Potions, aka Pretty All Right label founder Tom Owens, releases a new tape today. Credit: Courtesy the artist

Last month Resident Advisor spoke with Recording Industry Association of America vice president of communications Cara Duckworth Weiblinger about rumors that the organization would begin to track cassette sales. “It’s such a small number it doesn’t meet the threshold of sales requirements for us to report it,” Weiblinger said. I’ve been reading breathless think pieces about the cassette revival for five years or so, and the RA article appears to throw a blanket over that sort of enthusiasm, suggesting that it’s groundless.

In reality the story merely underlines the difficulty of doing accurate, data-driven reporting about a segment of the music business that exists in an economic no-man’s-land. If the RIAA isn’t tracking cassette sales, how is it so sure they’re insignificant? Metallica’s cassette reissue of their 1982 No Life ‘Till Leather demo was the best-selling item of Record Store Day 2015, and uncountable cash-strapped DIY musicians have spent nights dubbing their own tapes at home. And tape labels continue to thrive, in their own modest way—Chicago imprint Pretty All Right, for instance, celebrates ten years of releasing music on cassette Sunday at the Empty Bottle.

Founder Tom Owens launched Pretty All Right in winter 2006, and he’s released music by a fascinating array of local underground acts—including ambient producer Laura Jane Friedman, shoegaze project Vehicle Blues, and indie-pop auteur J. Fernandez, as well as his own fantastic, elastic electronic project, Potions. Today Owens dropped a new Potions cassette, Pushing the Cuboid, via primo Los Angeles label 100 % Silk. The single “Detroit Heart Strings” shows what makes Potions so alluring—sparse, bone-dry percussion mingles with squelching, stuttering synths, and the shape-shifting melody hits at unusual angles.
Potions headlines Pretty All Right’s ten-year anniversary celebration; King Tuts Tomb, Chicago Jim, and Organsm open. Before the show, the Spring Equinox Tape Fair brings together several local labels that have doggedly distributed outre underground sounds for years. Pretty All Right will be there, along with Lake Paradise (run by Teen River founder Jake Acosta), Chicago scene mainstays Maximum Pelt, and experimental champions Hausu Mountain, among many others. The full list of labels is below; links go to relevant Reader stories. The tape fair runs from 4 till 8 PM.

Lake Paradise Records
Lillerne Tapes
Eye Vybe Records
Athletic Tapes
1980 Records
Tape Deco
Already Dead Tape & Records
Maximum Pelt
Hairy Spider Legs
Hausu Mountain
Rainbow Bridge
FPE Records
Pretty All Right

Correction: This post has been edited to correctly reflect the current operator of Lake Paradise.