Vinyl records have brazenly defied their predicted demise—it is something about their soothing crackle or maybe the tactile ceremony of dropping the needle. While the same cannot be said, sadly, for the cassette tape, Escape Is Not Freedom and dusk Village, in act of DIY nostalgia, have dropped a four-track split cassette. How did it sound on tape? We don’t know, but the digital stream served up some sludgy ’90s riffage to our earholes.

Chicago’s Escape Is Not Freedom, featuring former Arctic Sleep guitarist Mike Gussis, open their side with ‘Boiling Nails,’ which is an appropriate name for such a slither of hot metal. It is three minutes of thick and murky distortion, driven by a fat bass riff and Mike’s melodic scream. On ‘We’re Wrecked,’ though, the addition of guest vocalist Emily Jancetic transforms their sound. It begins with a mellow acoustic strum before blossoming into sprawling grunge akin to early Smashing Pumpkins.

When Escape Is Not Freedom’s strip of tape expires and you flip the cassette over, you will be welcomed to a dusK Village: a post-apocalyptic steam punk wasteland. ‘Exolife Civilization Leak’ belongs on a Mad Max soundtrack; it is like the first sound you will hear as you emerge from the fallout bunker. On ‘A Self Fan,’ Slav, Gil and Fuks again unleash a chaotic spasm of sound, but with vocals that conjure the image of a warlord in No Man’s Land, sinisterly orating through a megaphone. This is a release that justifies spending half an hour rummaging through the back shed in the quest for that old boombox that your mother gave you.

Rating: 7/10

Escape Is Not Freedom/dusK Village is available for online listening via Bandcamp and the split cassette is due for release on Friday, 23rd February.

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