With Des Plumes dans la Tête, Sylvain Chauveau comes back to the acoustic setting of his Nocturne Impalpable album. Pianist/arranger Olivier Lageyre is still on board, but the other musicians have changed and the instrumentation has been scaled down to only a string trio and an occasional clarinet. The first 20 tracks, approximately 30 minutes of music, form the soundtrack to Thomas de Thier's movie Des Plumes dans la Tête (Feathers in My Head). The music consists of short instrumental portraits, extremely simple and achingly beautiful, revolving around three or four main themes and sets of variations. The ghost of Erik Satie is never far away, but the main comparison here would be Jóhann Jóhannsson's gorgeous Englabörn. Some listeners might equate the melodic redundancy with a lack of meat around the bone, but in the context of the album it adds to the delicately obsessive atmosphere, and truth be told, it actually works better in terms of cohesion and constancy than Nocturne Impalpable. The album also includes two unrelated concluding tracks (for an extra ten minutes), "Suber" and "Datebook," originally pieces by Webcam, here remixed by Chauveau. They are of a very different nature, even though they remain on the quiet side and are nowhere as abstract as what is found on On's Your Naked Ghost Comes Back at Night (another Chauveau project, released at the same time as Des Plumes dans la Tête). "Suber" is a delicate sequence of short sound-based electronic vignettes, while "Datebook" is given a lush, expansive Peter Gabriel-esque ambient treatment. Des Plumes dans la Tête may seem like a modest effort, but it deserves a place among Chauveau's strongest albums, solo and otherwise.
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