Monday 9 September 2013

Play back this tape, I swear you'll see... : The Cassette tape revival

Like many of the 90's generation I was a collector of music.  The main (and cheapest) format of choice was the cassette tape.  I spent hours making mix tapes for holidays and girlfriends and even attempted "ripping" songs off the radio.  It has been at least ten years since the 90 minute wonder was chewed up and spat out of the deck when MP3's took over in the charts, but get your pencil and prepare to manually rewind because cassettes are coming back!

Underground artists such as Midlands Industrialists Table Scraps and Metallers Kataklysm make up a large number of bands who have decided to take a trip back in time and release their work on tape.  The 7th September was International Cassette Store Day and many people got excited about it.  Tom Owen, Owner of Swordfish Records in Birmingham, is one of the many independent stores across the world holding this day with many bands turning up to do an acoustic set of their work.
"Cassettes are yet to make a comeback, he says "and likely never will outside of the Cassette Store day.  Already-established artists that have signed to major labels or successful indies have the funds to be able to press to vinyl, which is a far more popular physical format."
"They are however quickly becoming more and more popular amongst the smaller, up and coming labels and unsigned bands that would like to release something physical on their own.  It offers an alternative that's cheaper to produce than vinyl, and still has a certain nostalgic charm about it that perhaps isn't there with CDs." 

Quite a few artists have released media in time for the event, including 'The Flaming Lips' and 'At the Drive in', making this a diverse event that is a must for any music lover. 

B-movie obsessive Kurt Dirt finds the idea of cassette promos to be "cool for that kind of lo-fi vibe or novelty value as a collectors item.  It's a bit of a cheeky fuck you to the download culture, but to be honest I've heard some acts go "we only release on cassette" and its like ah fuck off just give me a CD hehe."  

Mr. Dirt is even using this old tech for his upcoming tour: "On my toilet tour (an actual tour of public bathrooms) I'm running my backing track off a old boom box cassette player, but the tape hiss etc. only goes to add to the lo-fi industrial / synth punk sound I'm after."

If you are worried about not being able to play them due to the tape deck being thrown out years back then never fear, most bands will also have download codes (like the ones found at Record Store Day) accompany them so you can still listen to them.

For more details on Cassette Store day and where your nearest store may be, visit

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