You don’t expect an album named Tape Loops to come from a former member of Death Cab For Cutie, but here it is! Chris Walla, who founded that band, has taken things a lot more abstract: not quite full Lescalleet / Dilloway, but a pretty strong set of pieces that use analogue technology with skill. On Trans-Records.
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I was originally worried about how I would review an album by a guy from a band that I know fuck all about but now I’m more worried about an album made out of tape loops that is also actually called Tape Loops. Imagine if a band called their album ‘Guitars, Drums and Vocals’. Now imagine if a band called their album ‘Guitars, Drums and Vocals’ but were completely serious.
So yes this is the guy from Death Cab For Cutie, shock, horror, such fame. I think that sets some precedent, probably shitness, what do I know. I’m the electronic guy. It ain’t my area. He left the band last year apparently, so this is significant. It’s actually quite nice, a bit like introverted tinkler Nils Frahm’s miniatures but made with synths, pianos, and, well, electric pianos. He uses long loops, much like Eno did back in ‘78, the figures sort of familiar when they come round the next time, but so sparse as to seem non-loopy. This destroys any promise of experimentalism, this being an age-old technique used in almost the same way as it was back then. The final one on side one is just a tiny little sad chord progression, not much else. The longer ones are much better in their form, the loopedness barely hinting at the straightforward things that probably went on in Death Cab.
I just wish it would break from the ponderous melancholy for a bit. It’s like listening to a full-on downcast copycat post-rock band for ages. As if to answer my prayers, the final track has a more cosy feel. So yeah, this is a good album, a somewhat subtle (and often imperceptible/token) use of tape but exists as an exercise in gentle, quiet beautiful wanderings. I can see the comparisons with records like Grouper’s Ruins and The PArk by Tor Lundvall, but just not quite as great. Almost an 8.
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