If you research the expression *cassette culture* on today’s internet you’ll get an almost bizarre mixture of results. From books about a huge *cassette culture scene* in India, I never heard about before, to descriptions of update youngsters who rediscover the unique flair of releasing own music on the cassette medium.
The real *core* of cassette culture was the worldwide scene that came alive in the late 1970s / early 1980s and existed until ca. 2000. The final release on Europe’s biggest Cassette Distribution, Mick Magic‘s Music & Elsewhere was in 2003. Then everybody started releasing CD-Rs or CDs because via digitalisation the whole culture of planet earth had changed.
As an oposition to the “lawgiving” and sterile commercial music world this cassette culture scene allowed complete freedom in creation and distribution.
This book tells you why, how and who.
If you were there – you need this book. If you want to know how it was to be there – you need this book.
If you want to know how a real *Social Network* is defined, how it works and why I think today’s *Social Networks* are a perversion of the expression and are nothing but a money making machine for the owner, with no *in depth* spirit whatsoever – you need this book.
The book was several years in the making, was checked by Hal McGee, underground activist since the early times, in regards of spelling and nasty grammar errors, which is not that usual these days, one of the reasons you get so many faulty products today. And the book is based upon in depth interviews with many artists from these years, plus it’s presenting a variety that defined these years.
This last point is very important because this was one of the main aspects of those years and was leading to the effect this movement had. Whatever one wanted to do/produce was ok and would find interested underground artists and fans, who then kept spreading the word. So one could enter with a mellow folk release and suddendly would get in touch with a harsh electronic sound that was offering a new fascinating world of culture Being open minded and the will to disscover, was part of this spirit of variety.
Too often those years were defined or described as a *In Crowd* group of experimental noise makers. That is a absolutely missleading one tracked presentation of the Cassette Culture Scene. In fact the one who had a huge influence in the early years was releasing very melodic guitar pop – Martin Newell (Cleaners of Venus).
But wait – what did I just say? There are two CDs included with truly great, challenging underground music from those years. Unfortunately these CDs completely fail to present the before mentioned variety. Too many of the here included tracks sound like being tortured by your dentist. *Torturing* was an important aspect of the sound of this scene, which definitely was an oposition that wanted to *hurt* – but – I was there in these years and I know this was absolutely not the real profile of the scene.
I did a Cassette Culture Scene radioshow here in Berlin. Regularly on air from 1987 to 1991 in Berlin and later via other stations, some in the USA on internet. I had from the pop to the rock to the soundscape to the punk to the folk to the noise to the spoken word – from complicated constructed songs to total chaos .. I had them all on my show.
If you want to come close to the real variety produced in those years, I recommend to listen to Don Campau‘s original No Pigeonholes Shows:
That will give you 4 hours of incredible true variety of the cassette culture scene. In those days Don Campau was the one to *teach* me what Cassette Culture Spirit really means. The name of the show “No Pigeonholes“, was chosen for a reason!
However – the book “Cassette Culture, Homemade Music And The Creative Spirit in the pre-internet Age” is the best you can get if you want to know about these early days of undergound spirit of the modern age, it’s fun to read, you get 2 CDs of great attacking underground music – and – it’s a 100% labour of love project!
VERY much recommended!
Lord Litter, august 2020
order your copy HERE