Boomkat Product Review:
Fabulous new release from Sylvain Chauveau, this time focussing on his instrumental work and taking the shape of two soundtracks, both for films by Sebastien Betbeder. Chauveau's work has often straddled classical composition and contemporary electronics, but this release rests its focus on largely untreated works for a small ensemble including viola, violin and Chauveau's own piano and electric guitar performances. The most obvious comparison to make would be to Chauveau's very own Un Autre Decembre album - there's a similar sense of romanticism and understated melodic drama here, though it never comes across as overblown or excessive - the small number of personnel and the minimal arrangements involved maintain a climate of intimacy, while the relatively short durations of the individual tracks make for a dynamically arresting album. The slow string sweeps of 'Nuages II' are bound to prompt references to Max Richter's stately first album, The Blue Notebooks (released on the same Fat Cat subsidiary label as Un Autre Decembre) but there's far less density to these recordings, and certainly, the minimal keystrokes of 'Symptome No.1' and 'Symptome No.2' progress with a weightlessness and punctuated phrasing that you wouldn't hear from contemporaries like Richter or Johann Johannsson. Chauveau is often at his best when performing solo: one of the most memorable melodies on the Nuage soundtrack is 'L'Oree Du Bois' for solo piano. Similarly, 'Fly Like A Horse' (the longest composition on the disc) features Chauveau's guitar manipulated into digitally-enhanced Christopher Willits-like shapes, and this most minimal of pieces turns out to be a clear highlight. Similar sonic elements make up the soundtrack to Les Mains D'Andrea (a shorter work with fewer individual pieces than Nuage), which brings the disc to a close with a real sense of unrest and sadness. There's a heaviness to these compositions that contrasts music in the first half of the disc, but Chauveau's way with melody and his ability to write miniaturised musical narratives remains equally adept. Gorgeous stuff.