10.12.2009, Words by Charlie Jones

Seek Magic

Writing a review of an album that has been a trusty companion to me ever since I first heard it around summer this year and has by now been thoroughly analyzed by some of the most painstaking and wordy critics in the world definitely presents a special kind of challenge to me – it feels like nearly everything has already been said in some kind of way. But most importantly, even after countless listens, a fair amount of time passed and the collective music press world trying hard to stage a whole movement (going by awkward names such as ‘chillwave’ and ‘glo-fi’) around the sound of Memory Tapes, ‘Seek Magic’, the debut full-length of New Jersey-based producer and singer Dayve Hawk, still stands strong as one of the years best albums, without a doubt.

As the band name suggests, the sound of Memory Tapes takes us on a trip down memory lane, making songs and melodies that you have never heard before seem strangely familiar by citing the guitars of New Order and The Cure, the blurred off-key vocals of Flaming Lips and the spaced out synths of the cosmic-era, Tangerine Dream and electronica releases around the early Warp era, often grounded on a foundation of driving organic drum rhythms reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem. Sprinkled with real-world sounds like sneakers squealing on a basketball court and field recordings, Hawk is capturing moments, as vivid as animated polaroid pictures, suddenly summoning the listeners’ own youth memories and thus emerging strong emotional bonds.

While this description might sound like you’re dealing with a patchwork or even mash-up style record, this is not the case at all. The true greatness and achievement of this LP is that nothing ever sounds staged or out-of-place, more like the travelogue of a voyager space ship that has travelled through the history of more elaborated music, returning with a naturally flowing showcase of everyone’s most beloved bits while maintaining a high grade of originality. Also, while this might be quite a stretch, ‘Seek Magic’ somehow reminds me of the work of The Go-Team and The Avalanches – although Memory Tapes is operating on the other side of the tracks and his music does not rely on samples, all three bands successfully re-engineered vast amounts of signature sounds and material from past days of different genres, resulting in a very own sound appealing to a large audience.

Considering that ‘Seek Magic’ as a whole is one of the best treats served within the album format in a long time, I avoided commenting on individual tracks because nothing feels out of place, too long or flawed in any way. ‘Seek Magic’ is here to lure you in and take you on a voyage, so just let it happen or miss out on one of the year’s greatest offers.

‘Seek Magic’ is out now

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