Label: Paper Bag Records
CFCF is the stage name of Montreal based electronic musician Michael Silver. Following on from his debut album Continent – a collection of vintage electronic music full of sweeping, textured sounds – Exercises is a more subdued LP of piano and synth based pieces.
Silver, who apparently took his stage name from the call sign of the city’s CFCF-TV, has experimented with making minimal, house, disco and R&B style music in the past. The seamless eight track album Exercises draws obvious comparisons with work by composers Philip Glass and Ryuichi Sakamoto in it’s sombre and effective compilation. The tracks, as the titles might suggest, are not about specific things but instead evoke feelings about a time or place.
Opener “Exercise 1 (Entry)” is a moody, piano focused track where as “Exercise 2 (School)” is a more up-beat piece with interestingly complex, textured layers of sound. “Exercise 3 (Buildings)” is a surging, synth based track that’s still sweeping, grand and perfect for evoking memories. It’s an exercise on nostalgia.
The first and only hint of vocals on the album are in “Exercise 5 (September)” and the few lyrics that do appear are about the month of September and not very developed beyond that; “The sun shines high above me, the birds fly down to the ocean…September’s here again”. The synth rolls over continuously, creating a trance like motion. “Exercise 6 (December)” starts tentatively and minimally before more piano soundscapes take over and really build the track up emotionally.
“Exercise 4 (Spirit)” uses organ sounds to gradually build up atmosphere whilst “Exercise 7 (Loss)” is full of sad piano melodies and . Closing track “Exercise 8 (Change)” moves back to more interesting electronic textures – claps, fizzes and shaky synth. The title is reflected well and as plays directly after “Loss”, “Change” is even more effective in evoking the moving on and up vibes.
From high energy electronic beats to these piano heavy and thoughtful soundscapes, CFCF proves that he is up there with the big name DJs and the talented composers of the twentieth century.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.