Sylvain Chauveau
Un Autre Décembre CD

Imagine a cold winter day, the chilly yet gracious silence broken only by snatches of notes played on an old piano. The musical voice comes from the distance, maybe from the apartment downstairs, where a lonely piano player, in his attempt to reflect the coldness of the world around him, caresses, then gently pushes, the keys in ivory and black. Thus is the visual impression evoked by Sylvain Chauveau's latest masterpiece.

Less is more. Spartan philosophy. Catharsis. Sylvain Chauveau has revived these concepts with a collection of minimal musical pieces, stripped to the bone and of a stunningly austere quality. The melodies he plays are beautiful and haunting at the same time, notes are few and far between, and there is always a considerable amount of silence separating the tonal clusters.

The piano turned out to be Sylvain's favourite instrument this time - in fact he has dismissed all the string arrangements that had been set up during the recording sessions and left the piano lines for good. Still, there is room for a change, so the last title on the CD, "Du Rêve Dans Les Yeux", features an accordion instead of the piano. Apart from that, the music is underlined by miniature electronic interludes that separate the songs ("Granulation 1 to 4").

Whence comes the favour for minor keys, for melancholy, fragility and simplicity? Sylvain cites two major influences: French cinematographer Robert Bresson, whose work he says has inspired the music for "Un Autre Décembre" - and Jacques Brel, whose song "Jaurés" has inspired the album title. "Jaurés" tells the story of the poor and miserable miners in nineteenth century Northern France - every month of the year, Jacques Brel sings, was like december for them. According to Sylvain, our modern society lives in everlasting winter too, as far as emotional quality goes. Un Autre Décembre...

(rh 05/MMIII)

Label: Fat Cat Records
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Sylvain Chauveau's not-so-merry-go-round