You Won’t Break a Sweat
It’s true, the soundtracks to your favorite teen dramas, HBO sports documentaries, and insurance commercials actually fall into a pretty specific genre. Mostly overlooked until recently, ambient/minimalism artists are being championed by the masses with prominent pop musicians dipping their ladles into the pot – Trent Reznor and Jonny Greenwood to name a few. But the few that mainly exist in the music blogoposphere – like Eluvium, Mono, Hammock, and Akira Kosemura – know how to pull on some heartstrings without the use of visual accompaniment. Michael Silver, also known as CFCF, is no different. His latest EP, Exercises, does exactly that and doesn’t even leave you tired.
“Exercise #1 (Entry)” is mainly a piano piece (much like Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie” and Eluvium’s “An Accidental Memory”) that knows how to build the listener up with simple, repeating chords. The climax comes when a quiet synth starts manipulating the mood.
“Exercise #3 (Buildings)” sounds oddly like the X-files main theme. Despite this, the square synths that start weaving the main melody bring memories of last 2011’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming by M83. High-pitched square synths (think the lead instrument in video game music) also give nods to Brian Eno’s ambient work from the late 70s. That’s never a bad thing.
“Exercise #5 (September)” actually features softly-sung vocals, straying from the instrumental path. James Blake comes to mind with the minimalism at full force.
Your mind goes through a lot when listening to ambient works. Exercises, these tracks really are! Other than M83’s recent successes, CFCF may be the link between ambient music and pop music. Exercises, like so many similar albums, strives to let the listener actually listen and wait for their hooks. Patience really is a virtue.