I’ve become aware, as probably most all of you know by now, that the venerable cassette tape has started to reappear as a format that some bands are putting out their music on, and I must say I didn’t think to much about it. Probably it got filed under a label ‘nostalgia’ in the memory banks along with vinyl.
But is that all there is to it? Is it just nostalgic romanticism or is there something more to it?
Cassette sounds poor. There I said it. Its noisy, doesn’t play back the right speed, warps, it twists, the play head is IN the cassette (forget that expensive player) you can never find what you need on it, and they multiply like rabbits on a moon wedding night. It was one of the poorest designs of a tape by Philips that was offered to waive the patent fee to Japanese manufacturers in an effort to head Grundig off at the pass, sealing its ubiquitous fate.
Hang on, hang on a minute! Then why do I have such fond memories of it?!
Mix tapes ahhh, I remember thee well, the pure joy of laboriously staying up to get the latest off the radio rock shows- it was a well-crafted thing that took patience and taste- and indelible stamp of your own passion and personality to trade with your buddies at school. And the copying, (Record companies stick it up your ass- if only you knew what was coming haha). The 4 Track Portastudio, you the creator of dreams, the dreamer of freedom, you the.. uniquely annoying task of bouncing down tracks so you could record more than 3 overdubs- ok digital rocks. But I digress.
Maybe nostalgia is unfair and isn’t really digging down into what is key here with both vinyl and cassette- the experience. The touch of a needle, the auditory hum the connection of bobbin into spool, the size, the smell (the taste?), the tactile response, the altered auditory space, the occasion- sitting down with only one thing to do, and that’s listen. No skipping around never settling on infinite playlist here.
And if music is something it’s just that- the experience- so these ways we choose to aren’t just nostalgia, there different ways of experiencing and that isn’t something that needs to be perfect, just experienced.
Cheers to all you tape and vinyl heads out there- I’m off to get some new styluses!!!
Love, peace and metal