My Better Judgment?You may have noticed that I have little regard for the physical objects that the cavemen of days past had to use to store recorded music. Maybe that's because I came of age during the era of the CD, the format with the least soul, or maybe because I pride myself on practicality. But as kitschy as it is, I do in fact have some nostalgia for cassettes, which call to mind my childhood, mowing the lawn, recording mix tapes to play in the half-'84, half-'86 Ford Ranger.
So it is that I'm reviewing the first cassette sent to me by a label, Tare's Ritual Degradation. Contrary to San Francisco's reputation generally, it seems to have a pretty healthy black metal underground, and this is clearly where Tare are coming from. On first liste, it seemed to be just old-school, pure black metal, with no artsy pretensions. In other words, it probably wouldn't have grabbed my attention, but for the physical object. I've gotten plenty of CDs in the mail, which end up immediately ripped onto my computer to play on the trusty iPod, but I couldn't do that here.
Now, it comes in a case that's close to a DVD size case with a cassette and a mini-CD. (Which, incidentally, might be harder to play than a cassette, unless you have a CD player with the right kind of tray. Which isn't what my Mac mini has.) The cassette is brutally plain as it should be, and has the entire EP on each side--I had forgotten that auto-reverse was a thing until I heard some clicks and then the album playing a second time.
So this physical object, against my better judgment, grabbed my attention. And I played it a few more times, noticing the crusty edge to this music. The energy of the band which suggests that they're playing as if they're the first to do it. The thin, distant sound of a cassette, which seems to be the way black metal was always meant to be recorded. And yeah, so I'm going to start digging around thrift stores to find a Walkman now, because there really is something to this.
The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars
P.S. Now you know the secret to getting me to listen: a cassette.