‘Simple’ is a selection of Brussels-based Frenchman Sylvain Chauveau’s works for cinema, composed between 1998-2010. A diverse, yet fully cohesive collection of out-of-print, rare, and unreleased tracks, the album spans stark / minimal electronic drones, processed guitar explorations, variously-sized Chamber pieces, spare solo piano, and two 40-piece string orchestra recordings.
Recorded for various projects, with different ensembles in various studios. what unifies the collection is an overarching sensibility of slightly melancholic, simple elegance and Sylvain’s signature sense of restraint. A measured use of space and silence augments the focused simplicity of these brief yet beautiful, lyrical works. With the majority of tracks clocking in at under or around the 2-minute mark, they coalesce into a series of vignettes - condensed, self-contained explorations of atmosphere / emotion. “It also shows the two sides of my music during all this time”, expands Sylvain. “The obsession with sweetness and melody, but also the experimental electronic side. The melodic and experimental duality has always been there for me. My decision from the beginning was not to choose between the two but to keep both.”
Almost all the material here is taken from Sylvain’s film scores, expanded with one written for a dance performance (‘Au Nombre des chose’s by Compagnie Mi-Octobre / Serge Ricci), and one (track 4), which is a remix (of Pulseprogramming) . Seven of the tracks are from a 2003 soundtrack Chauveau created for Thomas de Thier's feature film, ‘Des Plumes Dans La Tête’, originally released on the DSA label, now long out of print. Two short guitar pieces (tracks 11 and 14) were made for Sarah Bouyain's feature ‘Notre Etrangère’ in 2009. Two tracks (12, 13) are from Danish director HR Boe’s film, ‘Beast’ (2010), and four tracks (8, 10, 17, 18) are from the same director’s ‘Alting Bliver Godt Igen’ (2009), performed by a 40-piece string orchestra with a conductor. Sylvain describes these final two tracks on the album as his favourites, with “surely the best melodies I've ever composed”. Both were left out of the film’s final cut, remaining unheard until now.
Most of the material was recorded at CDM studio in Toulouse, with local classical musicians and a contemporary jazz clarinet player. Two tracks were made in Sylvain’s Paris apartment. The soundtrack for ‘Notre Etrangère’ was composed, recorded and mixed at Sumo studios in Brussels. And the orchestral pieces were recorded with the Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra in Skopje (F.A.M.E.'S studio).
At varying points recalling Erik Satie, Arvo Pärt, Labradford, and Mogwai, Sylvain also traces the roots of his music back to Kentucky chamber outfit Rachel’s and an earlier grounding in rock bands. He began composing his take on chamber music in the late ‘nineties, escaping the weight and compromises of the rock band format. “I see it more as post-rock: either an evolution of my rock music without guitars, drums and vocals, or a way to say goodbye to this genre.” Whilst the post-classical scene is now well established, when Sylvain’s debut came out in 2000, he recalls the feeling of isolation: “we were then very few playing this kind of chamber music in the rock scene. Rachel's were the model, in my opinion. Nyman, Mertens and Bryars had built bridges between the genres before, but they remained associated with the ‘contemporary’ field. Rachel's really brought it to the indie-rock crowd. In a sense, they gave permission to us, rock and young electronic musicians, to explore this direction.”
Following Set Fire To Flames, Sylvain was the second artist to sign to FatCat's post-classical imprint, 130701. 'Simple' is his second album for the label – following up 2003's 'Une Autre Decembre'. In the interim he has released mainly on the excellent Type label.
Dave Howell: email@example.com
James Vella: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adam Pierce: email@example.com