Departure Tapes is an album consisting of 6 contemplative recordings, written while travelling between the UK and Italy. The majority of these 6 tracks were recorded live by Erra, so for the most part, are totally unique and hold a sincerity that cannot be replicated. It is the follow up to 2019’s acclaimed album Ends I-VII, with the new recordings reflecting what has been an extremely difficult year for Giancarlo, with the loss of his father to cancer. Erra comments “In 2019 my first solo album was just being released, and I already had the view that I wanted to be more experimental with the second one, but no precise idea how at that point. Then my father suddenly got ill with cancer, and everything changed.”
Erra, having had a fractured and conflicted relationship with his father since his early teenage years found a way to turn this distressing time into a cathartic experience, “he left when I was 14 and since then he wasn’t really part of my life. Then I received the news of his terminal illness and somehow, I found myself in a situation where I was taking care of this man, someone who I have been distanced from for so long. During this period I realised it had become a time for both of us to come to terms with many things. I wanted to get closure, but a positive one, for him and for me, and I think he was the same even though he maybe didn’t know it; this was hard but at the same time ‘healing’ and in a painful twist, it was possibly the closest and positive few months I had with him since I was a small child.” He explains the influence this had on him creatively “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. The end result is the most experimental, and at the times, the darkest material I have ever written, without compromise or set plan. It contains all the elements of my music in a very unconscious free-flowing way.”
Departure Tapes sees Erra play and record every instrument himself along with taking on full production responsibilities at his own studio. The album’s artwork complements the deep theme, one of “leaving behind”. On a walk near his home town in Norfolk, Giancarlo came across a vintage scrapyard full of abandoned cars all having been left behind since the 50s or 60s, and that seemed a perfect match melding the idea of departing and having left behind.
Max Richter, Olafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm and the more electronic/ambient recordings of Brian Eno may offer a reference point by which to enter Erra’s world, but the depth within his recordings is truly original.
Cover and photography by Giancarlo Erra and Caroline Traitler. All instruments by Giancarlo Erra. Strings by Elis Marteinsson.
1. Dawn Tape
2. Previous Tape
3. 169th Tape
4. Unwound Tape
5. Departure Tape
6. A Blues For My Father