Release Date: Dec 4, 2012
Record label: Carpark Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Dream Pop, Ambient Pop
One thing that has never made sense to me and that has regularly instigated irritation deep in my heart is the description of Kraftwerk as “cold” and “inhuman”. I remember very well the first time I popped Trans-Europe Express into the CD player of my car when I was 18 years old and hearing that magnificent, glowingly warm synth line from the anthemic “Europe Endless” come chugging out of my speakers. Kraftwerk are clearly interested in blurring the boundaries between humanity and technology, but they never lost sight of the first part of that equation.
Memory TapesGrace/Confusion[Carpark; 2012]By Rob Hakimian; January 9, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGMemory Tapes’ debut album Seek Magic was a collection of songs that took elements of several kinds of pop and blended them together into unique and often life-affirming moments of pure bliss. The album’s follow up Player Piano still had some of these moments, but they were sprinkled between a number of songs that aimed at the same intangible quality but instead fell flat. Dayve Hawk returns with Grace/Confusion, an album of six tracks, all of which you wouldn’t necessarily call focused (this works in the album’s favour), but certainly get their point across emphatically and idiosyncratically, and moreover do so in a way that was too often lacking on Player Piano.
Memory Tapes' Dayve Hawk doesn't hang about. Following the slightly cool reception to his second album, 2011's Player Piano, he promptly disappeared to whatever dishevelled hole it is he came from and, less than a year and half later, is back with third LP Grace/Confusion. Seeking to abandon the more concise, traditional songwriting of that last album, Grace/Confusion reaches for a more complex, ambitious and experimental approach.
Memory Tapes is one of the most relevant acts in chillwave, but soloist Dayve Hawk attempted to break barriers and get adventurous with his third album, Grace/Confusion. Here, Hawk expands on the usual dreamy, '80s-referencing sounds of the genre -- washy synthesizers, crystalline vocals, and lo-fi drum machine beats -- and goes to great lengths to avoid snappy synth pop structures. Instead, he takes a winding, prog rock approach to his pieces.
Memory Tapes producer Dayve Hawk strikes as an introvert surrounded by a form of music that begs for attention. Not to imply that every artist should exploit his/her swagger to the fullest, but lately it seems as if those who factor in image into the equation have something of an advantage over those who contentedly write for themselves. But back in the late aguhts, “one-person acts” connected by way of advertising themselves, proving their talents outside of the bedroom and showing their true selves outside of an official soundcloud page.
You can't keep a good narrative down: chillwave has been a reliable punchline the last couple of years even though most of its biggest targets have refused to cooperate. Toro Y Moi, Neon Indian, and Washed Out have all established themselves as career artists and made their 2011 LPs count in a major way, while their aesthetic bled into hip-hop by way of Clams Casino and cloud rap. Even genre godfather Ariel Pink is developing a new legacy by releasing some of the best songs of his life.
On his third album, Memory Tapes - or the artist formerly known by the confusingly similar aliases Memory Cassette and Weird Tapes - attempts to dismantle dance music tropes. The New Jersey-based musician crams each of the LP's seven songs with sonic surprises, as if to remind us that this isn't just another electro-pop album. At times, his execution is beautiful, like on opener Neighborhood Watch.
Memory Tapes made his name – or his various names (he's also recorded as Memory Cassette and Weird Tapes) – as a proponent of the style of music we loved to hate to call "chillwave". This third album, though, is not a warm wash of hypnagogia, but a strangely arid collection of tracks that register not so much as songs, but as experiments following arbitrary, sometimes aimless, courses. After the melodic and propulsive opener, Neighborhood Watch, and its elegant drum patterns, things lose focus; most of the flashes of grace overshadowed by confusing longueurs.
Dayve Hawk has worn many hats over the years: Hail Social, Memory Cassette and, now, Memory Tapes. But even under his current guise, the New Jersey-based musician refuses to sit still. His debut rode the chillwave to blog love before going pop on his last LP, Player Piano. Hawk's latest, Grace/Confusion, once again flips the script, stretching the cleaned-up production and hooks of Player Piano over long, groove-based tracks that regularly clock in past the six-minute mark.
Dayve Hawk, aka Memory Cassette, aka Memory Tapes, has made his name over the past four years doing essentially the exact same thing as Toro Y Moi but making no attempt to shake the glib "chillwave" tag that became so omniscient in the later part of the last decade. Still, in the lead-up to Grace/Confusion's release Hawk had promised something a bit different, something "messier" that wasn't quite an album of songs but rather "moments of 'songiness' that exist in the context of bigger pieces." .
It’s hard to critique an album for being chaotic when its creator said he “wanted it to seem like a mess. ” Davye Hawk’s third effort under the Memory Tapes moniker is a six-song record rooted in intentional disarray, the tracks on which he told MTV Hive he doesn’t even view as ‘songs’ per se, but “moments of ‘songiness’ that exist in the context of bigger pieces. ” The biggest piece, a gloomy love story titled “Sheila”, clocks in at 8:33 and spins into a succession of distorted guitar, ominous synths, and a heartbreaking chorus about the title character.
An early pioneer in the bedroom music, Davye Hawk (a.k.a. Memory Tapes) has been overshadowed by a crop of recent chillwave usurpers. Despite his best efforts to inject some unusual instrumentation into an ever-staling genre, Hawk has been stuck in neutral since 2009’s Seek Magic, notwithstanding his excellent, off-kilter remixes of Crystal Castles’ “Suffocation” and Yeasayer’s “Ambling Alp.” Grace/Confusion, Hawk’s third album in four years, is a benign collection of typically hazy dream pop that does nothing to steer him away from the forgettable course his last three releases have charted.
Since pioneering the genre some years ago, Memory Tapes’ Dayve Hawke has had to witness the icy tides of chillwave melt into obscurity. But followers of Hawke’s career will know he’s been evolving somewhat, slowly moving away from the fuggy haze of debut ‘Seek Magic’ to ‘Player Piano’’s more sleek character. In that latter release, he flirted with infectious trance numbers, sun-kissed afrobeats and sleek arrangements, all of which setting him apart from all other bedroom-based musicians.And here, on Hawke’s third release, he pushes those boundaries even further.
DJ Shadow The retrospective urge comes naturally to DJ Shadow, a producer and turntable ace with the character profile of an archivist. “Reconstructed: The Definitive DJ Shadow” lays out his career for obsessive inspection, supplementing his four solo studio albums with a wealth of live material and scattered arcana, on seven CDs, a DVD and an LP. (Released on Island in an edition of 500, it’s available for $270 at djshadow.com.) Absorbed all at once this body of work invites an embrace of auteur theory: DJ Shadow (a k a Josh Davis) has diversified his materials and methods since the mid-1990s, but his vision lurks intact throughout.
In the fields of indie-dom, the trench dug between “pop” and “prog” lies somewhere around the six-minute mark. Solos and signature shifts are no longer prerequisites of the latter; just sticking to an idea until it changes qualifies as progressive behavior. As such, the six songs on Dayve Hawk’s third full-length as Memory Tapes feel like buoyant pop and weighty statements all at once.
Formerly of the band Hail Social, Davye Hawk has now released his third album as Memory Tapes. The album, titled Grace/Confusion, offers the chillwave sound that Hawk is known for but with a fuller, crisper and more melodic take.The album consists of only six tracks but clocks in at 39 minutes, each song one long and ethereal thread tying to the next. The length of each track also gives the flexibility and range for Hawk to experiment with different sounds and interludes—with songs starting off bright and cheery, and segueing into darker and slower beats, like in the opening track, “Neighborhood Watch.” This tune is also a prime example of the accessible approach Hawk has taken, providing ears with complex and uplifting melodies.