by Tiana Feng
Release Date: October 22, 2013
Label: Paperbag Records
Michael Silver aka CFCF released his debut LP Continent 4 years ago. Since then there have been a slew of EPS, which might as well have been called albums, but didn’t decide to deem one so until this year’s Outside.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Silver. Sometimes his songs would be intriguing, other times too long and leading to the path of boredom. Outside is a middle ground between the two. The opener “Beyond Light” tests patience a little bit, but once past that the album is okay.
In contrast to earlier, constantly moving works, Outside is a bit more structured and graspable. The album is a mix of 80s pop songs and dreamy soundscapes. “Strange Form of Life” delicately covers Bonnie Prince Billy. There’s something about this track in particular that brings to mind Toronto’s Digits. Birdsong decorates the electric guitar and synths in “Find”. “Jump Out of the Train” takes on a pentatonic mode and if it weren’t for vocals, would sound straight of kabuki theatre. There’s a bit too much Phil Collins in “The Breath” for me to take it seriously. “Transcend” resembles the montages in movies where people get lost in a forest.
We get a danceable track in the appropriately named “Feeling, Holding”. After some time with the record, “The Crossing” remains the most memorable, though it is arguably the most straightforward pop (and also very Phil Collins).
The title Outside must come from the tribal elements: the drumming, bamboo flutes, and bird samples. “Walking in the Dust”, the album’s final tune, encompasses all of these. Silver’s rhythmic whispers leave the album to fade like dust. Though Outside may be my favourite out of CFCF’s discography, he still leaves something to be desired.