Tucked away in the Incline Village hills, electronic music artist Memory Code, a.k.a. Mike Adamo, works on a beat track in a studio packed with drums, recording and producing equipment, and old-school vinyl records.
As a drummer and drum instructor, he’s played in a wealth of styles, from West African drums for the world blues band Peter Joseph Burtt and the King Tide, to hip-hop breakbeat drumming, a genre that Adamo has written an instructional book about—The Breakbeat Bible. His beats have been featured in commercials for Gatorade and Domo, and he’s done programming for loop companies such as Groove Monkee.
As an instructor, Adamo has over 30 drum students, who he meets with in-person and via Skype. He finds teaching just as important as his musicmaking.
“I feel like if you don’t give back or inspire younger folks to get into music, then you aren’t perpetuating the art form,” he said. “I think it’s really important. And I can tell that [my students] love it, too.”
On Sept. 21, Adamo released his first album as Memory Code, titled The Great Rose Window. It is a 14-track album that uses electronic music as a foundation to blend old school hip-hop beats, verbal sound bites and jazz and funk instrumental influences. The album is less a set of tracks and more a full auditory experience, best savored by listening to it in its entirety. However, each track stands on its own, something Adamo finds necessary for music in this day and age.
Some tracks, such as, “The People of Orphalese (Shine On) [featuring New Pharoah],” groove like a kickback playlist. John F. Kennedy’s voice opens the song, with a clip from his “New Frontier” speech, then the song transitions into a jazz-infused hip-hop beat that infiltrates your bones.
Others feel like a visceral experience. “Silver Threads & Mercury Drops” is the penultimate track. Its title is a reference to chem trails—and Adamo’s feelings of anger and helplessness about them. It hits like an unrelenting force of nature yet still feels like a high-end EDM jam.
As a whole, The Great Rose Window creates a realm ruled by a hip-hop climate, infused with references to current affairs. It stuns with an edginess that feels ahead of its time, compared to the wave of synth pop that rules over today’s music. The construction of every song is nuanced and multidimensional yet is still accessible to mainstream audiences.
The album is for sale on Bandcamp for $10, but you also have the option to stream it for free—or name your own price, in which case proceeds from album sales through Sept. 21, 2017, will be donated to Project MANA, an organization that assists the food insecure in the North Lake Tahoe and Truckee regions.
“I want my music to be a force of positivity and change,” said Adamo. “And I felt like the best way to do that was to help my little corner of the world.”
While Adamo has a number of projects in the works, his main focus these days is to grow his body of work as Memory Code. Currently, he is working on a new EP and a beat tape, and he’s planning some live shows as Memory Code, beginning in January of next year.