Sylvain Chauveau

Nocturne Impalpable

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It has become somewhat of a cliché to unearth the skeletons of Claude Debussy and Erik Satie when writing about any French composer who takes the path of quiet melancholia. Nevertheless, Sylvain Chauveau's Nocturne Impalpable does borrow a lot from La Mer and the composer of the Gnossiennes and Gymnopédies. The former's delicate touch permeates through the long chords of the string trio (two cellos and a viola) in "Radiophonie No. 1." The latter's sedated piano style is found everywhere on the album, and particularly in "Nocturne Urbain." Chauveau, a member of Micro:Mega, has written short pieces based on fragile piano motifs (played by Olivier Lageyre). Strings (Olivier Cavaillé, Eugen Fabris, and Benoît Génot), clarinet (Matthias Meier), trumpet (Xavier Carrière), and accordion (Vincent Pouplard) complete the instrumentation, each at a time. Some would connect this music to the cathartic post-rock stylings of Godspeed You Black Emperor!, but Nocturne Impalpable lacks moments of brutal clarity to let the comparison stand -- and it sounds too clean and precise. More soft-spoken, the music remains closer to Man, another act signed by the label Disques du Soleil et de l'Acier, minus the rock aspect (there is not a single percussion instrument here). Chauveau's discreet electronics weave ambiences that enhance the mood of the pieces. The running order manages room to breathe in the form of six untitled tracks of field recordings and electronics -- promenades between stations of this night walk. Nocturne Impalpable may be pretty, even touching at times, but that doesn't make it striking.

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