In the past few years, sort of like vinyl, the cassette mixtape has made a comeback among bands looking for a different way of releasing albums, and 20-something audiophiles trading mixtapes online and through the mail. No one mistakes this revival for a resurrection. Making mixtapes, once a mass phenomenon, is now a twee exercise.
That the practice endures at all tells us something important about art and self-expression. The constraints that once bound the maker to the mixtape have been stripped away from the outside by technology, but they persist on the inside as a kind of epiphenomenal desire.