Have you heard the news? The Compact Cassette is making a comeback. The revival of interest in the lowly cassette tape documented by August Brown in the LA Times appears to be a modest, fringe phenomenon, but a real one nonetheless. Pitchfork noted the same trend in more detail back in February. I have been known to wax nostalgic on the topic of the mixtape on occasion myself.
We've been reading stories about resurgent interest in vinyl records for years now, so it was probably only a matter of time before the cassette started making a comeback as well. People tend to think of the CD as replacing the LP, but the picture is more complicated than that when you consider the often forgotten fact that from the early-80s through the early-90s the cassette was actually the dominant music format for both home recording and pre-recorded music. Pre-recorded cassette sales passed up LP sales sometime in the early 80s, and it was not until 1993 that CDs outsold cassette tapes in the United States. The compact cassette had about a decade of extremely robust sales, so it is not surprising that there would be a revival of interest in the format approximately 20 years after its decline began.
The good news is that my boss (evidently unaware of the cassette's impending resurgence) recently gave me his Nakamichi RX-202 cassette deck, so I will have something really nice on which to play the "outré noise-rock" currently being released exclusively on cassette.
I'll try to post some thoughts about what this resurgence might be about later.