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Leaderless: Underground Cassette Culture Now
Exhibition on view from May 12 – May 26, 2007
Printed Matter, Inc. is pleased to announce an exhibition surveying contemporary American cassette culture. Leaderless: Underground Cassette Culture Now will open on May 12 and run through May 26. Printed Matter is located at 195 Tenth Avenue at 22nd Streets.
From bedrooms and dorm rooms, garages and dingy basements, Printed Matter and Heavy Tapes have gathered the leaders of the American underground tape culture movement—a geographically and generationally diverse community centered around the thriving noise, psych, and experimental music scenes. Such an exhibition might lead one to believe that “tapes are back” though the truth is that they never left, having been the chosen medium of this particular community from the late 70s onward. Unlike manufactured CDs or vinyl, tapes are analog, cheap and easily made at home with accessible and rudimentary equipment (i.e. no computers), making them the logical choice for a community that is constantly evolving and producing. Tapes also offer a unique perspective for those who are put off by the ubiquity and harsh aesthetics often associated with CDRs.
For the duration of the exhibition, Printed Matter’s back room will be transformed into a cassette shop—with hundreds of titles exhibited and available for purchase. Boom boxes will give audience members the opportunity to sample and explore. Guest curators (among them Thurston Moore from the iconoclastic noise band Sonic Youth, Chris Freeman—the founder of cassette distributor Fusetron, and Dominick Fernow of Hospital Productions) will also present out-of-print cassettes from their collections.
Labels to be featured include 23 Productions (WI), AA (MI), American Tapes (MI), Animal Disguise (MI), Bone Tooth Horn, Callow God (CA), Cherried Out Merch (OR), Chondritic Sound (MI), Drone Disco (OH), Ecstatic Peace (MA), Fag Tapes (MI), Fuckit Tapes (NY), Gods of Tundra (MI), Hanson Records (MI), Heavy Tapes (NY), Hospital Productions (NY), Iatrogenesis (OR), Ides (IL), Friendship Bracelet (MA), Loveless Tapes (NJ), Middle James CO (ON/CA), Monorail Trespassing (CA), Nihilist Productions (IL), Not Not Fun (CA), Psychform (WA), RRRecords (MA), Rundownsun (BC), Since 1972 (NY), Spite (NY), Stammer Tapes (NY), Swampland Noise (CA), Throne Heap (NY), Tone Filth (MN), Trash Ritual (NY), and Troniks (CA), among many others.
Leaderless: Underground Cassette Culture Now coincides with the No Fun Fest—a four day noise festival that will take place at the Hook in Red Hook, Brooklyn from May 17 – 20th. Now in its fourth year, No Fun Fest features some of the world’s premiere noise musicians and practitioners.
Heavy Tapes was established in 2004 in Brooklyn, NY by musician and teacher Michael Bernstein and musician and visual artist Maya Miller, as an offshoot of the Heavy Conversation label run by the New York band Double Leopards of which they have been a part since 2001. Originally spontaneously created because of ease of access to cassette manufacturers and a desire to release their own solo and duo music, the label has since taken on a life of its own and has spawned a distinctive visual and audio style over the nearly 50 releases in the 3 years of its existence. Combining a fine ear for "out sounds" with a commitment to exposing the deepest noise and sound art underground, Heavy Tapes has since become a stalwart of the non-scene which it proudly participates in. The cassettes have been displayed in an art exhibition in Seattle, featured in an article in Swindle Magazine authored by Tony Rettman, and distributed internationally at record stores, museum shops, internet mailorder stores, and beyond.