You may have already noticed that Cassette Tapes are back, in a small but beautiful way.
Before you Vinyl disciples start getting all upset about hiss, wow and flutter that’s exactly why tapes are making a comeback. A lot of experimental soundmakers and bands are using the medium specifically to capture the unique, fuzzy, lo-fi sound of tape and use the limitations of the format as part and parcel of the music. Others are using them as a nod to Mixtape culture and the early days of Hip Hop. They also make quirky little collectors items for the merchandise stall and are a great, cheap way for bands to distribute some home-made music without just sending out an mp3 or a blank CD-R.
Check out The Tapeworm Label, Not Not Fun , and Mirror Universe Tapes for all kinds of interesting and mega-limited tape-only relelases. If you know of any more good tape labels and interesting finds let us know!
Among collectors, tapes have generally been considered charity shop fodder at best, landfill at worst but there are some collectable ones and there is a relatively untapped world of rarities out there. The lovely Factory Records A5 book-style boxed tapes remain highly desirable for example. Check out this recently uncovered, unreleased version of Fac24c.
Rumour has it that the tape version of My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’ is a different mix to the CD version and have a look at this amazing page about the peculiar tape variations on The Beatles albums, again some with different running orders and alternate mixes.
So, grab yourself a cheap Walkman or Boombox on Ebay and get busy with the hissy.
(and hang on to those Mini Discs and DAT tapes, they’re bound to have a revival one day….)