Courtesy of Creative Commons

Be Kind, Rewind: Cassette tape reviews with a DIY spirit

By Ted Jamison /// Staff Writer

Artist:White Fir

Tape:Lake Seeds vol.3: When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again

Genre:Experimental Folk

Label:Cabin Floor Esoterica

(Columbus, OH)


Mission Statement:

When it comes to new music, we all have our go-to Pitchforks, Tumblrs, Twitters, tinkers bing bong blah blah … My point is that it’s been done. Whatever your source, stay true—but this is an excavation. My goal: cassette tapes—pure, DIY archaeology.

This week I wanted to give you a play-by-play of my thoughts while listening to side-A of this tape. I did not realize how weird this would get. Enjoy.

“Diamonds Hollering​​”

A beautiful drone with what must be synthesized strings—perhaps real strings? A bowed bass over which a viola laments in its lowest register or cello in its highest. This track is so tenor.


Is there a goat in the background? Bird song perhaps? Regardless, the incessant patter of the piano alternating two simple chords is sweet enough to send me to sleep.


The purring comfort of your mother’s hair dryer when it’s blowing in the next room and you’re laying face down on her bed. A warmth that continually spreads from behind your ears down your back, and you kind of shiver though it’s not cold at all, is it?

“Where Kings Eat Dandelions​”

Yeah this is all right—you’ve got me cradled now between the gentle pawing of keys and the steady pull of bows against strings. Abrasive perhaps, but in a wool blanket kinda way, ya dig? It’s one big, heavy transaction until the piano overpowers completely.

​“Crouched on Blue Wood”

Now, it’s 1940. Now, I am lying face up on the Camberwell Green in London with the stars all looming and expectant and the thick drum of the earth below and the droning of sirens as incessant promise of the bombers above.

“Death Whisper of the Heron”

I’ve never raked my fingers against the chalkboard for this long before—usually it’s just a joke but I think I’m committed by this point. Yeah, straight shackles now. This bird is dying right in my arms and I don’t even have the tears to grace its wings proper.

The Label:

Cabin Floor Esoterica claims they have been “releasing strange sounds on cassettes since January 2009.” Strange is right—they have poetry and short story readings on tape from a 1960 recording of Piero Heliczer to one of Ed Sanders in 1991. Do you know those poets? I didnt. All of the tapes are home-dubbed in real time, which explains why they are released in such small batches. Cabin Floor is explicit in stating: “100% of digital sales go to the artists.” How honorable! Sometimes their tapes come in handmade wooden boxes filled with stamps and postcards and what looks like actual dead grass. I’m not kidding, and I kind of want these. This statement covers much of what Cabin Floor Esoterica has to offer.

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