The Particular Magic of the Cassette

Posted by Amoebite, August 11, 2010 08:26am | Post a Comment
Break out your boom boxes, cause the cassette tape is coming back! Both the East Bay Express and the LA Times recently ran articles about the return of tapes -- an affordable and readily available (at Amoeba, anyway) way to kick out the jams! The articles also cover various bands on the scene now that are releasing their music via cassette only! Catch up on the hype and read the EBX piece here, and the LA Times article here.

Cassettes at Amoeba

Here at Amoeba, we have always shown love for the cassette tape and its rabid fans -- stocking a huge variety of genres and artists, all on cassette, and all hella cheap at that! If you are ready to get back into the wide world of tapes, or if you've never lost your jones for the format, you can get in on the action by coming on in to any Amoeba and picking up bunches of em -- we've got tons o' tapes in country, soul, metal, rock, hip hop, jazz, etc!

To learn further about the possible and probable causes of this return to the cassette tape, we picked the brain of one of our own who is particularly active in the cassette scene: Amoeba employee Jason Pearl. His popular cassette only label Living Tapes' fine releases are all available at Amoeba Hollywood! Our discussion regarding the return of the cassette follows:living tapes

Us: How long have you had Living Tapes?

Jason Pearl: A little over 2 years now.

Us: Why did you decide to release cassettes?

JP: At the time I was doing a CD label (Tell Me Records) and was feeling frustrated with how long the process was to have a CD released [and] because of the cost everything needed to be perfect (artwork, mastering, etc., etc.). On top of that, you're dealing with too many people: the manufacturer that masters and makes the CDs, the packaging manufacturer, and of course getting approval every step of the way from the band in order to proceed with the next step. From start to finish the only two bands I ever released on the label took almost a year apiece before they were released. Cassettes were a quick way for me to release artists I love and because I do everything myself I am able to cut out the middle men.

Us: What kind of music do you put out on your label primarily?

JP: Most of the artists are a bit dark in one way or another, but for the most part I tend to lean toward people that are doing interesting things with their projects (mostly weirdos).

Us: What is appealing about cassettes to you, personally and as a label owner?


JP: The way a cassette is packaged. Most paintings, prints, and now T.V.'s are put in a rectangular frame. The human eye loves the rectangle. As a label owner [I like them because] they take up less space in my room.

What do the bands on your label think about releasing their stuff on cassette?

They love it! Cassettes are a great way to get your music out fast and into the hands of potential bigger labels.

What kind of audience do you want to reach? What about cassettes do you think appeals to them?

Anyone that loves cassettes and wants to support new artists. Tapes give off a very warm, welcoming sound. They hug you as you listen.

Why do you think cassettes are having a bit of a resurgence as a format?

I'm sure [they are] for a number of reasons: downloading making music less tangible, the limited numbers of each release [on cassette] making the owner only one of a small batch of people who own the release, and maybe [people like them] even just so they can return to a forgotten audio format (much like the recent vinyl resurgence).
living tapes

What kind of feedback do you get about the cassettes from fans?

I'm surprised by how many letters I get from fans of the label who can't wait for the next release or who want to submit their project for possible release. It's very encouraging. 

Where do you find the bands for your releases?

Everywhere! I have bands on the label from England, Sweden, New York, Germany, L.A., Austin, New Zealand... (also a lot of Amoeba bands).

How successful have your releases been online and through Amoeba?

Much better than I could have expected. Other than Amoeba there are shops in Berlin and Tokyo that have been carrying the releases. Also I get mail orders from all over the world from fans of the label.

Thanks for your time, Jason!


And for a peek into what our best sellers are as far as new releases on cassette go, our faithful indie buyer and blogger Brad Schelden compiled a list of the top ten new cassette sellers at Amoeba Hollywood over the past 3 months, and here they are:

1. Mater Suspiria VisionCrack Witch - rock - Living Tapes
crack witch mater susperia vision

2. Black Church - Heel -  rock - Living Tapes
black church heel

3. Paint - Optical Sounds Of - rock - Living Tapes
Paint - Optical Sounds Of

4. Secret Society of the Sonic Six - Arp Little Secret - goth - Skrot Up
arp little secret

5. Alvarius B -  Blood Operatives of... - EXP
Alvarius B -  Blood Operatives of

6. Sissy Spacek  - Grisp - EXP
7. John Butcher - Trace - jazz
8. Merzbow - Normal Music - EXP
9. Charlie Nothing - Dingulator - EXP
10. Daniel Menche - Raw Fall - EXP

Brad reports that lately he's ordered new releases like those from Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing on cassette. Seems like this trend is not just for cassette only releases, since you can get either of those on vinyl or cd as well!

Anyway, regardless of trends, we have tons of new and used cassettes for your browsing pleasure at all of our stores! Here's hoping real, actual mixtapes are gonna make a comeback too!

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