Album Reviews

Memory Tapes – Seek Magic

(Something In Construction) UK release date: 7 December 2009

Memory Tapes - Seek Magic Seek Magic has enjoyed re-release after re-release, on these shores and in the States. The reasons for this lie both in the fact that Memory Tapes is enjoying a steady growth in reputation and most importantly, that this is the kind of album that could be lost in the post but deserves to be shared. It’s the sort of record you wish to play to your friends, for fear that they’re missing out on something quite wonderful.

Dayve Hawk, its creator, may not even be aware of the word-of-mouth popularity his debut album is beginning to absorb. He’s what is known as a recording maverick, sticking to his bedroom chair (probably one that spins) and simply churning out these electronically-inclined works whenever he sees fit to do so. Some of his work under the aliases of Memory Cassette and Weird Tapes as well as this more definitive title of Memory Tapes range from sensational remixes of established alternative acts such as Yeasayer to the more gutsy approach of tackling a Britney Spears song. And that’s forgetting Treeship, a 21-long progressive dance song that has its own narrative voice, developing from bongo drum patterns to all out Euro Trance.

Until now, what with the trio of names and the scatterbrain approach to releasing music, Hawk hadn’t really arrived in fully-fledged form. But Seek Magic begins the first chapter of what could be an illustrious career. Being his first complete work of solid songs, reacting to one another, it flows like all albums should. Reverb-ridden guitar lines, soaked to the bone, stumble upon inventive, cacophonous percussion. This is an album that visits the party vibe of Cut Copy‘s In Ghost Colours whilst delving into the darker territories such as those found on The Knife‘s tour de force Silent Shout. He’s a very comparable artist, this Hawk. But at the same time, Seek Magic is as original as dance pop gets, citing an extension of influences you might not have associated with the Memory Tapes sound prior to the album.

Its highs come in the unexpected; from Bicycle’s climax of New Order guitar solos and high-spirit multi-voice chants to Plain Material’s sampling of melancholy – swimming against the tide of the rest of the record. From where it starts (delicate, skyscraper guitars in Swimming Field) to where it ends (a frantic, open atmosphere of synth noise in Run Out), Stay Magic shows itself to thrive on advancing forward and opening new doors.

Initially, what comes off as artistic dance-wizardry can also appear to be devoid of meaning. That’s where patience and a drive to find some hidden truths in Seek Magic comes good. Total immersion in Plain Material’s motto of “It was a beautiful dream” and the sunny-day triumph that not leaks, more erupts out of the record, leads to a true understanding of the meaning. This is yet another one of those records about escapism, yearning for a bolt of light in the dark, an end to normality. And it finds it, to almighty effect; producing the kind of rapturous charge that no bedroom-dance record has ever assembled before.

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More on Memory Tapes
Memory Tapes – Player Piano
Memory Tapes @ Luminaire, London
Memory Tapes – Seek Magic