Revenge of the Walkman
“It’s that I-had-a-Hanson-tape-when-I-was-ten kind of feeling,” laughs Ryan Moran, co-founder of Mirror Universe Tapes, a local tape-only music label.
Ryan and fellow entrepreneur, Ben Ellenburg, are calling Holy Citizens to brush the dust off of their old Walkmans and listen to the caffeinated chipmunk squeal of rewinding a cassette tape. They’re calling you to get away from MP3s and iPods, and instead volley between sides A and B to find that song that was in your head all day.
The resurrection of vinyl records in recent years has left music connoisseurs wondering about the next nostalgic resurgence. Ryan and Ben are skeptical about the cassette making as big a comeback as vinyl, but they hold fast to the idea that tapes have made a comeback.
The two met in the summer of 2005. Ryan was playing at the Communications Museum on George Street with a band he says probably had a silly name. Ben booked the show.
Mirror Universe has produced seven tapes thus far with 15 in the works – not bad for two guys with full-time jobs (not to mention the fact that one of them is also in graduate school to become a teacher). The bands on the label are from a variety of states, including South Carolina, but Ryan and Ben are eager to get some local artists on the bandwagon.
You can find some catchy pop. But, if you are slightly more daring, there are more obscure genres, such as synth-pop, garage rock, and one act that is rumored to sound like the music from a Bob Ross PBS painting special.
They draw their name from a particular episode of Star Trek where Captain Kirk and crew travel through time and find themselves in a parallel (or mirror) universe, one where everyone is the opposite version of themselves.
Mirror Universe wants to take you on a trip through time. Not a long one, though, just 25 years or so. Back when you made mixed tapes for your sweetheart of the week – or month – instead of clicking and dragging songs into a playlist. When you kept in touch with handwritten notes instead of e-mails.
The guys do not see themselves producing vinyl. They say you get more music for your money with tapes. And at $5 a pop, they appear to be right.
Check out the Mirror Universe Tapes catalog along with other local artists at 52.5 Records on King Street and support the local endeavor.
Mirror Universe Tapes blog
Story by: Seth Amos