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Cassette tracks from Oberon musician given a new digital life

RETROSPECTIVE: Oberon-based musician Martin Raphael [right] with Bathurst audio engineer Tim Roebuck in his home studio. Photo: SAM BOLT
RETROSPECTIVE: Oberon-based musician Martin Raphael [right] with Bathurst audio engineer Tim Roebuck in his home studio. Photo: SAM BOLT

An Oberon-based musician, composer and theatre maker has seen some of his valued compositions remastered from cassette tapes courtesy of a long-time Bathurst audio engineer.

Martin Raphael spent a a great deal of time creating music and theatre within the entertainment industry from the 1970s to the 1990s, which brought him in contact with the likes of Marc Hunter, the late lead singer of Dragon and King Crimson co-founder Michael Giles.

Raphael came to Bathurst audio engineer Tim Roebuck in late 2020 looking to convert audio from cassette tapes of his recorded works to digital files and CD's.

The resulting work, Better Late Than Never, is a retrospective of Raphael's compositions throughout his career, ranging from electronic soundscapes to new wave pop, with hints of vaudevillian madness.

One of the songs, 'Chances', was co-written with Hunter, and Raphael said the pair met while the vocalist was having a break from Dragon.

"I met him through a friend of a friend, and we wrote a lot of music together over the late 70s and early 80s," he said.

"'Chances' was originally engineered by Richard Lush, who worked with The Beatles in their later years, and Marc wanted me to write him a big ballad akin to the work of Dusty Springfield; there was more to him than rock and roll."

Raphael said the key aspect that stands out about Better Late Than Never is the sheer variety of music.

"To some people, it might be a bewildering array of genres mashed together, but to me, the songs mesh into a single, elaborate weave of everything I've attempted musically," he said.

'What's His Name?', another track on the record, reflects on Raphael's time working as a light operator at the Pink Panther nightclub in Kings Cross, and how he met a homosexual man who regularly performed at the venue.

Raphael believes the man might have been Scott Johnson, who was murdered in 1988 and his killer was sentenced earlier this week.

"The timing adds up. This man didn't show up to work one day and he was never seen again," he said.

Mr Roebuck said the remastering process was unlike anything he had attempted before from a production standpoint.

"When you're digitally converting cassette audio, you're quite limited by the medium. Time hasn't been kind to cassettes," he said.

"We did plenty of edits to the tracks and added new parts to others, and I think the final product is quite a meaningful document of Martin's journey as a composer."