Memory Tapes Player Piano
Player Piano is the second full length from Davye Hawk’s Memory Tapes. It was, like its predecessor, the highly-acclaimed Seek Magic, recorded at Dayve’s home studio in rural New Jersey, where he juggles looking after his young daughter and being a musician. While Seek Magic was quite an electronic sounding record with lots of dance music tropes, Player Piano is all about the melody. Simply put, there are lots of catchy tunes here: sing-along choruses throughout the album and songs that feel very immediate and accessible, despite consistently dark lyrics that describe a disconnected mindset and a profound sense of isolation. The template for Player Piano was that it would be “keyboard-based psychedelic girl group songs, a sort of Motown suicide note”. Largely eschewing modern beats this time in favor of “drums that sound like The Kinks’ 60s records”, there are still the spaces of modern R’n’B, along with 50s doo wop, krautrock and a couple of nods to Aphex Twin. Dayve is already working on Memory Tapes’ third album, which is going to be a “space rock, kind of Black Sabbath” guitar based set.
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.
2. Wait In The Dark
3. Today Is Our Life
4. Yes I Know
9. Fell Thru Ice
10. Fell Thru Ice II
11. Trance Sisters