This newest from CFCF is best enjoyed with your favorite mellow intoxicant.
As is the case with most new age music, this newest from Michael Silver, aka CFCF, is best enjoyed with your favorite mellow intoxicant. Although Silver has done an excellent job creating a sonic space that may not necessarily require any special spirits to enjoy, a ‘soothing tea’ simply removes any barriers one might have in getting to that special personal nirvanic head-space.
Silver, a Montreal native, who named this project after the late-CTV affiliate out of his hometown, has strived to create a LP that represents, at least to him, a sort of in-between – a paradox of “non-time, non-being, non-death…” and he’s generally succeeded. The warmth of his arpeggiated guitar playing, the synth-phonic base he lays these on top of and the choir of harmoniums and dulcimers that offer a majority of the percussion for this work represent this dark paradox well.
With titles like “In Praise of Shadows” or “Tethered in Dark” it’s hard to imagine any music that isn’t completely haunting. Overall, “non-death” seems to be the overwhelming theme. Especially in the track “Sculptures of Sand,” Silver creates a sonic world that specifically invokes the imagines of the cover of this LP, done by Matsuda Matsuo. A cold scene, a family of sorts, kneeling, seeming to mourn the death of a unknown figure, beside a conceptual lake or seaside, the long echoy synth-leads call upon an open space and is almost animalistic in its tone and flavor. I’d be interested in knowing just how much influence this song, and album as a whole, came from Inuit folk music of Northern Canada, as the melodies seem very reminiscent of such.
The most new agey track on this record, “A Various Language (From the Same Hill)” features heavy wurlizers and softly played glocks, pierced by a high guitar lead and a chorus of bells which offer a percussive counter-point. As with many of his past releases, this song moves along effortlessly, exploring the inversions and sounds of the same chord without lingering on any one idea for too long.
Digital and live instruments have an even struggle for dominance throughout the LP as tunes such as “The Ruined Map” rely heavily on digital sounds and modulated vocals, while tunes like “Blanketed Snow a Place To Return To” sound as if they are done with completely acoustic instruments. Both of these techniques are complimentary as Silver uses more compositional techniques, such as his ability to develop and articulate counter-point and his ability to set a scene with nothing more than well-constructed sound to get his point across.
The biggest downside to this record is evident in the LP’s second single, “La Soufriere” (The Sulfur Mine). Although everything in this record does maintain focus and stays brooding throughout, every track, even the song that clocks in beyond seven minutes, ends far too soon. Just as recapitulation begins to rear around to re-introduce a melody, change of feel, a new rhythmic idea hits it peak, the bottoms drops out of these songs and they come to an unwelcomed end. Silver has spent so much time and effort to build a song up to this great climax, but then just gives up. Five or six times this happens, leaving many parts of this LP 45 seconds too short. I haven’t listened to new age music this complex in a very long time, and I hope to hear a lot more for Michael Silver and CFCF moving forward. I just wish I could’ve heard more on this one.