Memory Tapes Grace/Confusion
The essence of Dayve Hawk’s music as Memory Tapes is the exploration of dance music as a medium more experimental than pop melodies and programmed beats. With his third album, Grace/Confusion, Hawk builds on this mission to craft his most ambitious album to date. “I’ve always explained Memory Tapes as pop music as field recordings.” says Hawk about Grace/Confusion. “I decided to showcase a kind of chaotic reaching. I don’t think the record is flat-out shooting in all directions though, because I kept trying to reign it in as much as I embraced it. That’s why I called it Grace/Confusion.” Hawk’s third release channels this chaos in his multifaceted pop music, dipping into disco and krautrock sounds while playing with traditional song structure to craft extended mixes.
With six tracks clocking in at over 39 minutes, Grace/Confusion is a rewarding change of pace for Memory Tapes, the length freeing Hawk to abandon dance music tropes and weave together songs from fragmented hooks, snatches of melodies and bombasts of instrumentals. “Discarding any ideas about genre, format or even song structure didn’t feel like a liberation though, more like a maze to get lost in,” Hawk says. Out of this confusion came Memory Tapes’ most inventive tracks to date, from the melancholy love story of “Sheila,” told over alternating suites of dark synths and distorted guitars, to the dramatic coda of “Neighborhood Watch.” Lush production adds a dimension of depth to Grace/Confusion’s comprehensive sound, drawing from space rock and classic electro in its experimental rendering of pop music.
With all the album’s intricacies and vision,Grace/Confusion inhabits more the title’s first word than the last, showcasing an artist embracing his idiosyncrasies and constructing beauty from chaos.
Memory Tapes is the project of musician Dayve Hawk. Growing up in New Jersey, Hawk retreated into his obsession for music at an early age. He began playing drums at the age of nine. Inspired by his makeshift vinyl collection of The Beatles and David Bowie, he began writing songs—recording homespun guitar tunes on a toy karaoke machine. Over the next decade, he recorded hundreds of tracks alone in his parents’ basement—never going to shows, never playing in bands, and rarely sharing the demos. After years of building synthesizers and recording tracks at home, while working the overnight shift at a grocery store, Hawk was convinced by fellow coworker Matt Maraldo to form the Philadelphia-based dance-punk act Hail Social in 2005. The band released two well-received albums and embarked on international tours, giving Hawk an exposure to youth culture and an expansive music scene he hadn’t experienced outside of his insular home recordings.
When the band broke up, Hawk moved back to rural New Jersey. With a newfound interest to share his music with a larger audience, he started a blog to post his new tracks, recorded under the trio of aliases Memory Cassette, Weird Tapes, and Memory Tapes. The hazy electronic tracks began to circulate around the internet, along with his buzzed-about remixes for songs by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Peter Bjorn & John, and Britney Spears.
After releasing a Memory Cassette EP, Hawk officially adopted the Memory Tapes moniker and released his debut LP, Seek Magic, in September 2009. With the Memory Tapes project, Hawk fleshed out his vision of experimental electronic music based on field recordings, and Seek Magic was greeted with praise from critics, landing at #23 on Pitchfork’s top albums of 2009. In 2011, Hawk followed Seek Magic’s success with his second full-length Player Piano, a record that adopted a fuller band sound in its Motown-inspired treatment. Memory Tapes also earned a Grammy nomination for Best Short Form Music Video for the Player Piano single “Yes I Know.”
Grace/Confusion, an experimental album of far-out pop hooks and epic instrumentals, was released in Dec. 2012. In an 8 out of 10 review, Spin called the LP “warm-blooded, definite, vulnerable, exposed.” Hawk returns on March 31, 2015, with a back-to-basics approach: a quickly recorded two-song digital single, Fallout / House On Fire.
1. Neighborhood Watch
2. Thru the Field
4. Let Me Be
6. Follow Me