Chauveau, Sylvain – Un Autre Décembre

Here we have a very tasteful cd with classical piano music by the French composer Sylvain Chauveau. Really elegant, subtle music, which is quite minimal. Therefore it is not so strange that Chauveau calls this ‘the most silent record I’ll ever make’. Most songs consist of not much more than sparse piano sounds, with no tone more than strictly needed. But I must say the music is highly effective and captivating. Chauveau is said to be an autodidact, who simply follows his passion of creating beautiful music. Which is not to say that this is improvised music, on the contrary, it took Chauveau eight months to reach the ‘right one’ for this album. Perhaps surprising to know is that he has a rock background, and still plays in two avantgarde rock acts (Micro:mega and Arca).

The music he releases under his own name is more related to modern classical music. “Un Autre Décembre” made me think of Erik Satie mostly. A reference that is also often made is Yann Tiersen (who shot to fame through the ‘Amelie’ soundtrack), but I think that Chauveau’s music is less cheerful and more minimal. The comparison can perhaps best be made with the last track, ‘du reve dans les yeux’, through the effective use of the accordeon. Chauveau makes some interesting cultural references with this album: it is dedicated to cinematographer Robert Bresson (for his sober aesthetics) and the titel is derived from a piece of lyric about december from the Jacques Brel Song ‘Jaurès’, about the famous left-wing leader around 1900.

In general the mood is a bit sad and melancholic, despite the soothing beauty of the music. There are a few sudden breaks on the album, as if to wake you up from nesting to comfortably in the soft tones. The short intermezzos of tracks 3, 6 , 9 and 11 for instance, consist mainly of soft crackling sounds, reminding of old records, with some distant voices. Sometimes you also hear some soft glitchy sounds in the background of the other compositions. And there is quite some silence, although if you listen carefully you can hear the resonating of earlier tones… This cd pleased me so much that I also obtained one of his earlier albums, “Le livre noir du capitalisme” (label: Noise Museum, 2000), also very beautiful, and less minimal than “Un Autre Décembre”.

artist: Chauveau, Sylvain
label: FatCat Records
details: 12 tracks