On Vacation

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Following two outstanding 2015 full-lengths and an unexpected Grammy nomination for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical (which he tragically lost to a remix of "Uptown Funk"), Montreal native CFCF (Mike Silver) released the serene LP On Vacation on International Feel Recordings. The album finds Silver continuing to explore his obsession with the softer sounds of the '80s, populating his tracks with Sade-like lite-pop drum machines, fretless bass guitar, and calming new agey synthesizers. This album contains far more acoustic instruments than his prior work, ranging from circular woodwind rhythms to thumb pianos, and even accordions that seem perfect for a romantic lunch at a streetside French café. As always with Silver's work, the influence of '80s art pop icons like Peter Gabriel and David Sylvian is prominent, along with obscure Japanese new wave acts like Dip in the Pool. It's not really accurate to say that this music is slightly edgier than Silver's influences, as he doesn't really try to add any modern touches or subvert them in any way. There's certainly a great deal of care put into these subtly sophisticated tracks, with slightly twisted rhythms and arrangements, and ecstatic moments like the fluttering drum fill during the Weather Channel groove of "Pleasure Centre." "Arto" and "Chasing" both feature gorgeous, echo-covered guitar plucking along with accordion and synths, and "Fleurs Laissés dans un Taxi" seems to have a vaguely bossa nova-inspired rhythm. "Lighthouse on Chatham Sound" is one of the album's most ambient moments, and while it seems like it could endlessly drift without a care, there's a brief moment when it flares up into an arrangement of woodwinds and chimes that could possibly be an echo of Brian Wilson's SMiLE. On Vacation isn't CFCF's most focused work, but it isn't supposed to be. As the title states, this is music for escaping day-to-day life and getting pleasantly lost.

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