Ostracon Debut Limited Run on Cassette

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?

12 thoughts on “Ostracon Debut Limited Run on Cassette

  1. I’m incredibly nostalgic about them as well but I’d seek out a download as well simply because my cassette player is immobile and I do like to listen to music while on the move.

  2. I still like cassette tapes and have a couple dozen I’ve held onto for all these years. I’m also a sucker for unique and limited run releases such as what you describe. That being said, I would probably listen to a download more often but that’s no reason to toss the tape idea out the window.

  3. I agree with @Joshua, I love cassettes and I actually record a lot of my stuff onto a Tascam 112 MKII tape machine and listening to tapes is great but I would love to see you offer a digital download as well simply for mobility purposes. Can’t wait to meet you guys in September. Out of all the other performers slated to play I have to say I am most excited to see/hear you guys. Possibly because it’s just you two and me that have live drums this year. Gotta keep the beats organic. Best of luck with your release.

  4. I have a car where the cd player is broken and the radio only gets country. but the tape deck has worked perfect for over ten years. With a tape adapter i can plug in my ipod, but it’s nice to have a mixtape on cassette and enjoy.

  5. Thanks, @Smyth! The idea is to put a code on the J-card (when was the last time you heard that word) for a download to accompany the cassette. Also looking forward to meeting / hearing you next month. Cheers! -John

  6. I don’t use cassettes much, but used to quite frequently, also I know several like underground punk and hardcore bands I’ve kind of stumbled upon recently have been releasing stuff of cassette…I suppose just for the sake of it.

    It’s definately not a dead format, though it is kind of obsolete. Releasing something on cassette nowadays is kind of just a nod toward the past and the people that may have influenced you.

  7. Yesterday, my wife tried to throw out an old suitcase of mine filled with cassette tapes. I wouldn’t let her do it. Many of the tapes were mixed-tapes made by friends. Each one themed and given handmade artwork. Looking through the pile took me back. So, no way was she going to dump them like my mom dumped my old baseball cards, now probably worth a small fortune. My old cassette tapes I don’t value in terms money though, or even in terms of their musical quality, content or fidelity. Rather, they belong to my sentimental archive. They are quite literally “recorded” history. Vita brevis longa ars!

    I did let her throw out my old cassette deck, so go figure.

  8. I would totally listen to a tape, and I honestly like the specialness of having it there but NOT on a download. It would just get played at different times: not when I’m sitting at the computer working all day (which does mean less airplay, overall), but yes when I’m cleaning the house, making food, etc.

  9. I used to be Lord Of Tape. I never purchased a pre-recorded tape unless it was a cassette-only release though. The sound quality of commercial pre-recorded tapes was horrible. Even some of the commercial releases done on CrO2 were iffy. However, like epilektric said, I’m a sucker for limited release on special media guy and I know this wouldn’t be a commercial release. I also know you care about audio quality.

    My call is that you’re marketing to a niche market, but the type of music you do is already pretty squarely in that niche so I’d go with it.

  10. I’m going to have to bust out my old Denon tape deck with peak meters – can’t listen in the car though, so the DL card will come in handy for that.

  11. I still have lots of mixtapes and listen to them when I work in the garage. Optional download is good. As long as it’s cost efficient, and gets the results you want, I say do it.

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