Sylvain Chauveau – Singular Forms [Sometimes Repeated] (Type) 12″/LP
Sylvain Chauveau certainly is an eclectic fellow. Maybe this kind of thing is perfectly normal in France but – in the mind of an anglophone – a career spanning orchestral minimalism, austere digital electronica and Depeche Mode covers seems impressively diverse.
This blue-vinyl LP (well, it plays at 45RPM and lasts about 30 minutes but Type is marketing it as a full-length album) encompasses a number of Chauveau’s musical interests. It’s a collection of art song, set to stark, piano-led arrangements and disrupted by a storm-front of computerized chaos.
On dropping the needle, the comparison that immediately springs to mind is David Sylvian’s recent work. Actually, the similarity is a little too close for comfort. You half expect to glance back at the cover and realise that the artist’s name is, in fact, David Sylvian Chauveau. Ahem.
The EP has other faults. The pared-back arrangements occasionally leave Chauveau’s ever-so-slightly ESL lyrics a little exposed. Also, it could be argued that coloured vinyl wasn’t the wisest choice – quality-wise – for a record that relies so heavily on clear, ringing sounds and passages of near silence.
None of this seems to matter, though, when Singular Forms really starts to hit home. The songs are absolutely beautiful, the arrangements subtly dissonant and the electronics absolutely glitch-perfect. The overall effect is vividly dreamlike – an effect perfectly captured by the startling video for “The Unbroken Line”.
So, in spite of its faults, this is a more-than worthwhile release. It’s one of the bravest and most brilliant records of the year so far. You can listen to the whole thing at Soundcloud then buy it at Forced Exposure.