The Cassette is Back !

The music platform Bandcamp has had a quirky scheme going on for a few months now : increasingly, independent artists and labels are re-introducing the ‘cassette radio’ format in limited editions, to sell their music. As well as all the current talk about vinyl, the cassette is also back on musical agendas…

Breakable, with a short life-span and a relativement average sound output, the cassette doesn’t really seem to have much going for it. Everyone used them at some point; they were practical, pocket-sized and could be slipped into any music system with a tape deck (meaning absolutely anywhere at the time). The cassette was basically the standard of the music industry, surviving the storms of technological progress. The CD made its appearance, which signed the death warrants of the poor old cassette and the poor old walkman, or rather portable tape player (no Sony advertising here)…

But then, clearly nobody took into account the overactive imaginations of a handful of independent artists, tinkering around with tapes and happening to be graphic designers by night.

A collectors item? A futuristic concept? A throwback to the nineties? In the space of a few months, the cassette has become an original way to get your music out and to differentiate yourself. A customised cassette, unique and easily personalisable … we have to admit that we wouldn’t mind a discreet comeback!

What’s clear is that we’re possibly witnessing the early tricklings of a new current, a new cult object created by the emptiness of digital formats. The cassette could even go beyond a simple fashion trend and become an essential tool, if we believe the rumours from Sony. The Japanese firm might, if whispers are true, be developping a ‘super cassette’ prototype ‘with a storage capacity of up to 185 tetraoctets, or the capacity of 39,000 DVDs, 65 million songs or 135,400 days of music’ (source: French daily paper Le Figaro). WOW!

Customisation + super cassette = bingo

You heard it here first …

The best cassette ‘pimping’ can be seen just below, and to go with it we’ve got the content of one of them to listen to: the beat tape by the MUJ collective. A real trip back in time, on both side A and side B.

Tape that!


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Limonadier is now available in English thanks to my inimitable team of French-reading, English-writing waifs and strays. We translate the articles from French, and write new pieces in English. I like haze pop (Beach House), lyrical hip hop (Rejjie Snow, French 90s), bass (Thundercat, bassy dance music, and things like Pixies and Jack White) and that mysterious genre of proper music which we don't discuss much here but is quaintly known as 'classical'. *** Il était une fois, le Limonadier était une publication uniquement francophone. Puis vint l'équipe British, lancé par Miss Joanna avec le précieux soutien des chers fondateurs, et c'était parti, vers l'infini et au delà ! Mon cocktail préféré: tequila, citron vert, sucre de canne.


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