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Review: CFCF, 'The Colours Of Life'

Montreal's Michael Silver took the call letters from his local television station to release his first music as CFCF in 2009. While his debut album, Continent, was full of pop informed by disco, electro and soft-rock (complete with a sexy, R&B-indebted take on Fleetwood Mac's "Big Love"), the next year Silver released an EP titled The River, which showed off a woozy, ambient side to the project. Sunny pop is inherent in his remixes for the likes of Sally Shapiro and Crystal Castles, he got a co-production credit in How To Dress Well's "What Is This Heart?" from last year, and his album Outside is stuffed with synth-pop informed by the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Talk Talk. Just two weeks ago, Silver released an album of dreamy imaginary soundtracks called Radiance And Submission. But for The Colours Of Life, Silver seeks to bring all these sounds together into a sumptuous whole.

A 41-minute suite of ebbing, flowing textures and melodies split into 12 movements, Colours opens with a flutter of pan pipes and the gentle patter of a drum machine in "Departure"; the results are as cool and crisp as a freshwater spring. Ever so gently, Silver alters the percussion patterns and lets deeper bass tones bubble up in "Melting the Ice," while the third movement, "Our World," adds a bit of Balearic guitar that would appeal to fans of Chris Rea. When a saxophone line pops up in "Imagination," Kenny G is the first name that springs to mind.

Across his discography, Silver has made no secret about his love of '80s music of all stripes, from gloss to dross, be it Phil Collins or the squishy New Age tones of Windham Hill Records. On Colours, though, CFCF transcends such influences and the tags associated with high and low art, and instead seeks a true synthesis of all those silky textures. As the album winds along, with the chiming piano and polyrhythms of "Rain Dance" flowing into the lush synthscapes of "Intimacy," The Colours Of Life starts to resemble larger-scale work. It brings to mind Manuel Göttsching's 1984 classic E2-E4, but there's also a bit of resemblance to Steve Reich's Music For 18 Musicians, had Reich decided to forego Indonesian gamelan in favor of '80s movie soundtracks.

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Andy Beta
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