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Posted on July 31st, 2015 (12:00 pm) by Ali Van Houten

Longtime fans of CFCF may find themselves surprised by his sonic evolution away from the stuff of his early days. After all, it’s downtempo, synth-heavy electronica that established his name. But those familiar with the man’s—that’s Michael Silver’s—more recent work won’t be surprised to find another collection of glimmering, ambient lullabies that echo some of his more recent mixes. Radiance and Submission, out July 31 on Driftless Recordings, is a more instrumental take on Silver’s signature synths, with the addition of his guitar work and even his own vocals cropping up here and there. As much as the record strives for the profound, however, it falls short and gets bogged down in the territory of aimless ambience.

The best of the album lies in the beginning. “In Praise of Shadows” opens with quiet power, like the lecturer awaiting your attention before beginning. Once you're straining to hear those opening chimes, the soothing tones blend into the din of a frantic society and build into a melody no less tranquil than the intro, showing you beauty in the cacophony that is humanity. “Sculptures of Sand” is a much more urgent profundity, connoting a sense of fragility in the race against time as things falls apart. It’s a decent track, but we can’t help feeling that Jimi pretty much covered that analogy in the '60s.

Sadly, the first two tracks prime you for something more elaborate that never comes. “A Various Language From the Same Hill” and “Tethered In Dark” are not bad, but they’re better for sleeping than anything else. “The Ruined Map,” meanwhile, features digitally altered vocals that are less akin to Mariah and more like the warbly vocals of the guy at the karaoke bar who wants to sing like her but can’t really hold a note. On the other hand, “Blanketed In Snow A Place Returned To” does have its charms—a quirky though subdued melody—although it’s still not enough to elevate the album from mediocrity.

The final and penultimate tracks bookend the lackluster meat of the record with silvery notes and folksy strumming. “La Soufriére,” a linguistic homage to Silver’s native Montreal (like his stage name, which is supposedly derived from the call sign of the city’s CFCF-TV station), really says it all. The titular phrase, which denotes an active volcano, belies Silver’s potential for eruption. The song’s climax is a soft cumulation of silvery vocals and gentle guitar that ultimately just peters out. Like the album as a whole, it’s not disagreeable to listen to, but you won’t find us reaching for it a second time.

Track List:

  1. In Praise of Shadows
  2. Sculptures of Sand
  3. A Various Language (From the Same Hill)
  4. Tethered in the Dark
  5. The Ruined Map
  6. Blanketed In Snow A Place Returned To
  7. La Soufriére
  8. Two Mirrors
CFCF: Radiance and Submission
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

63 / 100
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