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Giancarlo Erra

Departure Tapes

Review by Gary Hill

The music here is at once familiar and alien. There is a synthetic quality to it, but also a very human one. This is art music, but not really art rock. It is instrumental and largely atmospheric. It is part classical, part electronic and all intriguing. Call this what you like, but ignore it at your own peril. It is unique and interesting from start to finish. This set is a double disc set, but just one album. There is a CD of the album along with a DVD that has different audio configurations of the same music.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Dawn Tape
Weird detuned piano sounds bring this into being. The cut gradually builds outward from there with strange textures rising upward in the arrangement. There is a twisted, nearly soundtrack sort of vibe to this piece.
Previous Tape
This has a bit more developed and "normal" vibe to it. It has multiple instruments working together in an intricate arrangement that has a lot of classical music built into it. It's a short, but very effective, number.
169th Tape
Waves of sound rise and then fall away as this gets going. It's almost between the first two numbers, feeling more symphonic than the opener, but more experimental than the piece that followed it.
Unwound Tape
This comes in more ambient and textural and grows gradually from there. This eventually works out to music that's more along the lines of something you'd expect from Tangerine Dream.
Departure Tape
At nearly 17-minutes long, this is the epic of the set. It comes in with a sound that feels vocal, but also synthesized. That holds it for a time in a mellow way. Other elements join after a time bringing a new angle to the sound. Around the four-minute-fifteen-second mark piano joins and takes control of the piece. Symphonic strings and other elements come over the top as this grows and evolves. The piano gets into some killer instrumental exploration as it continues. It's very classical in nature. This gets more layers of sound as icing further down the road, which also links it to the earlier sections of the number.
A Blues For My Father
Mellow tones based on dramatic atmospherics start this. This evolves gradually and intoxicatingly. There is a cool, electronic dream-like quality to this. It's slow moving and so tasty.
 
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