My first album as BassDbler was Slow Blade Penetrates The Shield and was released on cassette as well as digital. Why?
The genesis for the album was really me thinking about all of the Sci-Fi movies I remembered growing up in the 80’s. Everything was always centered around the year 2000. The future was always either Utopian or Dystopian … usually the latter. There were all sorts of wildly futuristic inventions.
I was writing most of the album in and around 2010, which I kept thinking was at least a standard deviation away from this mythical year 2000 from these films. What does this mean? Why were we so convinced of a post-apocalyptic near-future?
2010 was full of new streaming services. CDs were getting harder and harder to find in stores… Best Buy and HMV were scaling back… Tower Records and Blockbuster were dying or dead. Vinyl was just starting it popular comeback.
I started thinking deeply about physical media and how it has changed. Not only sound quality, but the way we interact with it. I wanted a nod to the 80’s when movies like Cherry 2000 were the thing.
I love vinyl. I always have. It is a physical medium… there are grooves and a needle in those grooves. A cassette however… a cassette is mechanical. Physical tape, magnetic, gears… fascinating.
The main reason I wanted to go with a cassette is that a cassette is the only media where you are meant to listen to an entire side of music. You can’t skip tracks. You can’t re-order tracks. The album is the album.
Fast-forward and reverse are your only options. And even though some of use got really good at nailing the exact place to stop, you cannot just skip (yes, there were some auto-skips later in the game, but those were always iffy). Streaming and digital means you can re-arrange things in any way you see fit. Vinyl has grooves and you can easily drop the needle between tracks. Even 8-tracks had programs.
This was also the same time that Lexus officially stopped having cassette as an option, the last automaker to do so. The cassette was dying. Rightly so, some argue. But there was something about the struggle of making the perfect mix tape, or fast forwarding through that terrible sixth song on an album… or discovering that the song sandwiched between the two songs you bought the album for was really the masterpiece.
Interesting and unique… doomed.
(ps – there are still maybe a handful of cassettes available in the store… )