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101 Cassette Labels

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In the 1980s, cassette labels played a vital role in the distribution of underground music, most notably in the noise, industrial, and punk scenes of the time. Easy and relatively inexpensive to produce, cassettes became a common format for the circulation of music lacking popular appeal. Although the majors produced cassettes as well, many of the producers of these underground labels saw their DIY business model as a stance against the greed of the mainstream music industry. Connections made through distribution and information sharing among the artists and musicians in these circles helped to establish a network for those involved.

In the age of GarageBand, Myspace, and file sharing, it may come as a surprise to some that cassette labels are still very much in operation. Tapes now function as a basic form of patronage between musicians and their audience; since a physical format is no longer necessary to send or receive music, these objects become a gesture of support. Tapes act to make tangible the connection between a creator and their listeners, and the attentive and often handmade packaging speaks to this exchange. One instance of this relationship is revealed in the description provided for the Gilgongo Records “Singular Set” series, a run of cassette releases recorded directly onto the tape by the musician in an edition of one. Gilgongo’s James Fella explains that for the project, “…the emphasis is on reaching out and sharing something specific with one other person, that an unrepeated portion of time and creation was individually cut and passed on to one other person to hold onto as their own.”

Cassettes also yield a grainy, degraded sound quality, an aspect that has its own appeal. The draw to this sound can be read as a type of nostalgia, Paul Hegarty in “The Hallucinatory Life of Tape” writes:

Within the dying of media comes the passing or slow dying of individual units - tapes, records, cylinders, cartridges - all of which decay, and in so doing, seem to take on characteristics of having lived. Once digital media arrive as ‘other’, as cyborg sound, the analogue seems to breathe, however rasping the sound. Nostalgia and melancholy imbue formats in general and individual items with pneuma (the essential lifeforce or breath of everything in the universe, according to the Stoics).

Thus, the interest in cassette releases today can, in part, be understood as a response to the proliferation of digital media. Within the realm of experimental music, where the sonic and aesthetic attributes of technological decay hold a particular importance and history, one could argue that the current emphasis on cassette releases extends from this lineage, now only heightened by the influence and expanse of digital media. (Perhaps for this reason many of the labels below would fall under the “experimental” or “noise” category.)

In an effort to provide a snapshot of this active community, I’ve decided to compile a list of 101 contemporary cassette labels as a resource. Feel free to insert additional links in the comments field.



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Image: The D.L Savings T.X "Cleopatra...Ruler of the Yard"



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Image: Bromp Treb "Bricktown Shuffle"



Period Tapes

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Image: Mother Flock, Untitled



Really Coastal

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Image: Antique Brothers, "Hot Shit"



Pizza Night

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Image: Jeff Host, "In Memoriam: Joybubbles"



Gift Tapes

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Image: Brother Raven, diving into the pineapple portal



Night People

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Image: Sewn Leather - "s/t"



Young Tapes

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Image: Steve Young "Wedge of Light"



Slime City Tapes

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Image: Various Artists, "THE BLEND" CASSETTE



Open Range Records

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Image: Vesuvan - Swamp Doctor



Drone Errant Cassettes

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Image: NIGHTMOVES U.K. "RECORDS & GOLD"



Near Tapes
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Image: Knitted Abyss, 'Summer Barn'



Midori Records
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Image: the Midori Box Set



Jugular Forest
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Image: mirror to mirror, "rerest"



Attic Cassettes
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Image: Attic Cassettes



Rayon Records

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Image: Mariners/ Head Effort split



Sloow Tapes

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Image: Benjamin Franklin, Splitsing



Ruido Horrible

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Image: Le Scrambled Debutante



Sky Fi

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Image: Dead Luke CS



bumtapes

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Image: BURNT HILLS, Blunt Greeper



Ick Ick Records

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THE VIBRARIANS, "get out of town"



kindertapes

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Image: f\_oeuf, "dieu est un oeuf"



Split Tapes

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Image: OLD BLOOD / TWIN LION SPLIT CASSETTE



Darbolistic Rex

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Image: BONUS BEAST - RASTAFARIAN BACK SCRATCHER



Trapdoor Tapes

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Ark Tarp

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Image: JULIE BO, COLLECTED SONGS 2007 - 2009



Tapetektoniks

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Image: UUHUU "buch"



Blossom Rust Tapes

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Image: kinit her - menial as archivists & bone marrow artifacts



Peasant Magik

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Image: Expo 70, White Ohms



Wagon

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Image: Emeralds - Smoke Signals


Relax with Nature

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Image: Heatsick, "pre-cum fog ballet" & "total afternoon sundae"



Chondritic Sound

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Image: Raglani - Vanity Well



Deep Fried Tapes
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Image: Super Natural Hot Rug and Not Used - "self titled"



905 Tapes

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Image: SOCIAL JUNK - "EIGHT YEARS AGO"



Baked Tapes
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Image: Pork Lion - Contact High



Senseless Empire

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Image: Trigal - 3 Cruces



Fuck It Tapes

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Image: The Wooden Wand & Vanishing Voice - Michel's Portal And Crow Jane Variations



Isolated Now Waves

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Image: STARVING WEIRDOS/SHEARING PINX - Split Cassette



Catholic Tapes

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Image: BEE MASK/SAM GOLDBERG Split



Mistake By The Lake

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Image: ROT TON BONE - WHERE DID YOU GET ALL THOSE ROTTON TONES?



Meudiademorte Records

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Image: CONES - "USE YOUR ILLUSION III"



Existential Cloth Recordings

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Image: derek rogers & hashem assadullahi - "tape loop sax hiss"



El Tule

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Image: Dylan Ettinger - "Bread of the Dead"



Moon Glyph Tapes

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Image: Soothsayer - "Neptune's Daughter"



Digitalis Ltd

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Image: space dive - "twenty-first century sport"



Sonic Meditations

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Image: UMBERTO - "From the Grave"



5nakefork

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Image: Leavenworth / Hunting Rituals - "steel city sermon"



Buried Valley

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Image: Bonecloud - "XI:XI"



Sick Head Tapes

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Image: Skaters - "Dripping Avenues / Wind Drapeing Incense"



Pasalymany Tapes

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Image: METIS YETI - "Dear Despair"



Jerkwave Tapes

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Image: PINK NOISE - "MENAGERIE"



Bezoar Formations

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Image: Sudden Oak-"Causeways of the Sun"



Caligulan Records

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Image: Robedoor - Painted Seer


Plustapes

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Image: Radius - Scatterbrain Tapes Vol. 1



Goaty Tapes

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Image: Caethua/Ancestral Diet - split



FLA Records & Tapes

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Image: A Pink Cloud - Gyogyul



Cloud Valley

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Image: Unmuzzled Ox - Untitled



Shark Bite Tapes

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Image: Yellow Crystal Star - Birds of Vesta



Pendu Sound Recordings

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Image: Mialessot - Birds



Hospital Productions

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Image: Prurient - Time Began In A Garden



Tired Trails Collective

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Image: Harps of Fuchsia Kalmia w/ Delphine Dora-Pantomima Terrrestre



Heavy Tapes

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Image: Failing Lights - Dismal Winds



Paradise Vendors Inc

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Image: CHEATAHS 'MAGIC WEAPONS'



Suplex Cassettes

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Image: An Emergency - 'Wrecked Angles'



Klorofyll Kassetter

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Image: Altar of Flies - Eremiten



exbx tapes

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Image: Color Dream - Darkslide on the Moon




Two Thousand Tapes

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Image: Chen Santa Maria - Live KFJC cassette



hardscrabble amateurs

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Image: U.S. Girls - U.S. Girls Cassingle



Rampart Tapes

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Image: Walter Carson - Hilltop Reverie



Factotum Tapes

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Image: TEETH COLLECTION - "oddities"



NNA Tapes

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Image: Jefre Sei Getsu Ledesma "Namu Kie Butsu"



Together Tapes

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Image: the moisturizer - 3 headed howl 2



deception island

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Image: Chris Benedetto Madak “Bees Removed” , Fragments “Kinetic Sphere”,
Bee Mask “Shimmering Braid”, Skin Graft “Brick in the Mouth of a Corpse”


Twonicorn

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Image: Envenomist - Black Bile



The Trilogy Tapes

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Image: Field Of Hats - Myriad Features



Oms-b
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Image: Matomeri - "im spitting on my grave"



The Rub*A*Dub Tape Club
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Image: V/A "The Hello! Project"



Taped Sounds

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Image: Steve Hauschildt - Resplendent



Scumbag Relations

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Image: Leslie Keffer / God Willing - Split



Abandon Ship Records

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Image: Time Life - Open To Both Sides



Not Not Fun

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Image: Blank Realm - The Returner



Inverted^Crux

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Image: WASTED TRUTH



Lost Ghosts Records

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Image: Brendan Sullivan/ Bear & Pieces split tape



Gnar Tapes & Shit

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Image: Argumentix - Quest for Faults



Gilgongo Records
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Image: JAMES FELLA - "Singular Set" (series) cassette



Must Finish

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Image: GIRL TALK - HONOR AMONG THIEVES



Obsolete Units

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Image: Hells Hills - Little Matter Of Death



Earjerk

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Image: Drunjus - Chainmail Future



U|H|U

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Image: RABBITS 'fur'



Tape Drift

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Image: Stone Baby - "Vir Heroicus Subliminus"



Anathema Sound

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Image: Robe. - Desolate Mosaic



Hanson Records

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Image: Andrew Coltrane - Gongs Of Violence


Housecraft Records

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Image: Pink Buffalo - Bearded Tooth



They Live We Sleep Cassettes

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Image: TOBIN'S SPIRIT GUIDE - WASTED DAZE



Monorail Trespassing

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Image: Marble Sky - Sway



Stunned Records

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Image: Fabric/ Sparkling Wide Pressure - Late Clothes / Blue Doorways I - III



Poor Little Music

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Image: Rob Michalchuk - Venus



Disappearance

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Treehouse People - "Bubble Nuts"



Husk Records

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Image: Wretched Worst - Bleeder



RRRecords

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Image: Textured Bird Transmission - Recycled Music



Middle James Co.

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Image: Fossils - Four Cassette Box



Tapeworm Tapes

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Image: Lilypad - The Moon And Air Sparkle

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Comments

Claire Evans 6 years, 5 months agoReply

Deep!!

Voided 6 years, 5 months agoReply

Noticeably missing from the list: Hermitagetapes run by Andrew Coltrane and Fag Tapes run by Heath Moerland. Both outstanding and deserving of making a list.

jason 6 years, 5 months agoReply

what an amazing resource, thank you Ceci!

A couple label shoutouts

Eggy Records from Portland OR, tapes by Polyps, Golden Hours, Majic Eyes, Dragging an Ox Through Water

Campaign for Infinity from Montreal w/ tapes by Grand Trine, Pink Noise, Red Mass

Natural Resources from Brooklyn http://www.whatnothingpress.com/naturalresources/about.html great Michael Stasis tape

TrustyNick 6 years, 5 months agoReply

Monster K7 in Paris: http://www.monsterk7.com/

Also, seems weird not to mention hip hop mix tapes in this post – usually cd or download these days but this was a huge part of cassette culture. Hank Shocklee from Public Enemy talks about how he still uses cassette dubs as a compressor effect in his digital mixes. And of course cassettes are still really popular as a format throughout Africa and Asia… definitely not just for Americans with esoteric taste!

Ivan Gaytan 6 years, 5 months agoReply

James Decker 6 years, 5 months agoReply

[img]http://resipiscent.com/images/covers/warmmarrow.jpg[/img]
[size=17]Liz Allbee "Warm Marrow" [/size]

[img]http://resipiscent.com/images/covers/schnuffler.jpg[/img]
[size=17]Schnuffler (Gino Robair/Liz Allbee)[/size]

[size=14]Fewer than five of these still avail at…[/size]
[size=16]http://resipiscent.com[/size]

bluegreengold 6 years, 5 months agoReply

bluegreengold cassettes in the East Village NYC: www.bluegreengold.net

… …. .- .-. . -.-. .- … … . - - . …
bluegreengold cassettes
]3 |_ |_| [- (_, /? [- [- |\| (_, () |_ |).|\| [- ~|~

now available: the real perfections C60 kanovanik C60
upcoming releases with acoustical cave band, hanayo, vox populi,
firehorse…

hello (at) bluegreengold.net

bluegreengold 6 years, 5 months agoReply

"Cassettes also yield a grainy, degraded sound quality, an aspect that has its own appeal. The draw to this sound can be read as a type of nostalgia"

This is often true, however cassette tapes also have the greatest potential for audio fidelity and luscious sound of all practical audio distribution mediums. Only reel to reel tape can outperform a high end cassette deck with well made real time recorded tapes. The diversity of sound possibilities with the format, eg… every kind of tape sounds different, every deck sounds different, is one its most appealing aspects.

J 6 years, 5 months agoReply

ppr 6 years, 5 months agoReply

www.phaserprone.com


[IMG]http://i27.tinypic.com/rwi5mo.jpg[/IMG]
Monsturo "POB-66" C-20
[IMG]http://i29.tinypic.com/np2sdu.jpg[/IMG]
Grasslung + Pelerine "Power Visions" C-30
[IMG]http://i26.tinypic.com/dtfg0.jpg[/IMG]
UW OWL "New Birth Of Old Death" C-30
[IMG]http://i30.tinypic.com/24osyuo.jpg[/IMG]
Grasslung "Psychic Venom" C-20

tommy 6 years, 5 months agoReply

pictures of cassette tapes and related
http://www.flickr.com/groups/k7/pool/

Tristan Perich 6 years, 5 months agoReply

And don't forget WOWOW, which put out Joe Grimm's awesome Graves (Raves) and the Mirror Phases collaboration of him and Ben Russell that just finished touring. (http://www.myspace.com/thewindupbird)

And i talk like art critics think, Marie Evelyn's cassette magazine whose method of distribution is the secretive dropping into bags of passengers on the subway, hopefully to their later delight. (http://AnalogousProjects.org/likelike.html)

Roz Dimon 6 years, 5 months agoReply

It's the writing on the topic that I'm appreciating here Moss. Good stuff connecting well-researched media discourse to the larger heart pulse of what it means to create, be human… which opens up the channels, invites discussion. The analog-digital analogy - I may never look at a cassette tape quite the same way. You got something going here… and the imagery is fun. Rozolution

Ceci Moss 6 years, 5 months agoReply

I'm totally excited about the response this post has generated, and especially the links/photos to other releases/labels. I thoroughly enjoyed putting it together and these links are great! I thought I'd add some more. There's a radio show out of Austin called c60 that plays exclusively releases from cassette labels:
http://c60radio.wordpress.com/
Also, WNYU's (Make the) Product! plays mostly cassette releases as well:
http://www.myspace.com/maketheradio
For reviews & downloads, check Cassette Tape Superstar:
http://cassettetapesuperstar.blogspot.com/
And Cassette Gods Reviews:
http://cassettegods.blogspot.com/

In response to Nick- this list is not meant to be definitive and it is reflective of my taste. I've been doing a radio show focused primarily on experimental music for a few years now, so I discovered many of these labels through my show. I see this list as a start, and it would be great if you could provide info about hip hop cassette mixes or labels coming out of Asia or Africa that you know about. I do read the "Awesome Tapes from Africa" blog, which is indeed awesome and worth checking out: http://awesometapesfromafrica.blogspot.com/

Keep the replies coming!

grzl 6 years, 5 months agoReply


Hidden Fortress tapes:

hiddenfortresstapes.blogspot.com

charly 6 years, 5 months agoReply

Fast Geek Press / Analog Empire

We put out cassette tape releases by comedians, poets and story tellers, live performances, and bands. Check us out at http://fastgeekpress.com and http://myspace.com/fastgeekpress.

Our latest releases

"Whiskey Wont Cure Clap" - spoken stories by writer Charly "the city mouse" Fasano accompanied by the music of woMANgione and Magic Cyclops. Hand stamped art work and includes mp3 download card.

[img]http://www.fastgeekpress.com/uploaded_images/whiskey-wont-cure-clap-envelope-pic-792147.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.fastgeekpress.com/uploaded_images/Whiskey-wont-cure-clap-tape-pic-side-A-730721.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.fastgeekpress.com/uploaded_images/Whiskey-wont-cure-clap-tape-pic-side-b-730882.jpg[/img]

trustynick 6 years, 5 months agoReply

hey ceci,

i should have prefaced my comment by saying how great this post is – so much to explore here. didn't mean to be negative. i totally get that this is about a pretty specific phenomenon of indie/experimental labels that are choosing to stick with cassettes in the digital era. i just felt the intro, where you set the context for how cassettes have been embraced by music makers operating outside of the mainstream over the years, could have mentioned mixtapes as an iconic example. they filled an interesting place – somewhere between home studio experiments and documentation of live sets.

you can find rips on a bunch of blogs. like this one:
http://djsoulnyc.blogspot.com/search/label/Mixtape%20Wednesdays

this site has an amazing collection of 80s mixtapes taped off pirate radio in london
http://www.mastermix.org/

and for kicks: "MixTapes" by the Nonce
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY5U6vPusEM

in addition to awesome tapes i like this site for african cassette rips:
http://aduna.free.fr/aduna.blog/blog.htm


Raf 6 years, 5 months agoReply

John McArdle 6 years, 2 months agoReply

YES! thank you we are considering doing an album on 45 vinyls 2 songs one on each side. 45,s are as old school as it gets maybe? a cassette would be available as well i have several bands I,m working with and aRTISTS as well if Seriously interested contact me "bAbylon john." if you google search babylon john john mcardle you,ll find me 4th maybe 5th listing PEACE and peaceful revolution during this consumer based petro-chemical age. ( bows humbly to ALL artists and musicians) A sincere THANK-YOU.

rob 5 years, 11 months agoReply

Also check out:
www.highdensityheadache.com
[img]http://i59.photobucket.com/albums/g284/rfb2d/hd-tapes.png[/img]
also, most everything is for either free download or purchase. check it out.

jose 5 years, 4 months agoReply

TORE Recordings 5 years, 3 months agoReply

[img]http://www.torerecordings.com/images/TR003small.jpg[/img]
New cassette release on TORE Recordings. MOUNTAIN LORD is a punkcore band from Memphis, TN.
MOUNTAIN LORD "Reality Is Shit."
www.torerecordings.com

Brigitte 5 years, 2 months agoReply

It's really fun to remember the good old times… ;-)


I went into this particularly large "Dollar Store" in Dryden New York NEAR ITHACA. I was able to purchase cassette tapes of various bands who never made the top billing charts.10-cassettes for a DOLLAR! INSANE! 100's of cassettes! one tape "Gegy Tah" has some peculiar music on it. There must be 1000,s of bands across america. Now every little town in america seems to have a band……..it,s like the lotto now to be a musician and make it. Seeing all these abandoned cassettes had a profound affect on me! Should i use the word affect or effect? Lake effect snow that affected me? OK….anyway……Is there something I,m not getting? A voice in my head saying ["you are just a innocent pawn, you don,t even matter who cares…….you are insignificant. Your persuits are trivial in the scheme of things."] DRUMMER "BABYLON JOHN" [band] "YAK ReMiX" yeah thats me presently, I also write matierial on string, acoustic guitar and vocals, my work is slow…..(voice in my head)—->["You'll never make it in the "REAL" music industry"] there's that pesky voice in my head again…..WHO cares….? Shut up stupid voice! (laughing)

craze 5 years agoReply

Cool list! Thanks a lot for that…and the people who replied and added even more!
Here's another one:
Econore Records - http://www.econore.com
[img]http://www.econore.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/zoul-vow-eco003-package.jpg[/img]
Zoul - "Vow" / Double Tape in VHS Box
[img]http://www.econore.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/neon_blud-speed-madness-and-flying-saucer_eco012.jpg[/img]
Neon Blud - "The Speed. Madness and Flying Saucers" 
[img]http://www.econore.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/mattias_frisk-dod_i_-vantan_pa_liv-eco_006.jpg[/img]
M. Frisk - "Död I Väntan På Liv“

wsmtml 4 years, 4 months agoReply