Live review: Memory Tapes

The Social, London Tuesday, January 19

Andy Willsher
Pic: Andy Willsher
The all-powerful blogiverse can be a harsh mistress to a new artist. Plucking you from behind your PowerBook, she’ll nuzzle you in the night, whispering sweet compliments, convincing you to get out there and show the world what you’ve got. Before you know it you’re out on the road showcasing your meagre two tunes to an anti-climaxing audience and she’s turned her back, spitting spite and disdain in your face.

Which is perhaps why Memory Tapes (aka Memory Cassette, Weird Tapes, Dayve Hawk plus drummer) have made damn sure they’re ready to meet the hype. London shoebox The Social is Central Line-packed for their second-ever gig and we have to practically open our wallet to the bouncer to get a slot pressed against the back wall behind Ed from The Chemical Brothers.

Onstage and Dayve is teetering between nonchalant and nervy. If you’ve been within 10 feet of a computer this year you’ll know their blog standard: strung-out, blissed-out electro-pop and, from the epic quasi-techno gloss of ‘Graphics’ to ‘Green Knight’’s more melancholic shuffle, it holds everyone from the front to Ed Chemical captive.

While there’s a heavy reliance on the backing track, it’s OK; Memory Tapes don’t sell themselves as a full band. Rather it’s heavily synthesized computer-pop fronted by live drums, guitar and voice (which, it has to be said, suffers tonal fluctuations tonight).

As they wrap things up with ‘Bicycle’, Memory Tapes extend the song’s New Order euphoria and quiet-loud cat’n’mouse dynamics by splicing two complete tunes in the middle (‘Surfing’ and ‘Swimming Field’), filling 15 minutes with the kind of energy reserved for jazzed-up personal trainers. With the backing track still pumping, they disappear upstairs, while we’re left facing blasting beats, wondering if we’re at a gig, a club, or one of those moments that, if not redefining pop, somehow tweaked its DNA irrevocably forever.

Tim Chester

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