Ah. The humble cassette tape. For some it’s been consigned to the history books of defunct formats, for others it’s the medium of choice to provide unique musical artifact keepsakes at reasonable cost without the faff and expense of pressing plants and distribution.
Delve into the world of the cassette release and you’ll be amazed at the music within. Much of it can be extraordinarily ‘low-fi’ as glossy production techniques are pushed aside in favor of dusty, hiss imbued aesthetics—and all the better the sounds are for it too.
There follows a selection of some of our favourite recent tapes - originally featured over at Igloo Magazine.
Casino Versus Japan :: Frozen Geometry (Self-Released)
A vast 80 track release of manipulated, looped and layered guitar and the first new music from Erik Kowalski for over half a decade. Stunning, evocative, nostalgic—this inhabits an ambient Boards of Canada meets The Caretaker space. Beautiful, enveloping music.
NeuteK :: Fractality (Electronic Tapes)
Oslo based Electronic Tapes deliver the goods again with an all analog, mastered to VHS session from NeuteK. Steeped in warm hiss, this is proper Rephlex style acidic braindance that veers from screwed 303 to playful melodic breakcore. It’s not your usual racket though, NeuteK has a keen ear for melody which permeates throughout. Recommended!
Seekersinternational :: Ragga Preservation Society EP (Diskotopia)
The truly bonkers SKRSINTL fire off some blistering ragga / jungle / dub cut and paste madness on Japan’s Diskotopia. An off the wall mash up of breaks, bass, pitch shifted R&B samples, analog reverb and MC rub a dub chat—this is as inventive, frenetic and brilliant as they come.
Immune :: Breathless (Dream Catalogue)
Hazy experimental vapor spliced with breaks, shoegaze, techno and ambience. Apparently made in various parks and cafes around London with nothing but a laptop, headphones and Reaktor 5, this mystery producer entwines street noise and car horns around shuffling beats and moody atmosphere. “Soundtrack to an episode of drug induced disassociation” comments a Bandcamp user. That may be a fair description but this is as engaging and uplifting as it is a backing track for nervy inner city life. Dream Catalogue is on the cusp of a big 2016—if you are not familiar with the label, this compilation is also a good starting point. Note: Apparently much of it was made by slowing down other artist's tracks - hence it has now been removed from the DC bandcamp.
AL-90 :: SCR (Reckno)
Another excellent UK based tape label. Brilliant spooked tape wobbled sounds abound. The whole thing feels like it’s been played through an inebriated tape deck that can’t keep steady pace. Tracks bend and warp whilst ghostly vocal samples puncture the wooziness. “We all know the real magic lives in the wonk’ reads the write up. We couldn’t agree more.