In an interview with About.com in 2009, when asked if he (Dayve Hawk, AKA Memory Cassette, Weird Tapes and most recently Memory Tapes) wanted to create this mystery around him he responded "No. That was all definitely accidental... what I want would be genuine anonymity" which makes something of a statement about his, and a lot of other artists’ rise to prominence in recent years. He then goes on to talk about music back when he was in his youth in the 80s, "I remember buying records by bands and you just genuinely didn't know anything about them, so you didn't filter that into the music, you just liked the music." Which is the complete antithesis of how he’s come to relative fame. Picked up for the big scene by the blogs and industry shortly after ‘Bicycle’ appeared in early 2009, after already generating some hype with his earlier cassettes and EPs, he seemed to shy away from the attention which only fanned the mystery.

Pretty soon, by the time his debut album Seek Magic came out that September, people knew more about him than they’d heard of his music. Here’s a man who’s almost hermetic in a modern music terms, who shies away from even having a phone and wouldn't for a long time play live that all of a sudden makes music that all the tastemakers are listening to. For a man who’s confessed to being "not that great with computers" his career would have been nowhere without them.

And so after the success of Seek Magic, he announces the follow up this year called Player Piano and promises it’s going to be more “organic” than last time, which is true. It’s a record that right from the off is strikingly more mature than the last record, and right from its first play through is more full and complete than Seek Magic, who’s only problem was it’s fairly fixed tempo.

But what it lacks in pure pace it sure as hell doesn’t lack in gripping power. Take the ‘Fell Thru Ice’ duo for example – both are slow burning and gentle compositions that sounds closer to an 80s cover of Neu!’s ‘Seeland’ before launching back into that euphoric mid range symphonic pop that Hawke has made his own, but with a greater complexity and attention to detail then in Seek Magic. I think it would be unfair to continue any further comparisons to any previous material because Player Piano is a beautiful masterpiece in its own right and doesn’t struggle to match any of Memory Tapes’ previous highs. What we have from Hawk now is a piece of unbridled pop music. Everything from the heavy hitting, almost early techno synths on ‘Trance Sisters’ to the massive unrelentingly beautiful guitar work on album highlight ‘Sunhits’ (which is set to be the cornerstone to any summer mixtape this year) gives this a slight, but very important sonic shift from most pop music coming out at the moment – this is not nostalgia, this is retro futurism. This is what future pop sounded like in 1986 to the young Dayve Hawk’s mind, not what his memory thinks the 80s sounded like.

I think that’s the crux – everything from the layout of the tracks to their repetition (especially in the OMD reminiscent opening of ‘Worries’) to the way the tracks are constantly evolving themselves into new and exciting shapes with all sorts of wonderful new and exciting sounds laid across is more reminiscent of the experimenting and excitement of 80’s composition rather than the careful sparsity of today’s laptop musicians.

In short, Hawk has made a forgotten pop nugget.

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