Ten year ago this fall, the brilliant Giancarlo Erra was in the studios writing, recording, and mixing what would become his magnum opus, LIGHTDARK, one of the first releases from the then-brand new KScope Records. Nothing Erra writes and records is unimportant, of course, but nothing he has done has quite matched the flawless LIGHTDARK, in its composition, its harmonies, its reach, and its flow. Never could this be wallpaper music. It is music that demands full immersion. As with T.S Eliot’s Four Quartets, Erra’s LIGHTDARK demands that we the listener stand within the art itself, seeing the world form the perspective of the art. As such, Erra is a genius, bringing us fully into his music.
As with some of the best composers of the past century, Erra eschews all forms of bombast as he whispers longingly toward the true, the good, and the beautiful. He is not afraid of silence, knowing that the notes that surround silence, do so affectionately and even passionately.
Imagine Mark Hollis writing music for Pink Floyd while serving as the backup band to Arvo Part, and you might get close to the genius and talent of Giancarlo Erra.
Of all the bands I love and review, the hardest to review—without question—is Nosound. At least for me.
This post is a perfect example to illustrate my failings. I’ve had a copy of Nosound’s 2015 live album, TEIDE 2390, for nearly a year, and I’ve still not written a review. And, if you know me, you know I’m obsessed with writing, and I’m especially obsessed with writing about what I love.
I was recently told as a criticism: in my writing, I “fling superlatives.” My response to this is: “why, yes, I absolutely and most certainly love to fling superlatives.” It’s true. Just imagine what I’m like when I’m lecturing to forty 19-year olds.
With Nosound, however, it’s really, really (sometimes outrageously!) hard to fling superlatives. Why? Because everything glorious about Nosound is understated, tasteful, and minimalist. As a 48-year old Kansan, I just don’t do minimalist well. At least when it comes to writing. Yet, I know and appreciate minimalism—especially when it comes to the computers and gadgets designed by Steve Jobs (rest in peace) or the music so lovingly crafted by Mark Hollis or Arvo Part.
Enter Giancarlo Erra. His Nosound is profoundly delicate. Not effete. By not means, effete. Never. But, certainly delicate.
As I’ve written before, Erra is a genius, plain and simple. This is as clear in his photography as it is in his music and his lyrics. Again, far from effete, he approaches art and the world of art and creativity with an extreme sensitivity. His creativity in his photography is as much about what is not there as it as about what is there.
The same is even more true of his music. Nosound is as much about silence as it about notes.
Throw in Erra’s somewhat mystical lyrics and dream-like vocals and you find yourself—as a listener—fully immersed in his world, drifting along some radically natural psychedelic dream state.
His lyrics deal with frustration, loss, desire, hope, depression, joy, and everything that matters in this world and, perhaps, in the next.
A little over seventy-five minutes in length and recorded in September, 2014, on a Spanish island, TEIDE 2390 demonstrates that Erra’s genius is not merely in the studio. As he’s demonstrated before—his live version of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” is possibly better than the original version from the early 1970s (heresy, I know!)—he knows exactly how to create a full minimalist sound, even on stage and away from the hyper-controlled environment of a professional studio. This is no small achievement, as the music demands the full attention of an audience that probably would not mind head banging. No one head bangs to Nosound. Instead, one swirls, and rides, and flies, and soars, and dips, and drifts.
I think it’s probably fair to state that many proggers like their music heavy and fast. Erra reminds us so importantly that we need to breathe as well.