By adding special outside packaging to tapes and CDs, traders continued in the tradition of mail art by sending one of a kind creations. Below you will find some examples of special packaging.
If you have some interesting cassette packages, let’s see them.
This 1992 split tape by Zan Hoffman had Masters Of The Ungentlemanly Art, “Relapse in Ninty-Two” on side one and Here Be Monsters, “Thousands Are Still Asleep” on side two. Pieces of piano keys were glued onto the cassette shell with an additional photo glued inside and j-card folded in as well.
My own 1986 double tape release, “Pinata Party” was a collaboration with Ken Clinger, Dino DiMuro, James Hill, Mark Hanley, Greg Gray, Allan Dancer and The Campau kids. In addition to the two cassettes, I also threw in candy, stickers, bits of a pinata, little toys and whatever else was laying around. It was packed in a clear strawberry container that I got from working in the produce department. Then, I put it in a brown paper lunch bag and mailed it.
The inventive duo of Mic and Suzanne Dycus-Gendreau were called Crawling With Tarts. They often had unusual packaging of their home spun weird pop and improvised, experimental music. This tape, “Broom”, came out in 1988 and included a transparent vellum wrapped around a small cardboard box which held the tape, a dried leaf and card with information. Mic also told me about a tape they sent out in a large piece of styrofoam, probably done for Joel Haertling’s Zamisdat’s series.
This split tape from 1996 features The Peterson Mixes ( Jared Peterson, Seabrook, NH) on side one and Evil Creates Evil ( David Miller, Bellingham, WA) on side two. This experimental outing had several items glued to the outside shell: a photographic negative, a Flintstones band-aid, a ripped photo of an arm tattoo, a photo of a nude woman and a tiny sony condenser microphone The j-card was folded up inside and taped together.
Another amazing split tape release from Zan Hoffman. On side one of this 1993 release was “(1-4) Please Get Up On” and side two was Zanstones 27: I Can’t Find Today Without Yesterday”. The crazy sounds were fitted inside a plastic shell spray painted with bullet casings glued on.
French artist Pierre Perret provided a wonderful aural travelogue in his early 90s cassette, “Pour Une Nouvelle Conscience Planetaire”. It was encased in a plastic case that clipped together at the ends and middle. The j-card was slipped inside and underneath the tape.
A tidy little plastic box housed the Audiologie Compilation #4 called “Independent Psychedelic Trip” issued out of France. The international lineup included Pacific 231, DZ Lectric, Don Campau, Algy Krebbs Quartet, Brian Ladd and others. I’m guessing this came out in the late 1980s.
From the Czech Republic came Napalmed, the project of Radek Kopel. This is a remix tape of noise assaults done in 1999. The yellow plastic covering was tied together at the top with twists and the paper tucked inside. Napalmed still is in operation today producing challenging sound works.
Packed in an oversized video style box, Static Effect‘s 1990 release, “Siamese Twin Reflex” provided an additional level of artistry to the already heavy duo of Randy Greif and Mikhail Bonhonus.
Released on Brook Hinton’s Subelectrick label out of San Francisco sometime in the 1980s, Sensualist dug themselves into Negativland territory but along with the occasional collage and jump cuts, their droney atmospheric wanderings kept it from getting frantic. The oversized plastic cover was a staple of many cassette artists trying to get a different look.
Perhaps the most amazing package I’ve ever seen for a cassette release was this 1988 release by Zan Hoffman on Generations Unlimited. The cassette tape was housed in between a vinyl record which had been cut to size. Also included were photographic negatives, some beads, a catalogue, a booklet with an extensive interview by Generations Unlimited ( either Gen Ken Montgomery or Dave Prescott), an origami style paper contraption, a button and a couple of stickers.
Side one of this split release was Masters Of The Ungentlemanly Art, “Fragments From The End Of Time”, an hallucinogenic trip over the edge with various artists collaged together by Zan, and on side two, Grandbrother‘s “stipticnic picks”, a mix of several source tapes from home taper Nick from Indiana.