subcultures

The Magnetist – Audio Cassettes in Contemporary Culture

As lovers of magnetic tape and obsolete media, we keep our eyes open for people who remain attached to the formats most have forgot.

A recent film posted on Vimeo features the creative life of part time chef, noise musician and tape DJ Micke, also known as ‘The Magnetist’.

The film follows the Stockholm-based artist through his life as a ‘tapeologist.’ From demagnetising tape in order to create soundscapes, to running a club night comprised of tapes scavenged from wherever he can find them, Micke demonstrates how the audio cassette remains a source of inspiration within counter culture.

The Magnetist from Filibuster on Vimeo.

The wider resurgence of cassettes is evident from the forthcoming Cassette Store Day, an event that will be marked in record stores in the UK, USA, Europe and South America.

New tape labels are popping up all the time. Tapes are now often preferred to CD-Rs for short run albums in do it yourself punk culture, as releases blur the line between art object and collector item.

So what’s behind the sub-cultural obsession with the audio cassette tape? Perhaps it is no more complex than novelty value and nostalgia. It may however be evidence of the persistence of analogue technologies in an era where digital technologies appear to have colonised our relationship to sound and vision.

Is there a yearning to resist the ways digital media shapes how we listen to music, both at the level of sound quality, and the promiscuous skipping through mp3 files?

You simply can’t do that with tape. You have to rewind, fast forward or listen the whole way through. Its a mechanical process, often shrouded in hiss.

What is certain, fashion or no fashion, the wheels on the Great Bear tape machines will keep turning.

Posted by debra in Audio Tape, 0 comments