Several factors led to the rise of cassette culture. The development of the cassette tape recording format was important – the improvement of tape formulations and availability of sophisticated cassette decks in the late 1970s allowed participants produce high-quality copies of their music inexpensively. Also significant was the fact that bands did not need to go into expensive recording studios any longer. Multi-track recording equipment was becoming affordable, portable and of fairly high quality during the early 1980s. 4-track cassette recorders developed by Tascam and Fostex allowed artists to record and get a reasonable sound at home. As well, electronic instruments, such as drum machines and synthesizers, became more compact and inexpensive. Therefore, it became increasingly feasible to construct home-recording studios, giving rise to an increase of recording artists. Add to this the fact that college radio was coming into its own. For many years there were non-commercial college radio stations but now they had a newfound freedom in format – giving rise to regular cassette-only radio shows that showcased and promoted the work of home recording artists. With the influx of new music from sources other than the major record companies—and the quasi-major medium of college radio to lend support—the audio boom was on.

The packaging of cassette releases, whilst sometimes amateurish, was also an aspect of the format in which a high degree of creativity and originality could be found. For the most part packaging relied on traditional plastic shells with a photocopied “J-card” insert, but some labels made more of an effort. The Chocolate Monk-released album “Anusol” by the A Band, for instance, came packaged with a “suppository” unique to each copy – one of which was a used condom wrapped in tissue. BWCD released a cassette by Japanese noise artist Aube that came tied to a blue plastic ashtray shaped like a fish. EEtapes of Belgium release of This Window’s (UK) “Extraction 2” was packaged with an X-ray of a broken limb in 1995. The Barry Douglas Lamb album “Ludi Funebres” had the cassette box buried in some earth contained in a larger outer tin and covered in leaves. Walls Of Genius went to great lengths, spray-painting abstract art cassette labels, affixing hand-made “authentic” labels, painting cassette boxes (the “white” cassette, 1984), creating one-of-a-kind pinup covers (“The Mysterious Case of Pussy Lust”, 1985) and issuing Certificates of Genius to anybody who purchased a title.

Though in the mid-’90s cassette culture seemed to decline with the appearance of new technologies and methods of distribution such as the Internet, MP3 files, file sharing, and CD-Rs, in recent years it has once again seen a revival, with the rise of tape labels such as Burger Records, Memorials of Distinction and Gnar Tapes.[14] An exhibition was held at Printed Matter in New York City devoted to current American cassette culture entitled “Leaderless: Underground Cassette Culture Now” .

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