Release Date: Jul 05, 11
(if you need more information, please read on…)
Player Piano was predicted to be Dayve Hawk’s (sole member of Memory Tapes) attempt to move beyond his pigeon-holing, chillwave label. Without swapping out any parts from the engine that drove his previous releases, it appears Hawk’s just not ready to take that step. Too bad the rest of us are.
Instead of a refreshing change, Hawk delivers a familiar treble-loaded, tweeter straining, brightly colored nightmare. The high-pitched synthesizer and dog-whistle-like vocals on this album are so abrasive and unpleasant it makes you want to bash your strained ears with your palms.
Sandwiching the album like bookends are tracks “Musicbox (in)” and “Musicbox (out)”; a single melodious instrumental, divided by ten tracks, that sounds like so many business-meeting interrupting cell phone ring tones. Fitting.
Granted throughout Player Piano, the listening remains easy enough that all the high-strung and paranoid individuals (i.e. those who grow nervous with loud guitar or aggressive drum beats) should be able to stave off their hair-triggered panic attacks, but for the chemically balanced, the album may induce vomiting. The musical ipecac coats your stomach lining fully in “Sunhits” and, by the first chorus, trips your gag-reflex; a climactic moment far greater than any hook Hawk’s A-Ha-esque falsettos could purposely deliver.
The tracks that seem constructed to be the most poppy and memorable, “Wait in the Dark” and “Today is our Life”, come off as formulaic and have remarkably similar choruses. “Yes I Know” will sound vaguely familiar if you’ve ever had to bear witness to the New Wave music that generally accompanies landscape scenes in meditation videos. Then, oddly paired after “Yes I Know” is “Offers”, which boasts a disco baseline that, for a moment, gives your bleeding eardrums a break.
If it weren’t for Hawk’s ability to structure songs in somewhat enjoyable, recognizable ways, this album wouldn’t be worth the blank disc the songs get burned to. What Hawk has put together will create that cognitive itch that keeps remnants of songs captive in your head for days. Which, I suppose, has some value… maybe as a replacement for waterboarding.