CFCF: Exercises EP

    CFCF’s first album, 2009’s Continent, was essentially a distillation of several fashionable musical trends occurring around that time. Michael Silver, the Quebecois producer behind CFCF, combined Nordic space disco, lovelorn house music and the ethereal drift of ‘70’s German kosmische to stunning effect, surprisingly finding room amidst all those perfectly rendered influences for a voice of his own. The Exercises EP sees Silver delving further into his own creative territory, proving to be the most intriguing record CFCF has released thus far.

    Upon hearing Exercises, one (somewhat surprising) name immediately comes to mind: Philip Glass. Across the EP’s eight tracks, Silver engages in the kind of gently polyrhythmic melodic layering technique originally pioneered by Glass and his minimalist contemporaries. This influence proves most fruitful on “Exercise 5 (September),” the album’s sole vocal track, and likely the best song CFCF has recorded. In part based on a 1980’s composition by David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto, “September” combines a plaintive, repeating piano melody with washes of sparkling synthesizer and clean, spacious percussion. 

    Other highlights include the dramatic, soundtrack-ready piano explorations of “Exercise 6 (December)” and “Exercise 8 (Change),” which finds startling middle-ground between the unpretentious prettiness of The Postal Service and the contemplative atmospherics of turn-of-the-millenium deep house.

    The most refreshing aspect of Exercises is its concision: the EP never outstays its welcome, making its point in a breezy twenty-six minutes. This sense of restraint is admirable, and results in a set of tracks that demands frequent re-listening.
    (8/10)

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