Cassette Culture

Hero Underground On Cassette

I didn’t understand it quite at first. In fact, I still don’t think I have it fully figured out. But cassettes are making a bit of a comeback these days. I call it the “poor man’s analog.” Cassettes are cheap to make, durable, and actually sound pretty damn good with a good deck. They are aiming for making music something more than just an under-appreciated modern commodity. I initially wrote them off as the next hipster thing. And that may be the case still, actually, but it won’t stop us from trying it anyway.

If you have been keeping up with our Facebook page, you know we have been playing around with the idea of doing some limited releases on cassette. Things like demos, live shows, practices, among other things. Some of that stuff we may release digitally, but some we may not, or at least do so in very limited capacity.

Why? A few reasons, but mostly we wanted something fun to give away at live shows that was more fun than just a download code or a CD. A CD is arguably more irrelevant than cassette because, as a digital format, it is superior perhaps to an MP3, but inferior to the high quality options we can provide via Bandcamp and other means. Most folks rip ’em to MP3s and stow them away anyway.

A cassette? Well, it does have an obvious analog sound and, it, unlike a CD, is something you basically have to listen to from start to finish. Given that our next album is set to a story-driven landscape, that is something we really like. It is rather unique too, especially if we put limited release content on it, and is rather inexpensive to make.

Obviously, we want our fans to be able to listen to our music in as many ways as possible. Our future digital and vinyl release plans haven’t changed. We have simply added more avenues for content that our more devoted fans might appreciate as both a unique collectable and a different musical experience. If it is even remotely successful, we may start offering our official albums on tape too.

In fact, I noticed recently that our latest Chipsurf single, Space Hatchet (which we hope to release later this week), actually sounds better when bouncing out to chrome tape and back. As a result, we thought about creating a special edition of Chipsurf Pipeline on tape that includes that song. Tape-haters will still be able to grab Space Hatchet as a single in the usual places, though. If we think we can recoup at least some costs, we may look at professional duplication too, though for now, we’re are mostly doing these types of things “DIY style.”

Our next album, likewise, I hope to be able to record to reel-to-reel if we can make that at all possible. That means vinyl, and if we decide to, cassette, releases will be fully analog. I find that highly cool and also a bit ironic (given the lo-fi digital synths we use).

As a listener, I have been exploring the whole cassette culture thing and not only have I found some neat music, the culture has also been both friendly and rewarding. It is not for everyone but, hey, if you have a tape deck that still works, or can find one easily, it might be worth giving it a go.

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