CFCF - The Colours Of Life

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  • Mike Silver has worked tirelessly on his music as CFCF for nearly seven years, honing his skills as a songwriter while pulling in an array of influences to color his compositions. His output has spanned electro-pop, kosmiche, house, new age, modern classical, ambient, and many permutations therein, the consistent thread being a dedication to both the highest and lowest brows of late-'70s and '80s music. A CFCF record is often where Popol Vuh and Talk Talk mingle with Phil Collins, or Peter Gabriel takes tips from Philip Glass and Jan Hammer alike. So it's no surprise when that heavily referential sound is called hokey, generic, pastiche or the like—those words are an easy way to nail down an artist to the fallout of certain bygone eras. But at what point do influences turn from dubious curiosities to tenured stylistic touchstones? Well, if that hasn't happened for Silver yet, The Colours Of Life is it. This is the second CFCF album in 2015, and it's also his best yet. Where Radiance And Submission distilled his softest inclinations into eight glimpses of smoky, nocturnal pop, The Colours Of Life unfolds a dynamic 40-minute orchestration in 12 movements. The former was a newish wrinkle in the CFCF repertoire, while the latter finds Silver delivering his best ideas with an effortlessness wrought by years of experience. Music For Objects and The River are the closest relatives to this material, but now that music is conceived more as Music For Sunsets or The Ocean. Wave sounds wash over the pan flutes and marimbas, as if Silver is attempting to transport us onto a beach through synesthesia. The sections' titles tell a different story, however: "Departure," "The Pyramid," "A Real Dream," "Imagination" and "Return" outline a more metaphysical journey, and they often sound equally transcendent. The Colours Of Life has style and mood to spare, but it ultimately succeeds because of well-paced sequencing and the breadth of skill at work in its arrangements. Silver composed the piece to evolve in 12 stages, and it does so seamlessly with no lack of care and detail in every phase. Most of The Colours Of Life has a quiet 4/4 pulse just shy of 100 BPM. Loosely interwoven world music instruments are draped over the beat—saxophone, guitar, piano and all manner of synths also grace the ever-shifting mix—and occasionally unravel for a weightless glide. Heavy toms and snares appear only about 25 minutes in, pulling you from the balmy trance in a simple yet exhilarating way. They also point out how Silver hadn't yet introduced any proper drums to his piece, and both the keen sense of restraint and impeccably timed delivery speak to his compositional finesse. Anyone who throws on The Colours Of Life is likely in it for the long haul, so it's important that the experience rewards consistent listening. Silver has explicitly said that Phil Collins' "Hand In Hand" inspired the earliest stages of The Colours Of Life. As he explains: "It’s a super simple, corny song built on a Roland CR-78 loop and just the silliest pan-global optimistic tone. And I got into the idea of doing a record of music like that...kind of trying to push to the edges of tolerable cheese in some places, but also have it be totally sincere and not ironic, like actually purely pleasurable music." His comments offer the best way to approach this record; timeworn and sentimental as its sounds may be, they form an inspired piece that dodges cliché even as it pays homage.
  • Tracklist
      01. The Colours Of Life