For those of a certain age, the humble cassette will be less of a blast from the past – or a gimmick – and more a slab of nostalgia. Like its counterpart, the record, tapes are a part of musical history, and like that other format’s Record Store Day, October 13th aims to put C30s, 60s and 90s at the front of the shop.
And while the vinyl version has become a worldwide phenomenon, the sixth annual worldwide Cassette Store Day will still sees many releases committed to magnetised plastic.
The Go Team’s re-released debut album is one of the higher profile efforts available, but on the whole #CSD18 is less a record industry cash-in and more focused on releases by
independent acts like Mt. Doubt.
The Edinburgh band has garnered quite a reputation for their dark pop, which draws influences from the likes of Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen –
despite frontman Leo Bargery’s youthful outlook and appearance.
The boss of their Scottish Fiction label Neil Wilson admits: “I actually do remember tapes quite fondly – home taping the Top 40 on a Sunday, then listening to the tape on my Walkman.
“Maybe my parents were just too cheap to buy me a CD player!”
However, in this age of downloads and streaming, Wilson sees cassettes as part of keeping music, well, ‘real’.
“On a small scale I do think we are seeing a push back against the digitisation of music,” he suggests. “More than just music, the digitisation of stuff. I was speaking to someone the other day who doesn’t own a DVD player? He just streams everything? I mean, I get that, but also how crazy! To not own any movies?
“So it’s great that there’s people out there, old and young, who want to actually own something. And cassettes are a great way to accommodate that. And I love that. Plus they are cheap as hell!”
Bargery still buys physical releases, but is closer to the digital demographic that Wilson hopes to turn around.
“I think all the cassettes I’ve ever owned have been audiobooks,” he admits. “So primarily, if not exclusively, just Stephen Fry talking about
Except for, we presume, the band’s previous foray into the world of ferric oxide (pictured), which sits in an impressive back catalogue alongside a couple of albums – one on 12” plastic – and a handful of EPs.
The new release ‘This Must Mean Something Awful’, however, has more of a stripped-back sound, in keeping with what is more of a ‘solo’ effort – as the singer says: “Whether that’s alone, with a band or with a full orchestra it’s ‘Mt. Doubt’ as long as I wrote the songs”.
“I think it has just naturally leant into more ‘subdued’ territory.”
Bargery says of the new record.“My songwriting has always been in that sort of vein, but it’s definitely been amplified in an inverse sort of way by stripping away other instruments and extra noise.”
With a lineup including the revered Annie Booth and others with their own variety of projects, Bargery is indeed fortunate to be able to draw from an exceptional pool of musicians.
“We’re pretty fortunate in that we have a lot of very talented, musical friends,” he says, “so there are always people around that we can call upon.”
Music lovers can expect a new Mt. Doubt long player in the new year – doubtless on a variety of formats. As Wilson laughs: “We’re working on a wind-up musical box as we speak!”