This Chris Walla article was written by Jessica Otterwell, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
Lush (the handmade cosmetics store, not the band) have started to give spa treatments. They’re trendy spa treatments, with strange names and quirky backing music. ‘Tape Loops’ belongs at one of those treatments. You’ll feel you need a face mask, candles and someone pummelling your worries away with hot stones, while Chris Walla’s first solo effort clinks away in the background.
That’s not to say ‘Tape Loops’ is a bad album; at five songs, it’s an EP. Seriously though, it’s understandable that former Death Cab for Cutie member would want a complete departure from that sound and on ‘Tape Loops’ he’s achieved it. There are no vocals, instead as a listener you are treated to nine slices of ambient sound.
Opener, ‘Kanta’s Theme’ has a gentle grace. It envisages a filmic glacial landscape; the piano is delicate and reveals itself slowly throughout. You are taken on a journey of discovery, as though there is a dawn and a realisation being reached. ‘Kanta’s Theme’ is a stand out here, as many of the other tracks take a lead from it. It is of no surprise that Walla is developing a film score, for that is what ‘Tape Loops’ needs to be, in essence if not reality.
Second track, ‘Introductions’ continues this stumbling discovery and even holds a waft of depression in its meandering rhythm, as though the protagonist has reached the end of a long journey and yet can’t find their way back to reality. The listener is invited to create these filmic images themselves and by the third track, ‘I Believe In the Night,’ Walla has you in the attic searching through the old super 8 home movie footage of faded memories from long ago. What is interesting is that ‘Tape Loops’ is coated in layers of nostalgia. The title comes from Walla creating the EP’s trademark sound by manipulating analogue tape.
Overall though, ‘Tape Loops’ still retains the feeling of being at a day spa, or a yoga retreat. It’s such a relaxing album, it’s almost narcoleptic and yet it somehow misses the mark. The closer, ‘Flytoget,’ at nine minutes, is epically long with little to differentiate it from the four tracks before it. This is a bland inoffensive effort, with little to say for itself and anything it does say is a whispered apology. ‘Tapes Loops’ plays like elevator music for a faux hipster generation.