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The vinyl boom makes way for the humble cassette.

Releasing more than 100 albums over the past 12 years, the eccentric, Milwaukee-based Utech Records serves a tight-knit and global community of experimental musicians and open-minded listeners (musician and audiophile Henry Rollins is an avid fan). The label boasts a musically diverse catalog, but the styles are all, well, peculiar. Think solo snare drum recordings, atmospheric free jazz and blues rock fusions, and ominous drone music. It’s challenging, heady art that satisfies a small market of consumers through limited-run compact discs, vinyl and cassette tapes.

As Utech Records thrives on the fringes, last September label owner Keith Utech launched a service that broadens the scope of his business. With the re-emergence of analog recordings, cassettes are making a comeback as an affordable and reliable option to vinyl records, especially for fans with modest fanbases. Milwaukee Cassette Works, a division of Utech Records, seeks to provide these artists and boutique record labels a high-quality option for analog-based, small batch cassette duplication services.

“I have a specific focus with the label,” Utech says, ”but I’ll do any kind of thing [with Milwaukee Cassette Works], whether it’s spoken word, reggae, country, whatever.”

The cost for 100 tapes, “the sweet spot,” Utech says, runs between $319 and $339.

While he’s not planning to sell cassette players, “they’re out there new and used,” he says. “And like vinyl, most cassettes come with a download code.”

‘Caught on Tape’ appears in the January issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning January 2, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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