Sylvain Chauveau

Le Livre Noir du Capitalisme

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Le Livre Noir du Capitalisme ("The Black Book of Capitalism," an obvious inverted reference to Chinese communist leader Mao's famous little red book) is the first solo album from Micro:Mega's Sylvain Chauveau. Released to little notice in May 2000 on Noise Museum, it gathered more attention upon its reissue by Disques du Soleil et de l'Acier two years later. It sure deserves the attention: It stands as one of so-called post-rock's most convincing achievements. Using melancholy melodies, light electronics, found sounds, viola and cello, piano, and accordion, Chauveau has encapsulated the full ethos of dreamy, cinematic post-rock music in his album. Tracks are short and ethereal, with evocative sound collages filling in whenever simple Erik Satie-esque melodies take a pause. Titles like "Et Peu à Peu les Flots Respiraient Comme On Pleure" (Little By Little the Waters Were Breathing Like One Cries), "Dernière Étape Avant le Silence" (Last Step Before Silence), and "Je Suis Vivant et Vous Êtes Morts" (I Am Alive and You Are Dead) brush a bleak portrait, but Chauveau's music never succumbs to raw, unmediated emotion. There is always a second or third level of analysis, and things are more complex and intertwined than they first seem to be -- like in real life or in a Jean-Luc Godard film (after all, isn't it his initials hiding behind the piece "JLG"?). Le Livre Noir du Capitalisme is a painfully personal work with a certain adolescent character (and yet so mature in the balance it reaches). That's why it provides a more compelling listen than the follow-up, Nocturne Impalpable.

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