Giancarlo Erra – Departure Tapes: Album Review

An outpouring of music proves the ideal therapy for Giancarlo Erra on Departure Tapes.

Release date: 2nd July 2021

Label: Kscope

Format: CD / digital / vinyl

Taking a moment from his one-man project Nosound, Giancarlo Erra uses his music and his improvisations to come to terms with a life-changing event. “It’s almost as a free subconscious stream of thoughts and feelings while recording everything that was happening,” he says to explain the creation of an introspective yet powerful work in tribute to his father.

Departure Tapes consists of 6 contemplative recordings, the majority being improvised in the studio by Erra, so for the most part, are totally unique and hold a sincerity that cannot be replicated. The new recordings reflect what has been an extremely difficult year for Giancarlo, with the loss of his father to cancer. Having had a fractured and conflicted relationship with his father since his early teenage years, he’s found a way to shape these events into a cathartic experience, 

It’s the first album I have created without realising I was actually writing it, as it is so intrinsically linked to one of the hardest and yet more healing parts of my life,” he explains.

The end result is an experimental set, and at times (perhaps not surprisingly), contains some of the darkest material he has ever written. Yet, Departure Tapes also contains all the signature elements of his music in a very unconscious and naturallly free-flowing way. In that sense, it’s most uplifting and empowering. He doesn’t need to express his grief verbally, the emotion comes through the music. You hear what’s he’s saying or see what he’s seeing as the music becomes the soundtrack for a washed out and grainy film of memories.

The usual arrangements of huge peaks and troughs are absent. Dynamics, the light and shade, the loud and quiet, are shelved for a more level playing field. A gentle stroll to ruminate and reflect. A soundtrack to a religious experience even. The feeling is never more strong than in the sixteen minutes of the title track opens with an unaccompanied voice calling from afar. Music that floats on the air, pausing for a cascade of piano notes before taking flight again.

The eight minutes of Unwound Tape in particular have a soothing quality; focussing on the ambient, the calming, the healing power of music. And A Blues For My Father feels like it deserves to be played in a place of worship as a requiem. A gentle regal quality conveys a solemnity and becomes an apt tribute. It brings the curtain down on Departure Tapes; a surprisingly powerful and emotive release of which Giancarlo Erra can be justifiably proud.

Watch the video for Previous Tape here:

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