Memory Machines by Arcadia Gardens
Memory Machines, the second LP from Arcadia Gardens, opens like a dream. In opening track “Purple Glow,” echoey vocals flood through a happy and light-hearted drum and synth groove, like something that might accompany a dream sequence or a montage.
That’s exactly what Daniel Rutstrom, a.k.a. 100% of the one-man band formerly known as Caveman Dan, was going for. He’s written, performed, recorded, and produced every beat of his own music since 2009. He’s young; live videos on YouTube show him DJing a small party, albeit quite successfully. His entirely original dream pop is cheerful, well-constructed, and — best of all — well-produced.
“Sun Ladders,” off Rutstrom’s 2011 debut LP “Empty Dreams”
The rest of “Memory Machines” is just as solid and consistent. “Sun Sphere” features a peppy electric string bass line, of course performed by Rutstrom himself. “Relax Tonight” is a snugly woven blanket of drum beats and long tone synth sounds, with Rutstrom’s sleepy vocals imploring the listener to, you know, relax. (It’s actually quite relaxing.)
“Come Wander With Us” brings to mind the scene in 1971′s “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” when the smart-ass video gaming kid shrinks himself and sends his body particles flying through the air as TV waves, and Gene Wilder is just standing there like…are you f#&$ing kidding me? “Memory Machines” could well be the album that Wilder would relax to at the end of that long day. “New Sky, Blue Sky” is a good follow-up, a sweet piano-based tune that scratches a little deeper in the depth of instruments Rutstrom plays and contributes to his own music.
The album ends with “Empty Dreams,” which sounds like it’s having difficulty tuning in on an old radio. That’s intentional, but the gimmick grows weary after the first listen, despite a pretty sweet guitar solo a minute and a half in.
The other five tracks, though, are very re-listenable. There’s not much on YouTube, and nothing from this album, but download this digital album for free from bandcamp using the link at the bottom of this post.
And music videos? Who needs music videos? Last summer, Daniel Rutstrom created his own dream sequence to go with the song “I Can Take It On” off 2011′s “Empty Dreams,” which he posted with the suggestion to watch this nature video on mute. The juxtaposition is perfect, as Rutstrom’s sweet warble in “I Can Take It On” narrates the mood of standing at the top of a mountain, singing “I can take on anything / I could take on the world.” The acoustic guitar melds with the synth sounds, and a drum beat kicks up the song at just the right moments.