Updated: Apr 30, 2021
Fridays mean one thing here at Celadon Plaza: Review Day. As stated in my introduction post, I'll be taking the time to review, in depth, sold out Vaporwave Physicals to provide you with the information you need to decide if it's worth the potential insane resale prices.
Today we’ll be taking a look at the cassette edition of the lesser-known Mallsoft album ‘1988’ by Zadig the Jasp.
‘1988’ was quietly self-released by Zadig the Jasp on March, 24 2017 on his Bandcamp. The album is an auditory journey through an abandoned mall, as suggested by it’s cover featuring the well-known and now defunct Rolling Acres Mall from Akron, Ohio. It’s a rather long album that features heavy reliance on samples of 1970s-80s era smooth jazz and contemporary music with substantial amounts of reverb. It works well for the experience it attempts to create, giving off the impression of strolling through a derelict and decaying shopping mall as the broken sound system continues to play reverberated and slowed versions of the songs it used to in its prime days of the 1980s.
I have and always will be a sucker for Mallsoft. Fond memories of spending countless weekends of my childhood at various shopping malls around my hometown have led to the subgenre to become my favorite under the Vaporwave umbrella. I enjoy ‘1988’ for what it is. I love the simplicity. While some Mallsoft albums end up doing too little, the simplicity of ‘1988’ works for its theme. It’s basic sample style of contemporary music with reverb makes me feel like I truly am walking around an abandoned Rolling Acres Mall. My only gripe with the album is the length. It’s a brilliant album to throw on in the background while working, which I have done many times. However, for a night of active listening to my physical Vaporwave collection, this album is one that drags on for me. It’s all still good, it’s just unnecessarily long, with songs like ‘Nothing Here’ lasting 12 minutes. Nevertheless, it’s a relaxing listen through and through. My favorite track off the album is the opening one, titled ‘Timeless’
Now, the physical. ‘1988’ saw two cassette releases, both in November of 2020, through the French label Underwater Computing and the Canadian based Tiger Blood Tapes. Underwater Computing started a second run pre order on their Bandcamp before closing it, stating that a mix-up between the artist and labels caused a limited run of cassettes to be produced by both. I personally picked up the Tiger Blood Tapes edition, released on November 10, 2020, so I’ll be reviewing that copy. This particular version was described by the label as “Pro manufactured limited edition cassette tape /100 on solid gold metallic colored shells with black double hit pad printing in silver back Norelco cases.”
Tiger Blood Tapes has had a history of not only top notch quality products but also some of the more creative designs when it comes to physicals. ‘1988’ is a perfect example of this. The label chose to style the entire cassette tape after a credit card, featuring a gold shell and faux magnetic stripe with EMV chip.
The cardholder name is replaced by ‘Zadig the Jasp’ and the security code reads ‘027,’ a nod to the tape having the catalogue number TBT027. The inside Jcard features different artwork of that same famous escalator in Rolling Acres, this time after the above roof had collapsed and the mall had been covered in snow. It’s an eerie alternate look that drives home the feeling of exploring a desolate shopping center long after it’s glory days have passed. I absolutely adore the choice to pay homage to the mallsoft subgenre and it’s themes of hyper-consumerism with the credit card layout of the tape, and it stands as one of the most magnificent looking tapes I have in my collection.
Sound wise, I have no complaints. Any potential subpar quality from being on tape definitely doesn’t exist here and I notice no real problems when listening on my tape deck. Tiger Blood has done another great job dubbing this one for home listening.
So, now you’re invested and want to grab a copy of ‘1988.’ Where do you look? Given that the album had an somewhat limited, albeit larger than most, tape run for its status (thanks in part to 2 labels putting out their own versions) it may be hard to find a copy. Discogs shows 1 copy of the Tiger Blood Tapes version has been sold at $21 and there currently is one listed as of writing this for $30. As for the Underwater Computing version, it has never been sold on the resale market, which may have something to do with it being a limited 53 copy run. My best advice if Discogs copies are too much money for you is to ask around on communities like R/VaporwaveCassettes and the Vaporwave Cassette Club on Facebook. $30 is a bit steep. It’s a beautiful and unique cassette, but unless you’re a die hard Zadig the Jasp fan, you can save your money, avoid supporting the flippers, and buy the album digitally. In the possibility that Tiger Blood Tapes or Underwater Computing does a reissue, I'd recommend purchasing without question.
So there’s my thoughts on the Tiger Blood Tapes cassette version of ‘1988.’ Let’s see how it ranks out of 30 and give a suggested max price.
Pressing/Sound Quality: 7
Aesthetical Pleasure (Album and Vinyl/Cassette Art): 8
Album Content (Music): 6
TOTAL RATING: 21/30
SUGGESTION FOR BUYING: Cool and unique tape, but limited runs may drive up resale prices. Avoid unless a huge fan.
SUGGESTED PRICE CEILING: $22
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Until next time, hope to see you around the Plaza!