From the tastefully posed cover to the inclusion of a re-worked Philip Glass piece, Cascades, the collaborative EP between electronic producer Mike Silver (otherwise known as CFCF) and neo-classical pianist Jean-Michel Blais positions itself as a classy and refined affair. Luckily, the five tracks on hand from these two Canadians make good on these pointed gestures.
In the past, Silver's new-age pieces have been pleasant, if a tad safe, lovingly recreating rather than boldly advancing the genre, but Blais' playing suits very well the pristine and glossy production Silver employed for those recordings, injecting it with a real sense of purpose here. The softly beautiful opener "Hasselblad 1" is a fine example of this, with Silver couching Blais' delicate, major chord improvising in soft ambient sounds and shifting electronic washes. What could have been an ephemeral piece of airy piano noodling (or a new age-y ambient sketch, for that matter), is heightened considerably by the pair's chemistry.
"Two Mirrors" is another highlight, nimbly jumping between minimalist staccato delivery and rich, flowing arpeggios. Everything is overshadowed by the sheer bombast of the previously released "Hypocrite," however. Its combination of neo-classical piano and trance synths is immediately engaging, highlighting the all-too-overlooked similarities between classical music and certain strains of EDM that insightful listeners have long noted. It's a real force, and a fitting metaphor for the meeting of the minds occurring on Cascades. (Arts & Crafts)