FM DUST ARCHIVE: Charlie Slick- Mellow Marsh


I have already established my current opinion on the resurgence the cassette medium and the blind fetishization of obsolete formats. In doing so, I also mentioned that there are cassettes which I thought justified their use of the medium despite its obsolescence. One of these is Charlie Slick’s Mellow Marsh cassette, which I was fortunate enough to release in 2010.

Mellow Marsh is a C-60 cassette. The A-side is a recording of Charlie’s Ambient Music Generator™ (explained in the video below). One’s interaction with the B-side, however, is less cut and dry: if you’re listening on a standard commercial tape deck, it’s just a bunch of backwards piano and voices, but if you listen on a 4-track cassette recorder, it’s an audio commentary intended to be played simultaneously with the A-side. Other than sharing the wonderful sounds of Charlie’s invention, the “audio commentary” gag was the main point of the tape. It’s an obnoxious joke, but (duh) that’s why it’s funny.

Given this, I wasn’t really sure there was any point to releasing Mellow Marsh digitally. However, Charlie convinced me that I should, as long as I didn’t make it any easier for people to hear the commentary. So, here you are. Figure it out.

A big part of the fun of Mellow Marsh is that you have to put in a little work to fully absorb it. You have to spend time on it, think about it. In a world where you don’t have to remember, care about, or think about much of anything, being made to actively engage with an art object becomes a truly unusual experience. This is why Mellow Marsh is quite possibly my favorite FM DUST release. Well, that and because it’s funny.

Here’s a video by Charlie and Micah Vanderhoof explaining how the Ambient Music Generator™ works:


Dustin Krcatovich is a cartoonist, writer, designer, founder of FM DUST, and a collector of certain curios and ephemera (with a focus on 20th century "junk culture"). His writing and illustration work appears frequently in The Quietus, Tiny Mix Tapes, and Esquire's Culture Blog. He is also a former editor and contributor to Secret Zen Garden,Saagara's illustrated mindfulness/wellness blog for young people. He currently resides in Portland, OR.


  1. Jon

    9.04.14 at 2:46 am

    I remember when Charlie had this at Crazy Wisdom in A2 for a Soft Marmalade event in the Tea Room a few years ago. He did a power point presentation on the AMG machine. You also played, Dustin. As Mall Mutants. Great post! I never did get a four track to hear that side B in the ‘right’ way. :)

    • Dustin Krcatovich

      11.04.14 at 2:54 am

      Thanks for that gig, Jon! It was a lot of fun.

  2. Dustin Krcatovich

    11.04.14 at 2:49 am

    Thanks for setting up that gig, Jon!

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