Paper Bag Records, 2012
REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/20/2012
Montreal’s Michael Silver (a.k.a. CFCF) has quite a knack for quiet piano and charming synth work, his latest endeavor being a part of his series of mixtapes that have followed a specific sound. Here he plays heavily with nu-disco, house and ambient structures, his melodies buried subtly beneath the arrangements that often sound cinematic in scope.
Starting out with a repetitive piano number, “Exercise #1 (Entry),” CFCF brings in quaint synth to help lay the foundation for the remainder of the disc. ‘’Exercise #2 (School)” begins with an almost childlike melody, and segues into a nearly meditative, calming journey that illustrates his skilled songcraft. From there things get more ambient, often sounding like a soundtrack to a science fiction movie, relying on moody yet playful instrumentation, the layered synth getting pretty eerie. There’s actually some gentle vocal work on “Exercise #5 (September),” a sparse track that breaks up the otherwise instrumental work. The album highlight rests with “Exercise #4 (Spirit),” a quick blast of beautifully layered perfection. Near the end, “Exercise #6 (December)” retreats back to the sadder tones -- a colder, melancholic arrangement where the droning synth intertwines with the piano that proves to be a devastatingly gorgeous affair.
As imperative as like-minded artists Eluvium or even Mono, despite being a very experimental and often abstract listen, CFCF actually yields some universal pop moments within these cautious gems, turning minimalism and subdued songcraft into an adventurous, thoughtful listen.
Inspired by institutional architecture and ’70s Canadia, and taking influences from Philip Glass, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and David Borden, CFCF’s sophomore effort is a chilling exercise of subdued electronic compositions, in contrast with previous work that was more akin to disco music. Gentle beats, dreamy atmospheres, twinkling keys, and endless synth tones make this one a truly unique listen in a sub- genre of music that is an all too often overlooked aspect of indie-rock.
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