There are albums that take a hold of you immediately, wrap you up in knots and leave you writhing for escape. Then there are others that slowly consume you and demand repeat listening. Giancarlo Erra’s debut album ‘Ends’ is both of these. From the first note is it game over. The more you play ‘Ends’ more you appreciate its complex network of piano runs, string sections and choral workouts, whilst being blown away how it manages to hide meaning, and melodies, that don’t become clear until much later.
‘End III’ welcomes us to the album with a giant suede like hug. As we descend into its rhythmic undulations, deep electronics gently envelope us until the strings appear gives us something tangible to hold on to. As the string swell and grow the piano and electronics drift away leaving us with a haunting feeling of melancholy. There are motifs of Philip Glass at his most hypnotic, but this is pastiche or plagiarism. Erra is using this as a starting point to let us know what is to follow. It’s like ‘End II’ is saying “Don’t worry; this isn’t all going to be a dense neo-classical mind-melt. There are plenty of hooks and openings for you, but the ride might get a bit choppy in places”.
If ‘End III’ was about cohesive melodies ‘End II’ is about ethereal wisps of captivating refrains and the feeling of unease. As touching maelstroms swirl about the intensity gets ratcheted up they grow tighter and tighter, punctuated with crunchy guitars, until its flawless outro fades out.
‘End VII’ is just a massive string workout. The dextrous playing is all consuming. When listening to this walking about IRL, the boring mundanity around you, fellow passengers on the daily commute, the decisions on whether to buy locally sourced food in the supermarket and waiting for a friend to turn up for coffee takes on another worldly vibe. Like at any moment something majestic and breath-taking will take place. The album closes with ‘Ends Coda’. This acts like an epilogue to the actual album. It is filled with electronic beats, sonorous strings and captivating piano.
After listening to ‘Ends’ it should come as no surprise that Erra first came to prominence with the band ‘Nosound’. ‘Ends’ feels like a continuation of their aesthetic, and ability to combine post-rock, ambient and electronic music to create something challenging, yet immensely playable. And this is what ‘Ends’ is. ‘Ends’ is an album that is easy to get lost in. Once you start playing the deviously complex ‘End II’ you are trapped in its labyrinth or docile piano, luscious strings and wonky electronics. Even when you get to ‘Ends Coda’ you aren’t out of its clutches as it has an uncanny knack of sneaking up on you when you least expect it.
Photocopying something at work, riding the bus or just getting into bed and BAM you have one of those seemingly simplistic melodies lodged in your head. And this is its power. The power of perceived simplicity and very, very memorable melodies.
Words: Nick Roseblade
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