Æ: Aglet Eaters

Memory Tapes – Grace/Confusion

Posted in Album, Review by R on January 4, 2013

Memory Tapes

It’s not about the hair anymore.

There used to be a time you could judge the quality of a musician or a group solely by the quality of their hair – the fondly remembered and profoundly missed age of the music video. I always was partial to the 90s.

But they don’t do videos these days.

I didn’t know what Dayve (Hawke) looked like when I first got a taste of Memory Cassette. I remember asking after ‘Ghost in the Boombox’ as it oozed out of and ebbed away from turned-up car speakers one evening in 2008. I remember (figuratively) attaching myself to ‘Asleep at a Party’ the way Carol-Anne stuck to the TV set on the accompanying image of the non-EP The Hiss We Missed.

I didn’t know if this was one fellow or many. I couldn’t tell if it was a she or a he. I didn’t know much at all till the pre-release activity around Seek Magic compelled me to do my research on Memory Tapes. First when I wrote about Bicycle, then again when I wrote about the full-length. Putting out an album is no small deal – the individual I’d come to regard as a quiet, content, recluse – had to come out of hiding.

Wouldn’t you know it:


THAT HAIR… it can’t do wrong.

As it turns out, the most successful track on Grace/Confusion is the first. ‘Neighbourhood Watch’, on its own, carries the conviction that the Green Knight‘s desolate moaning (Remember ‘I want to give you my love, I want to call your name, at the sound of my voice, you turn away…’?) worked out for the best in the end. At the outset, it’s a sleepy, languid thing, not unlike Seek Magic‘s own starter (the dog shows up too). Similarly, hearing the first warbles of ‘I watch you sleep’ is consoling in its tenderness. Unless you decide to recall the song’s title at just that moment, at which point it becomes a little unsettling.

So no one found Padosan a bit unsettling either?

So no one found Padosan a bit concerning either?

I struggle to come to terms with Memory Tapes’ popularity – it seems incongruous to my original image of the guy. You know – the basement musician whose dedication to music led to him creating different monikers for different styles. This way we never got too attached to one style or sound, and he wasn’t bound to any one of them either. Weird Tapes is the one you twirl to, Memory Cassette is the one you swirl to. Hail Social is completely unpretentious – the most confident, self-aware he’s ever been. Memory Tapes is… well… great,definitely, but…

It feels unnatural.

Suddenly, from talking to us from We’re Tapes, sharing basement recordings for no reason beyond having recorded them, MT’s all over P4K.

It feels like we’ve lost him.

And maybe we have.

There’s nothing to complain about in Grace/Confusion – there are too many familiar faces – the neighbour’s dog, the chipmunk choir, the stoned samurai – but if you hadn’t met them before, would they warm your heart the way they did when you first heard them?

There’s something different, though – different from the naiveté and intimacy of (even) Seek Magic, and more pronounced than what we heard in Player Piano.

Maybe the vibe I’m getting from Grace/Confusion is the same vibe I’m giving out with this writing: self-consciousness.

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