Sound Impression: Chris Walla – Tape Loops [Trans-]

First things first. Tape Loops is a superb album of ambient piano-based analog recordings by an artist with a refined minimalist aesthetic and a sure hand on the controls.  The fact that it is the first album by Chris Walla since leaving the popular and critically acclaimed Death Cab for Cutie 17 years with the band just makes it all the more interesting. In fact, it is exciting to think about the potential size of DCFC’s favorably disposed audience that might be prompted into a new phase of musical discovery. Any such listeners will certainly be getting a fine introduction to the genre while longtime fans are in for a pleasant surprise.

‘Kanta’s Theme’ lends an inviting opening to the album with its delicate hiss, wavering textures, and crystalline tones. Mellifluous synths are woven into the mix with ‘Introductions’ and ‘I Believe in the Night’ while ‘Goodbye’ is patient and deeply melancholic reverie with a modern classical feel that seems too short even at a run time of more than eleven minutes. The final coda, ‘Flytoget’ adds the warmth of guitar which engages in a tender call and response with the piano. Each of these pieces slows down the world and gently quiets the mind. Cumulatively, the effect is profound.

When Walla first announced his departure from DCFC, he said,  “Moving forward, my plans are simply to continue making music, producing records, and erring on the side of benevolence and beauty whenever possible”. Tape Loops demonstrates those were no idle words. There is no sense of dabbling or casual experimentation here. It is a very satisfying immersion in stillness, beauty, and honest emotion delivered with quiet conviction and a compelling sense of narrative.

Tape Loops is available via iTunes and Amazon and may well be available in your favorite local record store.

Listen to ‘Kanta’s Theme’