Jean-Michel Blais / CFCF

Cascades

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AllMusic Review by

Pianist Jean-Michel Blais and electronic musician CFCF (Mike Silver), both Montreal residents, collaborated on Cascades, an EP of meditative yet playful post-minimalism. The duo revisit material from their respective catalogs, in addition to co-writing one new piece and interpreting a John Cage composition. Blais' drifting yet fragmented "Hasselblad 1" picks up where the primarily improvised, field recording-laced pieces of his II album left off. Silver's "Two Mirrors" builds on a foundation of classic piano minimalism, but it develops and becomes fuller and more dynamic, with the help of stargazing synths, chirping crickets, and plenty of reverb. The joint composition "Hypocrite" starts out solemn and stately, but before too long, Ferry Corsten-esque synth arpeggios creep in, and the track builds into an over-the-top epic trance monster, complete with a suspenseful breakdown. As with much of Silver's work, it's the type of move that could be taken as tongue-in-cheek, and in a way it is, but at the same time he's completely invested in it. His interest in pursuing overtly sentimental and less-than-fashionable sounds is genuine, and his work never comes off as an exercise in smarmy post-hipster irony. Both artists are so versatile that such a bombastic neo-trance piece feels completely at home being followed up by a reworking of Cage's "In a Landscape," which starts out slightly distant and scattered before gradually becoming more detailed and harmonic. Excellent work from both artists.

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