Memory Tapes Seek Magic(Rough Trade / Something In Construction) Buy it from Insound
One of the ways I love to listen to music is while travelling. Walking, driving, flying, running, it doesn’t matter, there’s just something about moving through scenery that works so well with a soundtrack. Travelling is also the perfect way to enjoy new music; with nowhere to go except the place you’re going you can really listen to music. It’s a great time to re-evaluate old sounds and unfamiliar pieces you might not be sure about.
It struck me that Seek Magic by Memory Tapes was a great record when I was driving into New Hampshire from Maine with my girlfriend last week. New England is a stereotypically beautiful fall location and experiencing all those golds and reds while the sun set was incredible. More than this, looking out the window at one point I saw the most placid looking lake I’d ever seen, just sitting there, surrounded by trees, with the dying light hitting it. It was the perfect sight at the perfect time There’s something about the feeling this record has that enhanced what I saw there. Something organic and vital.
Seek Magic is only 8 songs long but runs in at 40 minutes. This allows the tracks to breath and progress without ever feeling rushed. The majority of the musical work is being done here by keyboards, drum loops, guitar, and bass. Occasionally vocal lines slink over the top of these bassy, swelling tracks, but never so much as to distract from the feeling that this music should be listened to at night.
Each piece here grows in truly surprising ways. Take Bicycle, for example, which starts out with a rhythmic, late-night vibe and ends with a synthesized choir taking flight, complemented with a guitar solo thrown to the front of the mix. The next track, Green Knight has a minute-long false start, transforming from muted house into something with a far funkier vibe; “I want to give you my love” is sung over the top. These moments of innovation and surprise encourage repeated listens and reward spending time with Seek Magic.
My favourite moments of this album come towards the end, though, with final two tracks, Plain Material, and, Run Out. The former is Cure-esque electronic rock which eventually becomes overtaken by bleeps and thick synths, the latter a down-tempo instrumental that grows towards a distorted conclusion, although never losing sight of the guitar chord sequence holding it all together.
I started out this review by talking about how much I like to listen to music while I’m travelling, but it would be more appropriate to end by suggesting that Seek Magic is something to be travelled with. It’s the kind of album that won’t give you everything at once but instead reveal it as you take it around with you. It’s music that will soundtrack those peculiar moments where you really pay attention, free of distractions. This is music to spend time with and worth making time for.1 November, 2009 - 21:33 — Nick Fenn