"Cass-ette-BOYYYY!!!"

Cassetteboy (sometimes also spelt Cassette Boy) are a duo of electronic musicians from Essex who, apparently, are named Michael Cassette and Simon Boy (or sometimes the other way round.) since nobody really knows their actual identities. Their style revolves around basically sampling everything that comes their way - music, films, TV, and whatnot - and cutting it up into its component parts, then re-forming it into something completely different, usually contrary to the message of the original or at least illogical enough to make the original subject seem stupid, criminal, or both. This has been described by some individuals as "plunderphonics" and also as musique concréte.

In their own words, "Basically, we get famous people and make them sound like they're talking about sex or drugs."

Their first appearance was on a rather rare 7" single called "Di and Dodi Do Die" in 1998 or so (I believe), which was followed in 2000 by a split CD with an individual called DJ Rubbish. This split was given the particularly inventive name "Inside a Whale's Cock" but wasn't, in my opinion, very good. However, in 2002 their first "real" CD was released, entitled, "The Parker Tapes" which had ninety-eight tracks, all with illogical names which make little to no sense compared to their content, thoroughly taking the piss out of such deserving individuals as Jamie Oliver ("I'm a little tosser, I'm not too deep, I don't have many real friends... and I never, ever, wash my hands."), David Bowie ("Here am I shitting in a tin can, and I'm farting in a most peculiar way..."), Tony Blair ("We are New Labour, and we have the world's best fighting machine which we will unleash on Emma O'Brien, a poor 11-year-old from Ellesmere Port, and we will not stop until all 11-year-olds in all parts of Britain are slashed on a knife's edge!") not to mention a rather unusual rehash of Stan Ridgway's song "Camouflage", in which the narrator is left to die by the eponymous marine of the song's title ("Then a bullet with my name on it came buzzin' through the bush, it was the end, I passed away last night, just like I was a fly... Oooooohhhh, thanks a lot!"). The best bit (and undoubtedly the most tasteless) part of the album, though, didn't appear till the end, and this was a mash up of Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" with the song "New York, New York" and a healthy dose of sampled hip hop. Add to this a healthy dose of September 11, 2001 and its events, and the end result - "Fly me to New York, I've got a razor in my pocket... When I get you up there, I'll be holding my knife deep in the heart of you... Let's fly, let's fly into buildings..." - and so on, is supremely offensive and thus a must have. You will be both shocked and laughing with guilty pleasure as Morrissey is sampled singing how "America, there's no one but yourself to blame..."

The main problem with "The Parker Tapes," though, was that it was rather inconsistent. Mike and Simon (or is that Simon and Mike?) created no less than 98 tracks on that CD, comparatively few of which are particularly amusing, and there's a lot of filler material, such as the first four tracks in their entirety. These involve repeated sample-mashing to form the word "Cassetteboy" in different voices, and one or the other rattling leads and audio equipment while saying, "Tapes, tapes, tape recorders." Though such filler material may, actually, have a very good reason behind it, but more on that later.

The second "proper" CD released by Cassetteboy was in 2005 and was called "Dead Horse." In my view, this is by far the best of the works, as it features less wanking about with effects and more of the cut and paste humour for which the duo are rightly known. Targets here go from Mike Skinner of The Streets ("I should be shot. I should actually be shot... A Grand Don't Come for Free is a heap of cack, and that's a fact... You know I'm really really, really really, annoying...") to Michael Jackson, who is reworked to sing, "I seduce boys... I can't help but finger a baby," and similar. On the way, Stephen Fry reads chapters of Harry Potter that describe how "Harry Potter pulled his flies open and his large purple prick stood out like a salami. It was swelling like a monstrous balloon, and a vein was throbbing. Hermione, one of Harry's best friends, went down on him," and we find out that in the event of terrorist attack, you should "fart on your local council". Later on, Jeremy Clarkson fills up Graham Norton's head with his semen and brags about his enormous genital before being run over by Terry Wogan, Jim Davidson informs us that he's "always hated black people because I'm a racist moron cunt!" And to top it all off, we are treated to an exceedingly strange story about how Iggy Pop and an army of 200,000 teenagers in the London Underground defeated Margaret Thatcher, who was terrorising the country with a giant chameleon, and in a segment titled, "The Ultimate Challenge - let's make this worse," the Crazy Frog is mashed up with the song "Imagine".

Apparently they (somehow) manage to engage in live performances from time to time, though I have no idea how, since very few people know anything about them. Indeed, an interview in 2005 with Bizarre magazine in the UK featured pictures of them, but wearing Bush and Blair masks to avoid recognition. This is probably for the best, actually; I somehow doubt that their constant sampling falls under any recognised "fair dealing" exception to copyright infringement, and considering their works are entirely composed of samples, I also wonder if they themselves would be uncovered by copyright as they might fail the requirement for a work to be original (which, under English law, means "not copied.") This, possibly, is why they have some self-recorded "filler" material on their CDs, so that they have some original content and are thus protected by copyright (for the record, an infringement can still be protected as a separate work.) One person who should know is Barry Evans, their label boss (their label is called Barry's Bootlegs, and it's apparently somehow related to Spymania) but he's just as elusive.

As far as I know, I don't think they've ever been publically condemned for offending people; this is most likely partially because they're rather obscure, and partially because, quite rightly, Jim Davidson and Dido and Mike Skinner can, in fact, take a joke (probably.) I imagine that the only sort of people who would launch a vendetta against Cassetteboy because they were offended are, well, the same sort of people who write sweary rants to music webzines because they were unfavourably reviewed. I for one am certainly not offended, and I quite like Jeremy Clarkson, even if he's a politically incorrect, mildly jingoistic loon (or should that be because he's a politically incorrect, mildly jingoistic loon?)

They're not easy to find if you're thinking of getting any of their stuff, so you may have to resort to p2p or BitTorrent (I got their stuff using Soulseek, incidentally.) They're also surprisingly accessible as well; there's a strangely poetic quality to some of their plunderphonic sonic attack. Recommended muchly.

Discography (excluding track names for they are meaningless, really)

  • Di and Dodi Do Die, rather rare 7" single, number of tracks unknown, 1998
  • Inside a Whale's Cock, split with DJ Rubbish, 32 tracks, 2000
  • The Parker Tapes, full length album, 98 tracks, 2002
  • Festive Christmas, full length album, 33 tracks, 2003
  • Mick's Tape, covers/mash ups of various UK electronic music, 2003
  • Dead Horse, full length album, 60 tracks, 2005

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