2000: Sylvain Chauveau - The Black Book of Capitalism

This collection is a reissue of Sylvain Chauveau’s first record, initially released almost 10 years ago. Since then, Chauveau has made a name for himself as a classical auteur with ever-growing ties to ambient and experimental idioms. The Black Book of Capitalism gives the listener a chance to encounter a musician still committed to melody and harmony over texture and atmosphere. Those familiar with the disquieting silence that pervades works like 2007’s S. may be surprised to find how unabashedly orchestral much of this album is.

“Le Marin Rejeté Par La Mer” is a traditional chamber piece with a wistful piano theme that endures the dual infiltration of a single male voice and violin that mirror each other’s melodies, while “Dernière Étape Avant Le Silence” is a mobile, uplifting hymn that sounds more like Beirut or Yann Tiersen than Satie or Stars of the Lid -- the latter two being artists whose work Chauveau has been more likely to reference in recent years. “Dialogue Avec Le Vent,” as its title implies, could be likened to a weather vane, one that points alternately to Chauveau’s musical past and to the path that he would begin to trace after this record’s release. A simple guitar figure persists amid an encroaching cloud of sustained guitar and horn tones. It’s a pretty piece that suffers a bit from its split allegiance to post-rock and ambient music.

The real stunner here is “Je Suis Vivant et Vous Êtes Morts,” which consists of a relentless bomb-like ticking, swirling streams of distorted organ tone, and a few sharp intakes of breath, cut off before they’re finished. The ticking compounds to become an articulated, mechanical crank abutted by sexual cooing and shadowy columns of horn sound. It’s scary and seductive and leaves one unprepared for the sudden, larger-than-life arrival of “Mon Royaume,” which sounds like the intro to a Def Jux release with its big, slappy drums, crackly, antiquated samples, and menacing synth tones. All of this bombast abruptly gives way to a piano piece deeply nostalgic for Satie.

Such abrupt transitions mean that The Black Book of Capitalism plays more like a label compilation than a solo album. That’s a testament to Chauveau’s versatility, but it’s also a detriment to the record’s overall quality, which ultimately moves in too many directions for the listener to remain fully engaged for its duration.

1. Et Peu à Peu Les Flots Respiraient Comme On Pleure
2. JLG
3. Hurlements En Faveur de Serge T.
4. Le Marin Rejeté Par La Mer
5. Dernière Étape Avant Le Silence
6. Dialogues Avec Le Vent
7. Ses Mains Tremblent Encore
8. Ma Contribution À L’Industrie Phonographique
9. Géographie Intime
10. Je Suis Vivant et Vous Êtes Morts
11. Mon Royaume
12. Potlatch (1971-1999)
13. Un Souffle Remua La Nuit

DeLorean

There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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