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Memoryhouse – The Years February 16, 2010

Posted by gwyoung in Album Reviews, Music, Music Videos.
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Artist: Memoryhouse

Album: The Years

Release: Self-released, 2010

Genre: Electronica

RIYD: Grouper, Washed Out, Joanna Newsom

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When I first read about Memoryhouse, I thought to myself: “Haven’t we had enough of all this lo-fi, chillwave, Memory [insert random word here] bullshit?” Well, in this case the answer is no. Though Memoryhouse does indeed have a lot in common with Dayve Hawk’s shapeshifting Memory Tapes/Memory Cassette/Weird Tapes musical project, it’s not just another uninspired addition to the beachy surf music trend that began last summer. Memoryhouse, the dreamy electronic duo of Denise Nouvion and Evan Abeele, works within the framework of this musical movement to produce almost the exact opposite feeling, focusing on the chill of wintry hibernation instead.

The so-called glo-fi genre has so far been dominated by young males making mainly mellow, laid-back tunes that lack deep emotion or substance and are usually about drugs or the beach, with few exceptions. As such, you can imagine my surprise when Nouvion’s crisp and fragile vocals broke through the dreamy haze of opener “Sleep Patterns”, immediately drawing more attention to the voice than the genre has ever done before. This lyrical focus becomes even more clear on “Lately (Deuxieme)” which begins with the line “Lately, I’m not sleeping, I’m not breathing, without machines” and ends with the repeated “Shut me off” and along the way proves to be a devastatingly emotional piece from the perspective of a comatose patient. Here Memoryhouse evokes acts like Grouper at their best moments as Nouvion’s vocals emerge from the murky, repetitive mix of gentle guitar strumming and distant static to become painfully clear.

Fortunately, the rest of The Years is less of a downer. “The Waves” and “To The Lighthouse” have more of the traditional lo-fi beat, courtesy of Abeele’s pristine production, and end the short-but-sweet EP on a more optimistic note, though not so optimistic as to make a clean break from the sense of sadness captured earlier on. Nouvion’s vocal performance is just as powerful on these tracks and in the end is what makes the EP so elegant and unique when compared with the rest of the genre. Though The Years only spans a little over twelve minutes, it shows more promise than any full-length debut I’ve heard in a while, and with the imminent release of the seven-song Looms Of Youth scheduled for this spring, this may be a big year for this little duo.

You can download the entire EP for free at Memoryhouse’s myspace page. Below are some interesting unofficial videos for “Lately (Deuxieme)” and “To The Lighthouse”:

The duo also did an incredible cover of Grizzly Bear’s “The Foreground” from last year’s Veckatimest, so here’s that as well:

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