Ostracon and Unearthed Music have decided to release the Ostracon debut on cassette tape for promos and a short run for sale at shows and online. The as-yet-untitled release includes around 47 minutes of instrumental duets between myself on electronics (mostly layers of melodies produced by the GMS) and Graham O’Brien on drums. We recorded in the historically preserved Studio A of the former Flyte Tyme studios of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis fame. I’ll have more details soon, but expect the cassette to be available by the middle of September just before our performance at the In / Out Festival of Digital Performance in New York City.
The immediate response I get from most of the people I have told is, why cassette? I have to admit to being heavily laden with nostalgia for this format. As a kid (and into adulthood), I taped jam sessions, records and CDs constantly, especially my own LP collection. I was acutely aware of how quickly the quality of vinyl records could degrade. Cassettes are small enough to fit in your pocket, or bring a dozen of them on a road trip. You can throw one out a window, pop it in the deck and provided it didn’t get run over by a truck it will sound the same. I melted records in hot car interiors, had them scratched and broken by myself, friends, or siblings, and wore them out from over playing. Now I realize that tape in the long term is even more ephemeral than vinyl. So, again, why release a modern recording on cassette tape?
Since making the decision I have noticed that it’s not as rare of an idea as I thought. There is definitely a movement back toward this barely antiquated format. I don’t have any meaningful reasons for choosing tape, but I know that I’m not the only one to have nostalgia for it. This might be a good excuse for others to get out their cassette player of choice and listen to some old favorites they haven’t digitized yet. Remember packing your tape before recording, or tightening the reel with a pencil? I’ll probably throw in a card with a download code for those without a cassette deck, but what are your thoughts? Would you love to get you hands on a cassette of new music, or would you seek out a downloadable alternative?