Release Date: Oct 22, 2013
Record label: Paper Bag Records
Genre(s): Electronic, Techno, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Club/Dance, Indie Electronic, Ambient Techno, IDM
It's been four years since Michael Silver released his superb electro throwback debut LP, Continent. Fortunately, the Montreal native managed to use this time to experiment with his sound, releasing a trifecta of EPs that saw Silver messing with different textures and methods, peaking with last year's wildly celebrated, piano-based release, Exercises. On Outside, Silver (aka CFCF) comes off like a seasoned veteran, as this sophomore full-length feels much more enduring, skilful and headier than his early electronic pieces.
One of the most impressive things about CFCF—the project of musician/producer Mike Silver—is how clearly defined his sound and aesthetics were right from the start. A lot of electronic musicians have a difficult time moving away from their influences towards something wholly unique, but from Panesian Nights onward, Silver has been skillfully crafting soundscapes that recall the warm, inviting aspects of ambient and new age compositions without delving too far into the sorts of things that can make those genres appear empty and forgettable. The series of EPs he has released (The River, Exercises, Music For Objects) have only served to deepen his sound while carving out an identity for Silver as a musician, establishing him as something more than another face in front of a laptop screen.
It's kind of hard to believe that Outside, the latest offering from Montreal electronic producer Mike Silver (aka CFCF), is actually only his second full-length release. Since introducing himself with his debut Continent, Silver has released a series of EPs that, given their length and depth, work as larger statements rather than placeholders. Reliably innovative and stimulating, these efforts helped illuminate the varied intellectual curiosities (architecture, film, objects) that inform his constantly mutating palette, often with arrestingly beautiful results.
CFCF’s Outside is Canadian Michael Silver’s second album, following his 2010 debut Continent, of considered electronica or ‘new age deep thoughts’. He has been noodling about remixing the likes of Crystal Castles, Holy Ghost! and Health to give an indication of where his head is at. His string of EPs also lend weight to his ability to create new and innovative sounds in the already over-populated world of solo electronic boffins trapped in their own circuitry dithers.
During the four years between CFCF's full-length albums, Michael Silver explored several different sounds via a series of EPs. Some of these short-form releases, such as Exercises and Music for Objects, veered closer to classical and ambient music than the fizzy house and electro leanings of CFCF's debut album Continent. While Outside, which revolves around Silver's impressions of travel, motion, stability, and exploration, is just as conceptual as those EPs, musically it's another shift.
Montreal’s Mike Silver has let his expanding horizons dictate his second album, which reflects his regular travel between North American metropolises. It’s electronica made with technology that’s very 2013 but arrangements that are pure ‘80s. Think ambient-period Talk Talk, The Blue Nile at their most studied or even – no, come back! – Sting or Peter Gabriel’s more introverted moments, particularly on the beautifully mechanical Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy cover ‘Strange Form Of Life’, and when the synths find the marimba setting on ‘Jump Out Of The Train’.
CFCF — Outside (Dummy / Paper Bag)Perhaps the issue is one of timing.Mike Silver released Continent, his impressive full-length debut as CFCF following a string of unofficial remixes. These (Crystal Castles’ “Air War”; Justice’s “Phantom”) were collected on Hype Machine as hits in November 2009. It was a wintry companion to the nostalgia-driven chillwave (Toro Y Moi, Neon Indian, Washed Out, etc.) that dominated college radio and left-of-center-leaning music websites that summer.Like Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick or Washed Out’s Ernest Greene, Silver’s music-making process was isolated and insular: He pieced songs together on his computer in his bedroom when he wasn’t working his shitty day job.
opinion byDORIAN MENDOZA For the past four years, Mike Silver, under the moniker CFCF, has created a noteworthy blend of innovative electronic music. The successes of his first album, Continent, were based in locating a tempered, yet unique voice in the swaths of smart producers working today. And while he still exudes a stellar confidence of his ambient compositions, his second album Outside comes forth in a more structured pop blueprint.
Michael Silver’s recent output as CFCF brings to mind the music of another young Montrealer. Like last year’s Exercises or this year’s Music For Objects, d’Eon’s Music For Keyboards Vol I featured piano-led compositions that explored a simple, cosseted consonance. Both artists tap into a musical lineage – including Satie’s Gymnopedies, the “holy minimalism” of Arvo Part and Brian Eno’s ambient series – that aims to present its emotional affects in a way that either resists or bypasses critical analysis; to present what appears to be an immutable, instinctive form of beauty.
Tasteful, well-crafted but seriously derivative chilltronica, CFCF’s Outside should please fans of Steve Reich, Philip Glass and mid-1980s synth-pop — if it doesn’t annoy the ostinatos out of them. CFCF, aka Montreal’s Mike Silver, isn’t the first art-pop guy to borrow liberally from Music for 18 Musicians. (See Bowie, Eno, Tortoise, etc.) But neither is he most adept at extrapolating rather than merely reiterating.
It’s been four years since Montreal producer Michael Silver – aka CFCF – released Continent, and it seems like a lot can happen in that seemingly short time span. Where Continent had pulsing beats, moving rhythms and generally made you want to boogie, Silver appears to have switched gears, favouring a more soothing and light ambient-electronic sound for his new LP, Outside. The pair of EPs he released in between suggest that this shift in sound has been a work in progress, but instead of signalling a strong, new progression from this talented young producer, Outside is an album full of the same musical tropes and devoid of the promising artifices he once displayed.