The coverage for Continents, the 2009 LP by CFCF, the DJ/production project of Montreal’s Michael Silver, often named the filmography of Michael Mann (think more Manhunter than Miami Vice) as a point of influence. The CFCF project has, in some ways, always been related to soundtrack, even down to the fact that the name itself was lifted from a Montreal TV station call sign, which evokes not only broadcast media, but echoes the Toronto-based CIVIC-TV call sign omnipresent in Videodrome—a film by fellow Canadian David Cronenberg, another director Silver cites as a favorite. The connotations don’t feel inorganic or superimposed on the music, however, and many of Silver’s influences manage to effortlessly cohere into subdued, synthetic landscapes, with minimal vocals and a penetrating tension, resulting in something that, frankly, mimics a distinctive soundtrack feel. The latest EP, Exercises, much like its near-blatantly Philip Glass–sounding title, veers into a monastic minimalism that finds itself approaching composition, and at the very least, an actual film score.
So, listeners who’ve arrived at CFCF fandom through love of his slowly indulgent remixes and other chillwave-associated pursuits, Excercises is going to feel like a hard left turn. The EP consists of eight exercises, each numbered and then following with a parenthetical title—the opener, “Exercise #1 (Entry)” combines a small melodious piano riff with Vangelis-sounding synth croons, all of which dissolve into total ambient feedback. Many of the tracks affect a more traditional-sounding instrumentation than the drum machine/synth combo—true piano sounds twinkle throughout, layering themselves one over the other, peppered with a few arhythmic beats, inducing an almost Reichian hypnosis. The third track, “Excerise #3 (Buildings)” feels like the true Glass imitation, with its total lack of bass line or backbeat—the piano alone contains multitudes.
CFCF’s barely-audible vocals make an appearance only on “Exercise #5 (Buildings),” which coincidentally, offers the only return to his more recognizable sound. Of course, it’s a delicate enough poppy ballad, so as not to impede the flow of the album. All of the other exercises press forward into a sense of quiet rumination, so don’t expect any club bangers or hot remixes. But the exciting part is that, in Silver, it’s starting to look like we might have a true composer on our hands.