 'mumming'? With Mummers? Well, it's a lot of different incarnations, but in Newfoundland, the mummers cover themselves completely in crazy disguises and go to people's houses in the village. If a mummer comes to your door, you have to give them food, and alcohol, and anything they want, until you can guess who they are."

Those kind of traditions—myths that become practices—fascinate Koster. "There's all these different and funny, little traditions and customs around the world that people use to tap into the magic that's inside of us, and that's always fascinated me," he says. "All these things create other realities, they're actually happening.  It's a reality that's partially composed of the imaginary and partially composed of the real, but once you've invested in it and spent time in it, what's real and what's imagined blur, and it becomes a real, valid reality that you can live inside.  The Music Tapes are very interested in creating other realities."

And how do The Music Tapes achieve this?  By playing house shows, of course.  "It's as simple as there you are, with other people for an evening in another reality that you created together, and that's what we're doing as human beings," says Koster.  "And for us, we're just singing a song."

The Music Tapes perform tomorrow at a house in Arlington. 9:30 p.m.

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