Release Date: Apr 24, 2012
Record label: Paper Bag Records
There are people in this cruel world who look at a guy with a keyboard and assume they’re about to be exposed to some self-indulgent noodling. In some cases they’re right. But work your way through the ocean of GarageBand bedroom experimentations out there and you’ll find someone like CFCF – a Canadian producer who manages to strike a balance between the sturdy emotiveness of pop and the shimmering beguilement of ambience.
Earlier this year, Virgin/EMI released A Victim of Stars, a two-disc compilation by former Japan frontman David Sylvian. The set includes "Forbidden Colours", the mannered ambient-pop singer's piano-led 1983 collaboration with former Yellow Magic Orchestra member Ryuichi Sakamoto. The song was the theme for the film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, and after watching Sakamoto work on the score, Sylvian was quoted as marveling at how the Japanese composer tried to create "a sense of place, a landscape in the mind of the listener." The refined, piano-driven torch song bears on Montreal producer Mike Silver's quietly compelling new EP as CFCF in more than one significant way.
CFCF is the stage name for Montreal DJ/producer Mike Silver. He took his moniker from the call sign of the city’s CFCF-TV. As such, his promising debut, 2009’s Continent, resembled a delightful channel surfing between assorted genres. His latest release, Exercises, is a downcast and reflective paean for the ’70s underground.
CFCF’s Exercises begins with a quiet, almost somber, piano that slowly becomes more and more enticing. A bed of synthesizers soon accompanies it and manages to make it even more irresistible. Instrumental piano-based music hasn’t been this convincingly gorgeous since Eluvium’s masterpiece, An Accidental Memory in the Case of Death. While that record stayed to piano, CFCF isn’t afraid to layer on some subtle accompaniment from other instruments, and every time he does it ends up sounding brilliant or at least close to brilliant.
The coverage for Continents, the 2009 LP by CFCF, the DJ/production project of Montreal's Michael Silver, often named the filmography of Michael Mann (think more Manhunter than Miami Vice) as a point of influence. The CFCF project has, in some ways, always been related to soundtrack, even down to the fact that the name itself was lifted from a Montreal TV station call sign, which evokes not only broadcast media, but echoes the Toronto-based CIVIC-TV call sign omnipresent in Videodrome—a film by fellow Canadian David Cronenberg, another director Silver cites as a favorite. The connotations don't feel inorganic or superimposed on the music, however, and many of Silver's influences manage to effortlessly cohere into subdued, synthetic landscapes, with minimal vocals and a penetrating tension, resulting in something that, frankly, mimics a distinctive soundtrack feel.
Montréal-based DJ and electronic wizard Michael Silver (stage name CFCF) was once primarily associated with his remix work on tracks by the likes of Sally Shapiro, Crystal Castles, Azari & III, and tons of others. Of late, though, he's been slowly building on his own catalogue of gorgeous, synth-based atmospheric mood music, the best installment of which remains his 2009 full-length debut, Continent. Exercises is Silver's fourth release with Paper Bag Records and it features just over 25 minutes of restrained, piano-driven, synth-soaked mini-movements, eight in all.
CFCFExercises EP[Paper Bag; 2012]By Ray Finlayson; April 30, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetImpatience is a common vice in this fast-moving internet age. Artists risk losing relevance if they don’t keep themselves in their share of the limelight. And while some seek to prolong their five minutes of fame longer than anyone wants them to, some play the causal and long game, knowing that the time between each release is time well spent constructing another masterpiece (see Burial, Chromatics, and, as an extreme example, Scott Walker).
It's strange to think that it's only been three years since CFCF released his debut full-length. In fact, the Montreal knob-twiddler has covered so much musical ground (over a half-dozen EPs and mixtapes) in such a short amount of time that it's already safe to call him a veteran. His latest, Exercises, is a mini-album/EP that valiantly tackles yet another facet of electronic music: the piano and synth slow-burner.