Chris Walla has said little publicly about his 2014 departure from Death Cab for Cutie, a band that he co-founded and called home for 17 years. He begins to break his silence with Tape Loops, a full-length album that doesn’t so much provide answers or explanations, but invites the listener into the instrumental landscapes of his inner world.
Sidestepping the specificity of narrative songwriting in favor of immersive aural topographies, Chris Walla’s Tape Loops offers up a quietly dynamic listen that is as beautiful as it is masterful. Leaning into the constraints of analog loop-based recording, Walla’s virtuosity as a composer and producer shines. The album’s richly layered arrangements reveal their powerful intricacies little by little.
The practice of manipulating physical tape is not new—but it is an art form requiring meticulous focus, courage, an intense sense of purpose, openness and patience—and it has been largely abandoned. Pioneers of the process, such as Steve Reich, Robert Fripp and Brian Eno finished creating their respective loop masterpieces and had moved on from the form by the late 1970s.
Tape Loops is his first solo album since Field Manual (2008). A founding member of Death Cab for Cutie, he was the guitarist, producer and co-writer from 1997 to 2014. His recent work includes collaborations with S, the Thermals, the Lonely Forest, William Fitzsimmons, and Rocky Votolato.