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Cinca performs Cassettes songs in an empty theater in Gothenburg, Sweden.
In this week’s Washington City Paper, we checked in with two members of the D.C. steampunk band The Cassettes: multi-instrumentalist Stephen Guidry, whose band The Torches has a new EP containing at least one song about vampires, and Arthur Harrison, who has played theremin with a ton of bands but is just as happy producing the instrument’s spooky sounds in the parking lot of a Chinese restaurant.
As for the other Cassettes? Well, frontman Shelby Cinca, who’s also led Frodus and other projects, is thinking about relocating to a dome in the desert.
Well, actually two domes. Let him explain: “I’d build a studio in one of them—-a crazy, ’60s-tiki-hut-meets-James-Bond-villain studio, where it’s more of an experience—-and then one that’s more of a living dome.” He thinks he’d raise Alpacas. “They’re manageable because they’re smaller than llamas,” Cinca says. He tells me to visit monolithicdome.com.
The Cassettes have been on hiatus since 2008, when Cinca decided to move to Gothenburg, Sweden, where his wife was going to study. But he says he may be moving back stateside in the sort-of-near future—-to New York, perhaps. The dome thing is a joke. At least I think the dome thing is a joke.
It’s probably not a joke.
I suggest that Cinca could make music like Jandek, the hermet-like, outsider Texas musician whom certain music geeks lose their shit over. “Maybe that’s not a bad place to be,” Cinca says. “Be more like Jandek, later in life.”
In fact, Cinca may be making some music in the wilderness fairly soon, though he won’t do it in solitude. The Cassettes—-Cinca, Guidry, Harrison, and percussionist Saadat Awan—-are hoping to convene over Thanksgiving next year at Guidry’s family farm in Louisiana, where they’ll write and record. The session could result in a new record, Cinca says.
In the meantime, Cinca bought back two of The Cassettes’ albums, ‘Neath the Pale Moon and O’er the Mountain, from the Buddyhead label last week, and posted them on the group’s bandcamp page, along with some previously unreleased bonus tracks.
And he’s got a number of other projects in the works: He’s revived the Travelers of Tyme, an old Frodus side-project, which Harrison is also participating in. He’s running the Swedish Columbia electronica label and releasing music as Triobelisk.
And he’s recorded an album’s worth of material with Awan and Cassettes projectionist Nick Kraly. He and Kraly worked on it in Romania, where Cinca is originally from; Kraly and Awan worked on it in New York. “There’s Cassettes-ish stuff in there, but it’s definitely its own thing,” he says. You might hear a little bit of the baroque pop of Scott Walker in the project, he says, or perhaps The Divine Comedy. He mentions he’s a big fan of the latter group’s song “Sweden.” “It has the line, ‘I would like to live in Sweden when my work is done.’ Coincidently, I don’t feel like my work is done.”