Music has a wonderful way of tricking our brain into creating images in our mind without showing you a single visual, projecting a movie across the back of an eyelid. Listening to Exercises, the new release from Montreal artist CFCF, I didn’t see a man sat at a piano covered in computers and drum machines, I saw a man sat at a bar, moodily staring into a glass of whiskey. The sombre piano movements felt like the man’s thoughts, playing round and round in his head, only changing subtly while constantly growing. The numbing pulses of synthesiser mimic the alcohol clouding his mind as he drinks, until there is only a mechanical drone left. Or at least that’s just how I see it.
The special moments on Exercises come when there isn’t too much going on, when the piano broods behind a slow wave of synthesiser, nothing else. ‘Exercise 7 (Loss)’ is a stark, seething wash of sound that reflects in on itself and is slowly compressed back to nothing. The opener, ‘Exercise 1 (Entry)’, is constantly growing and revolving. The only track that falls flat is ‘Exercise 5 (September)’. The cascading piano, the almost hip-hop style drums, complete with handclaps, and the only use of vocals on Exercises make it feel out of place. It’s too lively for such a pensive record. Despite that, CFCF has made a fantastic score for imaginary films.
Rejected Obvious Review Title: Exercises in masterful music craft.