Because cassettes rule hard and never really age, The Analog Cave is here to bring you some of the best in underground tapes and collected vision. A cassette is like your best friend, your most trusted travel partner, and a specimen of imaginative fantasy and otherworldly dimension. Pop one in and transform. Ride the highway eternal.

Skin Tags | Skin Tags | Already Dead Tapes & Records

Skin Tags deliver “on the floor” punk, shaping sounds with crunches of anger that lie low and close to the earth. It’s more abstract than it appears—a rolling tire collecting nails and plastic wrappers—but for all its gnarl, the anthems lend themselves to a math-rock precision, injecting technicality in an artful way. The St. Louis, Missouri, trio put out a demo in 2016 and a split the previous year, so this is their debut proper, and the 11 tracks showcase a collective slashing into the future. “The Motions” starts things off fast and hardcore; “The List” swims in noise pop, chugging and layering; “I Hate Life” waxes philosophical—what is life but a monetary struggle?—and closer “Today Something Happened” is like Bikini Kill and DNA working out a story on the road, a conversation and deep togetherness. Punk is still hard and real. Skin Tags make sure of that.

JT Whitfield | Complacent | Chondritic Sound

Austin, Texas’ JT Whitfield turns techno into an odyssey of form. The building blocks on his latest release, Complacent, stack together as architectural, sticky glue—the peeling and reattaching are what make the sections of extension possible. Songs like “To Cross Out Everything” create tunnels wherein trance can perpetuate solid breaks, then additional layering opens up said tunnels, creating a distance that doubles back like a boomerang. Noise is paramount to the configuration of space here, an abstract and sensual beat. Complacent is a giant of structure. You travel through it, trying to resist and hold on to common themes but, at some point, give in to the particular world’s individualized journey. “Brush” is perhaps the sneakiest, a song that urges a dance, a tribal account of a universe created by machines, in which lines of communication lie broken and abstract.

Kiki & The Cosmic Egg with rrao | Guided Visualization | Crash Symbols

Kiki & The Cosmic Egg is artist, activist, and intuitive Catherine Eberhardt. A collaborative effort with musician and Reiki master rrao, aka Turiya Madireddi, Guided Visualization follows Eberhardt’s meditative journey with faeries following a Reiki session with Madireddi. The tape is two compositions: “Guided Visualization,” with Eberhardt narrating the process, and “Instrumental,” the same composition sans Eberhardt’s spoken words. The process of experiencing both sides has a profound effect. Side A is a direction, a soft and tranquil journey. Side B is pure autonomy, the shedding of Saṃsāra and the absolution of moment. A purchase of the cassette includes “specially prepared and infused tea and a handmade scrying bowl” with designs created by Eberhardt and West Virginian artist Connie Rhinehart. The whole package is a life force unto itself, a mind of peace and perspective. We all need this.

Abdominal | Ab Flex | Self-Released

Ab Flex was originally released in 1998 by Toronto rapper Abdominal, aka Andy Bernstein, and mostly sold out of the artist’s knapsack, which, as he notes on his Bandcamp page, “you did in the ’90s… true backpack rap!” We’re all lucky the tape’s getting some redistribution after Bernstein found a box of 63 originals in his dad’s basement, for it’s a colossal of golden-age hip hop, with raps that fuse symbolism and urban density and a collection of DJs and producers—Planet Pea, DJ Serious, Agile, Mr. Knia—laying beats that recall the beauty and mindfulness of progressive appropriation. “Head Games II” is the tale of a journey through a day, the mind a walking cloud achieving maximization. It’s feels like a stroll through the past, because it is—but it feels like the future too. “Elixir” is a dream, MCs dropping from the sky like slow-motion stars, exploding gases long gone in theory but, really, just beginning to brighten our day.

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