Is it another low-tech hipster fetish or the cassettes are coming back? Shall we call a nostalgia police? Otherwise it may very well be that next we'll be reviewing labels releasing on floppy disks.
Yes, we have found a few cassettes-only labels. Exotic Room40 from Australia and Klammklang from Russia have brought this long forgotten technology onto our radar. Though, let's go back to the future.
1962, Philips Co., introduced a new medium for audio storage, the Compact Cassette. The mass production of Compact Cassettes began in 1964 in Hanover, Germany. The introduction quickly made it's way State side. An estimated 2.4 million cassette decks and players were sold in Japan by 1968. The audio format grew and all genres began releasing their music on the enhanced method. The early 1990s brought us the Compact Disc which resulted in the decline of the cassette, but like any good idea, we're coming full circle.
ROOM40 — AUSTRAILA
Since 2000, this label has dabbled in electronics, improvisation, experimental-pop and sound-art. With over 60 releases of high quality editions, curated by Lawrence English, the label is constantly pushing established and emergent sound-makers. Their cassette formatted releases include; rhythmic pulses from Marcus Whale & Tom Smith, beautifully overwhelming sounds of Pale Earth, also a blast of noise from Daniel Rejmer. There is a total of 11 cassettes available through their website which allows them to foster a relationship with audio formatting to bloom from the past and into the future.
KLAMMKLANG — RUSSIA
They're a sub label of Siberian Fuselab, but the message is still armed to the teeth; "A label for some nowaday music." Curated by Stanislav Sharifullin aka Hmot from Krasnoyarsk, Klammklang delivers cassette packages that are delectable. They released Galina Ozeran's indefinable beauty in a cassette package; four tracks, four seasons, four different coloured tapes. The package is accompanied by photographs taken by her father who ties in the effects of the sounds.
Klammklang has managed to utilize the audio formatting of cassettes, not only as a means for audio, but for art. Cassettes, like vinyl, are becoming a tangible item not only to listen to, but to have and to hold, this pertains to the current consumer's desire for beautiful things. And Klammklang is giving you beautiful things.
Audio formatting as art ties into Dominik Bartmanski and Ian Woodward recently released a book entitled, Vinyl: The Analogue Record in the Digital Age. They discuss the similarities of vinyl and cassettes to art books. The purchases are made almost with the same intent of owning something beautiful, an object to not only admire and adore but to cherish and display. In this day and age of tangible loves, using all of our senses is a big part of today's living. We want to touch beautiful things as much as they "touch" us.