Book & Cassette Review // High Bias: The Distorted History of the Cassette Tape by Marc Masters

One thing you have to know about me is if there is a book or movie about there about cassettes, I'm going to find it and either read it or watch it.   The difference between High Bias and other books about cassettes is that Marc Masters gives you the history of the cassette- which still fascinates me- but then also goes right up until the present day, discussing labels like Already Dead Tapes who are currently releasing a lot of really great music on cassettes.

For me, cassettes were more than just going to K-Mart with my grandmother, begging her to buy me that Milli Vanilli cassette for $13.99 and it came in one of those long protective plastic deals.  When you look back at all of the technology we have for music, the cassette still does what no other medium can.  Yes, you can burn music onto a CD, but most people get CDs that you burn once and then they're done.

The cassette was the first type of media where people could record at home.  Not only could you dub your records onto cassettes, you could dub from cassette to cassette.   And if your tape deck happened to have a microphone, you could even record yourself straight to cassette!  This is something that records couldn't do and CDs still can't do.  

Perhaps the most impressive part of cassettes is that you could go to the store, pick one up in the clearance bin for a dollar and it'd be cheaper than blank tapes, so if you didn't like it you could simply tape over it.  Can you walk into a Goodwill right now, buy a CD and record over it?  No.  But with a cassette, you can!

Cassettes started people making mixtapes.  I used to sit with my finger on the pause button and record songs I liked off of the radio onto cassettes.   And perhaps most importantly, cassettes are durable.  I've had cassettes since I was a kid, since their original run in the 1980's / 1990's and they still play.

Now, if you're like me, and you're buying this book about the cassette you're also going to want this cassette that comes with it.   When I first saw the cassette itself on Bandcamp, I thought I was going to have to go somewhere else to get the book but you can buy both through Bandcamp as a bundle.  I'm really not sure what the ratio is of those who want the book but don't want the cassette that comes with it.  I feel like it would be low, right?  If you're going to read this book about cassettes it feels like you'd love cassettes enough to buy this cassette as well.

One of my favorite parts about the cassette which goes with this book is that it seems to feature the top cassette labels out there right now.  When I first really started writing about cassettes, I was writing about Constellation Tatsu (and specifically White Poppy!) but so many of these other labels are a good introduction if you're not aware of what's going on right now.  You can never go wrong with the variety of Already Dead Tapes and Records.

Through this all though, I just also love that there are cassette based labels out there that didn't make the cut for this cassette.  Hopefully, this can all be a gateway into you finding out about Hand'Solo Records, Illuminated Paths and just a seemingly endless amount of labels still releasing cassettes.

My best advice for those who don't know where to start with modern cassettes is to simply find an artist you like, someone like German Army.   Then, follow their adventures across different labels.  As you find different labels, explore those artists and then it just kind of unravels from there.   Your cassette collection will grow in no time.


Popular Posts