Listen: Kmart in-store music/announcements cassette from 1989

Above is the audio from a music/announcement cassette played at Kmart stores in October 1989. At Archive.org, Mark Davis writes:

In the late 1980's and early 1990's, I worked for Kmart behind the service desk and the store played specific pre-recorded cassettes issued by corporate. This was background music, or perhaps you could call it elevator music. Anyways, I saved these tapes from the trash during this period and this video shows you my extensive, odd collection. Until around 1992, the cassettes were rotated monthly. Then, they were replaced weekly. Finally sometime around 1993, satellite programming was intoduced which eliminated the need for these tapes altogether.

The older tapes contain canned elevator music with instrumental renditions of songs. Then, the songs became completely mainstream around 1991. All of them have advertisements every few songs.

Coming soon: a limited-edition, "blue light" vinyl reissue. Just kidding. I think?

Hear dozens more from Davis's collection at Archive.org: Attention K-Mart Shoppers

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, a freaked-out ambient tape loop remix

Magnetic tape maestro Randall Taylor, aka Amulets, takes an old Mannheim Steamroller Christmas cassette in a totally different direction... a totally different dimension.

Just when you thought you were going to listen to some sweet christmas music it turns into a weird 7 minute ambient drone rework that no one wants to hear at your family/work/friendmas/holiday party! Give the gift of your obscure musical taste and Mannheim Steamroll your loved ones today!

GEAR USED: - Custom Tape Loops - Tascam Porta 02 - Library of Congress Tape Player - Memorex Walkman - Behringer Micromix - AC Noises AMA - Strymon Blue Sky

Support and follow Amulets on Patreon.

Previously: "Spectacular 'Ambient Walkman Symphony' and other tape-loop, circuit bent performances" Read the rest

Listen to the deeply weird rock covers on the mysterious "Woodstock Al" cassette

This is "Woodstock Al #6," a strange and fascinating DIY cassette of covers by an unidentified artist. In 2000, a fellow named Jim Fletcher sent the cassette to legendary WFMU personality and music historian Irwin Chusid. From Mei Clover who posted the audio to YouTube for posterity:

This is a tape filled with strange, distorded guitar noodling, barely audible vocals, out-of-rhythym drums, and songs just barely recognisable to what they're supposed to be. You've never heard something like this before. The identity of Woodstock Al is unknown, and the tapes Woodstock Al 1-5 are still lost. Because these tracks are just barely recognisable, here is the track list.

1. Communication Breakdown 2. Purple Haze 3. Sunshine Of Your Love 4. Light My Fire 5. Manic Depression 6. Hello, I Love You 7. Cocaine 8. One Way Out 9. Every Day I Have The Blues 10. I Don't Live Today 11. You Got Me Floatin' 12. Paranoid 13. Sweet Child 'O Mine

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A 7th grader's a cappella cover of Nirvana's Nevermind... all of it

In the mid-1990s, a 7th grader named Tom Clark gifted his buddy a cassette containing his cover of Nirvana's then-new album Nevermind. All of it. A cappella. In 2008, the recipient released the cassette to the world. Above is Tom Clark's "Nevermind" and the story is below:

so i got a little story for you. early to mid nineties. i am in 7th grade. art class. you know how you really get to know the other 3 or 5 people at yr table. you become friends. well, this young gent and i had a passion for a little underground band-then known as nirvana.

at some point i lent this lad a random mixtape i had lying around. it probably had bad rock music on it. he lost the tape...

to repay me...FOR SOME REASON HE THOUGHT THAT HE WOULD MAKE ME A TAPE OF HIMSELF SINGING THE ENTIRE ALBUM 'NEVERMIND' BY NIRVANA---a cappella STYLE!!!

...recorded in a karoake machine...complete with puberty-filled voice cracking and occasional incorrect lyrics. pause and record style editing.

(via /r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

Bomb scare triggered by cassette tape

This morning, Duke Energy mailroom employees in Charlotte, North Carolina called police after noticing an unusual small package with a handwritten address on it at their facility. Police cleared the area, shut down roads, and deployed a K-9 unit.

According to CBS17, "police and the bomb squad investigated the package, which contained a cassette tape by the band Journey."

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Cassette Store Day is coming, when you'll be able to pick up the Beastles "Ill Submarine"!

dj BC (previously) writes, "You might be familiar with my Beastles mashup project from some years ago. The album "Ill Submarine" is dropping on TAPE on Cassette Store Day, October 13th 2018! I guess tapes are unpopular enough that no one anticipates copyright lawsuits. Speaking of copyright fear, the vinyl editions of this project, and of Wu Orleans, are not being pressed any more. So if you see one, get it." Read the rest

Spectacular "Ambient Walkman Symphony" and other tape-loop, circuit bent performances

Portland-based musician Randall Taylor, aka Amulets, creates gorgeous experimental music performances from modded Walkmans and old multitrack cassette decks playing handcrafted tape loops, live guitar loops processed through circuit-bent pedals, field recordings and other sound sources. He calls his portable setup, featured in the video below, the Suitcase of Drone. Absolutely stunning work.

From Austin's Dimension Gallery where Amulets created a sound installation that runs until August 14:

(Taylor's) current body of work under the moniker Amulets expresses his interest in the intersection between visual art and music. His physical cassette tape loops are like mini musical canvases. They create sonic tapestries in his mechanically performative installations. Using recycled tapes and players, he simultaneously fuses music, recycling, art, and nostalgia.

Amulets (Thanks, John Park!)

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Websites archive vintage cassettes

At Vintage Cassettes, "you will find the beatiful pictures of sealed compact cassettes."

Cassettes from 1970-1990 are covered the most. Collecting vintage cassettes is a great hobby and brings all good memories back. Cassettes are organized by brands and then the years they were produced. We concentrate on the most important brands. This site try to cover three markets: US, Europe and Japan. We also added the History of Compact Cassettes located to the right.

When I was a kid I wondered if METAL meant that it was specially made for taping, like, Megadeth.

The companion site (with better images) would be The Tape Deck, which posts pictures of the cassettes themselves.

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VHS is making a comeback

Free VHS rentals are part of the planned fun at Video Vortex, a new venture by Alamo Drafthouse. The first one is under contstruction in Raleigh, North Carolina. Read the rest

Mickey Rourke's loft in Nine 1/2 Weeks

When I first watched 9 1/2 Weeks in 1986, I pined for Mickey Rourke's minimalist loft with its Breuer and Meier furniture and, most of all, the magical tape-flipping Nakamichi RX-505 cassette deck playing Brian Eno. In fact, I still dream of owning that Nakamichi. You holding?

"Breuer, Meier and Mackintosh furniture in 9 1/2 Weeks" (Film and Furniture)

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Newly digitized mixtapes from 80s and 90s club DJs

What is a preservationist to do when someone drops off a plastic grocery bag full of 30-year-old cassettes created by some of San Francisco's most influential DJs? Digitize them, of course. Read the rest

Visit the last cassette factory in the U.S.

Yes, cassettes are making a comeback,but there's only one factory in the US that manufactures them: National Audio Company in Springfield, Missouri. And they're having a banner year.

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Car cassette slot mistaken for iPhone dock, and also the real deal

A "young driver" reportedly stopped in a car dealership service department "complaining that the iPhone dock in his (old) vehicle isn't working and its scratching his phone..." Read the rest

Business is "better than ever" for the last audio cassette factory

"I think you could characterize our operating model as stubbornness and stupidity," says Steve Stepp, president of National Audio Company. Read the rest

Magic of the mixtape

Over at re:form on Medium, Charles Moss gets nostalgic about the mixtape and how it embodies "emotional design" in a physical, tangible time capsule of the moment it was recorded. From re:form:

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.

"The Emotional Design of the Mixtape" Read the rest