Saturday, 17 April 2010

Cassette Tapes: The Revival

I read this article some time ago in G2 (The weekday Guardian supplement) about the renaissance of the cassette tape. I found it fascinating how this music format is slowly growing in popularity again.

The article reports on Bands like Deerhunter releasing albums on cassette tapes, underground labels specialising in the format and the tributes seen on t-shirts and i-pod cases. Cassette tapes are noted for sounding different depending on the decks used and because of this are ‘cherished for their imperfections’, providing a unique sound in turn breathing ‘extra vibrancy’ into the music. This unique-ness mentioned, with its ability to sound different as well as the unspooling of the tape within leading to you nurturing back to its correct form reminded me of something I’d read in a emotional design book. The book: Emotionally Durable Design by Jonathan Chapmen discusses that objects with free will along with a touch of disobedience can stimulate a relationship with the user. Also the idea of the object being dependant on the user can develop a relationship between the two. This relationship will create an emotional response from the user towards the object, which in turn may prolong the life expectancy of the object. This certainly appears to have happened with the cassette tape with a select group of individuals.

The mix tape is mentioned, describing it as a ‘labour of love’. This reminded me of a lecture I attended by Otto Van Busch who also brought up the ‘love’ involved, as well as personal touch of creating a mix tape. Hearing and reading about mix tapes struck a chord within me, taking me back to forwarding, rewinding, stopping and eventually pushing the little red button. I feel I actually miss this about music now. Creating mix tapes was definitely an experience which will never be forgotten, but I have to admit having an mp3 player with 16GB of music is much simpler than carrying a walkman with 20 cassette tapes in my bag.

Just to finish I’d like to mention the mix tape that will stick with me forever. My brother was tentatively creating me a mix tape full of his music to force on me in 1999 when Manchester Utd won the European Cup. Upon my first listen to the tape (and even now when I dig it out) I crack up to hear ‘Schmeichel’s in the penalty box…..The Bayern Munich players are on their knees, they don’t know what’s hit them; Manchester’s hit them’. Such simple joys.

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