Joyful Noise revives the cassette

The members of Joan of Arc (Tim Kinsella, middle) hide behind foliage.


humble, hissing audiocassette is making a comeback. Cassette-only labels are

popping up around the country, including in Bloomington, where Magnetic South

offers ultra low-fi, ultra-mysterious releases in non-descript, brown-paper

packaging. And Karl Hofstetter, founder of local music label Joyful Noise


, is ushering their return to the Indianapolis music scene.


Noise is releasing a 10 cassette box set of Chicago band Joan Of Arc's library

of albums. Local band Marmoset will return with a limited edition cassingle, or

cassette single, featuring two demos from their upcoming album, Sour


And Joyful Noise will release a cassette version of the new of Montreal album, False


this September.


Joan of Arc and Marmoset releases coincide with the seventh anniversary of

Joyful Noise Recordings and the vinyl release of a new Abner Trio album, a band

Hofstetter plays in. An August 20 show at the Melody Inn will function as an

anniversary party and release show, featuring performances Joan of Arc, Abner

Trio, Marmoset and Jookabox.


box of tapes


Chicago-based band Joan of Arc, founded in 1995 out of the ruins of seminal emo

group Cap'n Jazz, fronted by prolific songwriter and only permanent band member

Tim Kinsella, has long been one of Hofstetter's favorites. "[They] are really a

crazy artsy band," Hofstetter says. "They jump all over the place in terms of

their sound. They are best known for having acoustic kind of sounds mixed with

electronic sounds but that's over simplifying it."


assemble the box set Hofstetter licensed the band's 10 albums from their former

labels: Jade Tree, Record Label, Perishable Records, and their current home,

Polyvinyl. Each set is housed in a limited-edition, custom-built and

screen-printed wooden box. 100 copies were produced and 80 of the sets sold out

in two days. Five copies will be

available for $50 at Friday's show. Another five will be available at a release

show Saturday night in Chicago. The remaining ten will be distributed to

various music stores.


entire Joan Of Arc catalog, however, will be available as individual cassettes.

Each cassette, both in the box set and individually sold, contains a digital

download link for the corresponding album.


albums have never been on cassette," Hofstetter says. "But they've been on

every other format. With digital being the primary way people get their music

these days anything can be a medium to release an album. You can release an

album on a condom wrapper. And that's the format of the album — as long

as it has a space for a digital download code."


is a novelty," he allows. "I understand that most people probably aren't going

to be listening to the cassettes even though they are going to look and sound

really good. [The cassettes] are a vehicle for the digital download. For the

Joan Of Arc super fans it seems to be a desirable thing."


Of Arc released their first album, A Portable Model Of..., in 1997 during the

final years of the cassette tape. The band wanted the album pressed to cassette

but the label had no interest in doing so.


been funny to see things come full circle where CDs are becoming obsolete and

cassettes are having a resurgence," Hoffstetter says.


that Joyful Noise has established a relationship with Joan of Arc, the label

plans to carry a vinyl version of the band's next album Oh Brother, which is due for release

by the close of the year.




who founded Joyful Noise in 2003, says he had no long-term plans for the label

when he started it to release work by his then-band Melk the G6-49. And he

still doesn't.


can't envision five years from now," he explains. "It's just impossible. But

when I first started if someone told me I'd have Marmoset on the label and Joan

Of Arc on the label I would have been very excited."


Noise remains a vehicle for releasing some of Hofstetter's own stuff: Abner

Trio, in which Hofstetter plays drums, returns to active service with the

release of their album, The

Giant Crushes You


"The last Abner Trio full length album [released in 2006] was the eighth Joyful

Noise release," he says. "The new one is coming out while the label is on its

64th release."


the album was made more difficult once Abner Trio lead singer Daniel Paquette

moved to Chicago. "It's a large reason why it's taken us three years to finish

the record," Hofstetter says. "You can't have regular practice schedules. You

can't take every show opportunity that comes by. You can't get together to just

hang out which is important to a band. Every time we get together we have to

make the most of it — rehearse the songs and such. Daniel has done a lot

though — he rents cars to drive to Indianapolis every month or two

— so he's shown a lot of commitment. It's challenging but not



the Joan Of Arc box set is paying dividends in a way Hofstetter never imagined.

Joan of Arc's labelmate on Polyvinyl, of Montreal, got wind of the cassette

project, and one night Hofstetter got a surprise email from Polyvinyl reading,

"Are you interested in putting out the new of Montreal on cassette? I just

cleared it with Kevin." Kevin being of Montreal front man Kevin Barnes.


the time [Polyvinyl] didn't know that I was a huge of Montreal fan, so it was

just amazing," Hofstetter says.


Montreal, based out of Athens, Ga., released their first album in 1997. Over

the past few years they have become a critical success, and their psychedelic

glam pop has garnered them a dedicated following.


2008, of Montreal released their album, Skeletal Lamping, not only on CD and

vinyl but also on t-shirts, buttons, decals, bags, and paper lanterns. Each item

came with a digital download code. Barnes wrote an essay on the project

explaining that it was important to produce things that could be of some use

and wouldn't sit around on a shelf.


preorders for of Montreal's False Priest

begin August 18. The cassettes are

limited to 500 hand-numbered copies. "of Montreal is known for the 'digital

download with object' style of release," says Hofstetter. "But they have not

done a cassette, so it seemed like a natural fit for Joyful Noise Recordings to

do it."

Download both sides of Marmoset's cassingle, "Doo Wop" and "She's Wearing Rings" (.zip file via Joyful Noise)

Download a ten-track digital sampler drawn from the 10-cassette Joan of Arc box (.zip file via Joyful Noise).

Abner Trio: "You're Gorgeous, Believe It!" from The Giant Crushes You:

of Montreal: "Coquet Coquette" from False Priest: