From the steadfast sideman for countless bands, to the indie-pop maestro behind 2017’s Emotional Freedom Technique, Dave Depper has once again emerged anew with Europa. A cerebral saunter through six cities, Europa showcases Depper at his most atmospheric and ambient.
Entirely improvised and recorded while on the road with Death Cab For Cutie, Europa is an aural magic trick, with hypnotic synth and organ tones all the product of Depper’s guitar and pedal wizardry. This newest solo effort is a hushed, intimate listen from start to finish; like a musical sigh of relief, Europa embraces catharsis on its evening walk through foreign streets.
This record began with a dilemma...
As any touring musician knows, an inordinate amount of the day is spent waiting around - especially just before soundcheck. There’s nothing specific for you to do, but you can’t really leave, either. You definitely don’t want to be the one that nobody can find when it’s finally time to get on stage.
Over the course of a whole tour, this dead time can add up to hours and hours of wasted existence, filled with mindless gazing at your phone and listlessly pecking at the hummus plate in the dressing room. This is time you will never get back.
In late 2015, I found myself in Europe, having already spent nearly the entirety of the year on the road, and this growing void of lost time was weighing heavily on me. I wondered: was it possible to use these intervals for something productive?
I came up with a plan: every day, no matter where I was or how motivated I felt, I would spend that time improvising on my guitar and recording it. I’d recently cobbled together a looping setup with my pedalboard that seemed like a good medium to experiment with.
And so, for three weeks across the EU, I would dutifully set my equipment up each day and record whatever came to mind for 30 to 60 minutes. By the time I returned home to Oregon, I’d amassed over ten hours of material - much of it aimless, but some of it quite compelling. With the aid of the kind ears of some close friends, I whittled it down to the length of a record, and that’s how Europa came to be.
I’m writing these words in April 2020, at home under quarantine as a pandemic continues to shut down the world in strange and frightening ways. It’s odd and melancholy to listen to this music now. In some sense it’s a communication from a simpler time, before Brexit, before the 2016 election, from a seemingly kinder world, a world with open borders and live music. May we live in that world again soon.
Whatever your circumstances, I hope this music provides you with comfort.
- Dave Depper, Portland, Oregon
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