repost from PitchforkCassettes are appealing to some listeners in the digital age partly because they're inconvenient. Now that listeners are used to shuffling randomly between hundreds of gigabytes' worth of downloaded audio files, the tape format offers a cohesive, analog listening experience, without the ability to skip around even the way a vinyl record allows. This summer a few of the more interesting, up-and-coming cassette-oriented labels-- Scotch Tapes, Moon Glyph, and Patient Sounds-- are making the search for quality music from the tape world a little easier by releasing compilations. Like Italian Beach Babes/Paradise Vendors label comp PVI006/IBB004 earlier this year, their efforts recall indie comps of decades past, curating a varied and occasionally inspired assortment of ramshackle artists based on a shared camaraderie that runs deeper than superficial styles.
Fuck Winter: A Scotch Summer Mixtape, the first-ever Scotch Tapes comp, is the only one of these three releases available exclusively on cassette. Fittingly, then, it's also the most in tune with the experimental and noise inclinations that kept the format alive in the underground prior to its recent mini-resurgence. Run by Al Bjornaa out of Batchawana Bay, Ontario, Scotch Tapes has put out a tape by Oneida and a 7" by Mike Watt project Al Qaeda, among other releases. Limited to 250 copies, Fuck Winter covers a lot of range in 23 tracks, each so short that if the industrial pummel of Endometrium Cuntplow or vuvuzela-esque James Chance freakouts of Tayside Mental Health aren't for you, just wait for the next track (there's no skipping, remember?). Iowa City-based Wet Hair, whose Shawn Reed runs highly regarded tape-focused label Night People, shimmer through wordlessly hooky highlight "Untitled", which sounds like a half-remembered anthem from a climactic moment in a 1990s slacker movie, while Halifax-based Fuck Montreal come across like a fascinatingly gothy lo-fi girl group on the perversely catchy "Knife Fuck". Different listeners will find different favorites amid the generally fuzzy, scrappy proceedings-- whether the English art-punk of Fever Fever, the Brooklyn post-punk of Talk Normal, or the sludgy riffage of Vancouver-based cassette regulars Shearing Pinx. As Glasgow's Divorce, not to be confused with Seattle's the Divorce, shout: "You can have it all!"
Moon Glyph's Regolith Vol. 1 marks the Minneapolis label's first vinyl record, pressed in a 500-LP edition. Accordingly, the psych-heavy, 10-track comp enjoys slightly higher fidelity, meaning slightly less homespun charm but a more headphone-friendly listening experience, emphasizing bands from the imprint's hometown. Many will want to seek this out, digitally if not on vinyl, for "Surfer Girl", a reverb-kissed, disarmingly melodic jangle-pop love song by Minneapolis sextet Velvet Davenport, featuring chillwave-circle mainstays Ariel Pink and Gary War. Still, there are just as many rewards to be found in the oscillating, bass-heavy ambience of Camden (a side project of Cole Weiland, from Minneapolis band Daughters of the Sun, also on this comp-- not the pre-Decibully emo group), the sunny power-pop guitar licks of fellow Mpls.ers Vampire Hands, or the tribal noise-disco of another area band, Skoal Kodiak. The release starts with Leisure Birds' sun-baked, organ-backed whoa-oh-ohing, and ends with the alternating Southern-rock guitar heroics and surreal sermonizing of Moonstone. "This is something you could believe in, if you believed in things," sing Magic Castles. The psych-rock underground in the Twin Cities, it appears, is alive and well.
Patient Sounds, the label run by Matthew Sage of Fort Collins, Colo., psych-rockers M. Pyres, has also issued its first comp, Patient Sounds Sampler V. 1, downloadable free from the label's blog or available for purchase on the band's tour. The release again confirms the wealth of talent making warm, gooey psych just below the average indie listener's radar. A new track from M. Pyres, "Miles & Days Ahead", is a sprawling instrumental, with crystalline guitar figures built for Built to Spill, and a bass line constantly burbling toward a release that never comes. Minneapolis-based Littoral Drift put earthy folk amid outer-space echo, recalling the acoustic work of Kurt Vile, while Greeley, Colo.-based Ambassador Engine stick to wonderfully wobbly underwater séances. Bingo Pajamas, aka Brooklyn-based Niki Smith, has arguably the comp's breakout moment, setting her murmured harmonies over an arrangement equal parts tUnE-yArDs eccentric and Ciara sensual. While the Moon Glyph and Patient Sounds comps veer more toward chillwave than the Scotch Tapes tape, all reflect the unassuming variety of slightly warped sounds currently making their way onto cassette. Most importantly, all transcend the format altogether, even when, as with Fuck Winter, they benefit from its old-fashioned quirks. The medium is the message, sure, but in this case, the songs speak louder.
— Marc Hogan, July 13, 2010