The rebirth of cassette culture seems contrary to the immediacy of digital technology. But a once obsolete medium has been shaped into a tool to bring new, exciting music to the those who are willing to dust off their old Walkmans and tape decks.
Indiana is included in the phenomenon. A handful of tape-based labels dot the Hoosier state, but none are tapped into the DIY renaissance like Sacred Phrases. Headquartered in Fort Wayne, the label is the brainchild of Adam Meyer. Sacred Phrases continues in the tradition of newly sprouting cassette labels that focus on synth and drone-based compositions. It's not the only common denominator with like-minded labels.
"Like a lot of people who create their own labels, I wanted to release my own stuff and help my friends release their work, too," Meyer said. "Having control over the entire production process is fun, and it entails meeting cool new people."
What keeps Sacred Phrases grounded is the lack of vanity. Meyers is no stranger to the growing cassette label scene.
"Standing out really isn't a huge concern," he said. "I think the people that listen to the type of stuff we release can easily tell what's good and what's not. The flood of releases and labels has caused the listener to evolve and to pay more attention, and I think that's awesome."
It's Meyer's humble attitude that allows the cassette tape and the music on it to be the focus.
"I love the sound of tape hiss - it adds a natural texture to the audio. Subtle timing and pitch issues can be noticed with cassettes as well," Meyer said.
Utilizing the medium as an aesthetic choice is just one carefully made decision, though Meyer doesn't pigeonhole Sacred Phrases and its releases into any one sound category.
"Some tags we've used to describe the sounds we work with are experimental, ambient, free-form, and current electronics - a lot of blending between those, too," he said.
Sacred Phrases' limited catalogue proves this out, straddling the line between deep drones and synthesizer freakouts, all with an unpronounced accessibility for those willing to stray from traditional pop. Meyer is hopeful Sacred Phrases can inspire the local experimental community even as it continues to draw inspiration and interest from all over the world.
"I like the idea of SP being an inspiration for 'bedroom' artists in Indiana to get out and promote themselves," Meyer said. "Start playing shows and release stuff. I really want to work with more artists in Indiana."The label's hometown of Fort Wayne is already rising to support Sacred Phrases, particularly with the organization of live shows promoting local and national touring experimentalists.
"The label has opened up new opportunities," Meyer said. "We have some really solid venue spaces here, and we'd love to start bringing more acts. I think we're in a good location between some of the bigger cities and could totally become a crossroads city to play in."
The label's future looks bright. Meyer isn't working to dominate the tape scene, but he hopes to grow Sacred Phrases' reputation and reach.
"We really want to keep things going as is - including vinyl releases in the future," he said. "We have a ton of solid submissions that we're going through and getting worked into production for tape releases."
GloryHole RecordsThe appearance of GloryHole Records on the Indiana scene was quick and dirty.
"I was out back of Radio Radio with Vacation Club and the Sweet Sixteens, and Ritchie Romance said, 'Jimmy, you should put out a Vacation Club record,'" label founder Jim Peoni said. "Whoever was looking at them was dragging their feet, and I had been kicking around the idea of putting together a label. There were a lot of great bands being overlooked in Indianapolis."
Thus, GloryHole was born.
Peoni came up with the label's name in the same slap-dashed fashion.
"I was on the way back from a J. Mascis show in Cincinnati with some friends," he said. "We stopped at a place in Shelbyville with a seriously filthy bathroom. There was a big gloryhole, so we shot some great pics of that and then joked, 'We will name our label GloryHole Records.'"
In only a year, GloryHole has managed to encompass an entire attitude percolating in the Indiana underground. Label anchors such as Vacation Club, The Kemps, and Learner Dancer speak to the essence of classic rock 'n' culture. GloryHole's Landon Caldwell sums it up best:
"We aren't trying to curate any genre or style as much as we are trying to keep the ball rolling," Caldwell said. "Sex and drugs just aren't as fun without rock 'n' roll."
It's the simplicity behind GloryHole that has resulted in a hot mess of must-hear releases for residents wanting to know what Indiana has to offer.
"We are just trying to save ourselves from boredom," Caldwell said. "The kids need something to do. We are just doing what we want. We work closely, not only with bands, but with a wide variety of folks involved in the music scene, local labels, venues, record stores (i.e. Shared Heritage, Village Green Records, Vibes, LUNA, Landlocked). Bands not only need records, but a strong scene."