Sylvain Chauveau

Singular Forms [Sometimes Repeated]

BY Eric HillPublished May 25, 2010

It's always worth noticing an artist that re-examines or re-contextualizes the basic pop song. On the maximalist side of the line are a group like Xiu Xiu, charging songs with emotion and an overflow of sounds. On the other side of the divide, you have French minimalist Sylvain Chauveau. The last time he took a break from his post-classical piano compositions and essayed song was his 2005 acoustic (and reverential) tribute to Depeche Mode, Down to the Bone. On Singular Forms, he uses that same litmus of restraint and precision to craft songs out of little more than single handfuls of piano notes and simple loops to shape the silence. The vocals are given occasional digital help to move them from foreground to background, isolate and double important phrases, or suffer sudden erasure from timely imperfections. For all these modernist moves, Chauveau is still able to convey the heart of the matter, not unlike HAL9000 nailing a take of "Bicycle Built for Two."

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