When Dayve Hawk started posting jams via his blog under the alternating handles Memory Cassette, Weird Tapes, and Memory Tapes (names essentially surmising his musical past, present, and future), he did so anonymously: no bio, no photo, no name.
Where Hawk was, in actuality, a stay-at-home-dad from rural New Jersey with notable musical history in Philadelphia slick-pop bros Hail Social, the public absence of this narrative allowed unalloyed interpretation of his jams; and, in turn, these mysterious MP3s of Memory were perceived as exemplars of a brand new, blog-born movement that, sadly, we're now stuck calling 'chillwave.'
Though beachy jams like Memory Cassette's "Surfin'" will forever be seeds of budding-genre genesis, in reality Hawk didn't share the same cultural touch-stones —Panda Bear, Ariel Pink, degraded cassettes, '80s fetishism, faded instamatic photos— as the other chillwavers. He wasn't a sample artist making wonky approximations of classic-pop, but a multi-instrumentalist and studio-egghead. Even his anonymity was a product of happenstance, not a considered attempt at 'playing' the internet.
You can hear it, with crystal clarity, on the second Memory Tapes LP, Player Piano, which plays less like some tape-wobbling work of deadbeat summer, more like some eerie, cold, creepy, intensely-trebly, computer-constructed, oh-so-'10s approximation of blue-eyed soul.
Sure, "Humming" is a piece of fluttering process music (influenced, note, by Aphex Twin, not Ariel Pink), but for the most part Player Piano plays it straight. Its guitars glimmer and glide, its armies of keyboard instruments —synth and organ and optigan— are shiny and bright, its drums —both programmed and played— are kept 4/4 tight. And its tunes are built around verse/chorus structures that routinely build to crescendos: Hawk's high, high voice caroling in multi-tracked delight on Worries and "Wait in the Dark" and "This Is Our Life."
Here, Hawk's history is inescapable; the proud pop-songs recalling less the nostalgia of chillwavia, more the neon-coloured synth mania of Hail Social's all-of-four-years-ago 2007 LP, Modern Love and Death. Where the blog-world may be suffering amnesia when it comes to Hawk's pre-Memory Tapes history, here the supposed disconnect between prior project and new is entirely erased for anyone with their own memory.
Record Label: Carpark
Release Date: July 5, 2011