For one thing so small, cassettes can join worlds : NPR


Over 90 minutes, the অন্য (ONNO) compilation surveys India’s experiment music scene: pulsing noise, avant-pop, freak people, astral synths and surging industrial.

Courtesy of Onno Collective


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Courtesy of Onno Collective


Over 90 minutes, the অন্য (ONNO) compilation surveys India’s experiment music scene: pulsing noise, avant-pop, freak people, astral synths and surging industrial.

Courtesy of Onno Collective

8 Tracks is your antidote to the algorithm. Every week, NPR Music producer Lars Gotrich, with the assistance of his colleagues, makes connections between sounds throughout time.

The cassette is a device of communication. From metalheads keen to listen to obscure demos and Deadheads buying and selling reside tapes to boomboxes blasting hip-hop and go-go on metropolis blocks, this compact audio format invented by Lou Ottens in 1963 not solely gave listeners the chance to share music however additionally data… a few of which fueled revolutions.

In his e book Excessive Bias: The Distorted Historical past of the Cassette Tape, Marc Masters provides a crucial account of how the cassette was made and its essential position within the democratization of sound and knowledge. All through its early chapters, particularly, you meet the characters who realized that the following step in expertise needed to be private and pocket-sized.

However largely, Excessive Bias celebrates the cassette’s early adopters and its still-thriving tradition. Earlier than audio software program might be had in a fast obtain, costly studios and gear had been important boundaries to entry. As a substitute of ready for a report deal, musicians like Daniel Johnston — whose early tape-only releases can be found as soon as once more — would hit report on an affordable cassette deck and simply play to the room, errors, tape hiss, overblown ranges and all. Huge-budget albums might supply readability, however what Johnston and lots of others like him articulate in lo-fi recordings is uncooked intention — that what issues most in music is the second and the way it feels. And whereas not within the e book, I believe usually concerning the early days of The Olivia Tremor Management when it was somebody’s job to smash a button on a 4-Monitor at simply the precise second to attain some weird impact, a cheerful accident you possibly can by no means dream up in any other case. The restrictions of the expertise had been the function, not the bug. And, in truth, that is the enjoyment that Masters captures: That throughout generations and all over the world, the cassette is a device of creation. Impressed, I lately dug out a transportable recorder and made tape loops out of outdated mixtapes.

There is a new article concerning the cassette’s comeback yearly, particularly as pop stars like Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande embrace the format, however for many people it stays a figuring out nod — a shorthand for music that is private and home made. This week on 8 Tracks, I spotlight latest music launched on cassette, plus a pair vinyl reissues of music initially made on cassette.

Nox, “Iron Information”

Each time I enter the realm of Lamont Thomas — I rejoice the man’s whole catalog as Obnox — his dank mixture of garage-punk clatter, psychedelic soul and corroded hip-hop depart me woozy and bruised. Now shortened to Nox, the self-released Iron Information is finest understood as a block social gathering with audio system blaring from each stoop, a rattling cacophony that is by some means comforting. I am significantly drawn to the title observe, a slow-motion smoke-out of guitar fuzz, doomy drums and Thomas’ {smooth} incantations.

Penny Carson Nichols, “Simply This Time”

Non-public-press recordings have turn into one thing of a digger’s dream: To search out one thing so obscure and delightful initially heard by a handful of individuals, then increasing its universe of ears. Penny Carson Nichols solely made these songs for pals in 1988, then a cassette was present in a thrift retailer many years later. “Simply This Time” is so easy in presentation — concord vocals, an acoustic guitar fingerpicked on what seems like rusted strings — but carries a depth of craving that by some means feels misplaced and detached, as if she’s missed too many probabilities with love.

Linda Smith, “Fin de Fete”

In Eighties and ’90s cassette tradition, Linda Smith supplied a handcrafted class amidst tape hiss. Ever since Captured Tracks launched an anthology in 2021, I’ve eagerly purchased each considered one of Smith’s self-released cassette reissues — magical indie-pop missives filled with home-recorded invention. Two of these early tapes are actually getting pressed to vinyl, Nothing Else Else and I So Favored Spring, the latter which finds the area between Vashti Bunyan‘s pastoral storytelling and the unpolished prowess of The Raincoats and Younger Marble Giants.

Jay Kshirsagar, “Kink Crimson”

অ​ন​্​য (ONNO) is a compilation put collectively by the Onno Collective out of Kolkata, India, selling experimental artists from throughout their nation. Over 90 minutes, you get pulsing noise, avant-pop, freak people, astral synths and surging industrial — each observe flows out and in of one another, as spoken in a typical language. Jay Kshirsagar’s cheekily titled “Kink Crimson” is sculpturally proggy, however bursts from a heady acoustic dirge into sublevels of digital bliss.

Craig Peyton, “Be Grateful for What You Bought”

The Bloomington label Ulyssa understands the artwork and utility of the mixtape as a way to reveal the stranger corners of music. It has launched a Soundcloud rapper anthology, crate-dug streaming curiosities and doubled down on no matter “toe jazz” is. On the floor, Craig Peyton does not appear to suit Ulyssa’s regular oddballs and outsiders: He wrote scores for PBS and BBC exhibits, was an everyday musician on BET, produced home and R&B songs in ’80s NYC. (He was additionally the Flight Ambassador to the Bahamas?!) However from wonky fusion and smooth-prog and to vibrant new age and a few straight up elevator jazz, it is like, who is that this man?! This is my favourite jam of the bunch, through which Peyton turns William DeVaughn’s smoove, two-chord hit “Be Grateful for What You Bought” right into a motorik, Giorgio Moroder-style groove.

Chain Circuits, “Coup D’Etat”

The demo tape by no means died; it lives on in punk and hardcore. Indonesia’s Chain Circuits is out and in in seven minutes, its drum machine d-beat gives a mudflap thud to lyrics spit in English, French and Spanish. The guitar is simply swimming in refrain pedal, contributing to the demo’s ooze oeuvre. (Ooze-vre?) It makes me need to throw up.

Harry Górski-Brown, “Dùthaich MhicAoidh”

The lament is a pillar of folksong; given the nation’s historical past throughout the British empire, I really feel like Scots are naturals at them. On this cassette from Glasgow-based label Glarc, Harry Górski-Brown takes traditionals sung in varied Gaelic dialects and gravitates towards their pure, piercing drones with pipes, fiddle, bouzouki and organ. However are there cracks, executed in subtly glitched electronics that simmer on the floor, destabilizing the drone’s hypnotic energy till the complete power of disappointment is obliterated by metallic overtones. Thrilling, terrifying stuff that confronts centuries of mourning.

Hyozo, “Anima”

Cassette labels domesticate a novel aesthetic all their very own, and take us with them. Chicago’s Eye Vybe leans into music of the third eye, significantly from the Japan psychedelic scene. One such providing is that this extraordinarily tranquil set of solo Fender Rhodes and Wurlizter meditations from Hyozo, chief of the ambient group Yaryu. In them, we will map one other world onto our personal — aquatic undulations wash away unsettled souls, opening up different pathways to peace.

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