Tuesday 12 June 2012

The Cassingle Revival

Eleven years ago The Lucksmiths used the cassingle as a metaphor for a romantic past that could never be recaptured. It seems they might have been partly wrong on that count, because the cassingle is back. There’s absolutely no romance, though.

Barely a week goes past without a new band I’m really excited about releasing a tape. Yes, I buy them because of the download code. No, I have never played any of the tapes. And I do own a pretty good tape deck.

If the question’s economic, then I get it, because it’s unlikely I’d have bought the songs if they were just downloads. If the question’s aesthetic, then would some of the labels involved please start putting a bit more effort into the design? Consigning the plastic cases to the dustbin of history would be a good start.

I understand that tapes are the cheapest analogue format. I also understand that even if I moan that not all potential buyers have tape decks, I also know that not all music buyers (even in the micro-indie scene we’re talking about) have record players.

So the economic argument stands. It also interestingly suggests that the tide has really turned against CDs, which are far, far cheaper than tapes.

I’ve never liked CDs and have no fondness for tapes. I appreciate the tactile argument for the analogue format; in fact, I’ve argued it for many years in favour of records over CDs. An experiment supports the innate attraction of records. In the early 90s, a scientist gave a chimpanzee a series of objects, among them a CD and a record.

The chimp threw away the CD almost immediately. And the record? The chimpanzee picked it up and got an erection. The chimp wasn’t given a cassette, but I bet that would’ve been thrown away like the CD.

Now look at The Lucksmiths’ The Cassingle Revival. Which version do you like the look of?


  1. I was a bit blown away by this. First, I didn't really know what a cassingle is. And second of all, I did'nt know tapes still exist. Thought everyone is into cd's nowadays.

  2. Viva cassettes.

    For starters:


    That's the tip of the iceberg. Some great designs there, and some of us don't even object to the plastic cases. All part of the charm.

    For an overview of cassette culture try "Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture" Thurston Moore.

    Cassettes are for life (or until the tape degrades) not just for hipsters.

  3. I've read the Thurston Moore book, which I think is a celebration of mix tapes rather than a call to revive tapes as a commercial medium.

    Sure, I get that some people have a fondness for tapes. I don't. I do like that a lot of great music is being released right now, and if that means that some of it is on tape then I'll play along and hope those bands get a record out some time soon.